Beauty, Cosmetic Reviews
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The Skincare Sample Week Challenge II

I apologize for the hiatus! If you follow me on the social media then you might have noticed I am officially a French resident, my first “celebration” of this move was to get sick! I noticed while I was packing for the move from Austria that my skincare sample stash was starting to overflow so it seemed like a perfect time to do another round of Skincare Sample Routine Week!

My initial post in April goes into more depth about my attitude towards free samples, personal methodology for de-cluttering & some conclusion statistics on my “sample findings”. The initial post is linked above if you would like to read more, otherwise TL:DR version is I throw away most free skincare samples & I only keep samples I genuinely want to try.

The Challenge

Before we jump into the samples, I will just preface with a few variables because cosmetics & reviews are such a personal thing!

I have a dry & dehydrated skin, my MAC shade in NC20. I do have scent sensitivities that can trigger migraines, but my skin is not sensitive & I am not acne-prone. I am currently in a location where the season is Autumn, but I am in a Mediterranean climate so the air is still humid & the temperature will remain around 65-70F / 18-21C through November.

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Etude House Fresh Cherry Tint in #1

Etude House, y u no have applicator in sample?! I had to use my fingers to apply the lip tint & my fingers were stained, despite washing with soap & taking make-up remover to it. The lip tint itself applied very patchy, but that may have been an issue due to using my finger. The lip tint tasted very chemically, either something in this formula irritated or dried out my lips as soon as I put it on.

I typically do not like lip tints so I did not have high expectations, but I was hoping the tint would last since it stained my finger so well. However, that would prove to be false. I ran a few errands for two hours, did not eat anything though I always have a water bottle in my purse, and the tint had completely disappeared from my lips though still held on strong to my fingertips.


Heimish Artless Glow Base SPF 50+

I really wanted to like this, but it didn’t quite work out that way. This is a very thick & heavy primer, it feels far more like a sunscreen than a make-up base. I had hopes this “glow” would translate to illuminating or dewy skin as well, but it only looked like sunscreen white cast on my NC20 skin so I would definitely be concerned with how this would appear on deeper skin tones. It is matte & it held my make-up in place, plus this is a very high SPF for makeup.

Kat von D Lock-It Liquid Foundation in #48 Light

I have really enjoyed Kat von D lip & eye products, but I never found a facial product from her collection that worked for me.

This foundation being no exception.

The sample was not quite my shade so the mistakes & formula issues were even more apparent. The foundation clung to my dry patches & baby hairs despite using moisturizer. It also settled into fine lines despite using a primer & setting powder. It was not very easy to blend because it sets quickly, though the coverage is very buildable & I did not even need concealer. Another issue I noticed when I wore my sunglasses that the foundation did not just fade in the areas where the sunglasses touched my face, it looked like huge patches of my foundation has been ripped off.

Overall Routine Rating: 4 / 10

*Other Products Used in Routine: Balea Sensitive Micellar Water, CeraVe PM Facial Lotion & Missha All Around Safe Block Sun Essence

I dislike most aspects of this routine, the only saving grace was the Kat von D liquid foundation & it still is not a product I would ever consider purchasing. I would feel more neutral about the Etude House lip tint if it did not have such a harsh chemical taste & it stung my lips, though this could have been due to dryness. The only product I actively hated was the Heimish base, but this product might be better suited for oilier skin types than mine.

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Tony Moly Brightening Foam Cleanser

I tend to stay away from foaming cleansers because I have not found one that didn’t strip my dry skin & this cleanser did not covert me to the foam life. This is one of the most stripping cleansers I have ever tried so I suspect this has a higher pH. My skin felt so parched, it was record screeching levels of “squeaky clean”. This product burned my eyes terribly & they were red for the rest of the night, though I have ridiculously sensitive eyes. This was one of my most disliked samples I tried this week.

La Roche Posay Make-Up Remover Milk

I usually use micellar water for heavy-duty make-up removal & this product ensured micellar is still my preference. The first strike is this is advertised for sensitive skin types as being scent & alcohol free, but added fragrance & highly comedogenic alcohol are part of the ingredient listStop bullshitting me, I am not illiterate, La Roche Posay! This product stung my eyes & I still had lingering waterproof eye make-up after using this.

Tony Moly Floria Nutra Energy 100 Hours Cream

This product was just all sorts of “no” for me, it is a stereotypical “grandma” moisturizer. The stench of perfume was suffocating & lingered 15 minutes after application. The ingredient list contains a lot of trendy & beneficial ingredients, but these ingredients are lower in the ingredient list & there is too much silicon for my preference. It is a heavy cream, but it is the type of cream that is so thick it did not absorb into my dry skin at all & I woke up with a greasy face.

Overall Routine Rating: 1 / 10

*Other Products Used in Routine: Juara Taramind Tea Hydrating Toner

This was my worst routine of the week by far, every product I tried made it onto my Hate List. Each sample made my skin or eyes feel uncomfortable, I had a scent-triggered headache after this routine as well. My skin even felt uncomfortable the next day because it was so stripped & improperly moisturized. I could’ve used two of the samples more than once, but I threw everything away after this routine.

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Tony Moly The Fresh Phytoncide Pore Gel Cream

This was my least favorite moisturizer of all the samples I tried, but it may work well for oilier skin types than my own. The product smells so strongly antisceptic that I was not surprised to see alcohol at the top of the ingredient list. It contains lavender & citrus extract as well, which can be skin irritants. My skin felt tighter & drier after using this product, I had to follow-up with another moisturizer after using this product.

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Sun Fluid SPF 50+

Processed with Snapseed.If you are familiar with the Anthelios sunscreen line, then you already know they have the worst white-casts of any facial sunscreen to have ever been produced [This A Little Driftless fact, not an actual fact though the whitecast is BAD]. This version is supposed to be their non white-cast sunscreen so I was intrigued what they did to alter their mineral sunscreen formula.

Apparently La Roche Posay’s solution was to color tint the sunscreen, which is problematic because it only comes in one very orange shade & it doesn’t really resolve the issue of white cast since I found it had terrible flashback in pictures.

This product was far too warm for my skin tone so I looked like an Oompa Loompa, it definitely would not work for anyone with deeper skin shades. I found that this sunscreen never absorbed well despite layering this with different moisturizers, it was drying & the color tint sunk into fine lines. The product only contains one UV filter & does not contain enough UVA protections for my preferences.

Etude House Baby Choux Base SPF 33+ in #3 Peach Shoux

My initial reaction when I applied this product was that it literally looked like paint on my face. This is part of a color correcting facial primer series from Etude House, this shade is supposed to be the neutral version to even the complexion. I am a NC20 shade & this product looked like a chalky white film on my skin so I definitely would not recommend this product to anyone with darker complexions. This product did technically neutralize my complexion by eradicating all color & dimension from my face, but it was very thick & uncomfortable to wear. It also did not seem to work well with the BB cream I wore, I felt like the BB cream became very patchy & broke apart of certain areas of my face because of this primer.

Etude House Precious Mineral BB Cream Blooming Fit SPF 30+ in N02

This was the most exciting sample I tried & I am currently considering buying the full-size. I typically prefer traditional liquid foundations to BB creams because I have issues with finding the right shade of BB Cream & this type of product is not common in my area so I cannot swatch it in-store.

This product only comes in 3 shades, but the lightest shade worked surprisingly well on my skin tone though it was not a perfect match. It is matte & has higher coverage than most BB creams with a soft-focus finish. I did have some issues with the product getting patchy & breaking apart on my nose / chin areas throughout the day, but this may have been an issue with the primer. I really wish I had another sample so I could try it out again!

Overall Routine Rating: 4 / 10

*Other Products Used in Routine: Balea Sensitive Micellar Water & CeraVe PM Facial Lotion

This is another routine that has a single saving grace, Etude House Precious Minerals BB Cream & it is the only sample that I am considering purchasing the full-size. The only product I hated was the Mizon gel cream because it made my face feel tight, but the other two products were just personal preference issues.

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Dr G Brightening Peeling Gel

I do not typically use peeling gels since I think they are a bit gimmicky, but they are an alternative if you are seeking an extremely mild physical exfoliator. If you are unfamiliar with this type of product, it is a liquid cleanser packed with silicone that will ball up once you begin rubbing it onto your face. This product was so dense with silicone, it was even sticking to the pads of my fingers!

I wouldn’t purchase a full-size not only because this is not a type of product I would reach for, but the smell is overpowering strong as well. It smells very herbal & antiseptic. I was surprised to see there was no alcohol in the ingredient list because my skin felt so dry after using this product, but BHA is fairly high on the list.

La Roche Posay Redermic C Lotion

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No makeup, oxidation on cheek & along jaw-line

The scent was my initial turn-off to the product as it smells like Alka-Seltzer, which is an orange cold medicine tablet that dissolves in water if you are unfamiliar with the product. Not only does it smell bad, but it reminds me of being sick. I was still hoping this would be a good AM moisturizer since is has SPF & Vitamin C “boosts” sunscreen, but this moisturizer has the strangest reaction of any skincare item I have ever tried.

This moisturizer oxidizes on the skin & turns orange. I tried it with different skincare products, with & without makeup; but I was still an Oompa Loompa every time I used this. I also already use a 20% vitamin c serum so this product was just redundant in my routine. The ingredient list is nice, but I wouldn’t pay the $55.00 price tag even if it was a good product.

Innisfree Eco Safety Aqua Perfect Sun Gel SPF 50+

I was surprised this was such a watery sunscreen, it almost felt like a toner & it was a bit difficult to apply. It does absorb quickly & it is mattifying, though it can feel slightly drying. It layered under makeup extremely well & my face did not get oily throughout the day. It has a nice ingredient list if you like fermented & botanical extracts, but I would want more UVA protection than this product offers.

Etude House Fresh Cherry Tint in Pink

I do not find the pink to be as problematic as the red in this lip tint. It did stain my fingers when I applied the product, but it is not as dark & did not rub off on everything I touched. I did find it to be slightly drying, but it was not the painful burning dryness I experienced with the red. The color also faded very quickly from my lips, despite not eating anything & only drinking from a bottle of water. I am not a huge fan of this color, just not something I would ever purchase.

Overall Routine Rating: 4 / 10

*No Other Products Used in Routine

The only product I strongly disliked in this routine was the La Roche Posay vitamin c moisturizer. The oxidation inclines me to believe this product is just poorly formulated because the packaging type is the best for this type of product. The oxidation at least doesn’t stain the skin, but it is noticeable enough that other people pointed this out to me. Luckily all the other products were average & that is the saving grace of this routine. I would not purchase full-sizes of any of these samples, but they wore well throughout the day otherwise & layered well with make-up.

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La Roche Posay Effaclar Astringent Micro-Exfoliating Lotion

This is not a product I would gravitate towards, but it is a higher end sample & I had some hormonal breakouts on my chin. I was surprised how gentle this toner felt on my skin, but I did not notice a difference in the whiteheads when I used this sample. I ended up tossing the sample despite having multiple uses left because the very short ingredient list contains a number of irritants I didn’t want to risk.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo Unclogging Care Anti-Imperfections

I was the most confused by this sample because I could not figure out what it was. The website claims this product will keep your face matte & hydrated for 24 hours. This product is from the La Roche Posay acne-care line so I thought it would be a moisturizer for oily or acne prone skin, but the ingredient list seems like it is targeted for drier skin types & it does contain common acne triggers high in the list.

Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule Borabit

This is the reformulated version of an old cult classic, which I have only tried the original “long name” ampoule. The consistency & scent was the same as the old version, my skin felt slightly more hydrated. This type of product is difficult to judge when you only have one sample, but it felt exactly like the old version on my skin. The ingredient list for the new Borabit version is longer & there is the same amount of unknown retinol as the old version, but the ingredients appear to be very mild. I wouldn’t buy a full-size because I wasn’t impressed with the original version & I prefer retinol as its own product.

The Face Shop Blanclouding White Moisture Cream

I have always had bad luck with The Face Shop products, but this sample was better than other I’ve tried. I would not purchase a full-size, but I did not actively dislike anything about the moisturizer. I used this in my PM skincare routine, but I think it is better suited for AM. It has a very thin, watery consistency that dried quickly. I actually thought it looked like a cleanser when I first opened the sample because it was so translucent & fluid, ultimately I applied another moisturizer after this because I prefer thicker moisturizers in my nightly routine. It does have a faint floral perfume smell that was not my favorite, but it didn’t trigger any headaches either.

Overall Routine Rating: 6 / 10

*Other Products Used in Routine: Amore Pacific illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil, Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing Cleanser & CeraVe PM Facial Lotion

This was another neutral routine for me as I had no issues with any of the samples, but there were none that attracted me either. I didn’t have any scent related issues with any samples so this was a very mild routine. I was the most impressed with The Face Shop moisturizer, but I would need to see a full ingredient list that eluded my google searches.

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Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning Emulsion

The first issue with this BHA is it has a pH of 4.3, which is too high for this product to be an effective exfoliator. I would not purchase a “broken” product that does not work anyway, but I found the product to be too drying & the smell of tea tree is overpowering in this product. I have many issues with the ingredient list as well, but why bother going into it when there are already enough flaws with the product to make me never consider purchasing already?

Mizon Returning Starfish Cream

I never got onto the AB community hype train for this product when it first started trending 2 years ago, but this product was mourned by the masses when it was discontinued last year. I am very late to the starfish game since I am only trying it now, but it is definitely not something  I need in my life after trying it. It has a mild perfume scent, but nothing overwhelming & it dissipates quickly. I have read many reviews where people raved this was their favorite winter moisturizer, but I found the sample to be a thin consistency & only mildly moisturizing. There are quite a few botanical oils that would be good for dehydrated skin, but I personally am not a fan of having pulverized starfish bits in my skincare.

Skinfood Royal Honey Nutrition Cream

I have tried samples of many products from the Skinfood Royal Honey line that I have really enjoyed, but this sample is the exception. This product has an incredibly dense, waxy formula that made it difficult to apply to the skin. I felt like I was really tugging on my face as I tried to spread this on my skin. It smells lightly like an artificial sweetener, but nothing very noticeable & dissipated quickly. It felt slightly uncomfortable on my skin because it was so heavy & it did not fully absorb even when I went to bed, but I woke up with a non-greasy face so it eventually sunk into my skin after a few hours. I would definitely recommend the Skinfood Royal Honey Hydro Cream over this.

Overall Routine Rating: 2 / 10

*Other Products Used in Routine: Balea Cleansing Oil & Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing Cleanser

I accidentally had 2 moisturizers in this sample routine because I misread the Skinfood sample as being an eye cream. Luckily I ended up needing both moisturizers because the Mizon was not enough hydration for my skin. I did not like anything in this routine, but the only product I absolutely hated was the Cosrx BHA emulsion. The Skinfood Nutrition Cream was just a personal preference because I really did not like formula. The relative best sample in this routine was the Mizon starfish cream, but I would never consider buying due to the ethics behind the ingredients even if it hadn’t been discontinued.

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Skinfood Royal Honey Mask

This is a hydrating exfoliation mask. You are supposed to apply the mask, then begin rubbing the mask on your face without washing it off after 10 minutes. The effect is the same as peeling gels, the product contains a lot of silicon & this will turn into small “pills” that provide a gentle physical exfoliation. This is a nice mask, my skin does feel slightly more hydrated after I use it. I am just unlikely to buy this though because I have other hydrating masks & facial scrubs I prefer, but I would definitely recommend this to someone just getting started in skincare.

Missha Time Revolution Intensive First Treatment Essence

I have tried many samples of this toner before, I objectively believe this is a good skincare product & I kept this sample because I know I like it. However, I have already written a past post about why I am not going to purchase the Intensive reformulation. It still has an attractive ingredient list, but they eliminated ingredients I seek in this type of product & the price point is the same as the original formula. It is not like I would be upset if I was gifted this item & I would totally use this product until it was empty, but I couldn’t justify buying it for myself.

Liole Intensive Time Reversing Snail Cream

Liole is one of those brands where I get excited reading about their products & their ingredient lists online, but I am repeatedly disappointed with the formulation. I was preparing to be disappointed even as I opened the sample, but I was immediately impressed with this as I was applying it to my skin. It is a medium, occlusive cream that has such a soft & fluffy texture unlike anything I have experienced. This product was not a miracle worker on my skin, but it dried matte & my skin felt moisturized in the morning. It has a great ingredient list that you should look into if you like snail mucin & niacinamide. It is not a product I would seek out, but I would definitely consider purchasing if I stumbled upon it in-store.

Overall Routine Rating: 8 / 10

*Other Products Used in Routine: Balea Cleansing Oil & Burt’s Bees Radiance Royal Jelly Cleanser

I liked every sample in this routine, but I am unlikely to purchase full-size products. If I was newer in skincare & had not tried as many products, I would definitely consider purchasing full sizes of all the samples. I definitely would not hesitate at recommending any of these products because they are low scent sensitivity & acne trigger risks.

The Sample Findings

This is my favorite part, the numbers! First I will breakdown the samples into reaction categories ranging from samples I regret putting on my skin to items I want to buy the full size now, then I will calculate some data the type of samples I gravitated towards & discuss the companies that provided the free samples.


Liked Indifferent Disliked


Etude House Perfect Mineral BB Cream


Missha Intensive FTE

Liole Snail Cream

Skinfood Honey Mask


Innisfree Eco Safety Sun Gel

Etude House Fresh Cherry Tint / Pink

The Face Shop Blanclouding  Cream

Missha Borabit Ampoule

La Roche Posay Unclogging Care

Kat von D foundation

Etude House Fresh Cherry Tint / Red

La Roche Posay Anthelios

Mizon Starfish Cream

Dr G Peeling Gel

La Roche Posay Toner

Heimish Artless Glow Base

Etude House Baby Choux Base

Tony Moly Nutra Cream

La Roche Posay Makeup Remover

Tony Moly Pore Gel Cream

Cosrx BHA Emulsion

Skinfood Honey Nutrition Cream

Tony Moly Floria cleanser

La Roche Posay Redermic C

Preference Totals:

  • I Loved 4% of all the samples I tried & would consider purchasing full-size
  • I Liked 13% of the samples, but unlikely to purchase full-size
  • I felt Neutral about 21% of the tested samples
  • I Disliked 25% of the samples, but had no negative reactions on my skin
  • I Hated 37% of the samples because they caused an issue for me [This ranges from scent triggered migraines, poor pH, acne, or dryness]

This may not seem like a successful challenge since I had negative feelings [62%] for over half of the tested samples, but this round was so much better than my initial sample week challenge. I had positive feelings in regards to only 8% of the samples & negative feelings for 63% of the tested samples in my last post.

There are 2 major differences in both of these challenges that likely lead to this most recent sample week challenge to be more successful:

  1. My 1st sample challenge contained a lot of high-end brand samples [Shiseido, Sum37, Dr Brandt, etc] that I tried only because they were luxury brand & receiving samples from these brands is rare. I did not necessarily try these high-end samples because I was particularly interested in the product, which was the main focus of this particular challenge because I only had samples from low-to-mid tier brands. In other words, only keep samples of products you actually want to try & not because a certain brand name is slapped on the packaging!
  2. This is something more obvious that I should have done in my first challenge, but I looked up the ingredients of samples before trying them in this more recent challenge. I wanted to have organic reactions to samples in my initial challenge so I didn’t look-up ingredient lists until after I tried them, but I had some bad reactions & a few samples contained ingredients I absolutely do not use on my skin so I knew this needed to be changed.

Company  Totals:

I did something a bit different this time. I broke down the percentages of routine & product type in the initial challenge, but I thought it would more interesting to see my preferences based upon the company that sent me the samples. I wanted to see if there was a certain company I was more or less satisfied with the samples, but there are some obvious flaws that I will get into later.

Let’s focus on the number of samples sent from a particular company & my reception of the samples. I grouped “Loved” & “Liked” samples from the table into the Positive group, then “Disliked” & “Hated” into the Negative group.

  • Jolse: 11 Samples, 45% of routine.
    • 18% Positive, 9% Neutral, 70% Negative
  • BB Cosmetic: 4 Samples, 17% of routine.
    • 25% Positive, 50% Neutral, 25% Negative
  • TesterKorea: 4 Samples, 17% of routine.
    • 25% Positive, 25% Neutral, 50% Negative 
  • Hickey’s Pharmacy in Dublin, Ireland: 4 Samples, 17% of routine.
    • 25% Neutral, 75% Negative
  • Sephora USA: 1 Sample, 4% of routine.
    • 100% Negative

Some of the statistical flaws are obvious, like nearly half of my sample routine comes from Jolse & I only used a single sample from Sephora so the samples are not representative of the company. I only save samples that I would actually use as well so while I will keep all the samples from Sephora because I choose the samples or BB Cosmetic since they send very limited, higher end samples; I only keep many 10% – 40% of samples I receive from Jolse because they send a large quantity of samples.

The Dublin pharmacy samples are in a grey bias area. The pharmacy was giving away pouches with over a dozen La Roche Posay samples for free, I didn’t realize I grabbed a pouch with samples from their acne prone line. I do occasionally get pimples around my menstrual cycle & I am always interested in trying more French cosmetics, but these samples are really not beneficial to my skin type so I didn’t have high expectations from these samples.

Despite the biases, the statistics do represent trends I recognize from certain companies. I tend to like the samples I receive from BB Cosmetic & TesterKore the most. I do not shop at Sephora for skincare because they do not carry the brands I like, but I always take the 4 free samples because they are high-end brands I wouldn’t try otherwise. I am most likely to dislike samples from Jolse because they send me so many that I keep some lackluster samples because I feel guilty throwing so many away.

The ultimate takeaway is similar to my last challenge that I overwhelmingly dislike the majority of samples I am sent. I had negative feelings towards 62% of the samples I kept because I thought I might like them, if we included all the samples I ever received then this number would be closer to 80% of higher.

I believe this topic is worth discussing because samples are more than little bonuses thrown in with each order. If consumers are throwing away so many samples then discussions on environmental waste issues & the impact of companies on this issue. What is your stance on these topics? Do you keep all the samples you are sent or what is your favorite type of sample to be sent?




  1. valleyofthegoths says

    Congratulations on becoming a French citizen! Glad you’re feeling better! This is a great review because I have a lot of the same samples that I haven’t tried yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, this is such an informative post!! And so many samples! I thought I had a lot!

    I also have the tonymoly 100 hour cream sample but I haven’t tested it yet…kinda scared cos I hate thick creams…even more so cos am combo/oily ><

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh, this is only a dent unfortunately since I tend to hoard & forget about samples >.<

      The Tony Moly cream is definitely a bit greasy, but if would probably make a good foot or hand cream during the winter months if you don't think it will work for your face!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I avoid any grease on my face unless it’s an actual oil! Otherwise, I break out >.<

        Using it for hands or feet sounds like a good idea though! Thanks!


  3. Pingback: The 2nd Annual Skincare Dundies: Favorites & Hate-Its of 2016 – The Porcelain Chronicles

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