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Review: AmorePacific illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil

Has the “Hanbang” trend been missing from the collection of skincare novelties crowding your bathroom sink? If you have felt the need for a concoction of Korean medicinal herbs, AmorePacific has designed an entire product line with this in mind. The illi line contains a number of body care & lotions, I decided to try the cleansing oil because my body care routine is humorously non-existent.


Amore Pacific is a South Korean cosmetic giant that subsidizes many other popular cosmetic brands. Their high-end price tag is justified by their cosmetic research partnerships with institutions such as Harvard University, constant technological development from ingredient cultivation at their exclusive farms until it reaches store shelves; and their botanical ingredients, most notably they popularized EGCG [Green Tea].

Amore Pacific is active in sustainability, including environment protection & ethical product development. They also have been a huge advocate of women’s rights & corporate social responsibility, winning them a collection of awards throughout Asia. Amore Pacific is proud of their track record & their website displays it, along with their Sustainability Annual Reports. Sustainability is a newer trend in Eastern skincare so it is typically more difficult to find corporate sustainability efforts of many companies by a simple Google search, but Amore Pacific goes above & beyond what even Western cosmetic brands are willing to share.


The is an oil cleanser that is intended to be used as the initial step of a Double Cleansing routine. The first cleanser is intended to breakup makeup & skin impurities to be washed away by whatever subsequent water-based cleanser used in your routine.


Double cleansing is intended to be done once a day, otherwise it can be very stripping to the skin. It also tends to be done as part of a PM routine since that is when most individuals need to “take off the day” of sunscreen, makeup & grime buildup. Oil cleansers are the very first step of a skincare routine, followed immediately by the secondary water-based cleanser.



The formula is so fluid & clear, I would not even guess this was an oil cleanser based on appearance. It feels unnaturally light in my hands & lacks a certain “grittiness” I experience while washing with other oil cleansers, but since this product is so watery the application is not as easy to control.


The smell is very mild & dissipates quickly. Despite the traditional medicinal roots of the ingredient list, this product smells more floral than earthy. I typically do not prefer floral scents, but the smell is mild enough that I barely notice it.


The packaging is durable & attractive since I prefer a sleek modern aesthetic in contrast to the popular elaborate packaging of Eastern cosmetics. I do find the pump to be a bit clumsy though. I need about 1.5 pumps to thoroughly cleanse my face, but this pump is a difficult to control so it forces me to use an excessive amount of product & lessens the overall value.

It may just be an issue with my bottle, but does anyone else experience leaking issues with this product? All oil cleanser packaging is infamous for travelling very poorly & this product went into “hot mess mode” after initial use at home, leaking around the albeit gorgeous pump.


This unsuspecting hanbang product has an impressive ingredient list with the empirical support of modern studies. It has a great performance record as well, removing nearly all of my makeup with ease. It is extremely light & fluid that it almost doesn’t feel like oil on my face so it may be a good choice for anyone that struggles with oils causing clogged pores. This oil cleanser washes off so cleanly I almost feel like I do not need the subsequent water cleanser, it is definitely one of the best performing oil cleansers I have ever tried.

I do prefer a “grittier” cleanser, like Kose Deep Cleansing Oil, because it leaves my face feeling cleaner at the end of the double cleansing method & I feel like the application is easier to control; but that is strictly personal preference & doesn’t reflect on the performance of the Amore Pacific oil cleanser.

This product has the ingredient list, proof from the people in lab coats & outstanding performance level. What more can you really ask of an oil cleanser?

… Besides affordability, that is something definitely missing in this product. If you are buying products from a high-end brand though, you really should not be surprised by the sticker shock. While the ingredient list is an attractive little number, it is important to keep in mind that this is a wash-off product so the derived skincare benefits will be minimal.

There are 2 acne triggers [1 being high] & 1 irritant according to CosDNA.

Ingredient List

Mineral oil, Isopropyl palmitate, Pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric triglyceride, Pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate, PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate, PEG-8 isostearate, Panax ginseng root extract, Camellia sinensis leaf extract, Camellia japonica seed oil, Natto gum, Dextrin palmitate, Glyceryl behenate/eicosadioate, Butylene glycol, Water, Fragrance

Mineral & Palm Oils

These two oils make up the oil components of the cleanser with mineral oil being the base. Mineral oil is typically derived from petroleum, which is considered one of the most gentle & non-comedogenic skincare oils though many have reported it as an acne-trigger. It is extremely accessible & cheap to manufacture so it is commonly seen in many skincare products.

Palm oil is one of my personal struggle areas because it is a fantastic antioxidant emollient; but there are huge economic, human rights & environmental issues linked to it as well. Amore Pacific imports sustainable palm oil & words towards sustainable accountability to all companies. They are doing everything within their power as a large company to do the right thing, but they also import 7,000 tons of the ingredient & some sustainability issues can be so difficult to track or predict.


The “hangbang” of all traditional herbs from the Far East, this is a potent antioxidant that is renowned in the modern era for its potential to heal skin & possibly an anti-carcenagen

Green Tea

Another potent antioxidant that calms inflammation, prevents collagen breakdown & reduces UV damage

Tea Seed

This is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, fatty acid & collagen stimulant all rolled into one powerful ingredient

Natto Gum

Fermented bi-product of soy protein shown to have antioxidant benefits, though research is limited


Product Price:  $26.33 USD / 6.8oz = $3.87 USD per Ounce

This is an expensive cleanser, but it is not completely unreasonable once the product amount is taken into consideration. The bottle is quite small so I was surprised it contained in this much product. The product is online accessible both in the USA & EU countries.

Ultimately the purchasing decision will come down to how you personally choose to spend your consumer power. Amore Pacific is a sustainable company & I love supporting conscious companies, but this product is just a cleanser. A mineral oil based one at that. We can argue the quality of formulation & specific oil types, but mineral oil is always cheap no matter the quality so this is still a premium price.

Other mentions worth noting is when I checked the price of this product on a few different online shopping sites, the purchasing price had a huge range. When comparative shopping, one can usually expect to see $3 – $4 USD price difference between sites for the same product & this is easily explained through shipping methods, import taxes, or other common factors. This specific product ranged between $21 – $31 USD [Not including shipping] between sites, which is a fairly big gap.

Since I come from a marketing background, this is sometimes a red flag that the product may not be selling well or discontinued in a not-so-distant future.


When brands are sold in non-brand shops, there is a contract in place that states the terms for hosting the brand’s products. Especially when it comes to wholesalers, like Jolse or Sephora, part of the agreement is how long a product will be available on the site. Once we start seeing dramatic price cuts, it typically means the contract is close to expiring & the shops need to purge inventory to make room for the next contracted product.

If this is a cleanser you have used & thoroughly enjoy it, this is something to consider before declaring it your “Holy Grail”.


Rating: 4 / 5

This is a nice product, but it is not revolutionary. It is a high-end cleanser & if you have a limited budget, it would be better to invest in a great serum or moisturizer instead of a cleansing step. The ingredient list is Hanbang-chic, but I try to avoid using Palm Oil  for sustainability issues. The cleanser performs extremely well & I would definitely recommend it to someone with disposable income, but I am unlikely to repurchase.

Updated Skincare Routine | Spring & Summer 2019

It has been a while! Some time has passed, as well as some life events. I am settling back into my life in Chicago after living abroad the last few years, reconnecting with people& finding a new sense of home.

While skincare is still a staple to my self-care & identity, I do not know the regularity I will be reviewing here. I have another blog, centered on lifestyle & expat experiences. But that has long been neglected as well.

I have been refocusing my skincare to incorporate minimal plastic & ethically sourced cosmetics, I have been trying some new products & having a love affair with Klairs so there should be some upcoming reviews in the future! Let’s begin with my new skincare routine, featuring some classical favorites & recent additions…

Oil Cleanser:
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil

Value: $10.49 – 6.5oz / 192ml | Testing

I just received this product last week. While an oil cleanser only has one job, I do not feel comfortable passing judgment just yet. It does remove my make-up, though I still prefer other oil cleansers such as Tosowoong or Kose.

Water-Based Cleanser: Equate Hydrating Cleanser

Value: $5.34 – 12oz / 355ml | Review

Finally, a dupe for the classic CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser! Need I say more?


Thayer’s Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner – Cucumber

Value: $3.50 – 3oz / 89ml

Witch hazel is a necessary step for all of my t-zone blackheads that sprout once hotter weather is upon us. I have used Thayer’s for years, though I was happy to discover the travel size since my skin is too dry to use this all over my face.

Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner

Value: $21.99 – 6.1oz / 180ml

This has been the most recent staple of my skincare routine, it is the best hydrating toner I have found since my sacred Missha Zysos formula was discontinued many moons ago.


CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Value: $16.99 – 1oz / 30ml

I received this product as a gift over the winter holidays, the small packaging is deceptive since I still have so much product left while using daily for the past five months. It feels like a lightweight cream, I still use this at night after a chemical peel though I prefer using this in months with milder weather.

I’m From Ginseng Serum

Value: $21.60 – 1oz / 30ml | Testing

I do enjoy that this serum is moisturizing without feeling sticky, but I do wish I had purchased this in the autumn or winter since it is thick. I have no final verdict at the moment, but I have been enjoying it so far!

Klairs Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drops

Value: $30.00 – 0.7oz / 20ml | Testing

I have not formed an opinion on this product yet since it is so new to my routine. I have not encountered any problems so far & I desperately want to believe all the peptides it contains are doing magical things to my face!

Wishtrend Polyphenols in Propolis 15% Ampoule

Value: $32.00 – 1oz / 30ml | Testing

This came in a special kit I ordered through 2Hearts1Seoul. Honey has always been an ingredient that has always worked well for my skin & I have enjoyed using this product as a moisturizer substitutes on humid days, but I am not sure if I like it better than Tosowoong’s cheaper alternative yet.


Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum

Value: $18.75 – 1oz / 30ml

I have struggled with finding my ideal vitamin c serum, but I finally found it!

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%

Value: $6.50 – 1oz / 30ml | Review

I only actives by this brand! Nothing can beat the potency at their price point. I am glad I chose the 5% instead of the 10% version since my cheeks still feel sensitive on occasion after using the milder version.


I’m From Vitamin Tree Water Gel

Value: $28.00 – 2.5oz / 75ml | Review

I only use this product in the evening for reasons listed in my original review. It is the perfect hydrating, yet brightening option for warm summer nights.

Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream

Value: $24.50 – 1oz / 30ml | Testing

I have been using this product on nights when my skin needs more moisture or after a chemical peel. I have a feeling I will not be repurchasing this, though I will have no problem using it. There are a few ingredients not ideal for drier skin types & it smells so strongly of botanicals.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

Value: $9.80 – 1oz / 30ml

I am the oil queen, slathering my face & body in various oils on the daily. This has been my favorite facial moisturizer in recent memory, especially for warmer months!


Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun

Value: $11.00 – 1.7oz / 50ml | Review

I love this sunscreen, it is known! I have always hand this sunscreen in my cabinet, no matter which country I was residing in or number of other sunscreens I was testing. This product offers great UVA & UVB protection, while simultaneously moisturizing & lightweight.

Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF50

Value: $23.00 – 2.7oz / 80ml | Testing

I only received this recently & it seems nice, but it is hard to compete when I already have a Holy Grail sunscreen that is less than half the price.


The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Value: $7.20 – 1oz / 30ml

I have repurchased this product multiple times, it is love! It is the most effective acid I have used while not drying or sensitizing my skin. I use this product once a week in the evenings.

Origins Super Kombucha Skin Balancing SuperTea Mask

Value: $27.00 – 2.5oz / 75ml

This is a clay mask, I decided to try this new one during the brand’s Black Friday sales since their Rose Retexturing Mask is my absolute favorite. While this is a gentle clay mask, I definitely wish I would have purchased my favorite instead.

Origins Hello, Calm Relaxing & Hydrating Mask

Value: $28.00 – 2.5oz / 75ml

This is an oil-based hydrating mask. It does add a light dose of hydration & fullness to my skin, there are other hydrating masks I prefer to this one.

Spring seems to finally be settling in for my city, just as I am beginning to find myself comfortable here once again. I feel like I have a lot of things to say at time, but lacking words or energy. 

Do you guys have any plans for the warm weather? Any new cosmetics that have you excited?

My Updated Skincare Routine – Autumn / Winter 2018

It is a Wednesday & it feels like I am doing nothing for the first time in quite a while.

I have had the free time, but there has been a lot physical & mental energy spent on settling down in the Western Hemisphere while my next visa is pending.

It has been a long time, no skincare talk!

My routine has been non-existent recently, I just haven’t felt like it. I have moved continents & unsure how long I intend to stay, part of rebuilding a self-care routine & settling into my current lifestyle has been revitalizing my skincare stash.

Oil Cleanser: Generic Coconut Oil

Value: $4.99 – 14oz / 414ml


I feel like this defines how uninspired I have felt with skincare lately. I have resorted to using standard coconut oil that can be found on an Aldi shelf. I always have coconut oil on hand to use as a hair mask, my skin is not acne-prone so I can use it to remove make-up without any clogged pores. I have not been wearing much makeup lately between a humid & moving so I have not felt like I needed this step recently.

Water-Based Cleanser: Equate Hydrating Cleanser

Value: $5.34 – 12oz / 355ml

Definitely Repurchase

Guys. GUYS! We finally have a CeraVe dupe in The States! Equate is the generic Way-Mart brand, it is the first replica I have found of a CeraVe product. It is just as effective for less than half the price, I am definitely willing to sell my dignity to Wal-Mart for that!

Toner: Thayer’s Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner – Cucumber

Value: $3.50 – 3oz / 89ml


I have owned this toner many times before, I was so happy to find it in a travel-size! My dry & dehydrated skin cannot handle this product on my entire face, especially during the winter months. However, I love using this sparing around my nose & other places I get congested pores.

Vitamin C: Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum

Value: $18.75 – 1oz / 30ml


I have been using 20% vitamin c serums for the past five years. I consider it a vital step to my routine, but I have never been loyal to a particular product or brand. I have only been using this product for a week so no conclusive thoughts yet, it seems gentle & no breakouts so far.

Essence: The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics

Value: $6.80 – 10z / 30ml


This product was prized as one of the best skincare products by Glamour UK in October, Deciem offered this product at half-price so I thought I would give it a go! It is a lovely, thin layer of hydration & I have not experienced any adverse issues so far. I cannot tell if it is quite hydrating enough for my skin, more time will tell.

AHA: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%

Value: $6.50 – 1oz / 30ml


Can you tell I did another Deciem haul recently? I have only been using this product for a week, it seems very gentle so far & I am beginning to wonder if I would have preferred the 10% version.

Moisturizer: Trader Joe’s Nourish Oil-Free Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer

Value: $5.99 – 6oz / 144ml

Will Not Repurchase

This is an American supermarket brand if you are unfamiliar, they have surprisingly good skincare. This moisturizer has been inspiring the odd whitehead on my face, but otherwise I think it is a fantastic value for a product that contains retinol. This moisturizer does leave an oil residue on my dry skin so I definitely do not think this is suited for all skin types as advertised.

Oil: The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

Value: $9.80 – 1oz / 30ml


I have a love affairs with oils, as most people with dehydrated skin do. The marula oil from this brand has been my go-to purchase for the last few years. I began noticing skin texture & increasingly clogged pores around my nose with age, I saw the rose hip oil recommended by people dealing with acne scaring so I decided to try this instead.

Sunblock: Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun

Value: $11.00 – 1.7oz / 50ml

Repurchase – Holy Grail

This has been my most loved sunscreen for many moons, at least since 2015. It is moisturizing, offers UVA & UVB protection, plays well with other skincare layers & makeup.

Mask: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Value: $7.20 – 1oz / 30ml

Definitely Repurchase

This is my second bottle of the stuff, which is serious business in my universe. It works wonders on my durable face, yet gentle enough to use on my overly sensitive neck & chest. I have yet to find another acid peel that is as effective for this low of a price point.

 Missing Pieces of My Routine

There are more than a few gaps in my skincare routine. I am still seeking the fulfillments, please feel free to recommend any products you have been loving lately!

+Oil Cleanser

An actual oil cleanser, not a messy jar of coconut oil.

+AM Moisturizer

I can definitely finish the Trader Joe’s moisturizer currently in my arsenal, but it is not playing well with sunscreen & makeup. We are going to disregard that I shouldn’t be using in my day-time due to the retinol, but let’s move on from that!


I have never had an unfortunate reaction to retinol, but I still have not found a particular product I love for this step. It sounds like it is skincare play-time again!

+Post-Gym Skincare Routine

This is the first time in many years that I have started going to the gym so this is a new sphere of skincare to me! I only have time in the afternoons so I am hoping to find a non-striping cleansing routine & basic moisturizer.

Beauty Empties [02] | Spring 2018

Another time to dumpster dive!

You can read my first empties post here if interested. I include reviewed & non-reviewed cosmetics from my usual skincare to hair care, along with some household scents [because I can]. I was surprised I had no makeup to contribute this time, but this is a skincare dominated trash bin.

The Good:

  • Tosowoong Apricot Seed Oil
  • Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Serum
  • April Skin Sugar Coconut Cream
  • Missha Premium 95% Aloe Soothing Gel
  • Missha All Around Safe Block Sun Essence SPF 45+
  • CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream
  • Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Milk SPF 50+
  • Kind Natured Heavenly Coconut & Passion Flower Body Wash
  • Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque

The Average:

  • Seoul Ceuticals Day Glow Serum
  • Boots Essentials Cucumber Eye Gel
  • Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
  • Simple Kind to Skin Refreshing Facial Wash Gel
  • Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel
  • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day
  • Cosrx Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser
  • Yes to Carrots Scalp Relief Shampoo
  • Mizon Enjoy Fresh Sweet Honey Mask

The Bad:

  • Skinfood Premium Avocado Rich Essential Oil
  • Lush Cup O’ Coffee
  • Acwell Bubble-Free pH Balancing Cleanser
  • Palmer’s Olive Oil Formula Cleansing Conditioner Co-Wash


Acwell Bubble-Free pH Balancing Cleanser

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed May 2018

This cleanser was a cult classic in 2016, but it definitely did not live up to the hype when I tried it this year. The only positive thing I can say about this cleanser is it’s pH balanced, but this is becoming a common trait in cleansers so there are better, affordable options on the market.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel

Will Not Repurchase

I have tried everything Drunk Elephant has to offer, they do not have any products that I would ever repurchase. This gel is the least worth it, in my opinion. It is a very basic, lightweight gel. It does work well under makeup, but there is nothing exceptional about the ingredient list & it is not enough hydration for my dry skin.

Lush Cup O’ Coffee

Will Not Repurchase

I have not found any Lush skincare that has worked for me, this exfoliating clay mask is not an exception. The clay mask is drying, I definitely prefer the Origins Retexturizing Mask to this one for dry skin. The harshest aspect about this mask were the coffee grounds though, they are coarsely chopped & it felt like they were cutting into my skin when I tried to wash this off.

Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Milk SPF 50+

Maybe Repurchase

I liked this moisturizing sunscreen, but I went through this product exceptionally fast & I already have a Holy Grail sunscreen I prefer to this one. This did not seem to hold up to heat or sweat well, though it does not claim to be waterproof.

Simple Kind to Skin Refreshing Facial Wash Gel

Unlikely Repurchase

I bought this during a long-haul flight layover when I wanted to freshen up & discovered the face wash in my carry-on had detonated everywhere, I would likely only repurchase this in a similar desperate circumstance. It is a fine cleanser, but I found it could be drying on my skin.

Tosowoong Apricot Seed Oil

Definitely Repurchase

*Reviewed December 2017

This is the best oil cleanser I have found so far, it is an affordable option with a great ingredient list that removes waterproof makeup. It is not strongly scented & does not irritate my eyes, nothing more I could want!

Seoul Ceuticals Day Glow Serum

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed February 2018

This is a 20% SAP Vitamin C serum, which I had a lot of opinions about this one. I will not restate the past, but I will not repurchase because this was not an effective chemical exfoliant on my skin & lack of company transparency.

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Serum

Maybe Repurchase

This was an effective AHA on my skin, there are just other serums I prefer to this one. It is a thicker consistency than any other AHA I have ever tried & it felt heavy on the skin.

April Skin Sugar Coconut Cream

Maybe Repurchase

*Reviewed April 2018

I enjoyed this moisturizer, but I found myself going through this very quickly. It is not the most accessible moisturizer either, which is one of the main reasons I am not rushing to find another jar of this. It is one of the most hydrating & lightweight creams I have ever tried though.

Boots Essentials Cucumber Eye Gel

Will Not Repurchase

This eye gel contains a form of retinal so it may be a viable option for an introductory anti-aging product, but I did not find this hydrating enough for my under eyes & I did not notice any significant difference after I finished the tube.

Mizon Enjoy Fresh Sweet Honey Mask

Will Not Repurchase

There was nothing bad about this mask, but it did nothing for my skin. This is the first cosmetic I have ever owned that went bad before I could finish it, which speaks volumes to my indifference of it.

Missha All Around Safe Block Sun Essence SPF 45+

Definitely Repurchase

This has been my holy grail sunscreen for years, nothing has come close to replacing this for me. It is hydrating sun cream with a satin finish, it stays in place through mildly sweaty activities. I have not been able to find this online lately so I am beginning to get nervous that is may be discontinued. Do not do this to me, Missha!

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

Definitely Repurchase

This is a retinol night cream with a host of other inspiring ingredients, like peptides & niacinamide. This is a strong, exfoliating cream & I can feel it tingle on occasion despite using chemical exfoliants for years so I would not say this is a moisturizer for beginners.

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

Will Not Repurchase

I received a deluxe sample in a Sephora gift set. This is a nice oil, it is lightweight & absorbs quickly. The price point is comically inflated, just purchase The Ordinary version of this if you want a similar marula oil.

Body Care

Missha Premium 95% Aloe Soothing Gel

Definitely Repurchase

*Reviewed January 2018

This is one of my favorite aloe vera gels ever, it is very hydrating & fast absorbing. It does not contain any alcohol or silicons either.

Cosrx Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser


This is not a pH balanced cleanser, it is far too drying for my face. However, it works great on my back acne! I use this once or twice a week on my back, depending on the season & frequency I am outdoor running.

Kind Natured Heavenly Coconut & Passion Flower Body Wash


This is my favorite sulfate-free body wash at the drugstore, I always stock up whenever I am a Boots! My favorite scent is sea salt & bergamot, but this is a great option if you prefer fruity scents.

Hair Care

Skinfood Premium Avocado Rich Essential Oil

Will Not Repurchase

This is supposed to be a facial oil; but it gave me deep, cystic acne when I tried it. I did like using this in my hair though, I would use it as an overnight mask treatment or a few drops on my ends. However, it is over $15 & I have plenty of other hair products I like at a lower price tag.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day

Maybe Repurchase

This is an overnight hair treatment that the user puts on the ends of their hair & washes out the next day. This product makes me feel warm & fuzzy because my mum got it for my birthday because she read Cameron Diaz worships this product in one of her gossip magazines. Also, comical because the straight, blonde hair is far from my thick, dark Jew-fro that I inherited from my mother. I liked this product & my hair did feel more manageable on nights I remembered to use it, but it contains silicone so it is not Curly Girl Method friendly.

Palmer’s Olive Oil FOrmula Cleansing Conditioner Co-Wash

Will Not Repurchase

This has a strong tingling sensation, which I do not like so I would not repurchase based on this trait alone. There are other co-washes that get my hair cleaner than this one, I found this version difficult to wash out of my hair as well. It is not Curly Girl Method approved either.

Yes to Carrots Scalp Relief Shampoo

Will Not Repurchase

Sulfate-Free shampoos are not as easy to find on continental Europe as the USA. I bought this because someone told me it was sulfate-free, this was yet another lesson to research stuff online before heading any advice of others. This is a not sulfate-free shampoo. It is a perfectly fine shampoo, it washes out cleanly & I did not experience any dryness.

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque

Definitely Repurchase

This is my favorite hair mask of all time, I have been using it for years & I stock up on tubs of this every time I visit the homeland. It is Curly Girl Method approved, it is the most moisturizing hair masque I have used without scalp build-up or weighing down my curls.


Zara Home Diffuser – Black Vanilla


A serious design flaw with my apartment is the bathroom has no outlets, which makes hair styling an adventure! I typically keep an a plug-in scent diffuser in the bathroom, this is my first time using a traditional diffuser so I have been impressed. This is a musky vanilla scent, yet light enough not to overwhelm my small space.


The Ordinary: Haul & Initial Impressions

This is actually my second haul with The Ordinary.

Initially, I ordered a few products a little over a year ago. This is when issues with their CEO, Brandon Trauxe, initially spilled out for public display. I used the products I had, kept opinions myself & waited to see how the social media breakdowns around Trauxe would unfold.

I judge products based on the brand, I have boycotted many brands in the past, I include brand history & controversies in my cosmetics reviews because I believe it matters.

I look into company transparency, ethical production practices & association with any racist or prejudice behavior. Obviously, I do not purchase products from brands like Jeffree Star Cosmetics or anything Lorenzo Delpani touches because blatant discrimination has taken place. I do not buy products from L’Oreal that profited from WWII genocides without compensating surviving families. Tarte Cosmetics does not earn profit from me either because they posted a racist meme, blamed an intern & later released an abysmal shade range for a hyped new foundation.

I understand why consumers do not want to purchase from The Ordinary anymore, there are many great lists of replacement dupes for The Ordinary cosmetics that I will have listed here & here.

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 12.47.58 PM

However, The Ordinary has not crossed my personal line in the sand. Yet, at least.

Trauxe’s actions are from one individual of an entire company. I am disgusted by some of his social media activities, such as complaining about a homeless person in front of their NYC storefront. Trauxe publicly fired business partners & instigated arguments with customers on Instagram, but these actions are self-destructive rather than malicious towards others.

There are still good things associated with The Ordinary as well. Deciem is cruelty-free & sustainably source many of their ingredients. Cruelty-free is becoming more common in the Western cosmetic industry, but sustainability is an issue I hold close to my heart & it is much more difficult to find a company in any industry that is sustainable & free / direct trade.

After this elongated disclaimer, I decided to haul from The Ordinary again. This time I wanted to document my experience.

The Products

I received these products in April, I spent over a month introducing a single product into my routine over the course of a few days to a week. I am not acne-prone, but my skin tends to react quickly if it has a problem with a product. Some of these products I have been testing for close to two months, others I have only been using for a week or two.

Just for reference, I have dry & dehydrated skin. I am a 27-year-old female that lives in a Mediterranean climate.

Chemical Exfoliants

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Value: €8.70 / 240ml

Claims: Glycolic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin. This 7% toning solution offers mild exfoliation for improved skin radiance and visible clarity. This formula contains a studied Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative to help reduce irritation associated with acid use.

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F

Value: €17.70 / 30ml

Claims: Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is an oil-soluble derivative of Vitamin C that can be used in higher concentrations without drawbacks. It is one of the most stable derivatives of Vitamin C but, being a derivative, its potency will not be directly comparable to pure L-Ascorbic Acid. It is provided in this oil-format formula in combination with Vitamin F, also known as essential fatty acids.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Value: €7.20 / 30ml

Claims: This combined 29% AHA/BHA solution offers deeper exfoliation to help fight visible blemishes and for improved skin radiance.This formula is further supported with a crosspolymer form of hyaluronic acid for comfort, Vitamin B5 to assist healing and black carrot as an antioxidant.  

Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Value: €9.80 / 30ml

Claims: A 2% concentration of Granactive Retinoid which is a complex of solubilized Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR). HPR is a highly-advanced form of retinoid which is, in fact, a non-prescription ester of all-trans direct retinoic acid that offers a multi-fold better effect against signs of ageing than retinol, retinyl palmitate and nearly all other forms of non-prescription retinoid.

Initial Impression:

I love the Retinoid 2% Emulsion, this is a repurchase for me. I find it to be hydrating & non-irritating in this form, I never experienced skin flaking as I have with other retinol products.

The Glycolic Toner reminds me of a stronger version of the Pixi Glow Tonic, it definitely tingles my skin though I like it so far. I have only used the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Mask twice so far because this is potent. I have liked this as well & subsequent skincare products absorb seamlessly into my skin, but I find it more drying than other chemical exfoliating masks like Balea Enzyme Peel or Caudalie Glycolic Peel.

I have always had a hard time with Vitamin C products from The Ordinary, they just do not work for me. I like this one suspended in Vitamin F a lot better than others from The Ordinary, but I still find the consistency of this serum difficult to layer in my skincare routine.


Matrixyl 10% + HA

Value: €11.50 / 30ml

Claims: This formula contains two generations of Matrixyl, Matrixyl 3000 and Matrixyl Synthe’6, at a combined concentration of 10% by weight in a specialized Hyaluronic Acid delivery system. The peptide in Matrixyl 3000 is palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 and the peptide in Matrixyl Synthe’6 is palmitoyl tripeptide-38.

Marine Hyaluronics

Value: €6.80 / 30ml

Claims: The formula contains exopolysaccharides from skin-friendly marine bacteria, Hawaiian red algae, Glycoproteins from Antarctic marine sources, micro-filtered blue-green algae and several health-supporting amino acids.

100% Cold Pressed Marula Oil

Value: €9.90 / 30ml

Claims: It’s mostly composed of oleic acid and linoleic acid but also contains procyanidin, catechins and flavanoids. Marula oil offers antioxidants, hydrates the skin and is claimed to help restore a radiant tone.

Initial Impression:

I repurchased the Marula Oil after going through a bottle of it, likely the best facial oil I have ever tried. I am still trying to decipher how I feel about the 10% Matrixyl + HA & Marine Hyaluronics. Hydrating products like this will not have dramatics results like one might see with chemical exfoliation, plus I have only begun testing these two. The scent of the Marine Hyaluronics is off-putting so I am not sure if I would repurchase on this aspect alone.


10% Niacinamide + 1% Zinc

Value: €5.90 / 30ml

Claims: Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is indicated to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. A high 10% concentration of this vitamin is supported in the formula by zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid to balance visible aspects of sebum activity.

Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%

Value: €7.20 / 30ml

Claims: Resveratrol is a natural phenol found in several plants and our pure source is 100% derived from Japanese Knotweed. Ferulic Acid is a high-potency phytochemical antioxidant found naturally in walls of plant cells.

EUK 134 0.1%

Value: €8.80 / 30ml

Claims: EUK 134 is a mimetic of superoxide dismutase and catalase, forming an exceptionally rare self-regenerating molecule that scavenges superoxide free radicals, eliminates hydrogen peroxide and converts reactive oxygen species into water and oxygen.

Initial Impression:

The product I am the most unsure about is the EUK 134, I have used this the least of all these products because I am not sure where to place it my routine. Users are not supposed to add this to any routine that includes chemical exfoliants because it will impede on the antioxidant benefits. However, I have used some form of chemical exfoliant morning & night on a daily basis for years. I am unsure if an antioxidant can be as beneficial to my skin as 20% Vitamin C, AHA, or retinol.

I have enjoyed the 10% Niacinamide & 3% Resveratrol so far. I have only introduced the Resveratrol to my routine recently so I cannot say if this is a miracle worker for my complexion, but no harm or pimples from it so far. The Niacinamide was the first product I tested from this haul, I have absolutely fallen for this product so I know I will repurchase this already.

Things I Did Not Repurchase

I mentioned this is my second haul, earlier going over some products I had repurchased. I think it is important to mention the products I tried & did not love from my initial purchase as well.

Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

Value: €5.80 / 30ml

I loathed this product, it is a Vitamin C that is not suspended in water like a standard serum. This was gritty, drying & burning. It did not layer with any other skincare products. I only ever used this on my face once because I could not tolerate it. I tried using this on my hands, neck & chest; but it was too harsh for my skin & gritty consistency was uncomfortable to me.

Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Value: €6.70 / 30ml

I found this product to be quite drying. I had wanted to use this in my morning routine, particularly under my eyes or all over if my face was puffy. However, I noticed skin flaking under my eyes after a few uses of this, an area where I never experience that. I discontinued use & tried it again two more times, but same result with every attempt.


Value: €14.80 / 30ml

This was a nice enough product, a watery consistency that absorbed into my skin. I did not notice any grand results as I went through this bottle & I did not miss this from my routine when it was gone, I decided the price tag was too much for an additional layer of lightweight moisture to my routine.