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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.

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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.

PURPOSE

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.

ROUTINE PLACEMENT

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.

APPLICATION

Appearance

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.

 Scent

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.

Packaging

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.

PERFORMANCE

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.

Ginseng

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

VALUE

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.

Why?

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”.

OVERALL

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.

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

Skincare

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

Repurchase

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

Repurchase

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.

Scents

Zara Home Diffuser – Black Vanilla

Repurchase

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.

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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.

Hydrators

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.

Complexion

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.

Buffet

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.

 

Review: I’m From Vitamin Tree Water-Gel

Moisturizer & oils are a daily require for my skincare regimen, but summers are hot in the mediterranean & this gel caught my attention during my search for a moisturizer slightly less suffocating than my usual occlusive creams.

Brand

I’m From is based in South Korea, it is a sister cosmetic company of Skin & Lab and Chica Y Chico. The ingredients are spotlight for this brand, I’m From lists the origin & farm name from where it was harvested. I love the transparency, but it was difficult to find other information on this brand.

Product Claims

Here are the product claims from Wishtrend:

  • The premium whitening water gel is optimal for oily skin where a cream type product could feel a bit heavy.
  • The gel is rapidly absorbed by the skin, and the cooling sensation helps to quickly calm redness.
  • In addition, as certified by the FDA for its whitening function, it transforms the skin to appear brighter and more clear for a radiant look.

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I think I’m From did a number of things right while marketing this product! One skin type is specified, the ingredient list is definitely catered towards oily & acne prone skin types. I am unsure if the exact ingredient used in this formula is FDA approved, but the high concentrations of antioxidants & niacinamide are likely to produce pigmentation lightening & complexion brightening effects.

Application

Appearance

This is a semi-transparent gel that feels more like a cream gel at initial touch, but it completely melts into a watery consistency when applied onto the skin. It does absorb well into the skin, but it can sit on top of the skin if too much is applied.

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Scent

The smell is very subtle & no artificial fragrance is added. The notes that can be detected are very earthy, but it does dissipate.

Packaging

This gel comes in glass jar packaging with a screw-off lid. The plastic lid is thick & feels much more durable than my experiences with the April Skin moisturizer, featuring my constant fear of shattering the packaging. The I’m From gel does come with a spatula for scoping out the product, but I can never be bothered with it.

Performance

I ended up loving this moisturizer, but it was a rough start.

I test most new cosmetics in both morning & evening routines to see how it will fit best into my personal skincare routine. I had a reaction when I used this moisturizer in the mornings, I got painful & flaky patches of dryness around my mouth. I have dry & dehydrated skin so I am accustomed to the occasional skin flakiness, but I never experienced it in this area of my face & I never had such red, irritated flaking prior to this.img_4714

I began researching the ingredients only to discover over 70% of this ingredient list consisted of an antioxidant with AHA-like capabilities. If you’re unfamiliar with chemical exfoliation, it is a no-no to wear in sun exposure & not typically recommended for morning routines. I switched to only using this moisturizer in the evenings & I have never had a problem with it since then. I do live in the mediterranean so I experience higher UV exposure than many other places in the world so my reaction may be very location specific.

I gave my skin a break for over a month to recuperate from the irritation before diving into this moisturizer again, which is when I discovered my love for it! I was having issues with congested pores in my nose area at the time & I noticed within days of reintroducing this moisturizer to my routine that my pores appeared clearer. My overall complexion looked more even & brighter, I think this moisturizer could be a great option for acne-prone or inflamed skin types.

This moisturizer does layer well with other skincare products, but it is easy to go overboard with this moisturizer. I am used to slathering on the moisturizer at night because I have such dry skin, but a light hand is required for this water gel or it never seemed to absorb into my skin. If I went in too heavy with this gel, a grey layer would just sit on top of my face. It still felt lightweight, but it was obvious there was excess product just sitting on my face.

1 Acne Trigger & 1 Irritant according to CosDNA

Ingredients
Hippophae Rhamnoides Extract [70%], Dipropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Sodium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Pentylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Extract, Cyclohexasiloxane, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Saussurea Involucrata Extract, Selaginella Lepidophylla Extract, Rubus Chamaemorus Fruit Extract, Carbomer, Arginine, Allantoin, Bambusa Vulgaris Water, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Boswellia Serrata Resin Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ethyl Ascorbyl Ether

Sea Buckthorn

A potent antioxidant that contains malic & acetic acids, providing this product with astringent & chemical exfoliating benefits. It is a rich source of fatty acids & Vitamin C, though the benefits of the latter may be lost in cosmetic production.

Glycerin

It it is a naturally occurring substance that helps repair the outer skin barrier. This ingredients works to soften skin so other ingredients can more easily penetrate the skin.

Sodium Hyaluronate

This is the most bioavailable form of this hyaluronic acid, which is ordinarily considered a super ingredient for it’s water attracting & binding abilities.

Panthenol

Alcohol form of Vitamin B5 that acts a humectant, attracting & holding moisture in the skin.

Licorice Extract

An antioxidant that evens skin tone & reduces inflammation.

Portulaca Oleracea

An antioxidant with skin soothing properties, though some reports of skin dryness were associated in trials.

Witch Hazel

Antioxidant & anti-inflammatory, though high levels on tannins may cause some skin sensitivity issues

Misc. Ingredient Notes

It is important to note that the first ingredient makes up 70% of the ingredient list with different forms of the same ingredient making an appearance twice more. The rest of the ingredient list makes up 30% of the ingredient so these will be far lesser players in this gel. This moisturizer is packed with antioxidants & anti-inflammatories, there are a number of astringents as well though I found this was still moisturizing for my dry skin.

There is nothing of concern that I notice when looking over the ingredient list, but the dominant ingredient has chemical exfoliation effects so it may not be ideal for daytime wear. I have worn this indoors during the day without any issues, but I obviously has issues when I would go outdoors with it as seen in the performance section.

Value

Price: $26.60 / 75ml, $10.64 per Ounce

This price is higher than I am typically willing to pay for a moisturizer, particularly one that does not contain retinol. However, I do think this price tag is justifiable. This moisturizer contains AHA antioxidants so there is a chemical exfoliating effect. I am not acne prone so I do not have to be as picky with my moisturizers, but I know this skincare step can be such a challenge for sensitive or oily skin types. This is a unique moisturizer & I think this is a great option for anyone that struggles with the standard ultra-rich creams.

This moisturizer is easily accessible online in East Asia & North America, but it has been more difficult to find in Europe. It is not impossible, but there are few online retailers that will ship to Europe & this moisturizer is definitely worth the effort!

Overall

Rating: 4 / 5

Despite some initial hiccups with this product, I grew to love it during the hotter seasons. My skin felt supple, my complexion appeared brighter, my pores did not appear as dark or clogged. It is a quality cosmetic, but it rivals the price of Sephora cosmetics & it is more expensive that I am willing to pay regularly for a moisturizer that does not contain retinal.

 

Skincare Haul & First Impressions: DM Edition

I recently found myself in a German border town, which meant I got to relive my most missed activity from my Austrian days: Raiding the local DM.

I had a flight to catch so I did not get to collect all the pretty skincare things my grabby hands desired, but DM’s section of recent product releases contained a few things that caught my attention. There are a few old favorites that I stocked up on as well.

The Cool, New Stuff

Balea Reinigende Maske mit Hyaluron & Algen-Extrakt

  • “Cleansing Mask with Hyaluronic Acid & Algae”
  • Value: €0.95 / Mask

There are 2 – 3 uses in this wash-off mask pod. It is a cooling gel with a fresh scent. I think oilier skin types might really enjoy this extra boost of hydration since it is very lightweight, but benefits were minimal on my dry skin.

Balea Tuch Maske Cool Camel

  • Advertised Claims: Cooling moisture & Contains almond oil
  • Value: €0.95 / Mask

This is a limited edition item, however I think it can be skipped entirely.

It is the driest sheet mask I have ever tried, it felt like the mask was barely saturated in serum. The entire mask was absorbed in less than 10 minutes on my skin. The mask is a medium-weight cotton, but I found the fit peculiar. The large eye holes came down to my cheek bones & it minimally covered my chin.

This is not a bad product so I would not dissuade someone from trying it, but there are far better sheet masks from other brands at DM that I would recommend over this. My skin really did not feel more hydrated after this mask because the essence was so minimal.

Nivea Fresh Natural 0% Aluminium [ACH] Deodorant

  • “Long-Lasting Freshness” with 48 Hour Protection
  • Value: €1.75 / 40ml

Stick deodorants are commonplace where I grew up, but spray-on or liquid roll-on deodorants dominate the Western European market. There do seem to be a few more options for stick foundations in Southern France, but they are typically heavily fragranced that are targeted towards athletic men.

I was excited to see this on the shelf because roll-on deodorants never seem to last well on me. This is an imperfect stick deodorant, it seems to melt in warm temperatures & it leaves white traces behind. I absolutely love the benefits so far though, it has gotten me through a Mediterranean spring day with no need to re-apply.

Lavera Basis Sensitiv Zahncreme mit Bio-Kamille & Naturiumflourid

  • Contains: Organic Chamomile & Natural Fluoride
  • Value: €1.85 / 75ml

I am not a vegan, but I do use natural toothpaste & I try to decrease the amount of animal products I use. I was not overly impressed with this toothpaste, my teeth did not feel entirely clean after use. It is not a bad product & I will not have a problem using the entire tube, I just prefer other natural toothpaste brands like Tom’s of Maine or Trader Joe’s.

The Classics

Balea Aqua Feuchtigkeits Serum

  • “Aqua Moisturizing Serum”
  • Value: €2.95 / 30ml

I bought this on recommendation from a friend, I have tried this about a dozen times & I am still trying to form an opinion on it. It is nice, but nothing exceptional for my skin. It is a nice layer of moisture, though it never seems to fully absorb into my skin so I can feel the albeit lightweight layer on my skin. It might be a nice moisturizer option for oilier skin types or anyone located in a humid climate.

Essence Lash Princess Volume Mascara

  • Value: €3.25

I have coveted this mascara for years. There are several different versions of this mascara, but this is the only one I continue to repurchase. I have long, but thin & straight lashes. This mascara has a wet formula that adds volume without clump & holds a curl very well. I cannot recommend trying this mascara enough if you have similar lashes to mine!

Essence Make Me Brow – 02 Browny Brows

  • Value: €2.45

This is my favorite eyebrow gel of all time! It adds volume to the hairs & holds them in place for 5-6 hours on me. This is one of the few cool-toned brow gels I have been able to find on the market, plus cannot beat the low price!

Essence Matt Matt Matt Lipstick – 02 Perfect Match

  • Value: €2.25

I like this lipstick, but it definitely is not as matte as I anticipated. It is a creamy formula with a satin finish that did not emphasize lip lines or dryness on my lips. I did purchase a pink-nude color, but I did not notice any issues with bleeding. The lipstick wears very well & fades gracefully. I would be interested in other colors if the shade range is ever expanded, this was the only color that peaked my interest.

 

Review: Acwell Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser

This pH balanced cleanser surged to cult classic status in the K-beauty world last yer. The Klog featured it, social media influencers raved about it & everyone else was trying to their hands on it.

This low foaming gel does come with a price tag that rivals mid-range brands from Sephora so I grappled whether to buy this or not for over a year. The popularity has been dying down, this cleanser has been replaced with other trendy cleansers on the Instagram. I am eager more than ever to see if this cleanser lives up to the hype!

Brand

Acwell seems like it was launched by another South Korean cosmetic company, BNH Cosmetics, in 2009. This is the same year that BNH Cosmetics launched as well. There appears to be some discrepancy, BNH’s site claims to have taken over Acwell in 2009 though I could not find any records of the company existing before 2009.

Nothing is inherently negative here, the company has existed for close to a decade at this point. I have some personal speculations about the Acwell marketing strategy. The company had such instantaneous rise to fame for key products that were sent as PR to social media influencers & raved about amongst Western retailers of Korean Cosmetics during this same period of time that I imagine there were paid partnerships at play.

Acwell claims to be traditional dermatology, utilizing over 400 years of traditional Korean medicine in their cosmetics. The brand specifically seeks the concept of “Donguibogam”, a balance of controlled properties by harmony similar.

Product Claims

Product Claims from the brand website:

  • Introducing a gentle cleanser that’s tough on makeup! With a low pH of 5.5, this lightweight gel cleanser effectively balances skin, helping it stay smooth and supple.
  • This cleanser is formulated with powerhouse ingredients like Centella, aloe, and witch hazel to hydrate, calm, and brighten skin with every wash. Licorice root extract also brightens skin while salicylic acid helps keep breakouts at bay.
  • Suitable for all skin types, this gentle cleanser is what you need to achieve healthy, balanced skin.

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 1.03.26 PMI spy some contradictory statements! A low pH does mean the formula is balanced, but it definitely does not necessarily mean the formula is gentle. The noted ingredients are astringents, antibacterials & a form of BHA so it is safe to assume this may be better suited for oily, acne-prone skin. It may be less ideal for dry or sensitive skin types as a result, which casts doubt on the universal skin type claim.

It is a lightweight gel cleanser though with a balanced pH so the basics are accurate.

Application

Appearance

The consistency is different, not in the best way either. It is creamy gel, but very watery. Once water is added to this cleanser, it emulsifies to the point it almost disappears so I find myself using more of this product than I ordinarily would.

Scent

Artificial fragrance is added, it smells mildly antiseptic though not completely overwhelming. I never second guessed using this cleanser based on scent alone like I have with the Purito cleanser.

Packaging

It comes in my preferred pump-style bottle. It is a high quality plastic bottle, the pump locks tightly so I imagine this could travel well. The white packaging is opaque, but the color is not so dense that it interferes with seeing how much product remains in the bottle. The rest is completely superficial, but the bottle design is definitely my aesthetic!

Performance

I started out using this cleanser morning & evening to see how I preferred to use it. It is not a particularly harsh cleanser so it could be used in either or both routines. The anomaly with this cleanser is my skin never felt stripped after using this cleanser, but I had issues with dryness & I experienced flaky patches on my skin. I cut down to using this only in my PM routine, but I was still experiencing some minor dryness so I began using this every other night [Alternated with the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser] & I no longer experienced issues with this cleanser.

This is a sulfate-free product, but it contains multiple forms of alcohol & astringents so I imagine this is why I experienced dryness without the skin irritation. I did experience eye irritation with this cleanser, which is a fairly common problem for me. This cleanser does contain salicylic acid, which makes it less ideal to use around the eye area anyway.

Once I found a way to use this cleanser that worked for my skin, it still was not performing as I wanted.

The more I used this cleanser, the more I kept reflecting back to the Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Cleanser Gel. I reviewed this a few months ago, I loathed it. It is not a bad cleanser in itself, but this type of cleanser has no place in my skincare regimen. I use micellar waters if I want a gentle cleanse, I own a traditional cleanser like this when I need to remove the daily grime off of my face. Innisfree failed at this, Acwell did as well for the exact same reasons.

I think Acwell could be a viable option for a gentle morning cleanser, just like the Innisfree. However, Acwell is double the price & I was equally disappointed with its performance as well.

If we could circle back to how I tried to use this in my personal regimen, there will be the obvious flaws. I ordinarily use micellar water as my morning cleansing step, but I am runner that lives in the mediterranean so I sweat. A lot. I noticed when I would reach for this cleanser after a run, I could still feel the tackiness of sweat after washing my face with this.

Odd, I thought. I figured this cleanser might work better for my evening routine. I double cleanse so it was reasonable to expect this cleanser to perform better following an oil cleanser that would do all the heavy lifting of removing sweat & sebum. Right? Yeah, that would be a no.

I could still feel oil residue from my first cleanser leftover after using the Acwell cleanser. I have been cleansing my face for decades at this point in life, if I am using the Acwell cleanser wrong then it just has to be an issue with the product because a cleanser should be that difficult to use.

This section has become more of a ramble than anticipated. I had heightened expectations & I was sorely disappointed. This cleanser was so hyped last year when this was sent out in PR. It is a perfectly okay cleanser, but it is overpriced & lackluster.

Again, if you loved the Innisfree cleansing gel, then this Acwell cleanser might be perfect for you!

1 Acne Trigger & 0 Irritants according to CosDNA

Ingredients
Water, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Dipropylene Glycol, Alcohol, PEG-11 Methyl Ether Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Acrylic acid/Phosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Centella Asiatica Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Dehydroacetic Acid, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disodium EDTA, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Cimicifuga Dahurica Root Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Salicylic Acid, Farnesyl Acetate, Farnesol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Fragrance

Aloe

The main claim to cosmetic fame are the hydration properties because the ingredient is 99.5% water.  It provides soothing medicinal benefits for skin irritations or burns, it provides some antibacterial advantages as well.

Centella Asiatica

Potent antioxidant that is a source of amino acids, it acts as an anti-inflammatory & antibacterial

Witch Hazel

Antioxidant & anti-inflammatory, though high levels on tannins may cause some skin sensitivity issues

Licorice Root

This is considered a potent antioxidant that can improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation

Salicylic Acid

A form of BHA that exfoliates dead skin with the ability to penetrate pore lining, it can effectively reduce blackheads & other types of acne breakouts

Misc. Ingredient Notes

I just do not get this ingredient list, guys.

The first third of the ingredient list is full of alcohol, preservatives & astringents. None of this is inherently bad, but it is definitely not designed for dry or sensitive skin types. While BHA & witch hazel may be suitable for oily skin, the fourth ingredient is a cheap silicon that is a common comedogenic & it really does nothing for cleansers so I have no idea why it is even there except to thicken the formula.

The latter half of the ingredient list has licorice extract & salicylic acid, but the amounts are dismal & these ingredient are not very effective in a cleansing product.

Value

Price: $21.00 / 150ml, $4.12 per ounce

This cleanser is expensive, it rivals mid-range brands at Sephora or Douglas.

There are so many affordable, pH balanced on the market now that I have a hard time recommending a non-prescription cleanser at this price point. The performance of this cleanser is mediocre, the ingredient list is less than impressive. There are very few products that I would dissuade someone from trying if they are curious, but do not even bother with this one.

This cleanser is easier to obtain in North America, but I had a more difficult time finding an online retailer that would ship to Europe. Eventually I found a wholesale website that did stock this so while it was difficult to get this cleanser shipped to France, it was not impossible. Again, do not bother though.

Overall

Rating: 2 / 5

My biggest qualm with this cleanser is the price point. If the cost was halved, I would not mind this product as much & it would be rated slightly higher. The ingredient list & makeup removal performance are still dismal, but there is nothing harmful about this product. Just save the money & pass on this one, I would recommend my epic fail with the Innisfree cleansing gel over this one.

 

Beauty Empties [01] | Winter 2018

I have got a full bin so it is that time again, trash diving! Otherwise known as finally throwing away some of the empty junk I have been accumulating on top of my dresser. While I have been a skincare addict for years, I have only begun to accumulate my garbage recently because empties are some of my favorite blog posts to read!

Most of this will likely be skincare, along with some body & hair products I have used recently. I am including house scents because candles are just another hopeless addiction of mine.

The Good:

  • Origins Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay
  • Missha 95% Aloe Soothing Gel
  • Kind Natured Body Wash – Soothing Sea Salt & Bergamot
  • Wet N Wild Photofocus Lash Primer
  • Balea Enzyme Peeling Mask
  • Essence Make Me Brow

The Average:

  • Innisfree Jeju Bija Anti-trouble Cleansing Gel
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
  • Tosowoong Natural Pure Propolis Brightening Essence
  • Le Petit Maseillais Déodorant Extra Doux – White Peach
  • Batiste Dry Shampoo – Original
  • Matrix Biolage Exquisite Oil Micro-Oil Shampoo
  • Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

The Bad:

  • Nature Republic Hawaiian Deep Sea Cleansing Oil to Foam
  • Purito Defense Barrier pH Cleanser
  • Kind Natured Kids Apple Smoothie Gentle Care 2-in-1 Shampoo
  • Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum
  • The Saem 95% Jeju Fresh Aloe Soothing Gel
  • Nyx Voluptuous Lush Lashes Mascara
  • Wet N Wild Photofocus Foundation
  • Origins Ginzing Brightening Mascara
  • Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

Skincare

Nature Republic Hawaiian Deep Sea Cleansing Oil to Foam

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed November 2017

If you have read the review, I did not enjoy this product. It is highly fragranced & it did not remove makeup, though it was still drying to my skin. Hard pass.

Innisfree Jeju Bija Anti-trouble Cleansing Gel

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed January 2018

Another product I extremely did not like, though I can admit my feeling are a bit irrational towards it. It is a mediocre cleanser that does not do a great job at actually cleansing, but it’s is not drying or harmful. The cult classic just did not live up to the hype so I have been disappointed.

Purito Defense Barrier pH Cleanser

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed March 2018

The scent is just too much, way too much. I did experience some dryness when I was using this during the review, however it got worse. I had serious dry patches along my chin that became excessively sensitive, eventually I retired this cleanser for body use only.

Origins Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay

Definitely Repurchase

I have loved every Origins product I have ever tried, this one is no different. I got this deluxe sample with my Sephora Reward Points, it is the best clay mask I have ever used! It is non-drying & soothing while still cleaning out my pores. This mask definitely comes with a higher price tag, but it is not such an obscene amount that I would be unwilling to purchase a full-size.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

Will Not Repurchase

I received this deluxe sample size as part of a gift set. I have actually liked everything I have tried from this set & this is a nice moisturizer, but it can feel thick & heavy. There were other moisturizers in the set I liked better that I finished long before this one, which were nice as well though I am unlikely to repurchase.

Balea Enzyme Peeling

Definitely Repurchase

This is one of my Holy Grails! It is a German drugstore mask, one of the most effective forms of AHA I have ever tried. My skin feels softer & appears brighter, all my subsequent skincare absorbs effortlessly after using this mask. This is one of the few products I recommend to absolutely everyone, no matter their skin type.

Tosowoong Natural Pure Propolis Brightening Essence

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed January 2018

This essence was a nice step of light hydration in my routine, but my dry & dehydrated skin needs more substantial moisture. The ingredient list is fantastic & I had a hard time finally getting my hands on this because it is such a cult favorite, but I did not have any noticeable results with it.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

Will Not Repruchase

This is a 15% L-AA derivative. I did not experience any skin irritation so this may be an ideal option for sensitive skin or beginners to vitamin c serums, however I noticed the least difference in my skin when using this serum in comparison to all other Vitamin C serums I have used over the years. I still hate the new packaging & this is the redesigned bottle after all the issues with the initial release, it was particularly messy with this serum. I get that Drunk Elephant is trying to maintain the aesthetics, but I would much rather a cosmetic that is less of a pain to use.

Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

Will Not Repurchase

This is my favorite cosmetic from this brand, objectively I enjoyed this serum & I think it is a great product in its own right. However, this is not a unique product & it is grotesquely overpriced.

Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed March 2018

I rated this lowly for a number of reasons, but one of the stronger points of contention was the burning sensation I experienced with my skin. I still had the Seoul Ceuticals serum so I began using this Purito serum on my chest & hands. I began experiencing skin irritation & hives on my chest, which leads me to believe the formula of this serum is even less stable than I initially speculated.

Body Care

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Missha 95% Aloe Soothing Gel

Definitely Repurchase

*Reviewed December 2017

I love using this aloe gel as a body lotion. It is alcohol free though absorbs quickly, it is a great alternative to traditional body lotion if you are as lazy about body care as I am.

The Saem 95% Jeju Fresh Aloe Soothing Gel

Will Not Repurchase

*Reviewed December 2017

I did not like this when I did the aloe gel comparison & my thoughts haven’t changed much since this. It smells heavily like antisceptic & alcohol, I did not find this moisturizing so I ended up using this entire tube on my legs.

Kind Natured Body Wash – Soothing Sea Salt & Bergamot

Definitely Repurchase

I absolutely love this stuff, I stock up whenever I am near a Boots Pharmacy. It is a sulfate-free body wash at an affordable price, plus this scent combination is absolutely divine!

Le Petit Maseillais Déodorant Extra Doux – White Peach

Might Repurchase

If you are a weary traveller unsure what to purchase as you browse the drugstore shelves after you realized you left behind some necessities at your last hostel, this deoderant is a great option! Many of the scents from this brand tend to be very floral & perfumey, but this one smells almost like natural peach. It does keep sweaty pits at bay, but it is not as strong as I would like it to be.

Exfoliating Bath Clothes

Will Repurchase

One of the reasons I like to purchase from Jolse is seems to always be an included freebie. I have extremely dry & flaky skin so I always these on hand, it is my favorite form of manual exfoliation on the body & it is less wasteful than a salt or sugar scrub.

Hair Care

Batiste Dry Shampoo – Original

Might Repurchase

I think anyone that has gone down the dry shampoo rabbit hole has tried this product at some point, this was my first time because I ordinarily buy the Floral & Flirty Blush scent.

Matrix Biolage Exquisite Oil Micro-Oil Shampoo

Will Not Repurchase

My mum bought this for me as part of my Christmas present last year. It does contain sulfates, but I actually enjoyed this shampoo. The ingredient list contains quite a few oils, which interact well with my curly hair & helped to keep frizz at bay. I just have other, sulfate-free shampoos I like better at a cheaper price.

Kind Natured Kids Apple Smoothie Gentle Care 2-in-1 Shampoo

Will Not Repurchase

It has been a long time since I have hated a shampoo this greatly. The fragrance has an artificial chemical scent to it, which is disappointing because I ordinarily love apple scents. I follow the Curly Girl Method for hair care so I do not use shampoo with sulfates so I am used to cleansing products that do not lather, but this shampoo does not cleanse well.

Makeup

Wet N Wild Photofocus Foundation – Nude Ivory

Will Not Repurchase

There was a time when everyone raved about this drugstore foundation. This brand is not easy to obtain in France, but I was determined to get my hands on it so I placed a special order for it. Ordinarily I love Wet N Wild product, this has been my biggest disappointment from them. It emphasizes my pores, makes my fine lines look dry & more pronounced. It did not sit well on my dry skin at all.

Wet N Wild Photofocus Lash Primer

Definitely Repurchase

This is a white based primer that helped my long, straight lashes hold curl for longer & appear more full.

Essence Make Me Brow – 02 Browny Brows

Repruchase

This is the best drugstore eyebrow gel I have found so far. It is so difficult to find a cool toned brown brow product at Sephora, yet this gel is a perfect match for my hair! It adds so much volume to my grows that I don’t need to fill in my brows with a pencil beforehand if I wear lighter makeup. I wish it held my brows in place for longer, I would say this holds my brows in place for 3 – 4 hours.

Origins Ginzing Brightening Mascara

Will Not Repurchase

I received this as a freebie in a Black Friday sale order. It burned my eyes & this formula flaked horribly all over my face, I looked like I was constantly crying black tears.

Nyx Voluptuous Lush Lashes Mascara

Will Not Repurchase

The brush applicator is larger than my eye so it was difficult to use this. The heavy formula weighed my lashes down, I could not get my lashes to hold a curl any time I used this mascara. My lashes did look longer & I did not experience any clumping, but it did not add any volume.

Innisfree Skinny Microcara Mascara – Waterproof

Will Not Repurchase

The original formula is one of my favorite for lower lashes, but it was out of stock when I was placing an online order so I decided to get the waterproof version. Bad choice. The original version is fantastic, it does not smudge or flake. However, the waterproof version does both of those things, ironically.

Scents

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Bath & Body Works Candle – Black Cherry Merlot

Definitely Repurchase

This is one of my favorite winter scents! It is such a lovely warm, fruity candle. The scent palette is very bright, but there is still an undertone of musk to it. I consider this to have a moderate fragrance level so I do not think it would overpower a small space, but it is not a light or neutral scent either.

Bath & Body Works Candle – Mango Dragonfruit

Definitely Repurchase

This might be my favorite candle scent from this brand! It smells incredibly fresh, the dragonfruit notes are definitely more present than the mango. It is strong enough to fill an open space, though the scent may be too much for a smaller room such as a bathroom.

Bath & Body Works Candle – Cinnamon

Might Repurchase

I did enjoy this scent, it is very warm & cozy. However, it is a very plain smell & there are other spiced candles I prefer to this one. This is a great option if your prefer a neutral, but warm scent. It is not overly strong so it would serve a small space nicely.

Review: April Skin Sugar Coconut Cream

Whenever I find a coconut derived cosmetic, my usual reaction mimics Oliver Twist & requests to have some more, please! Whenever I find a new coconut product I have to try it, always. I slather my hair & cuticles in pure coconut oil, I use it to as my makeup remover if there are not any new cleansing oils peaking my interest.

I did not second guess tossing this moisturizer into my cart as soon as I saw it.

Brand

April Skin is a South Korean cosmetic company that launched in 2014, their tagline is Beauty from Nature. The brand caught some negative attention throughout 2016 for oversaturating the K-Beauty market with sponsored reviews & ads when their BB cushions launched, otherwise they have seem to have stayed clear of any industry issues.

The brand has a donation campaign called April Cares that promotes infant & elderly care.

Product Claims

Here are the claims from the brand website:

  • It contains 87% coconut water which helps moisturize skin, instead of just purified water.
  • Natural ingredients provide moisture and nutrients to dry skin due to fall and winter weather conditions.
  • It is a skin-saving super moisturizing cream.

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 5.40.13 PMSo the first discrepancy is the ingredient list states there is 61% coconut water content instead of the advertised 87%. It is confusing because the website & advertisement make different claims on the coconut water content.

The ingredient list is dominated by botanicals, though it should be noted the packaging states only 79% of the ingredients are naturally derived. Chemicals & synthetic has become negative buzzwords in the Western cosmetic industry over the last few years, but any cosmetic would be decomposed & harmful to the skin if it is 100% natural  

I chuckle at the last claim, if I had a dime for every time a cosmetic promised to alter my life then I would be sitting pretty in early retirement.

Application

Appearance

This feels like it is going to be a dense, oily moisturizer when scooping it out of the jar; but the application is quite difficult!

Scent

This smells absolutely dreamy, like a coconut buttercream icing with no artificial additives!

Packaging

It comes in the standard jar packaging with a screw-off lid & added plastic scoop so user does not have to stick their fingers into the jar. The packaging is aesthetic enough, but there is a definite contract between the quality of the parts.

The jar is tinted glass, which is not ideal for travel or klutzes like myself. The glass packaging can seem more luxurious so I get it, this is not a cheap product either which is discussed more below. The lid is a flimsy, plastic piece in stark comparison though. I worry more about cracking this pitiful lid than dropping the glass jar on my bathroom tile because the lid material is that thin.

The packaging is functional & lid seals tightly, but why not just invest evenly into the product packaging instead of this Frankenstein result of quality extremes?

Performance

I have tried this both in AM & PM routines. This moisturizer could work in both, but I would recommend this evenings only. I noticed the oils from this moisturizer made my face appear more shiny throughout the day & broke down makeup quicker than usual. However, the thin consistency layers well with other products so it could definitely be used in the mornings as well!

I did not think I was going to like this product when I first tried it.

I am an uncivilized beast that opts to dig my fingers into jarred cosmetics at every opportunity, even if a spatula comes with a product. This is an incredibly dense moisturizer in the packaging, it was like scooping out pure coconut oil from a fresh jar. It has a similar texture to the CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream if you have ever tried that product, which is one of my favorites despite the thickness.

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However, this moisturizer almost emulsifies as soon as it comes in contact with body heat. It immediately melted into my skin as soon as I began applying it my face.

I will note that I feel like I have to use much more of this product than I usually do with a standard facial cream. My skin & hair have always reacted well to coconut derivatives though, I knew I had to try this moisturizer as soon as I read the coconut content. And I have not been disappointed!

The thin formula absorbs into my skin quickly, leaving behind a satin dewy finish. My skin feels the slightest bit waxy after this dries down. My skin feels more supple & my complexion appears clearer when I wake up in the mornings.

*Unlisted on CosDNA

**I used Google Translate for the ingredient list so there may be discrepancies

Ingredients
Coconut Water [61%], Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Cetearyl Olivate, Grape Seed Oil, Lemon Leaf Extract, Licorice Extract, Persimmon Leaf Extract, Manganese Berry Extract [Blueberries or Blackberries?], Perennial Lycopene Extract [Tomato?], Dimethicone, Lecithin Extract, Catechin Extract, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Arginine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Panthenol, Lavender Oil, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate

Coconut Water

A fatty acid emollient rich in saturated fats. Theoretically this form should be less comedogenic than coconut oil, but it is still a high concentration of coconut if this is a personal acne trigger.

Glycerin

It it is a naturally occurring substance that helps repair the outer skin barrier. This ingredients works to soften skin so other ingredients can more easily penetrate the skin.

Sodium HyaluronateThis is the most bioavailable form of this hyaluronic acid, which is ordinarily considered a super ingredient for it’s water attracting & binding abilities.

Olive Oil

It contains essential fatty acids & may help prevent UVB damage.

Grape Seed Oil

An antioxidant & emollient with lower saturated fat content so it has a thinner consistency than other oils derived from coconuts or petroleum jelly.

Licorice ExtractA potent antioxidant that evens skin tone & soothes sensitive skin, has shown some evidence as an anticarcinogenic.

Tocopheryl

This antioxidant is a form of Vitamin E that reduces inflammation & smooths skin texture.

Misc. Ingredient Notes

Just to reiterate, I could not find an ingredient list online so I had to rely on Google Translate for the box so this list is likely imperfect. The first ingredient makes up over 60% of the moisturizer formula so the other ingredients play very minor roles just as a secondary reminder.

Even with all this in mind, there is nothing that is overly concerning to for in the ingredients. Lemon & lavender extracts are potential irritants if you have particularly sensitive skin.

Value

Price: $25.00 / 50ml, $14.71 per Ounce

This was not the easiest product to obtain.

April Skin is most notable for their BB cream cushions in the Western sphere, honestly I did not know they had skincare products until I was browsing the selection on SweetCorea. Most online wholesalers that ship to Europe & North America will have an extremely limited selection for April Skin because niche products have been released with international advertising. Something to be aware of if you happen to fall in love with this product.

The price tag for Western consumers is higher due to this scarcity effect. I did get this for a cheaper price from a wholesale retailer, but the price listed above is a more realistic cost from a Western cosmetic retailer. It is still not unreasonably priced, but I personally budget $20 or less per moisturizer so I have a hard time justifying the cost even though I do like this moisturizer.

Overall

Rating: 4 / 5

I really enjoy this moisturizer, it is one of the quickest absorbing creams I have ever tried. It smells divine & it layers well with other products, but I have a few reservations. It is more expensive that I am typically willing to spend on a moisturizer that does not contain retinal. It is difficult to find a retailer that offers this moisturizer to Western countries & I have some concerns about the few and far between preservatives.