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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.


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.


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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 4.36.38 PM

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.



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.



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


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.



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.


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.


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!


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

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


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.


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.


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.