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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.

Review: Aritaum Aloe No Wash Cleansing Water

I have met many cleansing waters I do not like in my search for perfection. I already have a Holy Grail in this cosmetic category, the cult classic Bioderma Sensibo H2O Micellar Solution. That has never stopped me from wandering & trying others though, which is why this Aritaum cleansing water caught my attention.

Brand

Aritaum is a South Korean brand established in 2008, their parent company is Amore Pacific. The brand preaches more than just superficial beauty, they believe in self-care & offer a full range of cosmetics to care for the entire body. Aritaum has recently made headlines as being part of the trending preservative-free movement.

I could not find any information of Aritaum’s social or charitable efforts, but Amore Pacific is active in environmental conservation & promoting female leadership. However, Aritaum franchise owners in North America have filed formal complaints with The Federal Trade Commision [USA Government Agency] against their parent company for anti-trust violations, which Aritaum alleges their parent company pushes an unreasonable financial burden onto individual shops.

Product Claims

Here are the claims from Jolse:

  • Aloe vera extract soothes the skin with ample moisture.
  • Mildly cleanses the makeup without stimulating the skin.
  • Acidulous cleanser cares the skin without harmful ingredients.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 1.32.53 PMThere are no outrageous claims, cleansing waters are supposed to remove makeup & this water from Aritaum does this effectively. Aloe is known for hydrating & soothing properties, which is another prominent feature of this micellar water.

There appears to be a translation error [I hope so, at least] since this cleanser is described as “Acidulous”. An acidic cleanser does not seem particularly desirable. I know this is a nitpicky detail, but it is sold on an international market.

Application

Appearance

It has a thin, watery consistency like most other micellar waters. It needs to be applied with a cotton round or cloth to thoroughly cleanse the skin. This micellar water is not dense or gritty like some micellar cleansers I have tested, I would guess this is due to the short & water-based ingredient list.

Smell

There is no artificial fragrance, this water has a mild fresh scent from the high aloe content.

Packaging

This water comes in a clear plastic bottle with a pull-tab closure. This is typical packaging for micellar waters & I particularly enjoy this one, it seals tightly so this will travel safely & transparent bottle allows the user to see how much product is left. The label is so visually appealing to me, it is eye-catching without some of the typical gaudy elements seen in a lot of K-beauty drugstore packaging. Everything is just yes about this.

Performance

I have sensitive eyes due to allergies, most past micellar waters have caused eye irritation so it is the first thing I notice when trying new cleansing waters. Aritaum passed with a near perfect score! When I wipe this product over my eyelids, occasionally I will feel a slight film though no burning. Bioderma Sensibo is the only micellar water where I have felt zero film or irritation.

Micellar waters have a dual purpose in my skincare regimin, they are my morning cleansing step & eye makeup remover in the evenings.

I was impressed with how effective this micellar water has been at moving waterproof makeup. Any area of my face is usually clean after two swipes, it removes stubborn eyeliner & mascara if I hold a soaked cotton round over the area for 10 seconds before swiping it away.

I notice the slightest bit of film left behind on my face with Aritaum, I imagine it is from the high content of Aloe. My face still feels breathable & I have no issues following my usual morning skincare routine after application [Vitamin C, Moisturizer & Sunscreen]. My face feels more clean after using the Bioderma Sensibo, but it feels more hydrated after using this Aritaum product so it is up to personal preference!

1 Acne Trigger & 0 Irritants according to CosDNA

Ingredients
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Glycereth-26, Glycerin, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol

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.

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.

Misc. Ingredient Notes

While this may not look like the most exciting ingredient list, it does not need to be in order for this type of product to be effective. My experience with micellar waters is when they try to get fancy with the ingredient list, I like the formula less. I had been testing the new CeraVe micellar water & it has a fantastic ingredient list like every other CeraVe product, but it was less than effective [Spoiler Alert: I hated it]. Aside from one preservative in this Aritaum cosmetic, all the other elements are moisturizing so this is a great option for dry skin types.

Value

Price: $12.38 / 300ml, $1.24 per Ounce

I bought this product through a wholesale retailer so it costed me $4.00, but the price point listed above is a more realistic cost from a standard cosmetic retailers for a Western country. 

This micellar water is pricey, but not unreasonable for my budget. My absolute favorite micellar water is from a higher end brand, Bioderma. I live in France, I can get a single bottle for €8 / 250ml & it is usually close to €10 in other EU countries.

Aritaum is a common brand, but I do not see this specific product frequently listed online. I have no idea, this is the best cosmetic I have tried from Aritaum so far! I do see it listed on Jolse, or wholesale sites like TesterKorea, if you want to try it out for yourself!

Overall

Rating: 4.5 / 5

This is my favorite Korean micellar water I have ever tried, though it is not superior than my Bioderma Holy Grail. Aritaum’s cleansing water has a clean yet hydrating finish, it does not sting my eyes either. It is more expensive than many other good options at Western drugstores, which is the main downfall of this product for me.

Skincare Haul: Boots Edition

The traditional drugstores most of the West has come to know & love are elusive in Southern France. No Walgreens, no Boots, no DM. The French Pharmacy culture is world renowned, but it comes at a higher price tag & many lackluster cosmetics.

So when I have the opportunity to raid a proper drug store, I do not squander it. I recently had a small Boots at Heathrow within my reach so I thought I would share my haul!

Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel

  • Cost: £1.50 / 50 ml, £0.89 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E, Sulfate-Free & Silicon-Free; Full Ingredients

This is what started this entire shopping spree! I ran out of cleanser so I went to find a travel size. I do not usually gravitate towards Simple products, I have not had great experiences with the few I have tried & typically something is amiss in the ingredient list for my preferences.

Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk

  • Cost: £8.00 / 350ml, £0.68 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Ginseng, Botanical Oils, AHAs, Fermentation & Algae; Full Ingredients

This is my most hoarded cosmetic type. While it is not the most interesting step in a skincare routine, it is one of the most important & I haven’t found The One yet. I have never tried Soap & Glory skincare before so I bought this as another candidate in the search for my perfect hydrating, yet clarifying cleanser.

Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum

  • Cost:  £8.99 / 25ml, £10.58 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Bilberry, Hibiscus & Hyaluronic Acid; Full Ingredients

This appears to be a controversial product on the UK drugstore scene, the serum has tripled in price the last few weeks with the only difference is a package change. However, I found this product to be reasonably priced & I have been curious about the hydrating AHA claims since I read a review on this last month.

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Serum

  • Cost: £15.49 / 30ml, £15.49 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Glycerin & Aloe; Full Ingredients

My current AHA serum by Drunk Elephant has taken a turn for the worst (Hint: Do not recommend) so I needed a new product to fulfill this missing spot in my routine. How could I not try this cult classic product?

Simple Hydrating Light Moisturizer

  • Cost: £4.29 / 125ml, £1.01 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Glycerin, Lactic Acid, Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, Urea & Allantoin; Full Ingredients

This is a lightweight AHA moisturizer. I have not had the best luck with Simple products, but I could not pass up this ingredient list!

Boots Essentials Cucumber Eye Gel

  • Cost: £1.50 / 15ml, £3.00 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Glycerin, Vitamin E & Vitamin A; Full Ingredients

I have recently gotten into eye creams. Many people just use their normal skincare routine closer to their eyes, but I have sensitive eyes that have allergic reactions & I am prone to milia from clogged pores around my eyes. I could not pass up a fragrance free, lightweight gel that is under £2.

Palmer’s Coconut Oil Body Lotion

  • Cost:  £4.19 / 250ml, £0.50 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Vitamin E & Aloe; Full Ingredients

This is my favorite brand for creamy lotions. I love smearing my body in light-weight aloe gels, but harsh winds from the mountains this winter has left my skin flaky & drier than usual. My skin & hair loves coconut oil so this relatively new lotion from Palmers was a no-brainer for me.

Palmer’s Alpha / Beta Hydroxy Body Lotion

  • Price: £4.49 / 250ml, £0.53 per Ounce
  • Notable Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Mineral Oil, Shea Butter, Salicylic Acid & Vitamin E; Full Ingredients

Another one from my precious! I have gotten into AHA body lotions over the last year. I have excessively dry skin & KS, or chronic red bumps, on my limbs; which this type of product increases the cell turnover rate so it should alleviate some of the bothersome symptoms. I cannot wait to try this one out!

 

As much as this blog is centered around K-beauty, I love finds at the drugstore! What are some of your favorite products from Boots?

Review: Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50 PA+++

Neogen has branded its reputation as a leader of dermaceutical innovation in the K-beauty industry. They are more than just cute packaging. The skincare junkie bloggers seem to love this sunscreen specifically, so obviously I needed to try it!

Brand

Neogen is a South Korean company that launched in 2009. They advertise their products as all-natural with minimal processing. The brand does go against the Korean skincare trend of a multi-step routine by promoting shorter skincare routines with better cosmetics designed with biotechnology.

Product Claims

Here are the product claims from Sephora:

This lightweight fluid-like sunscreen offers major protection with broad-spectrum SPF 50 PA +++. It offers light but nourishing hydration from rose and raspberry extracts, so those with dry skin can get an extra boost of hydration after layering over moisturizer and normal to oily skin can use this is a moisturizer with sun protection. It protects all day and wears well under makeup, leaving zero white cast or greasy feeling on your skin.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 10.21.54 AM

There are two major claims that stand out to me that I want to discuss:

White Cast

This is a chemical & physical sunscreen, which physical sunscreen ingredients are notorious for leaving behind white casts. However, this product has no phantom effect so it may be a promising option for deeper skin tones.

Universal Skin Types

I never believe any product claims that it is beneficial for all skin types, Neogen is not an anomaly to this theory. The ingredient list is dominated by botanical oils, which should make this more geared towards dry or dehydrated skin types. While the formula is non-greasy, it is quite oily with a dewy finish & I do not imagine this would play well already oily skin. There are are a number of acne triggers & irritants contained in the ingredient list so anyone with sensitive or acne-prone skin types may want to study the ingredients with care.

Application

Appearance

It is white, lightweight fluid that feels smooth & dewy on the skin. While I would categorize this as a fluid type of sunscreen, it is not so watery that is difficult to control during application. The formula never seems to separate despite the high oil content of the product.

Scent

While there is no artificial fragrance added to the product, there are a number of fragrant botanical oils in the product. The scent is soft & dissipates quickly, it is reminiscent of lemon drop hard candies from my childhood.

Packaging

I am not a packaging fanatic, I just want it to be functional at the end of the day & that is not an obstacle here. The Neogen sunscreen comes in a silicone squeeze tube like most other facial sunscreens, through the packaging material is noticeably thinner & cheaper than others.

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However, this sunscreen is over $20.00 so I have expectations, Neogen. The plastic squeeze tube is presented in cheap foil packaging with a sticker label. I do not often comment on aesthetics because packaging is largely superficial, but this sunscreen just looks tacky. Do better, Neogen.

Performance

I like this. Quite a bit, if I am being honest. This is the first screen that has come close to rivaling my Holy Grail: Missha All Around Safe Block Sun Essence SPF 50+.

It is a thin consistency that absorbed into my skin quickly, I liked the luminous finish though I tried to tone down the shine with loose powder even on no makeup days.

I did not continue liking it as much with time though.

Experience with a cosmetic is a highly individual phenomenon, I had issues with clogged pores & whiteheads as I continued using this sunscreen. I did not want to believe Neogen was the culprit because I loved how this product laid on my skin so I discontinued use for my skin to clear up & reintroduced it again, twice.

I had the same reaction every time, a sheen to whiteheads in my t-zone. This product does not contain any of my usual triggers [Palm Oil & Dimethicone], but my skin does react oddly if it becomes overly dry. There are a number of astringents & alcohol in this product so my guess is the combination caused my skin to freakout.

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A secondary issue I had with this product was makeup wear. This sunscreen layers beautifully with other skincare, even makeup initially. However, this formula is quite oily, I noticed it would breakdown my foundation & cheek powders within a few hours no matter how I tried to set my makeup.

4 Acne Triggers & 2 Irritants according to CosDNA

Ingredient List
Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Zinc Oxide, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Hexanediol, Isoamyl P-Methoxycinnamate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Titanium Dioxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glyceryl Stearate, Peg-100 Stearate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Rubus Idaeus(Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Carbomer, Lippia Citriodora Leaf Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Angelica Archangelica Root Extract, Beta-Glucan, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Alumina, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, Citrus Limon (“Lomon”) Fruit Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Wood Oil, Disodium Edta, Potassium Hydroxide, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis(Orange) Oil, Aluminum Stearate

Active Ingredients

  • Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate [UVB]: Controversial ingredient that has been linked to cancer in the past, but is considered completely safe & approved internationally
  • Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine [UVA & UVB]:  Not yet approved in the USA, but has been approved in EU countries for decades. It considered a great sunscreen since it protects against the full UVA range.
  • Zinc Oxide [UVA & UVB]: Considered one of the most safe & non-irritating sunscreens, potentially promotes antioxidant activity.
  • Titanium Dioxide [UVB]: One of the most safe & least irritating suncreens, ideal for sensitive skin or rosacea.

Alcohol

This ingredient can potentially assist product absorption, but it can cause skin dryness & damage the outer skin barrier in high enough doses.

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.

Hylauronic Acid

This product contains one of the highest rated forms of this ingredient, which hyaluronic acid is ordinarily considered a super ingredient for it’s water attracting & binding abilities.

Botanical Extracts

This product contains 19 botanical extracts & oils. Ordinarily this would entice me, but I find the choices in this product to be lackluster.

There are 5 botanical extracts that are most known for their fragrance properties. While some people will prefer natural fragrant additives to artificial perfume, this makes up over a quarter of the product. A few of these are common skin irritants as well, such as the lavender & citrus oils.

Another 3 of these botanicals are astringents. This is not inherently bad, it just means this product may be better suited for acne-prone skin. Dry or dehydrated skin types may struggle with this product due to the combination of alcohol & astringents.

There are only 2 notable anti-inflammatories, which this product advertises the antioxidant content. I am disappointed to see so few antioxidant variables in this product. The irritants, whether fragrant or skin sensitizing, seem to outnumber the anti-inflammatories by a large margin.

Value

Price: $20.06 / 50ml, $11.80 per Ounce

This sun care product is widely available online to the international community. However, this was the final deal breaker that has held me back from coveting this product.

It is pricey.

This is a nice enough product, the ingredient list is solid even if it is not my personal preference. However, Neogen is approaching higher end price tags, it is similarly priced as suncare products carried at Sephora like Clinique or SuperGoop.

Overall

Ranking: 3.5 / 5

I enjoy the formula of this product & it offers a great range of UVA / UVB protection, but it is an expensive sunscreen that rivals higher end brands with prices similar to Clinique. I encountered issues with the formula, I continually had clogged pores in my t-zone. I wanted this product to work for me because I enjoyed the product so much, but I cannot justify the price tag because the ingredient list did not do it for me.

Unboxing & Review: SweetCorea

A staple of this blog has always been reviewing cosmetics, but I do not often mention the how or where I get my products. Neither do I mention the issues I have had with various sellers over the years because it is not pleasant conversation, I just quietly discontinue using them.

I had a fair share of bad luck with K-beauty cosmetic retailers over the last year so I have been searching for alternatives recently. I encountered issues with every single order I placed with RoseRoseShop so I stopped shopping with them years ago. TesterKorea has experienced a string of customer service & shipment missteps recently. BB Cosmetic has always been a great service, but lacks the product selection I seek. I got into a missing package dispute with Jolse that left a bitter taste as a loyal customer for years that never had a problem prior to this incident.

All this left me with where to take my wallet for my next K-beauty fix, which happened to be SweetCorea. I have not seen many reviews on this Korean cosmetic online retailer so I wanted to share my experience!

SweetCorea: The Shop

This company is an online cosmetic retailer located in Seoul, South Korea.

They sell Korean cosmetics at wholesale prices with shipping calculated by weight of the order, making this shop similar to RoseRoseShop & TesterKorea. Besides their array of skincare goodies, SweetCorea offers a wide range of deluxe samples & other fashion goods. I am not usually one cute knick knacks, but there was a cat eye mask that even I could not pass up!

User Experience

I was initially impressed with the brand selection on SweetCorea, it is still the driving reason why I will be a return customer. They offer quite a few brands found in Olive Young & South Korean drugstores that are hard to come by in Western countries, I was so excited to finally see 2Sol!

One critique I have with SweetCorea’s website is they do not have a comprehensive list of every brand they offer in their “Shop by Brand” section. I was eager to buy based upon the 2Sol selection alone, but the brand is not listed on their website unless a user scrolls through hundreds of cosmetics or looks up the brand name in the search bar.

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Otherwise there are no significant complaints about the website. There is no lag when loading product lists or pages. The search functions works well & loads quickly. The home page is sleek in appearance, but a nitpicky complaint is product lists & discount pages look clunky in comparison. There are large gaps between lines of texts & font choice is slightly juvenile, everything is clearly legible so it is purely aesthetic qualms.

Promotions

SweetCorea is not known for promotions, they are most similar to the TesterKorea model where the consumer can take or leave their lowest wholesale price. SweetCorea has ongoing “sales” for all of their products similar to Zaful or Romwe, but it is a low-ball marketing model so the “sale prices” are just the wholesale prices.

There is no loyalty program either, in comparison to programs like Jolse, listing cosmetics as worth a certain number of points that will accrue to discounts for subsequent orders; or TesterKorea’s loyalty point system that allows customers to choose free deluxe samples.

However, SweetCorea does not have a history of paid or sponsored reviews for their service, which makes me inherently trust them more.

The only significant discount SweetCorea offers is their “Flea Market“.

This page is where customer can purchase expired cosmetics at a discounted price. SweetCorea is transparent about the expiration date for all products on this page so the buyers are aware.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 5.36.31 PM

Personally, I would never purchase from SweetCorea’s discount page. There are certain products I will use past the expiration date, but skincare is definitely not one of them & I am wary of buying an unused, full size product after it has already expired.

My Order

I placed my order on a Saturday, March 3rd. I received an email that Monday notifying me that my order was being processed & it was shipped on March 8th.

The cheapest shipping option for my area was DHL, which is always speedy service! The package arrived to my city on March 12th, but DHL does not have the best delivery record in my area so I did not actually get my package until March 16th.

Overall, it was fine. There were no major issues, but I only received the SweetCorea order a day or two quicker than Jolse’s free economy shipping.

Packaging

I do not think I have ever had a shipment packaged with such care! Each product was tripled wrapped in bubble wrap. Anything product with pumps or narrow dispensers was additionally wrapped to secure it during shipment. I chuckled when I saw how perfectly the products were tetrised at the bottom of the cardboard box.

 

The bubble wrap was securely taped at all flaps so there was no way for the products to fall out, I was unable to salvage any of the bubble wrap because I had to cut it all open. A good problem to have though!

The extra care obviously worked because I had zero leakage during shipment.

Products

Let’s be real, this part is mostly haul porn. We will get more into the cost breakdown & price comparison with other K-Beauty online retailers, but this will be going over more of SweetCorea’s brand selection & all the pretty things that caught my eye!

The aspect of SweetCorea that is most appealing to me is the wide selection of K-beauty brands! They have a variety of brands that are difficult to obtain outside of South Korea, like products for Olive Young & Korean drugstores. They have other brands that are popular in North America, but difficult to find in Europe.

SweetCorea had a wider selection of brands than other similar wholesalers, such as RoseRoseShop & TesterKorea. However, SweetCorea typically had fewer products per brand than the previously mentioned online shops so something to keep in mind.

My Haul

Further below will be product price comparison with other South Korean online cosmetic retailers, but I noticed other pricing trends on SweetCorea. This wholesaler offers extremely competitive price tags for the more common drugstore type of brands, such as Aritaum or The Saem. However, the cost of less accessible brands are similar in price to North American retailers selling them. Specific examples of this are the Acwell cleanser or I’m From moisturizer as sold on Sokoglam or Peach & Lily.

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Aritaum Aloe No Wash Cleansing Water $4.00 / 300ml

I have an affinity for micellar waters, it is my preferred cleansing option in the mornings. I have enjoyed many Aritaum products over the years & I was surprised I had never heard of this product before so I knew I had to give it a try!

The Saem Healing Tea Garden Green Tea Cleansing Water $3.13 / 300ml

I have been eyeing this cleansing water for some time, but it was listed for 1 / 4 of the price on SweetCorea as other wholesale retailers so I had no reservations about putting this cleanser immediately into my cart.

Banila Co Clean it Zero Special Kit $4.47 / 28ml

I have never tried the famous Banila Co cleansing balms, nor have I ever tried a cleansing balm that worked for me. I was excited to see this deluxe sample kit of all the cleansing balm versions from this brand so I cannot wait to compare them, plus perfect for travel!

CNKCOS Color Bean Multi Cleanser $11.67 / 80 Beans

This was a trendy item in the USA for a time & I had always wanted to try it in hopes it would be the perfect carry-on facial cleanser.

Han Skin Gold Essence Sheet Mask [Red Ginseng] $8.82 / 10 Masks

I needed sheet masks, I had never tried anything from this brand so ‘nuff said!

April Skin Sugar Coconut Cream $8.09 / 50ml

Honestly, I only knew this brand for their trendy cushion bb creams, but I was drawn to their skincare cosmetics as soon as I saw the selection on SweetCorea. I am probably most eager to try out this moisturizer!

Sidmool Royal Honey Peptide Deep Moisture Pack $9.61 / 40ml

I have been a fan of Sidmool for a long time, but the few online retailers that actually carry this brand often do not carry a large selection. I could not believe SweetCorea stocked this moisturizer I had set my sights on ages ago so it was nice I finally was able to try it!

2Sol Black Tea Treatment Essence $11.76 / 100ml

I have been wanting to try 2Sol cosmetics for ages as they have attractive ingredient lists, but it’s rare to find an online retailer that ships internationally that carries the brand! SweetCorea has an extensive selection of 2Sol products so definitely check out this retailer if you have been searching for 2sol!

I’m From Vitamin Tree Water Gel $19.22 / 75ml

This was a popular K-beauty brand when I still lived in the USA, but it has been difficult for me to find a wholesaler that ships to Europe. I am hopeful this moisturizer will be perfect for the mediterranean summer!

Acwell Bubble Free pH Balancing Cleanser $15.88 / 150ml

Acwell seemed to have a short-lived moment of popularity when they initially launched this cleanser & sent it to all the K-beauty bloggers as part of PR. I am intrigued to try this now that the hype has waned to see if it lives up to its former reputation!

Beauty of Joseon Revitalize Sleeping Mask $11.09 / 80ml

The regular cream is a cult classic amongst K-beauty enthusiasts, but the ingredient list never spoke to me greatly & it was a more difficult product to obtain for some time. However, I discovered the sleeping pack on this site & it more than piqued my curiosity.

Tea Time Cat Eye Mask $4.80

This is just an eye mask, I am an extremely light sleeper so I always use this type of mask at night. My previous one finally broke after years of abuse, this one was cheap & it had a cat drinking tea so I obviously had to purchase it. I was surprised the eye mask came with a cooling gel pack that can be kept in the refrigerator, the mask actually has a pocket for the gel. Nothing was mentioned about this on the product page so it was a nice surprise feature!

Samples

These are some luxe samples though I had some qualms once I looked a little closer, this is what I received:

  • 1 Regular sheet mask
  • 2 Cellulose sheet masks
  • 1 Deluxe sample moisturizer

Preferences vary when it comes to samples. Some people prefer as many different things as possible, personally I do not see value in skincare samples unless it is a product I would actually use. I love receiving sheet masks or exfoliating clothes, otherwise I am usually unimpressed with whatever handful of single-use samples are tossed in a typical K-beauty order.

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The deluxe sample is one of my favorite moisturizers so I am happy to have this for my travel bag. The cellulose sheet masks are more luxurious than any freebie I have received in a skincare order before, I would ordinarily be excited for this type of product.

But they are horse oil, it is one of the few cosmetic ingredients that makes me squeamish. 

I would ordinarily pass this on to someone else, but I noticed both of these sheet masks expire within two weeks upon closer inspection of the packaging. I cannot complain too much about free products, but it feels like I was essentially gifted free garbage & it added extra weight to a package where I paid for shipping.

Cost

The initial wholesale price is cheap, but shipping & fees add up quickly. I got stung by French customs, which is the first time this has happened to me on all international shipments the two years I have lived here. The shipping & duties increased my  order cost by 42%, it is still a reasonable price to me for this overall order though it is definitely not pocket change.

Order: $112.54 [12 Items]

Shipping: $47.55 [$3.96 / Item]

DHL Fee: $33.33 [$2.78 / Item]

Total Cost: $193.42

Shipping

Small packages can be sent via K-Packets to Europe & North America, otherwise customers have a choice between DHL & EMS.

 

Both of these mail services charge based upon the package weight. SweetCorea has a handy feature that allows consumers to estimate shipping, but additional packaging weight is not configured into this. My package was roughly 0.39kg heavier than estimated on my initial order.

An important note is SweetCorea’s website states they will not refund damaged goods in order to keep prices as low as possible. My order arrived in perfect condition, but this definitely makes me hesitate because I have received damaged products damaged in transit before & I always received full refunds from other K-beauty retailers in those instances.

European Customs

This is the first time I have ever been charged extra duties on an order from South Korea. I have been in Europe for many moons now, more large orders from the likes of Jolse & TesterKorea than I care to admit have been placed in this time.

I was charged an additional $33.33 to pay towards DHL for French customs, I was able to pay online so I did not have to fuss with the post office at least.

 

I glanced at the paperwork in the order in an attempt to find the culprit that triggered customs. The invoice states my order contains 10 cosmetics that value $30, similar to Jolse. However, the box weighed more than Sweet Corea’s online estimation & my order was 12 full-size cosmetic items, plus the free samples. The box was not declared as a gift either, so I imagine it was some combination of three that led to the extra fees.

Price Comparison

Initially, I was irritated about getting dinged by French customs & I had to pay duties to DHL. When I was comparing the cost of SweetCorea to other K-Beauty online retailers, I chose to include my customs fees because it is still an extra cost to the consumer even though it is not the fault of SweetCorea.

Despite this additional cost I contributed towards my SweetCorea order, it was still most cost-effective to pay the additional duties with my SweetCorea goodies than to shop at other common K-Beauty retailers.

 

ARITAUM Aloe No Wash Cleansing Water

  • SweetCorea: $4.00 [Shipping + Duties] = $10.74
  • Jolse: $13.16 [Free Shipping]
  • TesterKorea: $4.92 [K-Packet Shipping / $10.80] = $15.72

 

the SAEM Healing Tea Garden Green Tea Cleansing Water

  • SweetCorea: $3.13 [Shipping + Duties] = $9.87
  • Jolse: $11.19 [Free Shipping]
  • RoseRoseShop: $3.10 [K-Packet Shipping / $10.80] = $12.86

Overall

There are a lot of things to like about SweetCorea, but I have some reservations as well. I would likely place infrequent larger cosmetic hauls with this retailer, but they would not be my go-to for online shopping. I would seek out SweetCorea for specialty cosmetics  brands that are difficult to find in Europe, but I still need to find a replacement for Jolse that was my go-to for empty replacements & routine staples.

+ Wide K-Beauty brand selection

+ Competitively low wholesale prices

+ Carefully packed for shipment

= I only received order 1 – 2 days quicker than K-Beauty retailers with free economy shipping

= Rarely has promotions, but they do sell discounted cosmetics that are past expiration

= No customer loyalty rewards, rare promotions

– Does not send order as a “gift” so I incurred custom fees

 – Received nearly expired free samples

– Does not refund products damaged in transit

Review: Purito Defense Barrier pH Cleanser

Purito is one of those brand where I truly respect their effort & I want to love their products, I just have not found a love among them to call my own. After the Vitamin C serum fail, I decided to try their pH balanced cleanser because how could a product like this possibly go wrong?

Brand

Purito is a relatively new Korean-based company, they are cruelty-free & natural ingredients emphasize the 10-Free Skincare Ingredient Philosophy: No parabens, ethanol, surfactants, artificial coloring, fragrance, triethanolamine, phthalein, triclosan, petrochemicals or benzoyl peroxide. The company attempts to reduce their carbon footprint by minimizing cosmetic packaging that is produced from eco-friendly materials.

I like you, Purito.

Product Claims

Here are the advertised product claims from Purito’s website:

  • Low pH 5.5
  • Botanical ingredients,suitable for sensitive skin
  • Super mild gel cleanser for daily use
  • 10 free system

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Again, I am liking it, Purito! No outrageous claims, everything presented is plausible & accurate. It is a pH balanced, mild gel cleanser that builds to a mild foam & free of the artificial ingredients that are part of the company’s 10-Free Philosophy.

Application

Appearance

The cleanser has a consistency of a dense gel, it is one of the more of the more peculiar textures I have encountered with a cleanser though it not unpleasant. The consistency does thin once water is added though I would still recommend rubbing this in your hands before applying to your face, I notice I tug at my skin more than necessary if I try to lather this on my face instead of my hands.

Scent

Oy vey, it’s bad, guys. Like really bad.

This does not contain artificial fragrance, but it has an overpowering medicinal scent. The notes from the tea tree oil are definitive in the scent, it just reminds me of being is a hospital every time I open this tube.

This is a wash-off product so it is not something that will linger on the skin, but I still forewarn anyone with scent sensitivities like mine. I can feel my sinuses pulsing when I use this product, there are times when i have reached for a different cleanser because I did not want to deal with the smell.

Packaging

It comes in a silicone squeeze tube. The tube does feel durable, it is not difficult to dispense product & I like the logo design. However, my personal preference is always pump packaging for cleansers. I feel like I am playing Hot Potato any time I use squeeze tube cleansers in my Double Cleansing routine.

Performance

A good cosmetic is always better than a bad one, but this is just a cleanser. I feel like it is always important to note this whenever a product is as hyped as this one, it is a fine cleanser though it is not a miracle worker.

I was surprised by how effective this cleanser was at removing waterproof makeup, this cleanser can definitely stand on its own if you are a minimal make up user & your skin is not sweaty or highly oily.

This cleanser is mildly foaming, though it can build up to strong bubbles. I did not find this cleanser to be striping & I do not mind using a cleanser like this once a day in the summer months since I live in a Mediterranean climate, but I did find it slightly drying on occasion so I would not likely use this daily in the colder seasons. The ingredient list is full to antibacterials so it seems like this cleanser is intended for oily or acne-prone skin types, but it is not so harsh that I would not think it would bother mildly dry or dehydrated types.

I would caution anyone with sensitive skin or anyone that struggles with inflammation. There are a few anti-inflammatories spotlighted in the ingredient list, but there are far more potential irritants with the citrus extracts & detergents.

1 Acne Trigger & 0 Irritants according to CosDNA

Ingredient List
Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexaanediol, citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Allantoin, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Centella Asiatica Extact, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Royal Jelly Extract, Eithylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA

Surfactants

This product is sulfate-free, but it does contain surfactants.  Neither are proven to be carcinogens or toxic, but they are both potential irritants. The main differences between both of these is surfactants have much larger molecules so they are less likely to penetrate the skin & lower skin irritant potential.

Citrus Extracts

  • Grapefruit [Paradisi]: This is antibacterial that can be used a natural preservative, though it is not one of the most effective preservatives for cosmetics & citrus has the potential for skin irritation
  • Citric Acid: Botanical form of AHA that can act as a chemical exfoliant if it is pH balanced, but other AHA forms like are lactic or glycolic acids are shown to be more effective & less irritant potential

Allantoin

Bi-product of uric acid, effective as a skin-smoothing agent & fades pigmentation

Tea Tree Oil

Fragrant antioxidant & antiseptic

Centella Asiatica

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

Royal Jelly

This is the food for royalty & eaten exclusively by Queen Bees, but it is an anti-bacterial in the skincare sphere that also contains fatty acids & some studies have shown it increases collagen production

Value

Price: $9.20 / 150ml, $1.80 per Ounce

This product is available throughout Eastern Asian, it can be bought on Amazon US as well. I was unable to have this shipped to France at the time I was seeking it out so I bought it while I was traveling in Chicago. This brand has only become popularized within the last few months so I am hoping it will become more widely available online for Europe.

This is one of the cheapest pH balanced cleansers I have seen in a while, both on the Eastern & Western markets. I would recommend trying it if you do not have scent sensitivities & it is available in your country.

Overall

Rating: 3.5 / 5

I would never consider repurchasing this product based on the scent alone, but otherwise this is a fine option for an affordable & cruelty-free cleanser. While the ingredient list seems directed towards normal to oily skin types, the buildable foam is mild & I did not find it the least bit stripping on my dry skin. This cleanser is sulfate-free, but it contains a few sources of citrus extracts that some may find irritating.

Review: Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum

I have coveted Vitamin C serums for the last five years, it is the first skincare step I introduced to my routine where I noticed a drastic difference & I still notice a difference when this type of product is missing from my regimen all these years later. I have already tried a few duds this year, like Seoul Ceuticals; so I began eagerly eyeballing this Vitamin C serum from Purito in hopes it would be different.

Brand

Purito is a relatively new Korean-based company, they are cruelty-free & their natural ingredients emphasize the 10-Free Skincare Ingredient Philosophy: No parabens, ethanol, surfactants, artificial coloring, fragrance, triethanolamine, phthalein, triclosan, petrochemicals or benzoyl peroxide. The company attempts to reduce their carbon footprint by minimizing cosmetic packaging & it is produced from eco-friendly materials.

Product Claims

Here are the advertised claims from Purito’s website:

  • The balance of natural ingredients makes it safe & suitable for all skin types.
  • The ingredient help soothe & smooth blemishes.
  • It builds collagen, diminishes fine lines & wrinkles, lightens age spots, minimizes pores, brightens skin, lessens dark circles, and fades acne scars.

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I have some thoughts of these claims because of course I do.

I am always a skeptic of any cosmetic that claims to work for every skin type. The Vitamin C derivative is L-Absorbic Acid, it is the most effective form of Vitamin C though may be harsh for sensitive or extremely dry types.

The claims of smoothing lines & pigmentation is an overall accurate claim for Vitamin C, but this serum contains half of the amount for maximum skin penetration. Vitamin C concentration is not the only factor in determining the effectiveness of a serum, but it does play a significant role.

Application

Appearance

This Vitamin C is suspended in Hyaluronic Acid unlike most other Vitamin C serums that are water-suspended, but Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant so the consistency is still smooth & watery. It is a light amber color so the formula will show physical signs of oxidation, the packaging states this serum has a shelf life of 12 months after opening. This is longer than the average Vitamin C serum, which lasts 3 – 4 months.

Scent

There is no artificial fragrance, true to the brand’s nature-based philosophy. It has a mild citrus scent, but not in an overpowering sense.

Packaging

I think we have a winner… For my most hated packaging ever! Again, I always harp that I do not care more about the aesthetics, I want practicality. This Vitamin C serum comes in an airless pump, which is not the standard choice for this type of product & I have come to believe should never be used for this type product either!

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This type of serum is very watery, it is impossible to control the amount dispensed with this type of packaging so overall this packaging is very wasteful of the product itself. Every time I end up with an entire palm full of product no matter how slowly I apply pressure on the pump, especially since I ordinarily use only a few drops for my face & neck.

Performance

I really want to like Purito, I just have not found a product that has worked for me so far. No exception here. While most of Purito’s cosmetics have just been my personal preferences, this serum is a hot mess for me.

We already know I think the packaging is junk. The next issue is the name. I take strong stances on misleading advertisements & consumer deception, which is why I do not think this product should be called a “Vitamin C” serum.

This serum has a concentration of 10% L-Ascorbic Acid & 84% Hyaluronic Acid, which makes this a Hyaluronic or hydrating serum by an eighth-fold in my perception. There are two important factors in determining the effectiveness of a Vitamin C serum: Concentration & pH. Maximum absorption effectiveness for Vitamin C occur at 20%, anything higher may result in skin irritation & ideal pH is 4.0 or less. L-AA is the gold standard of Vitamin C because it is the most bioavailable & penetrates the skin better than other derivatives, but the concentration is halved.

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Then there are a host of less superficial aspects of this product that I did not like, mainly that it stings so I do not recommend for anyone with sensitive skin. I have dry skin, but I have been using retinol & higher concentrations of Vitamin C for years so I was surprised I had such a strong reaction. I did not find this serum particularly hydrating either despite it containing over 80% Hyaluronic Acid so I am just baffled.

While this product does layer well with other products, it did not wear well on my skin. It felt tight once it dried down, almost like there was a thin layer of plastic wrap on my face.

0 Acne Triggers & 0 Irritants according to CosDNA

Ingredient List
Sodium Hyaluronate (84%), Ascorbic Acid (10%), 1,2-Hexanediol, Niacinamide, Arginie, Human-Oligopeptide-1, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Extract, Magnolia Liliflora Bude Extract, Lilium Tigrinum Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Tuber Magnatum Extract, Pyrus Malus Extract, Red Ginseng Extract, Sodium Polyacrylate, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA

Sodium Hylauronate

This is the most bio-available forms of hyaluronic acid, which is already considered a super ingredient for it’s water attracting & binding abilities.

L-Absorbic Acid

The most bioavailable form of Vitamin C, better for absorption because this derivative does not need to go through the process of converting into L-AA to penetrate further into the skin’s surface. This ingredient can stimulate collagen production, increase cell turnover, diminish pigmentation & fine lines depending on the formula.

Niacinamide

More commonly known as Vitamin B3, this ingredient can brighten & reduce uneven skin tone. It can promote cell regeneration in concentrations of 5% or higher.

Human Oligopeptide – 1

Considered one of the best forms of peptides, it stimulates collagen & assists penetrating the skin with substances like hyaluronic acid.

Miscellaneous Notes

This is an attractive ingredient list, but the details are important. Let’s do some basic mathematics, 94% of this serum is Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin C. The rest of the ingredient list makes up 6% of the serum, which makes all these other attractive individual ingredient minuscule players in this formula. It is better to have smaller good ingredients than bad ingredients, but tailored expectations are important.

Also, this serum requires a mythbusters edition! It has been preached by skincare enthusiasts throughout the years that Niacinamide & Vitamin C should never intermingle, but the reality of this is little more than fiction. Kind of Stephen is a blogger who is actually a scientist & cosmetic chemist explains this entire relationship better than a simpleton like myself ever could, but this myth seems like it is based on outdated research & “cell death” fear mongering.

Value

Price: $15.60 / 60ml, $9.18 per Ounce

This product is available throughout Eastern Asian, it can be bought on Amazon US as well. I was unable to have this shipped to France at the time I was seeking it out in late January so I bought it while I was traveling in Chicago. This brand has only become popularized within the last few months so I am hoping it will become more widely available online for Europe.

However, is this product worth the price? I say pass. Most of the reviews I have read on this product have been positive, but I have seen this product sent out in PR packages along with the Purito Snail Repair Advanced 91 Serum as well. It is not a harmful or expensive product so I would not dissuade someone who actively wanted to try this serum, but I have not had a positive experience with it.

Overall

Ranking: 1 / 5

Hard pass, there are better options available on Amazon Prime for this price or less. The ingredient list looks great, though this is a low concentration of Vitamin C so the benefits will not have their full potential. However, there is something about the formulation of all these great individual ingredients that did not create a masterpiece. I found the product irritating & uncomfortable after dry-down.