Unboxing | November to LOVEABOX

There's always something exciting about beauty boxes, especially mystery ones. But what's even more exciting? A new mystery beauty box! Today I will be unboxing a new Korean beauty box that is based in Malaysia, called LOVEABOX. My really good friend Zyro, whom I met through blogging, actually started this company and sent me the first box to show you guys what it has to offer! LOVEABOX is a monthly non-subscription box filled with Korean beauty products such as makeup and skincare which are handpicked with love. Each box contains at least 3 full-sized items, and costs 160 MYR (about $35 USD). They do ship internationally through EMS, so their boxes are available worldwide! 

What I have here is the November version of their box, called November to Loveabox. When it comes to beauty boxes, my only criteria is that I am willing to try out most, if not all, of the products included inside of the box. There can be products I dislike in the end, but ultimately it just needs to include products that I'm interested in testing out. I admit I'm a bit picky when it comes to mystery boxes, so let's see if this one passes the test! 

Before I start diving into what's inside the box though, just take a look at that packaging! It's possibly the most luxurious-looking beauty box I've ever seen. The box is sturdy and made out of this thick, stiff cardboard material that will be able to hold quite a bit of weight. It's definitely one that I will be keeping to use as a storage container! What I like about this box is that the middle part (the golden strip) is indented in, making it easy to open. Although the gold section of the box feels a bit flimsy, the black top and bottom ensure that the box as a whole is very durable.

Honestly everything about the presentation of this box looks so chic and aesthetically pleasing! Also, their slogan, "It's not hard to LOVEABOX" is really cute.

*Please note that the retail value I use for each product is based on its retail price in Korea. Some of the brands do have US online shops, but often times the prices are doubled compared to the Korean retail price. There are plenty of online shops that sell K-beauty products at or just slightly above their Korean retail prices, hence why I'm using the retail prices in Korea to estimate the value of each product. 

Upon opening the box the first things I saw were these sheet masks from Entel Mask Pack. The two versions I received are Collagen (featuring pomegranate as the main ingredient) and Pine Mushroom. Along with the masks were two Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream_EX samples.
Estimated Value (couldn't find exact prices) | $2.00

The masks aren't anything special in terms of ingredients lists but I could always use more face masks, so these were a nice addition to the box.

Up next is another type of mask- the Etude House Fresh Cup Modeling Mask in Strawberry.
Retail Value | $3.50

I've been wanting to try a modeling mask for awhile, so I was really happy to see this included inside the box. I haven't used it yet, but the mask smells like yummy strawberry candy so I can't wait to give it a try!

Also included inside are a couple makeup products. The first one is the Tony Moly LipTone Get It Tint in 06 Dark Night.
Retail Value | $8.00

I have one of these lip tints already, but I'm happy to get another one in a different shade. If you've never tried this lip tint before, I highly recommend that you do! They're very pigmented and long-lasting, and not drying at all unlike most watery lip tints. In fact, they're even a bit hydrating! Definitely my favorite water-based lip tint to date.

The second makeup product included was this Pony Shine Easy Glam 3 Eyeshadow Quad in 03 Orange Blossom.
Retail Value | $18.00

I'm a huge fan of Pony's own brand, Pony Effect, but I've never tried the products she made in collaboration with Memebox before. This eyeshadow quad is one of them, so I'm curious to see how the quality fares compared to her brand's. I love all of the shades in this quad though, so I'm excited to test it out! If the quality is just as good as the Pony Effect quads, I can see this becoming one of my favorite eyeshadows.

Last but not least, there were two non-skincare and makeup products in this box. First was this really cute gold necklace with the word "Love" and a heart on it.
Retail Value | Unknown

The necklace is dainty, which I like. This was a nice surprise cause I didn't expect any jewelry in the box, and the quality doesn't seem cheap or flimsy.

And finally, the last product: an Etude House My Beauty Tool Lovely Etti Headband.
Retail Value | $4

I actually own this exact same headband, but an extra pair is always welcome. It's an adorable cat eared headband that helps keep your hair back and away from your face when you're washing your face, wearing a mask, etc.

And that concludes the November to LOVEABOX! The total retail value of this box came out roughly to $35.50, not including the price of the necklace. Do keep in mind that I used the retail prices of the products in Korea to calculate the value, so it may differ greatly if you're buying it online through a K-beauty shop. Although this box was nicely curated, it was lacking a bit in high value, which is what beauty boxes are known for. However, for me, this box was worth it since I actually will be using everything single product included. A lot of times with mystery beauty boxes I end up with at least 2-3 items that I won't ever use, so I appreciate it when a beauty box is well-rounded and contains not a single product I won't use.

If you're interested in purchasing this box, the November to LOVEABOX is still available here. Unfortunately the LOVEABOX in December is sold out, but you can also check out the Makeup Exclusive Loveabox here.

What do you think of LOVEABOX?

*The products featured in this post were sent to me for review purposes.

Review | Memebox I'm Stick Shadow

The first time I heard about eyeshadow sticks, it was in 7th grade when a couple girls were gossiping about another girl who used them. They were calling it "weird", "ugly", etc. At that time I had no experience with makeup other than mascara, so I had no idea what they were talking about. And in situations like that, where I don't know anything about the subject, I usually just listen and nod along. Which is exactly what I did back then. Now, if the same thing happened again today, I would definitely say something that counters their opinions (and tell them to stop bashing on the poor girl, because they were being pretty mean).

Why do I bring that story up? Even with my limited knowledge of makeup back then, I don't think eyeshadow sticks were much of a thing, at least in Western beauty. They existed, I'm sure, but they weren't popular. However, if you look at Western brands today, from high-end to drugstore, many of them have their own versions of eyeshadow sticks. Amazing how beauty trends change so quickly isn't it? Also, I brought the story up because I'm reviewing these Memebox I'm Stick Shadows today. 

According to the description, the Memebox I'm Stick Shadow features a waterproof formula with pigmented, shimmering shades that glide on easily with no fallout. Each stick contains 0.05 oz of product. The four shades I'm reviewing today are #ES407 Bellatrix#ES408 Stellar Rose#ES409 Hazel Topax, and #ES410 Spica Bron

Also to note: No animal testing was performed with these eyeshadow sticks, so they're cruelty-free.

The I'm Stick Shadows are packaged in a matte black plastic casing with the shade's color at the end of the packaging to easily identify which shade is which. To make more product come out, all you have to do is twist the colored end. There's nothing special about the packaging, it just looks like a lot of other eyeshadow sticks in terms of design style.

Here's a closer look at the total amount of product in each stick! The pictures don't really show it, but the I'm Stick Shadows are a lot bigger than the usual eyeshadow sticks in diameter. I'm not really a fan of the larger diameter because that means there's less precision, but it can be useful at times when I'm just applying the shadow all over my lid. If you don't like chubby eyeshadow sticks, then these definitely aren't for you.

Moving on to the fun part- the shades! 

#ES407 Bellatrix is a beautiful peachy pink with gold shimmers. It looks really pretty when applied all over the lid. I also like to use this on the outer third of my lid and blend it into #ES408 Stellar Rose to create a gradient look.

#ES408 Stellar Rose is a pretty pale pink with iridescent shimmers. This works well all over the lid as a base color or as a highlighter for the inner corner of the eyes and undereye.

#ES409 Hazel Topaz is a neutral shimmery brown that looks great on the outer corner of the eyes or basically anywhere on the lid. It's that perfect shade for a neutral look!

#ES410 Spica Bron is a bronzy orange that works well with warm browns and light peachy tones. I usually use this on the outer third of my eyes and blend a warm to neutral brown on the outer edges of it.

Now, let's talk about formula! These eyeshadow sticks are creamy and very easy to apply onto the lid. For full pigmentation I usually have to go over it a second time, however once they've set they do not budge. Before they set though, they're easy to blend just by using your fingers. I tried running the swatches on my arm under water while rubbing really hard on them, and they didn't fade or smudge at all, so they're definitely waterproof! There's no fallout whatsoever, but throughout the day the color does fade a bit. One thing to note though is that I never use eyeshadow primer, which may help intensify and prolong the pigmentation of these eyeshadow sticks. 

Overall I think the I'm Stick Shadows are great for makeup beginners, fans of shimmery shadows, or busy people with not a lot of time for makeup. Since they're quite easy to apply and take hardly any effort to blend, they're great for a quick eye makeup look. On days where I choose to sleep in for an extra 5 minutes, I usually reach for these eyeshadow sticks to cut down the time I spend on makeup. Although the colors are shimmery, they're subtle so they're suitable for any occasion whether it be casual, professional, fancy, etc. (depending on the shade, of course). My only complaint with these is the larger-than-average diameter, which takes away some precision. For the price though, the quality is really good and the amount of product included is above decent!

Where to buy:
Unfortunately the I'm Stick Shadow is out of stock at Memebox for now, but normally you can purchase them for $11 each. I'll update this post with links once the product is back in stock again!

What's your preferred eyeshadow type- cream, powder, or liquid? Let me know in the comments below and tell me about your favorite eyeshadows!

The products featured were provided to me by Memebox for review purposes. All opinions stated are my own and based on my true experiences. 

Review | LOVEISDERMA Hydrating Mask + Gelly Masque + UV Clear

Ever since I started using skincare at the age of 14, I always focused on Korean products and never deviated from them. I'll admit I was biased, and thought that Korean skincare was superior to all since they always seemed to have the most interesting ingredients. Now, 3 years later, I've started opening myself up to other Asian (and Western) beauty products.  My skincare routine still consists of mainly Korean products, but I have been branching out. This all started when I tried Taiwanese face masks (Maskingdom I'm looking at you), and then Japanese sunscreens. Price-wise I think I'll always have a slight preference for Korean, but I'm no longer biased in terms of quality. So when Jen from Beautibi asked me if I'd like to try three products from Tawainese brand LOVEISDERMA, I was more than happy to give them a shot.

The three LOVEISDERMA products I'll be reviewing today are the Deep Hydrating Mask, VC+ Whitening Gelly Masque, and UV Clear SPF50. First up is the Deep Hydrating Mask!

The LOVEISDERMA Deep Hydrating Mask is a bio cellulose mask. According to the brand:

Each Bio Cellulose Mask consists of 100% organic, micro-cellulose fibers that are 200 times finer and four times stronger than cellulose produced naturally by plants. 
The quality of this superior fiber structure – synthesized from Aacetobacter xylinum bacteriais premium grade, comparable to the cellulose fiber commonly used for wound care and medical applications. It absorbs and retains an exceptional volume of age-defying ingredients, more than any other cosmetic facial mask on the market.

This mask contains a whopping 50 ml of essence. That's more than twice as much as your average sheet mask! However, while the mask has retain a good amount of the essence, there is also a lot of essence left in the packet. Personally I couldn't care less about whether or not there's any leftover essence left, so the 50 ml seems a bit excessive to me. For those of you who love using that extra essence in the packet though, you'd definitely like how much this mask has!

On the back of the packaging you'll find all the additional information about the mask- description, directions, etc. What's really nice about all LOVEISDERMA products is that all product information is written in English, despite the brand being Tawainese. This makes it much easier for international customers, so kudos to LOVEISDERMA for that! Now moving on...

INGREDIENTS: Water/Aqua (Swiss Spring Alpine Water), Barley Extract, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Quercus Robur Bark Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Iris Florentina Root Extract, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Caramel, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol

A quick look at the ingredients list shows that while the mask does contain the usual filler ingredients, all of them except water are actually located near the end of the list! What you see instead at the top is a bunch of extracts, which is always a welcomed sight. A scan on CosDNA shows that only Propylene Glycol and Phenoxyethanol have a yellow safety flag, and Butylene Glycol has a low potential of causing acne. I've never had problems with the three ingredients (all are common in skincare products). However if you are sensitive to any of the ingredients listed, don't use this mask.

The mask comes sandwiched between two protective backings: a semi-transparent film and an opaque white film. Instructions say that you're supposed to remove the semi-transparent film first, place the mask on your face, and then remove the white film. I prefer to remove the semi-transparent film, then peel the mask off of the while film and place it on my face. Feel free to do it however you like!

Please excuse my face. I was trying not to laugh while my friend took this picture. Also the mask was sliding down my face.
Bio cellulose masks are one of my favorite types of masks due to their thin and clingy material, however I wasn't too impressed by the clinginess of this one. It kept sliding down my face, so the only way to make it stay in place was by laying down. When I use a sheet mask I'm often multitasking (i.e. sitting upright) , so it was quite annoying to have to keep adjusting the mask. The fit was fine other than the mouth area being a bit too large. Also this mask comes with eye flaps which are good if you're just going to relax, lay down, and close your eyes. But, I'd rather multitask so I didn't use them. 

The results of this mask though was enough for me to forgive its inconvenience. I kept it on for about 40 minutes and it was still moist when I removed it. I woke up the next day with brighter and plump, well-hydrated skin. A few acne spots I had were also calmed down. While my face did feel sticky and a bit oily after I removed the mask, it wasn't the heavy, pore clogging kind of feeling that many very moisturizing masks give. I didn't notice much of a scent while wearing this mask, so I'd say it's safe for scent sensitive people.

The price of this mask is a bit high, however I see this as an intensive treatment mask so it's more of a once in awhile treat rather than daily maintenance for your skin. The fact that this mask provided ample amounts of moisture for my skin without making it feel like it was suffocating is something I rarely come across with high moisture sheet masks, hence why I'm willing to repurchase it. Next time though I'd definitely use it while laying down.

You can purchase this mask HERE for $9 each or $24 for a box of three.

Next up is the VC+ Whitening Gelly Masque!

According to the brand:

"This gel-based masque is formulated with a skin lightening formula rich in nourishing hydrators and brightening ingredients such as VC-IP, Vitamin B3, White Mulberry Extract and Oryza Sativa Lees Extract that help promote overall skin clarity, give the skin a brighter, fresher appearance.'

INGREDIENTS: Water, Glycereth-26, Corallina Officinalis Extract, White Mulberry Extract, Butylene Glycol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Lees Extract, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sorbitol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Carbomer, Niacinamide, Mannitol, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Caffeine, Zinc Gluconate, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Potassium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin,Polysorbate 20, Fragrance

This mask contains a number of well known skin brightening ingredients such as white mulberry extract, rice extract, and niacinamide which will help give your skin a more radiant complexion while reducing hyperpigmentation.

However, a quick scan through CosDNA shows that there are also some not so good ingredients as well... or are they? Retinyl palmitate, a combination of palmitic acid and retinol (vitamin C), received a red flag in terms of safety. Considered a gentler form of vitamin C, retinyl palmitate has some bad rep as being a potential cause for skin damage, aging, and cancer when exposed to UV rays. However, the studies made on this ingredient only tested it on mice under simulated UV rays from lamps, hence why there's disagreement on whether or not the evidence is enough to support the claims since results may vary in real world environments.

My opinion on this? Vitamin C does cause UV rays to be more damaging to your skin if applied during the day, but every product that contains retinol or any other forms of vitamin C always has warning labels that tell you to apply sunscreen when using the product. The controversy with retinyl palmitate is also due to it being used in sunscreen, something that this product is not. With this being a wash-off mask, I think the risk of skin damage is negligible as long as you use it at night and wear sunscreen the next day.

As usual, if you have any known irritations to the ingredients listed though, don't use this product!

The gelly masque comes packaged in a plastic tub with a pry-off lid. It's a perfect size for travel since it's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

The VC+ Gelly Masque pictured here contains 70g of product, but I think this is a travel size since the Loveisderma website lists only a 500g one. Either way though it contains enough product for 4-5 uses depending on how much you apply, which is an adequate amount for people to test out before deciding if they want to get the full size.

As the name suggests, this is a mask with a jelly-like texture that feels very refreshing upon application. It's easy to spread as well. It has a floral fragrance that isn't overpowering in any way. I personally don't mind it but those who are scent sensitive may find it offensive.

The directions state that you should apply a layer approximately 5mm thick to cleansed skin. Don't do that, it's a waste of product. 5mm is incredibly thick for a mask, and whenever I tried to apply that much to my face, it just didn't work. I think as long as you apply a 1-2mm thick layer to your skin it'll still absorb the amount of active ingredients needed for the product to be effective on your skin.

I applied this mask as thickly as I could and left it on for 30 minutes.  Although the directions state to scrape off the excess gel and then wash off any remainders, I prefer to just wash it off instead. The two times I tried to scrape off the mask just kinda hurt my skin, and I haven't tried to do so since. It's a bit difficult to wash off because of its thick, jelly-like consistency, but not so much of a pain as clay masks.

I thought the mask wasn't doing much for my skin, but after taking those pictures I was surprised by the results. It does temporarily brighten up my skin and refine my pores! My skin also felt well hydrated after washing off the mask. However the brightening and pore refining effect isn't permanent and disappears within a day. Perhaps with everyday-use the results will become permanent, but I'm very lazy when it comes to wash off masks so I don't really the will to use it everyday. Also the amount of product included is only sufficient for 4-5 uses, and according to to LOVEISDERMA, you have to use it consistently for 1-3 months in order to see permanent brightening results as well as reduced pigmentation.

Overall I'd say that I did enjoy this mask, and liked the temporary brightening effects it gave! I'm also fairly impressed with the appearance of my pores after using it, although again it's not permanent. This didn't break me out either, so I'm pretty happy with it! I'm not sure if I'd recommend this to sensitive skin types because there are a few low-rated irritants included in the ingredients, but if you know that you don't have an issue with any of the ingredients then it's probably okay. As they say, YMMV.

Unfortunately I'm not sure where you can purchase this as it's not for sale on Beautibi. I contacted Jen and she said that she probably won't be carrying this because she's focusing on another brand of jelly masks, but I will update this post if she decides to sell it in the future!

Last but not least, the UV Clear SPF50!

The UV Clear SPF50 is a physical and chemical sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Although there is no PA rating stated, I think the stars next to SPF rating indicates that it's PA+++. I'm not sure though so don't take my word for it! According to the brand:

"The expect UV Clear SPF50 provides unique physical-chemical properties for sunscreen, its full spectrum sunscreen and absorption protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. Help prevent skin darkening and brown spots. Gives you a lightened, natural, flawless complexion."

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Octyl Methoxycinnamate (8.63%), Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (3.91%)

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isohexadecane, Dimethicone, Titanium Dioxide, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Aqua, Sambucus Nigra (Elder) Flower Extract, Cetyl PEG(PPG- 10/1 Dimethicone), Niacinamide, Caprylic-Capric Triglyceride, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Trehalose, Urea, Serine, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Algin, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pullulan, Disodium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Laminaria Sccharina Extract, Phytosteryl (Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glumtamate), Sorbitan Oleate, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin

First let's take a look at the ingredients that offer UV protection:

Octyl Methoxycinnamate (aka Octinoxate or OMC) is a chemical filter that provides only UVB protection. It's water-insoluble, and degrades overtime when exposed to sunlight, making it not the most photostable UV filter out there. Since it is easily absorbed into the skin, there has been some concerns about it promoting generation of potentially harmful free radicals (which can cause cells to function poorly or die). However further research is needed to come to a definite conclusion . The FDA limits a max percentage of 7.5% in sunscreens, and this sunscreen contains 8.63%, so it's a little bit concerning. I'm not really sure what to think of it, but it's recommended that pregnant women and children should use this with caution.

Diethylamnio Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate is another chemical filter that absorbs UVA rays. It's often marketed as Uvinul A Plus, and is currently approved for use in only Europe and Asia. That doesn't mean it's not safe, for the FDA is very behind on approving OTC sunscreen ingredients, hence why you often hear that Europe and Asia have far more superior sunscreens than the US.

Lastly, an ingredient everyone is familiar with: Titanium Dioxide. This is a physical filter that reflects and blocks both UVB and UVA rays, however it doesn't offer protection against the entire range of UVA rays. If you see a white cast from your sunscreen, this ingredient is often the culprit. It can cause irritation for some people, but I've never had a problem with it.

Moving on to the main ingredient in this sunscreen, which is Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract. This ingredient (not to be confused with olive oil) has high antioxidant effects as well as anti-inflammatory  and antimicrobial properties. This means that it'll help your skin with anti-aging as well as calming and purifying it.

I'm a little bit meh when it comes to this ingredients list because there are quite a few ingredients that raise a yellow flag in safety concerns (see CosDNA analysis). Luckily this didn't break me out, but people who have really sensitive skin should proceed with caution when trying this sunscreen. As always, if you have any known irritations with the ingredients listed, don't use this!

The sunscreen comes packaged in a white plastic bottle. It's pretty sturdy and small, so it's travel friendly. Since this is a more liquid-type sunscreen (similar to the Shiseido Sun Protection Lotions), I always shake it before use. I'm not sure if it's necessary, but that's something I always do with liquidy lotions and foundations, especially if it sounds like there's something hard shaking around inside. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Its viscosity is higher than water but definitely still fairly low, so it's pretty runny. It spreads out easily and absorbs quickly into the skin. It feels moisturizing and a little bit oily when applying, however once it's fully absorbed it just leaves a satin finish. I was surprised to see that it doesn't leave a white cast, but also glad cause I hate it when sunscreens do that. 

This sunscreen is moisturizing, so I wouldn't recommend this to combination-oily and oily skin types during the summer. However I think normal to dry skin types would probably really like this sunscreen year round. When I first tried this back in the summer I didn't like this at all because my skin gets oily very easily in the summer, so even a slightly moisturizing product would make my face oily. However now that the weather is cooler and winter is approaching, I've started using this again and really like it since my skin tends to lean more normal/dehydrated during this time. I prefer using sunscreens that have a stated PA++++ rating, hence why I probably won't repurchase this, but overall I'd say this is a light and moisturizing sunscreen that's very similar to the Shiseido Sun Protection Lotion. It's been awhile since I used Shiseido's, so I can't say it's a dupe for sure, but fans of the Shiseido sunscreen would like this LOVEISDERMA UV Clear one as well.

It's undecided for now whether or not Beautibi will be stocking this sunscreen, but if and once they do I will be updating this post with the link to purchase it!

Out of the three products I've tried from LOVEISDERMA, there's not a single one that I disliked. Although the sunscreen has some iffy ingredients, overall I'd say this brand is worth a try, especially if you like bio cellulose face masks with lots of extra essence! Have you guys tried any LOVEISDERMA products? If you have let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear your opinions! And if you haven't, are there any that you'd like to try?

Thank you all for reading through this long post!

My Current Korean Skincare Routine | Nov 2016

Boy has it been awhile since I last posted.

Hello everyone! Apologies for the short hiatus I took recently, I've been really busy with school and college apps ever since August and haven't had time to work on posts until now. Did I ever mention how stressful senior year is? Well, it is.

Also, unfortunately, my skin had one of its worst breakouts back in late June and didn't really start calming down until a month ago :( It seemed like I had a new acne spot every other day, so whenever I tried a new product, I had no idea whether or not the product was actually the culprit. Therefore I had to hold off on testing out skincare until I knew for sure that my experience wouldn't be skewed by whatever was causing my skin to breakout.

Luckily, everything seems to be returning to normal now, except for the number of acne scars I have due to the breakouts, but only time can fix that really. I realized a week ago that I've never posted about my skincare routine, and that's for a silly reason- I kept waiting to find the perfect base routine. I thought that it'd only be acceptable to write about my skincare routine once I'd found all of my holy grails, but what's the point of writing a blog about my beauty journey if I don't include all the steps along the way? So today I'm going to show you guys my current skincare routine! I figured that this post would also be a good way to revisit products I've reviewed and to let you guys know "Hey, this product was actually worth repurchasing!" My skin can't really handle constantly switching products, so whatever I list below are the products I stick to until I run out or I'm sent a new product to try. Mind you there are some days I don't use all the steps, but that's only if my skin is a bit oilier than normal. Anyways, let's begin!

Review | PONY Effect Essentials Stay Put Eye Sticks

Hello everyone!

My apologies for the long hiatus- school and life in general took over my time the past few months, and I was at NYU the past two weeks for summer courses. However, I'm happy to say that I'm back with plenty of time for blogging (oh wait, college apps... but I have lots of time for now!). Also I'm so happy to be typing this sentence right now. And this one. AND this one.

Even though I took a break from blogging, I definitely didn't take a break from testing out new products, and have A LOT of things to review for you all. Starting off with these eyeshadow sticks from PONY EFFECT. For those of you who don't know, PONY EFFECT is a brand created by Korean makeup artist Pony, who also has her own YouTube channel. I love her and her tutorials, but I was never really interested in her own brand because I had my doubts about the quality. However, after trying her Essentials line that was released in March, I have been obsessed.  Take this as a spoiler that the upcoming reviews on products from her brand will mostly be raves. Mostly. Now that you've been warned, let's begin!

Unboxing | Beautibi Spring Fling Beauty Box

With spring comes many things- warmer weather, blooming flowers, and the most exciting one: new beauty products! And a new skincare routine, of course. Spring is the time for me to start slowly testing out products to see which ones will make the cut for my summer skincare routine, and which ones will not. It's also a time when my skin can get problematic due to stress and lack of sleep caused by finals, the SAT, grades and just.. no. I'm not going to talk about it now. I'll handle them as they come. Meh.

What were we talking about? Right, new products. 

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I bought the Beautibi Mask Party Pack, which included a Femmue mask. Let's just say that I tried it and really liked it. So when Beautibi announced that their Spring Fling Beauty Box would include all four Femmue mask types, I knew I had to get it. Now you guys probably all know that I don't like floral scents, and honestly if I hadn't tried the Femmue mask previously I wouldn't have bought this box because spring = lots of floral scents. And that's just not my thing. But the Femmue mask (the one I tried was chamomile) had a lovely light fragrance that wasn't noticeably floral, so I thought why not and decided to just go for it. And I'm glad I did! 

Review | Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream

Hi there! It feels like it's been forever since I last blogged, and I apologize for my irregular schedule. Lately it's been getting more difficult to keep up with blogging because of school and work, but hopefully I can figure out a better schedule soon!

Today's review is on a product that's been highly raved about by many people- the Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream, aka Joseon Beauty Cream. I wasn't too interested in the cream when I first heard of it, because I always associated hanbang as something more for people in their mid-20's and up, but eventually the positive reviews got to me. Luckily Memebox somehow read my mind back then and sent me this for review, so a huge thank you to the Memebox fam!

Review | Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect First Serum

Hello everyone!

My apologies for this late review, I know my resolution this year is to be a better blogger and post at least once a week, but... that didn't really happen last week, heh. Before when I only had to balance blogging and school it was a lot easier, but now I have to factor in my part-time job (and I usually work 8 hours everyday on weekends!). So please bear me while I readjust my schedule so that way I can start posting regularly again ^^

Today's review probably comes as no surprise to all of you since I mentioned it previously in my Products I'm Currently Testing post- the Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect First Serum. You might be wondering...

What's the deal with first essences/serums? 

If you're a skincare junkie, you've probably well aware of the much raved about SK-II First Treatment Essence, and K-beauty fans, you probably also know about its supposed dupe, the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence. These products, just like the one featured today, are supposed to be used as the first step after cleansing, before you apply anything else. A lot of times, they're meant to hydrate, brighten, soften, and improve the elasticity of your skin. In addition, many of them claim to have anti-aging properties.

Here's the thing though.

I've been disappointed by first essences multiple times, including some very popular ones such as Missha's and IOPE's. I remember thinking the first time I used one that they didn't seem that different from a hydrating toner, and honestly that's all they've been for me. But I haven't given up (yet), and decided to give Skinfood's a try, especially since it was super cheap at that time. I purchased mine in Seoul while it was on sale for about $16, and it came in this set that included 5 sheet masks as well:

For $16, the deal was too good to pass up. Right??

If you're curious as to how this serum fared, and if it finally changed my mind about first essences, then keep reading!

Product Info
스킨푸드 블랙슈가 퍼펙트 첫세럼
Name: Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect First Serum
Price: 24,000 KRW
Size: 120ml 

Description: Achieve a smoother, clearer complexion with a combination of moisture rich black sugar and Cheongju, a traditional Korean wine.

Ingredients: Water, Black Sugar Extract (12,000mg), Alcohol, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Witch Hazel Extract, Lepidium Meyenii Root Extract, Sarcodon Aspratus Extract, Papaya Fruit Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Lemon Fruit Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Lactobacillus/Aspergillus/Prunus Mume Fruit Ferment Filtrate, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Arginine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phenoxyethanol, Caramel, Parfum

At first glance, this serum is full of fruit and plant extracts, which are mainly beneficial for your skin. Here are some ingredients that stand out to me:

Black Sugar Extract- Of course I have to mention the main ingredient of this serum, which is black sugar. If any of you are familiar with Skinfood's bestselling Black Sugar Mask Wash Off, then you probably know that black sugar is good for exfoliating your skin and getting rid of those dull and dead skin cells to reveal brighter, softer skin.

Niacinamide- I was happy to see this ingredient in the list since it's well-known for its brightening functions! Niacinamide is useful for getting rid of those annoying scars and evening out your skin tone, as well as giving your skin that healthy glow.

Papaya Fruit Extract- Papaya contains an enzyme called papain that is useful for fading scars and sun damage. This makes papaya fruit extract a great exfoliator, since it is able to gently remove dead skin cells.

Salicylic Acid- I was a little surprised to see this ingredient in the list, but since it's so far down I doubt there is a significant amount to have any noticeable effect on your skin. Salicylic acid is commonly used in anti-acne products since it can be used to treat blemishes and prevent any pimples, and is also an excellent exfoliant. I personally haven't really found topical salicylic acid to be effective at treating acne, other than one salicylic acid foam cleanser by Cosrx. I normally break out from using salicylic acid products because of my reactive skin, but luckily this product didn't break me out.

According to CosDNA, this product contains 1 low potential acne trigger, and several ingredients that scored a yellow flag in terms of safety. There is one ingredient (salicylic acid) that scored a red flag in terms of safety as well.

The bottle comes packaged in carton-shaped cardboard box. There's something old-fashioned about the design on the box, but it fits very well with the apothecary-like theme of this product.

The product also comes with a box of 70 special cotton pads!

Even though they don't look that different from regular cotton pads, there is something different about them.

There are two sides to these cotton pads- a cleaning side and an absorbent side. The absorbent side is just smooth and not any different from regular cotton pads, but the cleaning side is textured, which helps gently exfoliate your skin as you're applying the serum. I think people with extremely sensitive skin might find the textured side a bit too rough, but it was alright for me. I actually quite liked how it felt on my skin!

Moving on to the product itself!

The serum is housed in a thick glass bottle that reminds me of something you'd see in an apothecary shop, or a bottle of whiskey. My friend, when she first saw this product, actually thought that it was alcohol! To which she gave me this look until I clarified that it's only a skincare product, but I can definitely see the resemblance. Update: I showed another friend a picture of the bottle, and she told me that it looks like A.1. Steak Sauce. I don't know how I missed that, but I can see why, haha.

The picture above might not show it, but the bottle color is this beautiful ombre that goes from dark caramel to dark brown.

Since it is made of glass, I probably wouldn't recommend taking this with you for travel. However it is rather sturdy, so it can definitely take a short fall onto your floor. I may or may not speak from experience.

The one thing I don't quite like about the bottle is that the opening is a bit larger than I would've liked, so when you shake it the product tends to get all over the inside of the cap. And then, possibly due to the black sugar extract, the serum inside the cap and around the edges of the opening jellifies. You can just remove it, but it's a little bit annoying to see happen.

The scent is amazing! Seriously, if you're a fan of sweet scents then you would love the smell of this serum. It smells like sugar but also with a hint of alcohol, which might sound kind of strange, but trust me, it smells good. I wonder if the caramel ingredient could've possibly added to the scent too. Although the scent is noticeable, it's not heavy nor lasting, and fades away upon application. Honestly, if they made a candle that smells like this, I'd buy it.

To apply, I just shake a few drops onto the textured side of the cotton pad and wipe it on my skin. I then flip it over to the smooth side to pad the serum in. The serum has a very faint, barely noticeable golden tinge to it due to the caramel added in the formula. I personally don't like pouring the serum into my hands and patting it in just because I feel like it's too much for my combination skin and takes longer to absorb, as it is quite moisturizing. Also, I actually do like using the textured side of the cotton pad, since it does feel like it's slightly exfoliating.

When it comes to viscosity, I'd say that it's slightly thicker than water. It's also more slippery, and has a sticky finish that disappears once you apply your next skincare product. I'm not a big fan of the sticky finish, but luckily it doesn't last. I would say that it absorbs moderately fast. If you apply this with your hands, it's very easy to spread as well. Since it is quite moisturizing, a little goes a long way. I've used this for over a month now and I've only gone through about a quarter of the bottle, even with the use of a cotton pad. If you do choose to apply this with your hands, it'll probably last even longer.

So how did this perform?

Meh. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad product by any means, but it's nothing special either, at least for me. While I do think it did exfoliate my skin a little and made it soft and smooth, I didn't notice any significant changes on my skin in terms of dry patches, acne scars, and pores. My skin did look a bit brighter, but just barely. No wow factor at all. I can't say anything about its anti-aging claims, since I'm only 17, but so many products claim to be anti-aging that I usually dismiss them.

I would not recommend this for oily skin unless you're using this at night, and only during the winter. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I find it to be a little bit too moisturizing during the day for my combination, so in order to use this I have to cut down on my skincare routine so that way my skin wouldn't get oily too quickly during the day. However, it worked really well during the winter at just giving my skin that extra boost of moisture I needed to keep it from feeling dehydrated! I think people with dry skin would really appreciate the extra boost of moisture this provides as well.

Sadly, in the end, this performed just like a very hydrating toner, think Hado Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion but even more moisturizing. If you're looking for a product that will provide your skin some additional moisture, then I would recommend giving this a try. Or you could even use this as a replacement for your toner, which is what I'm doing right now. Other than that though, I just don't see anything special about it that makes me want to repurchase it. My opinion on first essences remains the same (sadly).

However, I know that Skinfood reformulated this serum awhile back and created a "Light" version as well, so my version, the original one, may differ quite a bit from the reformulated ones! Who knows, haha. Has anyone tried the two versions before? Let me know if you have and if there are any noticeable differences!

-Aesthetically pleasing packaging
-Smells really good
-Includes cotton pads
-A little goes a long way
-Easy to apply
-Exfoliates a little
-Skin feels soft after use
-Didn't break me out

-Glass bottle (not travel friendly)
-Doesn't help with dry patches
-Barely brightens skin
-Doesn't help with impurities/pores
-Sticky finish
-Too moisturizing for oily skin

Where to buy:
Since Skinfood reformulated this product, the version reviewed here is no longer available. However you can purchase the new versions at these shops:
Jolse $23.78 (free shipping)
W2Beauty $28.78 (free shipping, use code 04308009 at registration to receive a free $5 voucher)
Testerkorea ~$17.04
RoseRoseShop $16.55
iBuyBeauti $24.91 (free shipping on orders $50+)

Have you tried first essences before? Would you like to give this serum a try? Let me know in the comments below!
It's almost midnight as I write this, so I honestly don't know what I'm saying at the moment lol There are probably quite a few mistakes in this post, so I'll go over this tomorrow and fix everything...

Also, I just finished Cheese in the Trap. Fellow CITT fans, what did you guys think of the ending? I feel like I expected more from it... like more closure? Honestly I'm not sure whether or not I liked it. On the other hand, Running Man was really funny this week so it kind of made up for the drama's lackluster ending~

Thank you all for reading and I'll see you guys in my next post :)

© Gloriaus Days 2016 | blog design by pipdig