Unboxing | Beautibi aNEW Beauty Box

It's a (somewhat) new year, and what better beauty box to do as the first unboxing of the year than one curated by Beautibi?  I've always been a fan of Jen's curations, so I had high expectations for Beautibi's latest box. Of course, they did not disappoint. I'm actually quite behind on blogging at the moment due to school and work, but I pushed all of the other posts aside to write this one first. If you're wondering why, it's because they're almost sold out of some versions of this box, and I don't want any of you to miss out on it. I'm serious. If you're always on the prowl for something new in the Asian beauty world, you're gonna want to get this box. So enough chitchat and let's begin the unboxing!

Review | Troiareuke Skin Complex Formula + Mela C Formula Ampoule

Dehydrated oily skin is like Goldilocks- it can't have too much or too little, everything has to be juuust right. Too much hydration results in oily t-zones and possible acne, while too little results in tight, dry skin everywhere. I'm not the biggest fan of creams and lotions because they often provide too much moisture, so lately I've been using the Troiareuke Skin Complex Formula to give my skin the right amount of hydration it needs. Since post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is also a huge concern of mine, I've paired it with the Troiareuke Mela C Formula Ampoule to tackle two problems at once. 

This combination was part of the skincare "prescription" given to me by Troiareuke when I told them my skin type and concerns. Since they're not really known internationally, here's a short introduction to the brand: Pronounced troy-ARE-keh, Troiareuke was originally a spa brand in Korea that decided to make their products available to the public after launching 6 years ago. Their products are formulated based upon scientific research as well as knowledge from one-on-one interactions with clients at thousands of spas. I was really excited to give their products a try after I found that they're devoted to creating effective and gentle products for every skin type. As someone with sensitive and acne-prone skin, I'm always on the lookout for gentle formulations that also deliver results. And Troiareuke is definitely one of them.

Production Information
Name: Troiareuke Skin Complex Formula
What Is It: A hydrating toner to be used after cleansing and actives (if you use any). Can also be used as a facial mist anytime.
Size: 180ml | 6.08 fl. oz.

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Pinus Densiflora Bark Extract, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Extract, Rosa Canina (Dog-rose) Fruit Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa (Roselle) Flower Extract, Citrus Unshiu (Satsuma Mandarin) Peel Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Lonicra Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Zanthoxylum Piperitum (Japanese Pepper) Fruit Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, Citus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Niacinamide, Betaine, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Propylene Glycol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Tilia Cordata Flower Extract, Centaurea Cyanus (Cornflower) Flower Extract, Hypericum Perforatum (St. John's Wort) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disodium EDTA, Perfume

According to CosDNA, there is only one low potential acne trigger, which is butylene glycol. I do want to note however that this is an ingredient that appears in most skincare products, and I've personally never had a problem with it, so it's not going to make most people breakout. However if you are sensitive to this ingredient or have known sensitivities to any of the other ingredients listed above, don't use this product.

Troiareuke highlights hyaluronic acid as one of main ingredient in this toner, but what they have listed is actually sodium hyaluronate. What's the difference between the two? Sodium hyaluronate is a water-soluble salt form of hyaluronic acid. It's more stable (less likely to oxidize) and has smaller molecules than hyaluronic acid, so it's able to penetrate the skin better. That means it's a more powerful humectant than hyaluronic acid, helping your skin retain more moisture.

Two other ingredient highlights are pinus denisflora bark extract (pine bark extract) and salicornia herbacea extract. Pine bark extract is an antioxidant that also protects skin against UVB-induced photoaging (source). Salicornia herbacea extract comes from a type of succulent, and is found to be an potential skin rejuvenating agent that has antioxidant and brightening effects (source).

This toner is also full of many other plant and flower extracts- including some that I've never seen before in cosmetics. At first look the one I recognize immediately is calendula flower extract, an anti-inflammatory ingredient rich in antioxidants. Some of the more interesting extracts include japanese pepper fruit extract (antioxidant rich as well) and satsuma mandarin peel extract (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich). It seems like many of the extracts are high in antioxidants, which slow down the effect of free radicals on our skin to prevent and repair damaged tissue. 
This is non-beauty related, but I came across a study that suggests japanese pepper fruit extract can induce cancer cell death (source). There isn't much information on its topical uses, but I wonder if it has a lot of potential as a skincare ingredient?

Some other notable ingredients include allantoin (skin soothing and healing), niacinamide (brightens and even outs skin tone), and dipotassium glycyrrhizate (skin-conditioning and anti-irritant).

The Skin Complex Formula is packaged in a plastic spray bottle, but I find the spray nozzle a little too strong to spray the toner directly onto my face. Compared to super fine mists (like the Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist), this does not dispense a fine mist at all. It's similar to those $1 spray bottles you'd find at the supermarket- it does its job, but not very well. The only way I can spray it directly onto my face is by holding it at more than half an arm's length away, which I find wastes the product. It's a shame since I think it'd be a wonderful hydrating mist to use throughout the day, so I'm probably going to decant some of it into my Tatcha bottle once I'm done with the Tatcha mist.

Although it fails a bit in the packaging area, the Skin Complex Formula makes up for all of it with its formula and results. It's amazingly hydrating yet lightweight, and I find that I can rely on it alone to hydrate my skin. Yes, that's right- for the past four weeks I've been using this alone without any other serums or creams during the day (other than the Mela C Formula Ampoule, which has little hydration) to test how effective the two products actually are. And the result? By layering this three to four times, my dehydrated skin is well-hydrated without the use of any other products. On days where my skin is feeling particularly dry, I may do five layers, but since I do have an oily t-zone, I usually do 3. What I do is simply spray once into the palm of my hand to dispense the product, then pat it evenly onto my face, and repeat this multiple times. It does have a somewhat sticky finish, but once it's fully absorbed I'm just left with hydrated skin that's smooth to the touch. Despite it being so hydrating, it's still very lightweight, so it doesn't feel heavy at all. At night I do like to use a sleeping mask, but I can see myself using this by itself at night in the summer since my skin gets oilier during the warmer seasons.

Also, despite using this product so much, it looks like I've used up about a quarter of it in a month and half, so a whole bottle can last around 4-6 months depending on how often you use it.

Product Information
Name: Troiareuke Mela C Formula Ampoule
What Is It: A skin brightening ampoule that can be used all over the face and as a spot treatment.
Size: 20ml | 0.676 fl. oz.

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Saururus Chinensis Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Castanea Crenata Shell Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Phytoplacenta Extract, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Propylene Glycol, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Morus Alba Bark Extract, Alcohol, Niacinamide, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Arbutin, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Xanthan Gum, Allantoin, Gardenia Florida Fruit Extract, Perfume, Disodium EDTA, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil

According to CosDNA, the only low potential acne trigger is butylene glycol as well in this ampoule. This does contain alcohol, but I personally don't have a problem with alcohol in cosmetics as long as it's in small amounts. However if you are sensitive to alcohol or any of the other ingredients listed, then don't use this product.

This ampoule is also full of plant extracts, but since I'm seeing some ingredient overlap with the Skin Complex Formula, I'm just going to focus on the key ingredients in this ampoule. First off are the ingredients that make this ampoule what it is: niacinamide and arbutin, two well known ingredients for skin brightening and whitening. While niacinamide can lighten areas of pigmentation and even out skin tone, arbutin reduces melanin production to lighten your skin tone

Another ingredient to note is green tea extract, which is an antioxidant and has skin soothing properties. This product also contains soybean phytoplacenta extract, which is an antioxidant and anti-aging ingredient that has comparable effects to retinoid, but can be used during the daytime (source). It also has the ability to reduce hyperpigmentation and is anticarcinogenic (source).

The Mela C Formula Ampoule comes in a glass bottle with a dropper. Texture- and appearance-wise, it's pretty much like colored water. It doesn't feel particularly hydrating, and it's fairly easy to spread when used on its own. It absorbs quickly and doesn't have any sort of finish. There is a slight scent to it, but it's so faint that it's almost undetectable.

I was told to mix about 3/4 of the ampoule into the toner, and use the remainder of the ampoule as a spot treatment. However, what I decided to do instead was to use the ampoule all over my face the first week, and then use it as I was instructed to the following three weeks. I'm not sure if that actually helped with anything since brightening effects take time to see, but you'd get the same results using it alone vs. using it mixed + as spot treamtent probably.

I didn't trust myself pouring the ampoule into the toner since I actually knocked the ampoule over while I was taking photos (I was having one of those clumsy days), so I used the dropper to add it into the toner.

And here is how it looks mixed! Since the ampoule is quite pigmented, it turned the Skin Complex Formula into a light but still bright yellow. Other than the color though, nothing else changed.

So how effective was this combination at reducing my PIH? Well, in four weeks time, I've definitely seen quite a bit of improvement in my acne scars. Prior to trying out these two products, I had used my Curology prescription for months and it never really did anything for my scarring despite containing 4% niacinamide. But with this, I saw results in just one month. Granted it's nothing drastic, but the spots are definitely fading and some are almost completely gone. When it comes to PIH, I've learned that it takes lots of time (I'm talking months or even a year) and patience for it to disappear, so I'm pleased that the ampoule was able to speed up the process. During the time I used these two products, I got a few pimples due to a makeup base I tried out. Normally those pimples would've left pigmented scars that'd take forever to go away cause I squeezed some of them (I know, I really shouldn't be doing that), but amazingly the scars they left behind were gone in less than a week.

The pictures don't show it too well, but I've also noticed that my skin tone has lightened slightly since I started using this combination. By no means am I saying it bleached my skin, it just sped up the process of fading my tan and returning my skin to its natural color. My skin also looks brighter now, so I'm definitely happy with the results! I wasn't expecting much because brightening products normally don't do much for my skin, and if they do it's very temporary, but I can tell that the Mela C Formula Ampoule has a permanent brightening effect and does its job at fading hyperpigmentation.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Skin Complex Formula for all skin types, and the Mela C Formula Ampoule for those looking to brighten their skin and fade hyperpigmentation. I never had any irritations or breakouts from using these two products, so those with acne-prone and sensitive skin should be fine with them. In fact, most hydrating toners (especially those that have that "slip" to them), end up being too heavy for my skin and cause me to break out, but this one didn't. I think anyone could benefit from the Skin Complex Formula, even those with oily skin. If you have oily skin you could probably rely on it alone to hydrate your skin since it won't make your skin oilier (as long as you apply the right amount), and those with dry skin could use this to add an extra boost of hydration to their routine. As for the Mela C Formula Ampoule, it's a very gentle but effective brightening product so any skin type can use it as well.

Where to Buy: 
-W2Beauty: ($60 min. free worldwide shipping, sign up with my code 04308009 to receive a free $5 voucher)
What do you think of these two Troiareuke products? Let me know in the comments below!
*Disclaimer: The products featured were sent to me for review purposes by Troiareuke. All opinions are mine and 100% honest.

Reivew | Yadah Quick Tattoo Brow Gel in 02 Deep Brown

I don't know about you, but I like sleep. Especially since I don't get a lot of it during the school year. However, that also leads to a problem in the morning: getting up in time to get ready at a leisurely pace. If you ever see me in the morning, I'm usually rushing through my skincare and makeup routine, trying to get everything done within ~20 minutes. Which isn't fun, and thus any products that will shorten the time it takes me to get ready is always welcome. Such as a brow gel I can apply the night before so that my brows are ready to go in the morning. 

Product Information
Name: Yadah Quick Tattoo Brow Gel (02 Deep Brown)
What Is It: A peel-off brow gel that leaves a natural-looking tint on your brows that doesn't fade or smudge.
Size: 8ml | 0.27 fl. oz. 

 This supposedly contains blackberry extract, black bean extract, portulaca oleracea extract, and panthenol to nourish and strengthen your brows. 

The Yadah Quick Tattoo Brow Gel comes in a black, plastic tube about the size of a tube of mascara. The design isn't eye-catching, but it has the playful font and child-like drawing on it that seems characteristic to all Yadah products. 

To apply the brow gel, you can use the included brush applicator to paint the gel onto your brows. I'm personally not a fan of the shape of the brush, which I find a little too wide and pliable for precise application. It makes drawing the tip of my brow quite a pain in the neck, and I often find myself wiping off the end to redraw it because I messed up. A thinner and more pointed brush would make drawing and shaping the brows much easier, something that this brush fails to do. 

I'd say there's definitely a learning to curve to using this brush. You need to be slow and patient with this, otherwise it's quite easy to mess up. There's been plenty of times where I applied a bit too much pressure, or tried to rush through the drawing process, and ended up having to clean up the edges because I went "outside of the lines". With that being said, once you've successfully applied to gel everything's a breeze from there on.

According to the instructions, you're supposed to leave the gel on for at least one hour to let it dry and tint your skin/brows. I've never noticed a difference in pigmentation when I leave it on for one hour vs. overnight, so the time doesn't really matter as long as it's at least an hour. After that one hour, you simply peel off the gel to reveal your tinted brows.

Sometimes the gel does stick to my individual brow hairs, so it doesn't come off in one piece. I've never pulled out any hairs when peeling off the gel, but sometimes it does hurt a little since I have to tug at the gel (and in turn, my brows) to get it off. I personally don't mind that it's not an effortless process, but if you have weak brow hairs then it might be a problem.

I apologize for the different lightings in the pictures above, I took them all at different times during the day so it was difficult to get them all in the same lighting. However the color of the tint is pretty accurate! 

 As you can see in the after removal image above, the tint left behind is pigmented but still pretty natural. It's a dark brown color with a slightly red undertone, so it should be a good match for people with warm toned dark to medium brown hair. It'd also work well for anyone with dark auburn colored hair. 

Prior to trying this brow gel I had used a similar product before, which was the Etude House Tint My Brows Gel. I remember the craze surrounding the Etude House one since they were the first one to create a peel-off tint for brows. Back then I remember being a bit disappointed that the tint was only good for a day, but that seems to be the case with all of these peel-off brow tints. With the Yadah Quick Tattoo Brow Gel, the tint lasts all day without any fading or smudging. However, if you get water or sweat on your brows and wipe it off, the tint does fade a bit. And if you use a makeup remover and wash your face with a cleanser, the tint fades a lot  so you definitely can't depend on it to last for more than a day as you can see in the picture above. I did find that applying the gel overnight helps the tint stay visible longer, but it still fades too much (to a light honey brown) after the first day that you can't really rely on it alone the second day. The only way to avoid fading is to use a cleansing water to cleanse your face only. I personally don't feel like a cleansing water is enough to really cleanse out my pores, but if you don't have a problem with only using cleansing water then this tint can definitely last you more than a day. 

What I like about this brow gel is that it can be such a time-saver in the morning. I just apply the gel the night before, peel it off in the morning, and my brows are good to go (with a bit of brow mascara if I feel like it). Drawing my brows takes me about 3-4 minutes at most, but when you only have 20 minutes to get ready, 4 minutes can be a lot of time. Do I think it's a necessary product to have? Not really, but if you want to save time in the morning and like a natural brow look, then I would recommend that you give this a try

Where to Buy:  You can purchase this on Amazon for $10.98 with free shipping. Here are the links to the three different shades available: Ash BrownDeep Brown, and Natural Brown.

Have you ever tried a peel-off brow tint before? Would you be interested in trying one? Let me know in the comments below!
*The product featured was provided to me for review purposes by BBcosmetic. All opinions expressed are mine and 100% honest. 

Review | Troiareuke Acsen A+ Cushion

Last summer, I had the worst breakout I ever had in my life. I got acne all over my face, including areas I rarely broke out in. And the pimples just wouldn't stop coming- it seemed like a new one was popping up every two days! During that time, I wore a lot of makeup to cover it all up. I went on a search for high to full coverage foundations and concealers, which probably wasn't the best idea since my skin was hypersensitive and my pores were very clogged already. But I didn't care, since all I wanted was to cover up my acne.

Fast forward six months, my skin has calmed down completely. And my interests have changed as well. Back then my ideal foundation was one that provided full coverage and a flawless finish, ingredients be damned. However, about a month ago, I began searching for skin friendly makeup that would act like skincare while also covering imperfections as a foundation. And I'm happy to say that I've finally found the one: the Troiareuke Acsen A+ Cushion.

Product Information
Name: Troiareuke Acsen A+ Cushion
Shade: Natural beige (No. 23)
Size: 13g + 1 extra puff
What Is It: A skincare cushion foundation with SPF50+/PA+++. It contains 99% skincare and 1% makeup, featuring ingredients such as centella asiatica extract to heal your skin while also providing natural coverage like a foundation.

Ingredients: Water, Titanium Dioxide, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Cyclohexasiloxane, C12-15 Alkyl benzoate, Niacinamide, Octocrylene, Zinc Oxide, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, Quaternium-18 Bentonite, Polypropylsilsesquioxane, Dimethicone, Calendula Officinalis Flower Water, Melaleuca Aternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Water, Centella Asiatica Leaf Extract, Madecassoside, Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron Oxides (CI 77499), Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Chlorphenesin, Aluminum Hydroxide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Adenosine, Perfume

A quick look at CosDNA shows that there are only four very low-potential acne triggers (which are butylene glycol, dimethicone, zinc oxide, and calenula officinalis flower water), and no irritants. Now moving on to an ingredients analysis:

This cushion contains multiple UV filters including both physical filters (titianium dioxide and zinc oxide) and chemical filters (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate and octocrylene) to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays. While UVB rays are the ones that play a role in skin cancer development, it's also important to protect your skin against UVA rays too since they can cause premature aging. Zinc oxide is the only one out of the four that offers protection against all UVB and UVA rays, while the other three offer protection against all UVB rays and only some UVA rays. However, sensitive skin can have a bad reaction with chemical UV filters, so if you know that you have sensitivities to any chemical UV filters then I would advise you to stay away from this cushion.

Niacinamide and adenosine are two ingredients in there that are beneficial for aging skin (and all skin types really!). While niacinamide is known for its ability to brighten and even out skin tones, adenosine is great for skin restoration and fighting wrinkles.

Most importantly, the ingredients that make this cushion ideal for sensitive skin are calendula water, tea tree leaf water, and centella asiatica extract. All three are great for healing and soothing skin. Calendula is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, while tea tree is commonly used to treat acne thanks to its anti-bacterial and anit-inflammatory properties. Centella asiatica extract is an ingredient that's becoming very popular for its ability to increase collagen synthethis and promote wound healing. Personally I'm a fan of all three ingredients, so I'm happy to see that they're included in this cushion.

The Troiareuke Acsen A+ Cushion is housed in a white and silver plastic compact with the product's name printed in purple on top. Design-wise it's pretty boring, but I'm willing to overlook that since it delivers stellar effects.

The foundation itself is contained in a "mochi" cushion, where unlike most cushion foundations where the foundation is already saturated throughout the cushion, the foundation is in the center of the cushion like a mochi. This supposedly keeps the foundation fresher, although I'm not sure if it actually makes a difference.

This does have a fresh and somewhat floral scent, which I find quite pleasant and not overwhelming at all. It dissipates pretty quickly upon application, so those who are scent-sitive (like me) shouldn't be bothered by it.

I've been using this cushion every day since the beginning of January and am seriously impressed! For the past year or so, I completely stopped using cushion foundations because most of them made my skin very oily at the end of the day, even if I used a sebum-absorbing powder. Although this one does make my skin look dewy, it doesn't make it feel oily. By the end of the day the edges of my nose do get a bit oily, but it doesn't look like the oily-mess my skin normally is after wearing a cushion for 6+ hours. When worn under a powder, some of its dewiness still comes through and gives my skin this subtle luminosity. The finish looks beautiful, and has this natural look to it that makes my skin still look like skin.

Foundation tends to get patchy on my skin throughout the day since my skin is quite dehydrated during the winter, but this leaves my skin feeling (and looking) well moisturized the entire day. I've been using it in place of a moisturizer, and my skin has never felt dry. Texture-wise, it's extremely lightweight, and is similar to a watery lotion. My point is that it doesn't feel like foundation, and everything about it is more skincare than makeup. Except for one part: the coverage. Since it supposedly contains only 1% makeup, I thought the coverage would be quite sheer, but boy was I wrong. As you can see from the pictures above, it's between medium to high coverage. Although it doesn't completely cover my hyperpigmentation, its coverage is sufficient and I never feel the need to use concealer on top. 

What amazes me the most however is its healing ability. The first day I wore this I had a pimple forming, and by the end of the day it was pretty much gone! I've noticed that my skin feels soothed whenever I wear this, and my skin condition has only improved ever since I started using this as my sole base makeup. It's probably the only makeup that I'd feel okay falling asleep in (although I still wouldn't do it because I enjoy my night-time skincare routine more than anything else, and plus I have eye makeup to remove).

Lasting power-wise, it's pretty good, but not spectacular. If you lean your face against your hand, it does transfer easily, so you have to make sure that you don't touch your face or rub it against anything to prevent fading. But if you don't touch your face and set the foundation with a powder, I've worn it for 10+ hours before with slight fading. I'm honestly not going pick on its lasting power because it's not marketed as a long-lasting foundation, but if you need a foundation that can go through a lot of wear (sweat, contact, etc.), then this probably isn't for you.

The one problem I will pick on with this cushion is that it's only available in one shade. If your skin tone is NC25-NC20 (and possibly NC15), this will match you really well since it's light with a warm undertone. NC30 skin tones may be able to make this work with a bit of bronzer, but if your skin is any darker than that then this'll be too light for you. I wish Troiareuke would create a broader shade range for their foundations, but sadly this is a problem that occurs with every Korean makeup company.

 I'm honestly obsessed with this cushion and will definitely repurchase this once I run out! I've actually gone ahead and purchased Troiareuke's other cushion, the H+ Healing Cushion, to make a comparison with this one. The only difference I know so far between the two is that the H+ cushion is shade no. 21, but we shall see how it goes. Overall, as the name suggests, this an A+ cushion for sensitive, acne-prone skin. If you're normally sensitive to foundation or break out easily from it, I highly recommend that you give this a try. Although this is suitable for all skin types, I think acne-prone skin will benefit the most from it.

You can purchase this online at the following locations:
W2Beauty for $40 with free worldwide shipping (for first time customers, use my code 04308009 during registration to receive a $5 voucher towards your first purchase)
KBeautyBay for $38

What do you guys think of the Acsen A+ Cushion? When it comes to foundations, what are your expectations?
*This product was sent to me by Troiareuke for review purposes, but all opinions stated are my own and 100% honest.
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