Category Archives: Masks, Peels, Exfoliators

Speed Review: Scrubs and Peels

In theory, all your skin need is cleanse and moisturize. But to keep your skin in top condition, you need at least a good sunscreen and a good exfoliator as well. Human skin constantly renews itself and replaces itself completely every 27 days. If you don’t exfoliate, dead skin accumulates and your complexion may start to look dull, feel flaky and your skincare may not absorb as well. What exfoliator should you use? Check out this fantastic breakdown of exfoliators by my skincare buddy lylysa! The post talks about different types of physical and chemical exfoliators as well as the pros and cons of each and everything else you’ve ever wanted to know.20170118_144957

I usually prefer an exfoliant with granules to scrub off the dead skin and some form of acid to clear out the pores, but without making my skin dry or sensitive. My holy grail exfoliators are Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion and Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder. Both are a little expensive but absolutely worth it. Besides, Dr. Brandt do 40-50% off every fall if you subscribe to their email list and Tatcha often has vouchers on Gilt City or Ruelala that brings the price down 30-40% every year so I never had to buy them at full price. Even though those two are my holy grail, there are plenty of nice exfoliators out there that I haven’t tried yet, so this is a round-up of some promising exfoliators that I’ve gathered.

Continue reading Speed Review: Scrubs and Peels

Want Some Honey? Guerlain, Fresh and Farmacy Mask Review

Honey is a great skincare ingredient. It is moisturizing since it is a humectant, anti-aging due to the antioxidants, clarifying/purifying due to enzyme and it have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. I previously did a review of honey sheet masks before, but I then fell in love with Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask, which is pretty expensive at $150 a jar. My friends love the much cheaper option, the Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask so I have to give it a try. And last time I was at a Guerlain counter, the sales rep was telling me how amazing Guerlain Abeille Royale Repairing Honey Gel Mask was so I decided it’s time to try and review them all.20170128_145410

Of course, if you don’t want to spend $50 to $150 for a honey mask, you can also try pure honey instead. I’ve used normal honey, manuka honey and raw honey as masks before. While they do exfoliate and hydrate, they are sticky, messy to use and the skin doesn’t feel as smooth as from these masks since there’s other skin nourishing ingredients added. Continue reading Want Some Honey? Guerlain, Fresh and Farmacy Mask Review

Ingredients and Brightening Masks

Coming from an Asian country, it took me a few years to realize “whitening” and “brightening” refers to different things. Whitening refers to bleaching the skin to make it shades lighter/whiter and may damage the skin while brightening focus on getting rid of dark spots, acne scars and dull skin. While almost everyone is familiar with glycolic acid and vitamin C, there are quite a few other effective brightening ingredients that you might have noticed. Not everything is appropriate for everyone, so here’s a brief introduction:

  • Hydroquinone – a skin lightener to treat pigmentation. It is banned in some countries due to concerns about risk of cancer, and darkening of the skin for people of color. Small concentration seems to be okay if you don’t have dark skin.
  • Kojic acid – a plant extract to treat pigmentation. It has been found to be less effective than 2% hydroquinone but more effective than arbutin. However, it may cause sensitivity. It is unstable and may break down when expose to heat and light.
  • Arbutin – plant extract that treats discoloration. It’s gentle and works well for sensitive skin. Research has shown that synthetic form (deoxyarbutin) may work better than natural extract. Since it is glycosylated hydroquinone, there is similar concern about cancer risk, which has not been proven yet.
  • Glycolic acid – an alpha hydroxy acid that treats pigmentation by exfoliating off the dull skin and quickens cell turnover, which reduces fine lines and rough skin texture. However, it can make the skin more sensitive and irritated.
  • Vitamin C – it treats sunspots and dull skin and is mildly effective on fine lines and skin firmness. There’s not really any risks or side effects, the stability and strength depends on the type of vitamin C used. Instead of breaking down in sunlight, it helps to defend the skin against UV rays so it’s great to use during the day.
  • Niacinamide – also known as vitamin B3. In addition to even the skintone, it also has anti-inflammatory properties, improves the skin’s protective function, and stimulates collagen production. It’s great for acne-prone and sensitive skin.
  • Licorice extract – it is a brightening ingredient with soothing anti-inflammatory properties. Anti-inflammation is very important when skin brightening because irritation may lead to an increase in melanin production.
  • Algae extract – it evens the skintone and helps to fight against surface redness. It can revitalize and moisturize stressed skin as well.
  • Azelaic acid – it reduces pigmentation but has no risk of irritation or darkening the skin when used too much, thus good for sensitive skin.

If you have brightening products, then you probably has seen several of these ingredients in it. However, if you don’t use sunscreen consistently then all your hard work is wasted. 

But today, we are talking about brightening sheet masks. Dr. Jart+ Brightening Infusion Hydrogel Mask, My Beauty Diary Arbutin Brightening Mask and Leaders Coconut Gel Mask. Some of them seems to have gotten new packaging recently, but the ingredients are the same so the reviews should still hold. Continue reading Ingredients and Brightening Masks

January Skincare Journal, And Donkey Milk?

I’m kind of proud that I’ve been consistently using my samples and minis as well as exercising daily, which were my goals this year. I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should or lose weight yet, so that’s something to work on in Feburary. Spring is when all the new skincare products come out. There were some fun new releases as well as some interesting finds, such as this Soo Ae Donkey Milk Mask. Why donkey milk? Just like cow milk, it’s soothing and moisturizing so it’s great for those with sensitive skin and eczema. Moreover, it has over four times more vitamin C than cow’s milk but with less allergens. 20170105_123035

The Soo Ae Donkey Milk Healing Skin Gel Mask is a thin, textured cloth sheet soaked in a milky gel serum with a mild floral scent. The floral scent probably comes from the camellia flower water, licorice root extract, witch hazel and various plant extract in the ingredients. There’s only .5% donkey milk in it so there’s no pungent milky scent. My face feels moisturized after taking it off. The gel serum is a little sticky and takes some time to absorb but it is not stuffy or greasy. It’s got pretty good ingredients for a $3ish mask. It’s a nice moisturizing and healing mask for dry combination skin.

Aside from the various skincare I got myself, I was also sent some products from the latest brand Sephora carries, Skin Laundry, for being active on BeautyTalk. I reviewed the Sleepcycle Pillowcase, Gentle Foaming Face Wash and Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask here. If you like effective and gentle skincare with simple ingredients, it’s worth checking out.

Continue reading January Skincare Journal, And Donkey Milk?

2 years and 100 sheet masks later…

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe it’s 2017 already?!?! It was two years ago, around Christmas time, that I thought to myself: “why is everyone obsessed with sheet masks? Are all Korean sheet masks the same? Are the cheap $3 ones really as good as the expensive ones?” …… A week later, there were boxes and boxes of sheet masks from TonyMoly, Etude House, Innisfree, Nature Republic, Skinfood, Faceshop and My Beauty Diary on my floor. So I dumped everything into a pile and tried to figure out how I’m gonna get through all 70+ sheet masks.BoxOfSheetMasks

In the end, I categorized them by ingredients and my “Ingredient/Sheet Masks Highlight” series was born:


The series covered 25 ingredients, 70+ sheet masks and 7+ brands. Since one of my original questions/goals is to compare the cheap sheet masks with higher end ones, I’ve also tried 20-30 sheet masks from When, Karuna, Farmacy, Dr. Jart+, Shiseido, Wei, SK-II and Tatcha. I can’t say I’ve tried EVERY single good sheet masks out there, but I’ve tried enough to be confident in my conclusions and don’t expect my favorites to change again. Continue reading 2 years and 100 sheet masks later…

Clinique Mask Sampler

Clinique is the first “high end” brand I got into waaay back when I was in high school. Since I’m a big fan of the Moisture Surge gel cream and the Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, I grabbed the little mask sampler a few months back to see if there’s anything good. The four masks are:

  • Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial – a scrub mask/facial.
  • Moisture Surge Overnight Mask – overnight mask, basically a moisturizer.
  • Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask –  overnight mask/moisturizer.
  • Pore Refining Solution Charcoal Mask – a charcoal mask for problem skin.

20160202_100214Each pod of the mask is enough for 2-3 applications. Honestly I didn’t expect much from them, but the Pore Refining Solution is pretty good. Continue reading Clinique Mask Sampler

Sheet Masks/Ingredient Highlight: Cucumbers!

Cucumber slices have long been used as eye masks to calm and hydrate, and with good reasons. Cucumber contains plenty of vitamin K, an antioxidant that fights dark circles under the eyes. It also reduces swelling and water retention, thus are great for reducing puffiness. The vitamin A, B-5 and C helps to fight dark spots and retain moisture while silica helps to fight wrinkles. Not only that, cucumbers also have a high water content and cooling properties, thus making it a great way to soothe skin burns and irritations.20160520_132532

As many DIY cucumber mask recipes as there are online, I’ve only eaten them since I always thought their benefits are only due to it being cool and wet. Now that I know it is definitely beneficial, I’ll definitely have to start playing around with DIYs using it!

Skin type: Sensitive skin, dry skin and early aging skin.

Purpose: Hydrates, soothes, debuffs and anti-wrinkle. Continue reading Sheet Masks/Ingredient Highlight: Cucumbers!

Ingredient/Sheet Masks Highlight: Tea Tree

Tea tree…. if you have acne-prone skin, you probably have heard a lot about it already, but it’s great even if you don’t have acne. It is a plant native to Australia and commonly sold in forms of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and used topically for acne, cuts, burns, insect bites, toothache, infections etc. Tea tree oil can help relieve any type of skin inflammation, including being used as a natural eczema treatment and for reducing psoriasis. Not only has it been used for over a hundred years in Australia, there has been over three hundred scientific studies about its antimicrobial prowess alone. In fact, studies has shown that applying a 5% tea tree oil gel appears to be as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide for treating acne. Tea tree oil might work more slowly than benzoyl peroxide, but it is also less irritating to the skin.

20160607_151450In addition to the two sheet masks, I also have a tiny bottle of pure tea tree oil for home use. I put a few drops of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil into a spray bottle with water, then shake before use. It’s a skin friendly bug repellent, great for wipe down things and also great as a room freshener.

Skin Type: Acne-prone, irritation/inflammation-prone skin.

Purpose: Soothes inflammation and is a natural antiseptic. Continue reading Ingredient/Sheet Masks Highlight: Tea Tree

Ingredient/Sheet Masks Highlight: When life gives you lemons…

Make honeyed lemon slices, make lemonade, throw it at someone… There are numerous uses for fresh lemons and they are wonderful for your health when consumed. However, I would advise against using lemon or lime juice in skincare DIYs. First of all, they are extremely acidic and the ph varies from fruit to fruit, so it is very potent and can irritate the skin. It can cause skin sensitivity and the phototoxic reaction when your skin is exposed to sun gives you redness, burning or even darker pigmentation. With that said, lemon and lime are wonderful ingredients in properly formulated skincare.20151113_105434

Lemon and lime are a great source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C. The citric acid in the fruit helps to fade dark spots and evens your skintone. They are also antibacterial and antifungal, which is great for acne-prone skin.

Skin Type: Acne prone and oily

Purpose: Brightens, clarifies pores and control oil (it is slightly drying). Continue reading Ingredient/Sheet Masks Highlight: When life gives you lemons…

Why Sugar? Fresh, SkinFood and Ole Henriksen sugar scrubs

Sugar and salt are essential part of our diet. When too much is consumed, they are bad for your health and your skin. But when used topically, sugar and salt can work wonders. Salt is a natural antiseptic, contains minerals that helps to detox the body and relax the muscles. However, it can also be very drying and abrasive on the skin, so I prefer to use it on the body rather than face.20160112_142704Sugar, on the other hand, is a humectant so it draws moisture from the environment into the skin. Sugar granules, especially brown sugar, tend to be gentler than salt. Sugar is also a natural source of glycolic acid, which helps to exfoliate chemically and encourage cell turnover. In terms of application, it is the same for all three sugar scrub/masks I’m reviewing today. You gently rub it on clean dry skin, or damp skin if you want it to be gentler, wait 15 minutes, then rinse off and enjoy your smooth skin! Continue reading Why Sugar? Fresh, SkinFood and Ole Henriksen sugar scrubs