Category Archives: Moisturizers, Oils and SPFs

Drunk Elephant Serum, Oil and Moisturizers!

Drunk Elephant first got my attention because of the fun name, then it got my attention because of its philosophy: “It is safe, minimal, effective, and non-toxic…. the key ingredients were added at the highest percentages possible for maximum efficacy.” One of my pet peeves is how some products boast of how amazing it is because of ingredient A, then when you look at the list it’s like the 39th ingredient so there’s barely a drop of it in the bottle. Drunk Elephant focuses on getting the best quality ingredients that are proven to work instead of the fanciest/rarest ingredients that you’ve never heard of. If there’s any doubt about the safety of an ingredient, it’s out. Here’s a list of what they don’t use.

The first product I tried and reviewed was Drunk Elephant C-Firma serum, which was ok, but then I fell in love with the next serum I tried. Before I realized it, I’ve tried all their serums and moisturizers (cleansers coming up in the next post, look forward to it!). Without further ado, here are the reviews for all the serums and moisturizers I tried. Continue reading Drunk Elephant Serum, Oil and Moisturizers!


Moisturizer Speed Review: Switch It Up for Spring?

With the weather being warm and sunny, your clothe is not the only thing that needs to be switched. If you are using a rich cream or thick oil as moisturizer for winter, now is a good time to switch it for a lighter option since Sephora is having its Spring Sale. It is 10% off everything for Beauty Insider (everyone) and 15% off if you are VIB or Rouge. Some brands like Algenist, Glamglow or Philosophy may have up to 40% sales on the brand website if you subscribe to their mailing list. However, now is a good time to stock up on brands that almost never go on sale like Tatcha or Dior.

There’s so many exciting new moisturizers that came out recently that I’ve been asking for samples at Sephora and Nordstrom whenever I can. It’s good to reexamine your moisturizer occasionally to see if they still work for you. Some moisturizers are too thick and end up sitting on your skin instead of being absorbed and provide hydration deep into your skin, so your skin end up feeling greasy and dehydrated. Even if you have oily skin, oil and water are different, so you still need hydration from a good moisturizer (albeit a lightweight one). Moisturizers protect the skin against free-radical damage/environmental stress and seals the hydration/active ingredients in. Without moisture, your skin isn’t able to properly repair itself so you end up with irritation on top of  dry flaky or oily skin. Here is a speed review of some nice or new moisturizers I’ve been playing with.  Continue reading Moisturizer Speed Review: Switch It Up for Spring?

Care for Some Vitamin C? PTR, Sunday Riley and Murad Moisturizer Reviews

Everybody loves vitamin C. It helps combat environmental pollution, sun damage, dark spots, and fine lines. I usually prefer vitamin C in serums, such as Ole Henriksen Truth SerumPerricone MD Vitamin C Ester Serum or Klairs Vitamin Drop. While I’ve tried and reviewed plenty of vitamin C serums, I haven’t paid that much attention to vitamin C in moisturizers. Since Murad and Sunday Riley just came out with some vitamin C moisturizers, I got some minis and samples of the ones that look interesting to compare.


The moisturizers in the little sample jars are enough for 4-7 uses each, which is not enough for me to see significant brightening but enough for me to feel a difference. Back when I lived in downtown Philly, my pores looked dark and my skin felt bumpy even when I cleanse and exfoliate. After adding Ole Henrkisen Truth Serum, my pores looked clean and my skin felt smoother as well. When testing these moisturizers, I can feel the same difference, so they do contain a decent amount of vitamin C.

Continue reading Care for Some Vitamin C? PTR, Sunday Riley and Murad Moisturizer Reviews

Drench your skin with Peter Thomas Roth

Peter Thomas Roth is a brand that I use a lot. They use great ingredients and most products works pretty well with my skin. I especially enjoys the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, which is great for all skin types. If you have oily/blemish prone skin then the Anti-aging Cleansing Gel is great, and if you have dry skin, you must give the Rose Stem-Cell Bio-Repair Cream a try. They recently came out with a new line, the Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum and Cream, so of course I have to grab them.


THE star ingredient of the serum and cream is of course, hyaluronic acid! It is a humectant (attracts moisture to the skin, up to 1000 times its weight!) that is naturally present in the human body so it absorbs easily and is great for even the most acne-prone or sensitive skin. The Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum and Cream uses three types of hyaluronic acid with different molecular sizes so they provide hydration to different layers of the skin. Continue reading Drench your skin with Peter Thomas Roth

Holy Grail Moisturizer with SPF: AmorePacific!

A good moisturizer with SPF is perhaps one of the hardest holy grail product to find. While there are plenty of great moisturizers in lotion, gel, cream or oil form and plenty of great sunscreen in various SPF, a good combination of the two is much more difficult to find. I have no intention of putting on two products in the morning if one works just as well. For me, I just have two criteria:

  • It should be SPF30 or more, which eliminates 70% of moisturizer with SPF. And it should be broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) of course.
  • It should feel and moisturize just as well as a normal moisturizer, which eliminates 80% of sunscreens. This means it should absorb well with no thick greasy feeling, no sunscreen smell, and no white cast left on the skin.

So I searched low and high, here and there. Some have SPF 30+ but are not moisturizing enough or too greasy. Some provides basic moisture with SPF but I wanted more omph, like some vitamin C or hyaluronic acid in it or something. Finally, after years of searching, I narrowed down my favorite to AmorePacific Natural Protector with SPF30. However, it contains paraben so I was hesitant in making it my Holy Grail. Fortunately they reformulated it recently to be even better, and withOUT paraben!


The one in white cap is the old version. Not only is the new one SPF35 instead of SPF30, it feels different and most ingredients are different as well.

Natural Protector SPF30 (Original version)

It is a lightweight cream with a floral scent. There is a little bit of white cast, typical of sunscreen during application but it disappears as I rub it in. It absorbs well and keeps me hydrated throughout the day due to ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, bamboo juice etc. It also contains antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients such as carrot extract and ginseng extract. By itself it leaves a slightly dewy/luminous finish. It works well under makeup and makes the skin feel smooth. It does not feel stuffy or greasy or look different even if I apply generously or reapply, but you can feel the silicone in this if you apply a lot.

Ingredients: Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (7.0%), titanium dioxide (19.9%), zinc oxide (0.025%), Water, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Dimethicone, C12- 15 Alkyl Benzoate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Caprylyl Carbonate, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Silica, Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Tricholoma Matsutake Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Phyllostachis Bambusoides Juice, Hydrolyzed Ginseng Saponins, PEG-100 Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Aluminum Stearate, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Glycerin, Polyacrylate-13, Alumina, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Dimethicone, Myristic Acid, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Propylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, CI77491, CI77492, Fragrance.

Natural Protector SPF35 (New)

The biggest reason why I did not put this on my list of holy grail despite it being my favorite is due to the parabens in the ingredients list. I’m always tentative when products get reformulated, but fortunately this time it’s for the better. The sunscreen (active ingredients) used are different but still broad spectrum to protect against UVA and UVB. While the old product is water-based with lesser amount of skin beneficial ingredients added, the new one replaced water with bamboo juice. Bamboo sap is rich in minerals and amino acids and acts as a humectant to draw moisture into the deeper layers of skin and help maintain hydration. It strengthen and smooth skin while aiding skin cell regeneration. Bamboo extract is a natural anti-oxidant that fights the pollutants, toxins and free radicals we encounter every day, making it a great ingredient for daytime skincare.20170104_115920

The new SPF35 is also a light cream but feels softer than the old SPF30. Old SPF30 has a bit of white cast before you rub it in and gives a slightly dewy finish. The new SPF35 applies and absorbs wonderfully just like a good traditional moisturizer. Even when I apply generously, I don’t see white cast or feel the silicone. Not only is it more hydrating while being as lightweight as before, it makes the skin feel even more velvety soft.

Instead of ginseng and carrot extract from the old formula, the new formula contains plum and camellia extract. While the new formula does not contain paraben, it still contain alcohol and fragrance, which I know may be a deal breaker for some. Since it feels comfortable and hydrating on my skin even when it’s irritated and sensitive, I have no problem with that. 20170104_142418

My second favorite moisturizer with SPF is Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF30. It contains vitamin A, C and E but does not contain fragrance or alcohol. However, it does contain parabens. As I’ve said, the perfect moisturizer with high SPF is difficult to find, but these two are as close as you can get. If you are looking for a good moisturizer with SPF for combination skin, or have dry skin and is looking for a sunscreen with good skincare benefits, I highly recommend giving one of these two a try. What are your favorite moisturizer with SPF?

Lasting Moisture! Valentia Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer

I admit, I have a little bit of bias when it comes to beauty brands. If it’s not carried in Sephora or Nordstrom, I usually don’t expect much from it. And usually, they turn out as I expected. Valentia is a brand I discovered on BrandBacker, and I unexpectedly fell in love with the Royal Rose serum, so when they came out with Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer, I had to try it. Disclaimer: Whether a product was provided for free or bought by me have no influence on my opinion of the product.


The moisturizer is a generous 4oz, so it will last a while even if you apply generously to face, neck and hands every time. The container is a dark glass bottle, which helps to preserve active ingredients so the moisturizer retains its effectiveness longer. It’s also got expiration date printed on the bottle, and the pump ensures a sanitary application. The moisturizer contains my favorite hydrator, hyaluronic acid, as well as shea butter and various oils. It contains ginseng, a great anti-aging ingredient, and kojic acid, a great ingredient to even out the skin for people who are sensitive to vitamin C and peels. Continue reading Lasting Moisture! Valentia Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer

April Speed Review. And Sleeping Masks

I don’t understand how my room/office can be so drying to the skin when it’s so rainy outside. But anyways, thanks to that, I’m slowly warming up to the idea of sleeping masks. Some overnight or sleeping masks, like Sisley Black Rose Cream mask and AmorePacific are meant to substitute moisturizer while Dr. Jart+ is for applying over moisturizers. They are great for dry environment to prevent water loss and so the good stuff from your serum goes into your skin instead of the air. If you are using them as moisturizers, the hydration level varies. Sisley is great for dry/combo skin while AmorePacific and Dr. Jart are good for combo/oily skin (or over moisturizer for dry skin).20160415_181655

Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask is still one of my winter favorites years after I reviewed it. I have reviewed Dr. Jart+ Water-Max Sleeping Mask before from a sample, and I do still like it as much but…. ok, BIG PET PEEVE, ingredients list. I don’t understand why some companies are so RIDICULOUSLY reluctant to release their ingredients list. Turns out the nice short ingredients list on the brand website and Sephora is an abridged version only mentioning the good stuff. The full ingredients list is twice as long and include not so exciting things like silicone. It is still a nice product, I’m just a bit peeved by the misleading ingredients list online. But anyways, the one sleeping mask that I’ve been using but haven’t been reviewing is AmorePacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque.


This sleeping mask is a white lightweight gel with the same fresh floral scent as the rest of the AmorePacific Moisture Bound line. It can feel a bit sticky and takes awhile to sink in if you apply it as a mask, but it feels just like a moisturizer if you apply sparingly. In fact, it feels a tiny bit more hydrating than the AP Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Creme but at half the price, so if you like that, try this. The only reason why I prefer Dr. Jart+ over this is because it does contain alcohol. If that doesn’t bother you, this is nice for oily/combo skin.


And because the weather is getting warmer, I was in a hurry to finish some of the more wintry moisturizers. Philosophy Hope in a Jar is even more stinky than I remembered, but Renewed Hope in a Jar is surprisingly nice. Anyways, read on for speed review… Continue reading April Speed Review. And Sleeping Masks

Skincare Musts and Essentials!

When I was a teen, I had greasy skin and hated anything glowy, dewy, or luminous. A decade later, my skin is a lot drier and I’ve realized that greasy oily skin is not the same as dewy glowing skin. I started the blog to keep track while searching for my holy grail products. Hundreds of products later, I have found some essentials, and learned a lot about skincare along the way. My journey is by no means complete, but The Glossier‘s beauty essentials challenge inspired me to share my philosophy and essentials so far on the blog. Glossier is a beauty brand that focuses on simple beauty products with good ingredients. I haven’t tried their products before, but their blog Into The Gloss is one of my favorite with clean layout and good contents. But anyways, skincare! First of all —

Never skip skincare at night.

Even if you don’t wear makeup, all the dirt, bacteria and oil from the day can clog your pores, not to mention the environmental stress that ages the skin. Your body also repairs itself during sleep so it is especially important to do your skincare before bed. After all, you can either spend hundreds on anti-aging skincare later, or take advantage of your body’s natural repair and renewal process by doing your skincare every night. Another bonus for me is that the skincare routine helps me to relax and unwind at end of the day. And wouldn’t you rather waking up to healthy glowing skin rather than dirty dry skin?20160420_121844

One product that really helped to make sure I do skincare at night is Koh Gen Do Cleansing Water. I’ve tried dozens of makeup removers in liquid, water, oil and balm form and this is one of the best. It’s no rinse so you can use it anywhere anytime, to fix your makeup during the day, before cleansing, or half asleep in bed at night. It leaves the skin feeling clean, comfortable and hydrated. I don’t recall ever going to bed without washing my face, thank to the bottle of cleansing water I keep by my bedside. On days where I’m too tired or busy, I would just do cleansing water, moisturizer, and sleep. I’ve actually got more bottles than pictured lying around with liquid in it for traveling. And speak of traveling — Continue reading Skincare Musts and Essentials!

Speed Review, March Edition. Wake up and smell the roses!

Every year when it switches from winter to spring, my skin freaks out by getting SUPER dry and irritated. It’s times like these that makes me really appreciate good skincare products. This time, I went all floral. I’ve actually raved/reviewed all of them before, except Origins Original Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay. I’m no stranger to exfoliating clay masks, most notable being the GlamGlow Youthmud and Tarte Amazonian Clay mask. Youthmud is very drying and a bit harsh, best for oily skin. Tarte Amazonian Clay Exfoliating Mask’s granules are a bit too big and sparse for a good thorough exfoliation and the cooling/tingling feels terrible on irritated skin.

Origins Rose Clay mask is a creamy pink mask with small round beads for a nice gentle but thorough exfoliation. The rose clay purifies but does not dry the skin out. Most of the time I actually prefer separate exfoliator and clay mask, but when my skin is super irritated and dry, using both can be too much. When I use this mask, the exfoliation does not irritate and the clay mask does not dry my skin out. I would recommend this for people with dry and sensitive skin. Or if you want convenience of 2-in-1.

The other great products for dry and sensitive skin are Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, Dior Gentle Toning Lotion with Velvet Peony, Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil and finished off with Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask. Sure, there are plenty of cheaper products that are similar. But when your skin is so dry and irritated that 80% of the skincare burns when applied and disappears instantly, that’s where these products truly shines. 20160310_101119

Speaking of products that shines, I was surprised to find something I really like in this speed review. =) Continue reading Speed Review, March Edition. Wake up and smell the roses!

Moisturizer for Spring? Try Sunday Riley Tidal and The Estee Edit Peony

I need a new moisturizer like a cat need more hairballs, but Sunday Riley has become one of my favorite brands lately with their quality ingredients and effective products. Estee Lauder has been trying to appeal to the younger crowd with more trendy and modern products lately with The Estee Edit Collection. Tarababyz did a great review of most of the makeup in the collection, but I’ve been obsessed with peony ever since Dior Toner became my holy grail. So, I ended up getting both Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream and The Estee Edit Pink Peony Overnight Water Pack.


Besides, look how pretty they are side by side! The description for both of them sounds amazing (hyaluronic acid, floral and fruit extracts? yes please!). I’ve used each of them for over a week now, so it’s time for a review. The description and ingredients are in the image (enlarge to see bigger version). Continue reading Moisturizer for Spring? Try Sunday Riley Tidal and The Estee Edit Peony