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July 10, 2016

[Review] Jini Beauty Box June 2016 Normal/Combination Skin

Hey friends. Now that I’ve had a chance to use everything in this month’s box, it’s time for me to share my thoughts with you.

If you haven’t heard of Jini Beauty Box before, they’re a monthly Asian beauty subscription box that retails for $24.95. The box usually contains mostly skincare, along with one makeup/cosmetic item per month. You’re promised 1-2 full size products and 3-5 samples. The unique premise with this box is that it’s curated by skin type (normal/combination, dry/mature, oily/acne, or sensitive/troubled). If you want to learn more about this box, I have an entire post here that explains everything about this box in-depth. I also have a review for last month’s box here if you’re interested. Ingredients for all of the products included in the box can be found here.

Disclaimer: I paid for this box with my own money. All views expressed are my own, authentic opinions. This post does not contain any affiliate links.

Holika Holika Glitter Nails, “Flower Shower” (Full size)

Retail value: $5.48 (Jolse)
Jini Beauty says:

Pretty up your nails with the sparkly shower of glitter in this Holika Holika nail polish. The pink, red, and white flecks will add a quick pop of dazzling color for summer!

Directions: Apply polish to bare nails over your usual base coat or as decoration over another nail polish.

 

I only applied this over an existing manicure briefly before taking it off, so I can’t attest to the wear time of this polish. What I can tell you, is that it applied smoothly and that the base has a red tint which showed up on the white polish I applied it over. The little red flowers did tend to gather near the bottom of the bottle, so you may need to shake the bottle and dig out the flowers with the wand if you’re specifically trying to get the flowers on your nails. All of the other glitter in the bottle applied easily. Overall, I like the polish and thought it was a nice inclusion as this month’s cosmetic item, especially since it arrived in plenty of time to use it for a 4th of July or Canada Day manicure.

Neogen Dermalogy I’ll Give You The Optimum Moisture Milk Cream Essential Mask  (Full size)

Retail value: ~$3.37 to ~$4.45 eBay $10.11 for a set of 3, Amazon $44.44 for a set of 10

Jini Beauty says:

Enjoy the milk, pine mushroom, and green bean infused in this mask from Neogen’s dermalogy series! These power ingredients help even out skin tone and blemishes and impart smoother and brighter skin overall.

Directions: (After Toner) Carefully place the mask over face and leave on for 20 minutes to allow for maximum absorption. Gently massage any leftover essence into skin.

 

The essence in this mask surprised me. I was expecting it to be a milky/lotion essence, but instead it was a clear, slightly thick essence that just smelled milky, though it was a slightly sweet powdery milkiness that reminded me a lot of shea butter, which isn’t actually an ingredient in this mask. The milk in this mask comes from milk protein extract. It also contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, grapefruit extract, and pea extract. This mask contains added fragrance, so I would probably avoid this one if you have a sensitivity. As for the actual scent of the mask, it wasn’t really noticeable while I was wearing the mask. The mask was made from thin cotton, not quite as thin as a silk mask, but definitely thinner than the majority of cotton sheet masks on the market. The mask had adjustment slits around the chin area only. The fit was pretty good for me, a tiny bit wide from cheek to cheek, but the lip flap wasn’t too big for me, which is usually my biggest trouble area with masks. There was a little bit of essence left over in the packet (about half a teaspoon), but the majority of it was coating the sheet mask, which was just short of dripping. It didn’t have any sort of backing, and I did have a little bit of difficulty unfolding this mask because it was so thin and so well-coated in essence. I wore the mask for 36 minutes, which is definitely longer than I should have, but I got distracted by Instagram, oops. Overall, the mask made my skin feel hydrated, which was awesome because my skin was super dry the night I used this. It left my skin feeling slightly slick, but didn’t feel filmy or tacky, especially once I added the rest of my skincare products. I liked the effect it created and would definitely use this again.

Purple Tale 5 Steps to Lovely Skin Kit (Full size)

Retail value: $7.99 PurpleTale, Beauteque
Jini Beauty says:

This 5-in-1 skincare kit is perfect for traveling and takes care of your entire skincare routine in one convenient pack. The products have been formulated with RGII, which is extracted from ginseng saporin through advanced fermentation technology, and repairs aging and damaged skin cells to deliver a youthful glow. The result is brighter, more even toned skin plus whitening, and your skin will feel supple and softer!

Directions: Tear off each packet and follow the instructions provided at each step for the foam cleanser, ampoule, bio-cellulose sheet mask, facial cream, and neck cream.

 

I’ve seen this all over Instagram and AB blogs, and it tends to get rave reviews, so I was pretty excited to try it. Oddly enough, the part of the kit I was most nervous about ended up being my favorite. Since there are five parts to this mask, I’m going to go ahead and discuss them separately.
Step 1 is the cleanser. It was a white cream-to-foam cleanser that smelled somewhat like SweeTarts with a hint of citrus. As I was rinsing it off, I could feel it stating to make my skin feel rubbery and squeaky clean, which is something that I personally don’t like. It did dry my skin out more than any of my regular cleansers do, but it didn’t make my skin feel stripped. (At the moment, my skin is slightly oily on my forehead and nose, and slightly dry on my chin and cheeks, but it easily delves into dehydrated or oily-dehydrated territory if I don’t work to maintain my skin’s balance) If I were to use this kit again in the future, I would probably just use my own cleanser, especially because I have enough trouble keeping my skin hydrated as it is. So, the cleanser was a bust for me.
On to Step 2, the ampoule. The ampoule was a clear, slippery serum that sank in quickly and easily, though it did feel kind of heavy on my skin, and had a slightly tacky finish. I didn’t notice any immediate effects from the ampoule besides it replacing some of the hydration I lost through cleansing. There was no discernible smell, despite the added fragrance that was in every step of this kit, so probably not something you would want to use on sensitive skin.
The sheet mask was Step 3, and unfortunately it was a bio-cellulose mask. Loads of people love bio-cellulose masks because they’re so good at clinging to every curve of your face. I, on, the other hand, feel like I have a trash bag clinging to my face, especially as the mask dries out and clings even tighter to my face. It’s a texture I just don’t enjoy in sheet masks, but I totally get the reasoning behind using a bio-cellulose mask right after an ampoule to aid penetration of ingredients. I think most people will enjoy this step, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

 

It was a two-piece mask, divided like a hydrogel mask typically is, horizontally above the mouth. The essence was thick and slippery, and there was a ton of it left over in the package. That’s actually another downside to bio-cellulose masks, they don’t hold essence the way that cotton or silk do. As a result, they tend to dry out a bit quicker. I did apply a bit of the left over essence to my face before applying the mask though. The mask was wrapped in a very thin backing on both sides of both pieces of the mask. It was a bit difficult to unwrap, but the wrapping was definitely necessary because of the thinness of the mask itself. The fit was good overall, but the nose piece was a little too long for me. Keep in mind, though, I have a small nose, so this will probably fit most people, especially people with larger noses, just fine. The flap above the lip was super thin, so I was able to avoid the biggest problem I usually have with sheet masks. Yippee!
After the sheet mask comes the facial cream, Step 4. I lost my notes for the last two steps, unfortunately, so these will be from memory. I can’t remember what the face cream smelled like, since it was over a week ago, but I do remember thinking that it was just ok. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about it, which is probably a good thing in this case, because it means it didn’t cause me any problems or frustrate me in any way. It did feel like it helped to seal in all of the other steps though.
My favorite step ended up being Step 5, the neck cream. I was actually terrified to use this because my neck is just as acne prone as my face, if not more so. Putting any form of skincare on my neck nearly always causes me to break out, and you can even see that I already had a blemish on my neck in the sheetmask photos above. I know how important skincare for your neck can be, especially when it comes to anti-aging, but I just can’t do it. However, this cream may change that for me. Not only did I love the texture of the cream and the way it sank into my skin, it didn’t cause me to breakout at all. It made my skin look and feel more hydrated. While the rest of the steps of this kit aren’t something I can see myself using again, I would definitely use the neck cream again. I’m still shocked that it didn’t break me out. I do love the concept of this skin kit, especially because it would be great for travel, but since a few of the steps didn’t really fit with my personal preferences, I probably wouldn’t use it again, with the exception of the neck cream and maybe the face cream.

Sulwhasoo Renewing Kit  (Deluxe Sample Size)

Retail value: $4.25 eBay, set of 2 kits (4 pcs total) for $8.50

 

The kit contains 2 items: the First Care Activating Serum and the Essential Firming Cream.

First Care Activating Serum (4 ml):

Jini Beauty says:

Rebalance your skin and replenish its nutrients with this first step serum. Milkvetch promotes natural skin circulation, while dwarf lilyturf and licorice boost the synergy of concentrated Korean medicinal herb extracts to restore skin’s healthy radiance. The serum helps prep your skin to “activate” its efficacy in receiving your next skincare products.

Directions: (After Cleanser) Apply the serum with your fingers and gently massage into skin to enhance penetration.

 

The serum was a thin, translucent, medium brown liquid that absorbed into the skin super quickly without leaving anything but smoothness behind. It had a strong herbal smell that I personally found to be very pleasant, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I felt like this was the type of product that you know is doing something for your skin, you just can’t pinpoint what. Maybe if I used it for longer, I’d be able to figure it out, but I’ve already finished off my sample of this and the full size is $84, so probably not buying that any time soon. I would consider purchasing more samples of it though, because ultimately I did like it.

Essential Firming Cream EX (5 ml):

Jini Beauty says:

This cream can be used for day or night to help firm and tone your skin. Adlay millet detoxifies skin and promotes elasticity, while pomegranate, ginko, and green tea extracts supply potent antioxidants to deliver radiance. Your skin will be nourished both inside and out!

Directions: (After Essence or Serum) Scoop out a tiny amount of the cream with your finger or a Q-Tip. A little goes a long way! Gently massage the cream into skin.

I definitely agree that a little bit of this goes a long way. It spread easily, and has a thin, lightweight texture. The scent of this is similar to the serum, but the scent is way more subtle. I’m about half-way through the jar now, and I haven’t noticed it firming at all, nor have I noticed any other effects beyond moisture. If I had to choose between the two, I’d definitely pick the serum, hands down. I think a cream that’s $95 for the full size should do more than moisturize. At least now I know it’s not something I’m interesting in purchasing.

Petitfee Premium Gold EGF Eye Patches (Full size)

Retail value: $10.98 Amazon
Jini Beauty says:

An innovative substitute for eye cream, these hydro gel eye patches are infused with EGF (epidermal growth factor) and pure gold to help stimulate cells and restore elasticity. They also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark circles while moisturizing, plumping, and firming the under-eye area with aloe vera, ginseng, caviar, and green tea extracts. One jar contains 60 gold-flecked eye patches, so there’s plenty to go around for nightly pampering!

Directions: (After Toner) Use the spoon to lift out a patch. Adhere patch to the under-eye area and leave on for 20-30 minutes.

 

This is one of the items I was most excited for this month, and it turned out to be the biggest let down. I have horrendous dark circles and often suffer from a dry undereye area, so eye patches are always something I’m wanting. However, they also tend to be the first thing kicked out of my cart when I’m trying to bring my total down, because I don’t really need them, I just want them.

 

The patches are made from hydrogel and come soaked in a thin, clear serum. I love that this comes with a little spatula, which is both helpful and hygienic. The patches are nice and large too. They cover from the bottom of my eyes all the way down to my cheek bones, and also curve up to cover the area where crows feet form. They feel nice and soothing at first, but then they begin to sting my skin near my cheekbones. At first I though it was maybe just an interaction with my acids, and tried using the patches on nights I wasn’t using acids. Still stung. Oddly, they never stung my eyes or the area immediately below them, but further down my cheeks. I didn’t have any active or even any healing acne spots there any of the times that I used them, so I don’t know what would cause them to sting. I’ve tested the serum on my arm, no stinging there. These also didn’t do much for me in the way of hydration, so for me, these are definitely a pass.

 

Also, something worth noting: these are a different shape than the “eye and spot patches” from the same brand. The eye patches from the eye and spot patches are thinner “C” shapes, rather than the swooshes you see above. If these didn’t irritate my skin, I’d say these were good eye patches because they fit well and stuck to my skin without me having to constantly readjust them. Unfortunately, these just didn’t work out for me.

Final Thoughts:

The total value of this month’s box was between $32.07 and $33.15

The stand-out products for me this month were definitely the Neogen mask, the PurpleTale neck cream, and the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum. I really like that there’s been a variety of products in every box. A lot of other K-beauty subscription boxes tend to be all sheet masks, or if they are a mix of products, a lot of them tend to be gimmicky things that I would never get any use out of (that’s just personal preference, not throwing any shade). Even though not everything was a winner for me this month, they were at least all things that would potentially be useful to me. Have you tried any products from this month’s box? If so, let me know what you thought of them in the comments down below!

I would recommend this box to someone looking to try new products and expand their collection, or someone who wants to try Asian beauty products and doesn’t know where to start or what they should be using for their skin type. The info card that’s included every month is very helpful, so I feel like this box is very beginner friendly. They also include a full list of ingredients every month, which can be found here on their website. Reviews of all of the previous months’ boxes, as well as additional information about the service can be found here. If you’d like to subscribe to Jini Beauty Box, you can do so here. Additionally, Jini Beauty can be found on Instagram (they post spoilers for each month’s boxes!) and Twitter. I can also be found on Instagram and Twitter, come hang out with me!

on
June 30, 2016

[Review] April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink in 01 Pink

Today, I’m going to be sharing my full review on the April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink, which is a pale pink primer in cushion form, meant to brighten skin. I’ve previously reviewed this product briefly on Instagram, but I wanted to give you guys more details about the product. This product was sent to me by 0.8L in exchange for my honest review on Instagram, but I’m choosing to do a full review on it because I genuinely like the product and want to share my experience with the product in-depth. As always, my review will be 100% honest.
This post does not contain affiliate links.

About the brand:

April Skin is a Korean skincare and cosmetics company that focuses on products made with natural ingredients. If you purchase Korean cosmetics or spend time over at reddit.com/r/asianbeauty, then you’re probably already familiar with the brand through some of their popular products, such as the Magic Stone soap, and their popular Magic Snow Cushion Foundations. The brand is built around three core concepts: exclude harmful ingredients, rejuvenate dull and fatigued skin, and make the best products to satisfy consumers.

About the Magic Snow Pink Cushion Compact:

Price: $21-29 for 15 grams of product (doesn’t include a refill)

Where to buy it Amazon $26.88 (prime shipping, all colors in stock, but listed separately as of this posting), $29 AprilSkin (ships worldwide), BBCosmetic $21

The “Pink Cushion Compact” line refers to the packaging of this product, which is a pale pink, mirrored cushion case with the brand name printed in holographic lettering. It’s gorgeous, but it’s also functional too. The plastic casing feels sturdy, and the mirror inside the compact is a high quality crystal-clear mirror, which is great if you need to use the mirror inside the case (as opposed to a bathroom mirror or vanity/desktop mirror). The compact is also refillable, though the refills for the White and Black cushion foundations won’t fit this case. Like I mentioned before, the “pink” in the name refers to the packaging, the product actually comes in four different colors.

From the product listing on April Skin’s website:
01 Pink is meant for fair skin with a warm tone. The pink creates a brightening effect and corrects the appearance of dullness in the skin. (This is the one I’m showing you today.)
02 Green is meant for correcting redness due to sensitivity to temperature, pigmentation left from acne, or other redness in the skin.
03 Purple is meant to correct dullness and discoloration in the skin, especially skin that “darkens and turns dull by the afternoon” (April Skin’s words, not mine).
04 Beige is meant to correct dull or uneven skin tone.

 

The puff is soft, thick, and bouncy, and is also antimicrobial, according to April Skin. Diving into the cushion itself, this is a pretty unique feature of this product. Rather than a standard cushion sponge soaked in product, the Magic Snow Cushion contains product sandwiched between two layers of sponge, which then rises to the top and onto the puff when pressure is applied. The idea behind this is to keep the product more hygienic, and to provide only the amount that you need for an even application. Although I appreciate the concept, I also find it to be a flaw of the product. Maybe it’s because I’m heavy-handed, or maybe it’s because I’m perpetually late, but the sponge doesn’t dispense product onto the puff as quickly as I would like. I find myself having to apply quite a bit of pressure or pushing down on it multiple times so I can get enough product to come out and get out the door (did I mention I’m always running late?).

Ingredients:

Can be found here. Notable ingredients are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (physical sunscreens), Niacinamide (fades pigmentation and brightens skin over time), several forms of dimethicone (so be cautious if you have a sensitivity to it, this product may not be a good fit for you), Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract (cherry blossom, anti-inflammatory), Adenosine (anti-inflammatory, potential anti-wrinkle benefits), Honey (moisturizing, anti-bacterical, antioxidant), and Camellia Japonica Flower Extract (anti-inflammatory, stimulates collagen).

 

It’s a very pale carnation pink

My Experience:

Let’s start with the smell because I fuh-reaking love the way this smells. It’s a soft, sweet, almost candy-like floral (cherry blossom maybe?). It’s divine, I would wear it as a perfume. It is quite strong, so if you don’t like scented makeup, you’ll probably want to steer clear of this, but otherwise, I think most people would find this scent pleasant or at least non-offensive. Fragrance isn’t listed anywhere in the ingredients list, which leads me to believe the scent comes naturally from the other ingredients.

The texture is lightweight, you can definitely feel that it’s a water-based product, though there’s also quite a bit of slip and slickness to it that would probably feel unpleasant on oily skin types. It’s almost kind of lotiony but without the thickness. This product is recommended for dry to combination skin because it’s moisturizing, and I totally agree with that recommendation. I think if you have oily skin, this would not only be too hydrating for you, but also too glowy. However, if you have dry skin and struggle to achieve a radiant glow, you’ll probably be head-over-heels in love with this. It really does brighten the face, and it shines through foundation beautifully.

My skin is normal to combo currently, and I have acne-prone skin. This didn’t cause me to break out at all, nor did it irritate my skin in any way. I have a lot of texture on my skin right now due to closed comedones, and I didn’t find that this emphasized them in any way, nor did it emphasize the pores on my cheeks. I don’t know how this would wear on deep wrinkles, but it didn’t sink into or emphasize the fine lines around my mouth and eyes at all. It works great under makeup too, it didn’t make my foundation wear off any more quickly than it normally would. It’s not glittery at all, but it does have a very intense sheen. I loved the glow that this created, but I did have to powder it in a few places (nose, forehead, chin) where it was just a little too much for me. Normally I would suggest applying it just in the areas that you want your skin to look more luminous, but because of the brightening pink tint, it might create a weird color difference. If you try wearing it that way, let me know how it goes. It builds beautifully without feeling cakey, although in humid weather it can feel a bit heavy if you apply several layers. One layer produced mostly shine with only a tiny bit of brightening. On my skin, I had to use two or three layers to really notice a brightening effect. For reference, my skin is approximately an NC15 in MAC, though I have an olive undertone, so it’s not an exact match. Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation also matches me pretty well.

Finally, I will say I do think that $29 is a bit expensive for this product since it’s only 15 grams of product and doesn’t come with a refill. I did manage to find it on sale in a few places, and I would purchase it for about $20 to maybe $25. I would only pay $29 if it came with a refill. Price aside, I do really like this product and would recommend it if you’re looking for a glowy, brightening primer.

Shine bright like a diamond. One layer of the April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink in 01 Pink

Half-Face Comparison:

Left side: bare skin, Right side: 2-3 layers of the April Skin Magic Snow Cushion Pink in 01 Pink

Final Thoughts:

You’ll probably like this if:

  • You have dry or combo skin (maybe normal skin if you really like a glow and don’t get very oily throughout the day)
  • Most other glowy primers have let you down. Seriously, you can’t see it on my face because I’m in indirect light, but that glow is intense.
  • You’re not sensitive to or allergic to any of the ingredients in the ingredients list.
  • You don’t mind the price or you can find it on sale
  • Scented products don’t irritate your skin, cause migraines, or just make you want to throw a product across the room.

Avoid this is:

  • You’re not cool with shellin’ out between 20 and 30 dollars for a primer, especially when it’s only 15 grams of product
  • You have oily skin (srsly don’t do it mate)
  • You think the scent or any of the ingredients in this product will irritate you
  • You’re impatient or don’t have much time to get ready, ever. The way the sponge is designed causes it to take a little more time to apply than an ordinary cushion or a primer that comes in a tube, and I can see this becoming frustrating if you’re in a hurry. Maybe save it for a day when you’re not rushing to get ready, or possibly avoid it altogether if you don’t think it would fit your lifestyle.
  • Your skin is any darker than a very light medium. Even with a foundation over top, I think this shade would be way too light for anyone above ~NC/NW 30, and even that may be a stretch. You may have a bit of luck with the beige shade if you have a medium skin tone, but I really can’t say since I haven’t tried that one.
I’m a sucker for shiny things glowy products like this one, and this has a truly beautiful glow that makes me wish it came in body lotion form so I could just walk around looking like a Tiffany’s display all the time (#goals).
Have you tried any products from April Skin? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments down below (personally, I’m dying to get my hands on the cushion foundation and some of the sheet masks). You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter. Come say ‘hi’!
-Cristine
on
May 28, 2016

Review: May 2016 Jini Beauty Box for Normal/Combination Skin

Another fun box from Jini Beauty this month! This month’s box included a couple of products from brands I hadn’t heard of, which is always fun, plus an interesting surprise in the form of a hair essence.

If you haven’t heard of Jini Beauty Box before, they’re a monthly Asian beauty subscription box that retails for $24.95. The box usually contains mostly skincare and occasionally one makeup item per month. You’re promised 1-2 full size products and 3-5 samples. The unique premise with this box is that it’s curated by skin type (normal/combination, dry/mature, oily/acne, or sensitive/troubled). If you want to learn more about this box, I have an entire post here that explains everything about this box in-depth. I also have a review for last month’s box here if you’re interested. Ingredients for all of the products included in the box can be found here.

Disclaimer: I paid for this box with my own money. All views expressed are my own, authentic opinions. This post does not contain any affiliate links.

Sometimes if you’re really lucky, your cat will “help” you with your blog photos. Clearly he likes the packaging of the Sansooyu Yoon Gyeol Peeling Gel, too.

 

Reme+G 3-in-1 Aqua Peeler Kit (Full size)

Retail value: $6 (GlowRecipe)
Jini Beauty says:

This 3 in 1 kit is awesome for treating yourself to a peeling treatment at home. Step 1: Wipe your face with the giant cotton swab, which has been saturated with AHA complex for gentle exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells. Step 2: Nourish and brighten skin by massaging the vitamin-rich serum into your skin. Step 3: Finish your treatment with a hydrating sheet mask designed to lock in moisture and soothe skin with hyaluronic acid and aloe vera. Directions: (After Cleanser) Follow the 3 steps that are outlined above and also on the back of the kit.

I’ve actually used this product before (original Instagram review below) and though I enjoy the concept of it, the acid concentration isn’t high enough for my mega acid-loving skin. I do feel it’s effective for skin that doesn’t have such a high acid tolerance, and it’s worth trying at least once for the fun of the giant q-tip alone.

Step 1 is to rub the giant cotton swab all over your face. It has a slightly unpleasant smell and leaves a tacky finish, which hangs around for a bit after you’ve finished using the product. It’s only tacky to the touch though, I couldn’t actually feel the product on my face. According to the instructions on the packet, you may experience some tingling during this step. Since my skin has such a high acid tolerance, I’ve never experienced any tingling with this product. People with sensitive skin should exercise caution, though.

Step 2 is to apply the serum. It’s a very liquidy, amber-colored serum that smells fresh and slightly like citrus. It absorbed quickly into my skin.

Step 3 is the sheet mask. It had a generic, unfragranced sheet mask smell that didn’t smell of anything specific. The fit was good, and the material was comparable to a mask from any of the major Korean manufacturers such as Etude House, Tony Moly, and Nature Republic. It was comfortable and lightweight, but not as thin as the silk masks from Taiwan.

My order from @hkcplaza arrived! Picked up a few things during their 60% off sale. 🍬#leejiham Tea Tree Essence I usually stay away from tea tree products for fear of drying out my skin, but I’ve heard several people with dry or dehydrated skin say they had a good experience with it, so I’m willing to give it a go. Tried a bit on the back of my hand last night, first impression: absorbed quickly, smell wasn’t overpowering, and didn’t seem to dry my skin out at all. 🍬 Reme+G 3-in-1 Aqua Peeling Kit Used this last night, and while I enjoy the concept, I can’t say I’m impressed with the results. The giant cotton swab was amusing, but the serum in step 2 was quite sticky. The sheet mask portion of the kit fit well and had a lot of serum, not in a messy, drippy sort of way, but in a ‘how the hell has this thing not started to dry out yet’ way. I left it on for 35 minutes and it was still really wet. I just couldn’t take it anymore because the heater kept coming on and it blasts cold air before it gets warm. My face was freezing ⛄️ I think if you’ve never used AHA before or are used to a low strength AHA, you might have better results with this since it’s 6% lactic acid, but for me it was too gentle since my skin is used to the 14% AHA serum from Alpha Hydrox and Sunday Riley Good Genes, which is 40%. I could practically hear my skin asking “6%, is this a joke?” Love the concept of this though! 🍬Take Out Spa #myrenewbottle and #mybrightbottle sheet masks Haven’t seen or heard much about these, so naturally they wandered into my cart. If any of you have tried them, let me know what you thought! 🍬Samples LJH Hydra Whitening Cream and Vital Firming Lotion
A photo posted by Cristine Crawford (@hey_itscristine) on Feb 2, 2016 at 6:53pm PST

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Sansooyu Yoon Gyeol Peeling Gel (Full size; 150 ml)

Retail value: $17.30 (ebay via RoseRoseShop or direct from RoseRoseShop for $5.17+shipping)
Jini Beauty says:

For weekly exfoliation, Sansooyu’s peeling gel provides mild but effective exfoliation to rid your skin of ‘debris’ built up from dead skin cells. The gel is infused with Oriental herbal and plant extracts plus collagen to help protect your skin during the exfoliation process. Directions: (After Cleanser) Apply the gel to a dry face and massage into skin to remove dead skin cells. Rinse off the gel with warm water.

There’s not much information available about this brand in English, but from what I’ve been able to find, it’s a hanbang (traditional Korean, herb-based medicine) brand. They seem to have some other interesting products too, mostly face creams and such, and yes, they all have equally gorgeous packaging. I’d love to see this brand again in a future Jini Beauty Box, especially since it’s a brand that the mainstream U.S.-based AB retailers haven’t picked up yet, to my knowledge.

There’s a bit of controversy over whether or not peeling gels really work the way that the marketing claims they do (more on that from Michelle at LabMuffin and Colin from Colin’s Beauty Pages), but the gist of the controversy is that in many cases the ‘dead skin’ that you’re supposedly rolling off is actually just the product balling up on itself, the same way a primer might ball up when applied over a moisturizer that it doesn’t get along with. The controversy isn’t that these types of products don’t work at all, but rather just that they don’t make your dead skin cells roll off of your face in the way that the manufacturer usually claims it will. A lot of times, the conclusion that’s reached is that the balled-up product ends up acting as a gentle physical exfoliator.

Personally, I really enjoy these types of peels because they give me the satisfying feeling of a scrub without using anything too abrasive. My favorite is the Skin Inc. Pure Revival Peel, but it’s expensive, so I’ve only ever used the samples I could get from Sephora and then sobbed a few tears when it was gone. One of the things I liked about that peel is that my other products seemed to be more effective after using it. I felt the same effect with this product, but to a lesser extent. Using this product makes me feel like there’s less… crap, gunk, whatever sitting on top of my skin, it got rid of some of my dry patches from healing breakouts, and it helped to make my skin smoother. It smells like most peeling gels do—a little bit plasticy with a touch of alcohol (faintly), and it has a thin gel texture that rinses cleanly. If I was going to choose between them, I still prefer the Skin Inc. peel because it was more intense, but I like this one enough to continue using it as part of my regular routine.

Etude House Pink Vital Water Serum (Deluxe Sample; 5 ml)

Retail value: ~$1.22 (RoseRoseShop, set of 4 for $4.87 or full size (80 ml) for $11.09)
Jini Beauty says:

The ‘Pink Vital’ is a different kind of serum—75.54% pink peach water gives a light, watery texture to the serum, which allows for quick absorbtion. Moisture, nutrients, and antioxidants easily soak into the skin without leaving behind any sticky residue! Directions: (After Toner) Dispense the serum onto a cotton pad and gently swipe over face.

 

The serum is thin, milky, lightweight, and smells fruity. To me, it doesn’t quite smell like peaches, more like strawberries, but either way, it’s light and fruity. I wasn’t that into the Etude House Pink Vital Water Serum. It didn’t have any negative effects on my skin, but it also didn’t have any noticeable positive effects either. It absorbed very quickly and didn’t leave a sticky residue. I don’t really have anything to say about it beyond that.

 

 

Etude House Skin Note Deep Moisturizing Hydrogel Mask, Brightening Up (Full Size)

Retail value: ~$3.20 (Amazon, set of five for $15.98)
Jini Beauty says:

Indulge in this amazing hydrogel mask from Etude House, to experience a mask that locks in moisture and essence better than a regular sheet mask. The brightening version has pearl extract and Vitamin C for radiant and glowing skin results. Directions: (After Toner) Unfold the mask and remove just the opaque film from the upper and bottom halves of the mask. Carefully adhere the exposed halves over your face, then remove the transparent film covering the other side. After 15-20 minutes, take off the mask and massage the remaining solution into skin.

This was actually my first hydrogel mask, since I usually try not to spend any more than $2.50-3.00 per mask, and most hydrogels are at least $3. After using this mask, I might be a bit more likely to splurge though. While it did provide basic hydration, I didn’t notice any major brightening effects from this mask. However, I really liked the feel of the hydrogel and it fit well. Like the Reme+G mask, this just had a generic sheet mask smell. I left it on for about 15 minutes, and didn’t have any issues with it sliding around at all. I probably wouldn’t purchase this mask again since I’ve used other masks that give me a more noticeable effect, but I would purchase other hydrogels.

 

Somang Keratin Silk Protein Hair Aqua Essence (Full size; 110 ml)

Retail value: $11.49 (Amazon)
Jini Beauty says:

This hair essence is made with keratin, silk protein complex, and 7 types of floral extracts to nourish and heal any damaged layers of hair. It’s a multi-purpose product that delivers and locks in moisture, strengthen hair cuticles for silky shine, and helps untangle hair to prevent breakage. Essence isn’t just for skin! Directions: Spray onto wet or slightly dried hair before styling.

This was my surprise favorite of this month’s box. I’ve been getting more into AB hair care products, so I was happy to see this in the box, especially since it contains keratin, which my hair responds very well to. I have very long, thick, frizzy, tangly, unmanageable hair, so I’ve tried a lot of products over the years that claim to make hair softer and easier to brush. Most of them have let me down, and the first time I used this product, it actually let me down too. I sprayed a bit in my damp hair, tried to brush it, and ran into the same problem I usually do: my hair was too tangly to get a hair brush through it and the hair essence didn’t seem to help. The next time I used it, I sprayed a lot more product on since it hadn’t seemed to weigh my hair down at all. I think this was part of why it worked better the second and third time. I also waited until morning to brush my hair, and I was completely shocked by how easily the brush went through my hair. I haven’t noticed it making my hair any softer, but it does make it look shiny and healthy without making it look greasy, even when I’ve used it on my roots. I keep forgetting to spray it in my hair before I go to bed, so I’ll update you with a more thorough review of this product once I’ve used it more. The texture is lightweight enough that I think even those with fine or thin hair could use this without fear of losing volume. The scent is nice too, sweet and herbal, but not so strong that it would compete with a perfume or be disturbing to coworkers in an office environment. I didn’t notice the scent throughout the day or night, but I do think the scent is strong enough that it might bother you if you are particularly sensitive to smells.

Final Thoughts:

The total value of this month’s box was ~$39.21

Although not every product in this box was a winner for me, I still enjoyed this month’s box. As usual, there was a good array of products, and I felt like I got my money’s worth. I will say this though, if you’ve never signed up for a subscription box before, you should be mindful of the fact that you probably will receive some products that you just don’t love. It comes with the territory since you’re not personally picking out the products that you’ll receive. If you’re not flexible with what you’re willing to try, and unwilling to accept that you probably won’t like every single thing you receive, subscription boxes may not be for you. I just want everyone to be happy with their purchases. This blog has never been about telling people what to do, it’s about giving people more information so that they can make an informed decision that’s right for them. I enjoy the surprise of subscription boxes, and especially the ability to discover new products that may not have been on my radar before.

I would recommend this box to someone looking to try new products and expand their collection, or someone who wants to try Asian beauty products and doesn’t know where to start or what they should be using for their skin type. The info card that’s included every month is very helpful, so I feel like this box is very beginner friendly. They also include a full list of ingredients every month, which can be found here on their website. Reviews of all of the previous months’ boxes, as well as additional information about the service can be found here. If you’d like to subscribe to Jini Beauty Box, you can do so here. Additionally, Jini Beauty can be found on Instagram (they post spoilers for each month’s boxes!) and Twitter. I can also be found on Instagram and Twitter, come hang out with me!

Have you tried any of the products from this month’s box? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments!

on
May 13, 2016

[Review] April 2016 Jini Beauty Box for Normal/Combination Skin

Hey friends! Today I’ve got another review for you, this time for the April 2016 Jini Beauty Box for Normal/Combination Skin. This has quickly become one of my favorite subscription boxes, and I think this is the best box yet!

If you haven’t heard of Jini Beauty Box before, they’re a monthly Asian beauty subscription box that retails for $24.95. The box usually contains mostly skincare and occasionally one makeup item per month. You’re promised 1-2 full size products and 3-5 samples. The unique premise with this box is that it’s curated by skin type (normal/combination, dry/mature, oily/acne, or sensitive/troubled). If you want to learn more about this box, I have an entire post here that explains everything about this box in-depth. I also have a review for last month’s box here if you’re interested. Ingredients for all of the products included in the box can be found here.

Disclosure: I paid for this box with my own money. All views expressed are my own, authentic opinions. This post does not contain any affiliate links.

 

Missha Near Skin pH Balancing Cleansing Gel (Full size; 8.80 oz)

Retail value: $21 (Beauteque)
Jini Beauty says:

This mild cleansing gel is a nice pH 5 to help balance your skin’s pH level in the very first step. Get ready to experience the optimal effects of your serum and other skincare products after using this cleanser! Bonus- the pH 5 also protects your skin’s moisture barrier. Directions: (First Step Cleanser) Do not wet skin; first massage a small amount of the gel into dry skin, then emulsify the gel with warm water. Continue massaging the foaming gel into skin and rinse off.

I’ve actually been using this as my second step cleanser for the past couple of weeks, so I don’t know how well it works for taking makeup off, but for a second cleanse, it’s wonderful. I’m completely in love with it. It’s functional and easy to use, it emulsifies well and rinses cleanly, and most importantly, it doesn’t strip my skin of moisture, which is a major problem I have with other cleansers because of my oily-dehydrated skin. I hate feeling like I need to slather on a bunch of products to replace the moisture I’ve just lost through cleansing, so this product is basically a godsend for me. The smell is also very pleasant, it’s a subtle fresh, sweet green scent. It smells familiar, but I can’t seem to figure out why. It also foams gently, maybe not enough for foam-addicts, but enough for those who just prefer a foaming cleanser over a non-foaming one. I have a few other low pH cleansers that I like, but this one is my favorite because I can use it in the shower, unlike some of my other low pH cleansers that have packaging that really isn’t shower friendly. While this isn’t the most fun cleanser ever invented (so a bit of a negative if you’re a skincaretainment lover) it does exactly what I need it to. This cleanser also contains SLS, which can be too irritating for some people’s skin, but I haven’t had any negative reactions to this cleanser. For me personally, there aren’t any negatives to this product. Bonus: The retail value of this product nearly covers the cost of the box by itself, so we’re off to a great start.

The Saem Zoo Park Brightening Lamb Mask (Full size)

Retail Value: $2.44 (Korea Depart)
Jini Beauty says:

This mask is so much more than an adorable character mask that might have you mistaken for a little lamb. It’s soaked in milk protein to remove dead skin cells for brighter skin, as well as to restore moisture for ultimate silkiness. You can say baaaa to that! Directions: (After Toner) Place sheet mask over face and leave on for 15-20 minutes.

Yes, my eye-holes are a bit lop-sided…oops.

This mask was so much fun! I’m such a sucker for these cute character masks, but this one was extra fun because I got to scare a few people too. The lamb face is cute, but I have to admit, there’s something creepy about this mask too. As my sister put it when I told her it was supposed to be a lamb face: “A lamb or Silence of the Lambs??” As for the actual experience and effects of the mask, they were both nice, though not mind-blowingly awesome. The mask was soaked in essence and there was very little remaining in the pack. The essence was clear and silky, like the essence that’s found in the majority of sheet masks, and it had a faint, generic skincare smell, maybe slightly floral. I say “generic skincare smell” because it seems like a scent I’ve smelled many times before, but it doesn’t seem to distinctly smell of anything specific. The fit was good, thought the mask didn’t quite cover the sides of my jaw, and the nose flap was too long, but that’s a common problem for me since I have an abnormally small nose. It started to dry out around the 15-20 minute mark, which is about as long as I like to leave my masks on anyway, so that was perfect for me. At first it felt like it left a bit of a film on my face, and my skin was immediately glowy and soft. The film-like feeling faded after about 10-15 minutes, after which my skin just felt silky. The silky skin and the glow stuck around until morning. Overall, I’d give this mask a 3.7 out of 5. How do you feel about this mask? Does it make you think of a petting zoo or is it making you want some fava beans and a nice chianti for dinner?

SU:M 37 Secret Repair Toner (Deluxe sample size; 5 ml)

Retail value: ~$0.90 (eBay; set of 20 deluxe samples for $17.90 or full size, 150 ml, $70.17 at w2beauty)
Jini Beauty says:

It’s no secret that fermentation of deep and rich ingredients encourages their efficacy in doing everything from refining skin texture to optimizing the balance of oil and moisture in skin. This toner contains enzymes and amino acids which repair skin from beneath the surface to improve skin elasticity. Directions: (After Cleanser) Dispense the toner onto a cotton pad and gently swipe over face.

This came at a perfect time for me. I ended up with a massive breakout on my face (seriously, it’s like it has its own cavern system, zits on zits on zits in two big clusters) because like an absolute idiot I forgot to clean my brushes. Ugh, rookie mistake. Anyway, massive breakout means broken skin because I’m terrible and can’t stop myself from popping and picking (I haaate texture to the point where I pick at breakouts without even thinking about it), which also means that I have skin that needs help healing. This, paired with the SU:M 37 Secret Repair Emulsion also included in this month’s box has really been helping with that. The texture of this toner threw me off at first, it’s a little thicker than most other toners I’ve used. I’d compare it to a slightly thicker version of the LJH Tea Tree Essence. The scent is quite herbal/medicinal, which I don’t mind, but I know that some people are put off by those types of scents. It’s quite strong at first, but it fades once it’s applied to the skin. I definitely think it’s effective for repairing damaged skin. It also contains niacinamide, which helps to fade the pigmentation left behind by breakouts, sun damage, etc.

 

SU:M 37 Secret Repair Emulsion (Deluxe sample size; 5 ml)

Retail value: ~$0.98 (eBay; set of 20 for $19.50 or full size, 130 ml, $75.52 at w2beauty)

Jini Beauty says:

This lightweight emulsion has fermented ingredients, just like its toner counterpart, to improve skin elasticity while delivering nutrients to your skin. In fact, more than 80 fermented plant extracts are mixed together for the “secret repair” formula, and the resulting scent is a surprisingly pleasant herbal citrus. Directions: (After Toner) Use a Q-tip to scoop out the emulsion and dab onto forehead, cheeks, and chin. Smooth the emulsion evenly over face and massage into skin.

The texture of this is thick and creamy, but easily spreads onto and absorbs into the skin. It’s light weight, but packs a punch of hydration. The scent of this product is more citrus and less herbal than the toner. I’ve used this emulsion both in conjunction with the Secret Repair Toner and separately so I could really gauge which product was doing what. The toner seemed to do a better job of repairing the skin, whereas the emulsion was better for hydration. Ultimately, I saw the best results when I was using them together, which makes me extra glad that they included these samples together in the same box.

Too Cool For School Pumpkin Sleeping Pack (Deluxe sample; size unknown)

Retail value: ~$0.64 (Rose Rose Shop, set of 10 for $3.19 or full size 100 ml/3.4 oz for $18 at Memebox)

Jini Beauty says:

This sleeping pack is almost too cute to use and yummy enough to eat! It contains pumpkin extract, which has exfoliating enzymes that work to smooth your skin overnight. Licorice root oil serves as an anti-inflammatory agent and hyaluronic acid locks in moisture. Directions: (After Toner) Spread the pack over your face and leave on overnight. Rinse off in the morning and enjoy glowing skin all day!

I was stoked to see this in this month’s box because it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while. I’ve read reviews of this product before, so I knew that this product wouldn’t look like or smell like pumpkin (I didn’t detect a scent at all, actually, so a bonus for those who prefer fragrance-free skincare), which I know is a bit of a disappointment for many people. What did surprise me was the texture. I was expecting something much thicker since it’s a sleeping pack, but it’s really more of a gel, and quite a silicone-y one at that. Considering the texture, I was surprised by how much I liked it and how well it worked. I hate slippery, silicone-heavy primers, but this didn’t feel heavy the way some primers do, it just had a bit of a slippery feeling. It also helped to seal all of my other layers of skincare in, which is one of the many functions of silicones (found in this product as several variations of dimethicone). I’m so happy that Jini Beauty included two sample packs of this product in this month’s box since that was the only complaint I’ve had about this box. Some of the samples they’ve included in previous boxes were only enough for one use, which makes it difficult to tell whether or not you like a product  (yes, I would like some cheese with my whine, thanks). These packets are big enough to get a couple of uses out of each, so these are a great sample to receive. Consider me content. Thanks for listening to your customers, Jenny and Sunny!

Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Cushy Blusher in Beach Break (Full Size; 20 ml/0.67 fl. oz.)

Retail value: $23 (Sephora)
Jini Beauty says:

The next wave of blush is the cushion! And TCFS wants you to ride the wave with its hydrating cushy blusher. Achieve a sheer, natural look with this blush which contains rose oil and lily extract to help soften skin. Beach Break is a peach color that is universally flattering on all skin tones. Directions: Squeeze tube until the blush rises up onto the cushion. Dab onto cheeks and use the cushion applicator to blend outward. For more vibrant coverage, build color with repeated application.

How cute is that packaging?! This was the product I was most excited about this month, but my favorite actually ended up being the Missha cleanser, with this blush taking second place. I love the color, texture, finish, and scent of this product, but the applicator has given me a bit of trouble at times. I had no problems the first time I used it, but the second time I went to use it, it felt like it was clogged and I had trouble squeezing the blush into the cushion. I tried it again just now, and it didn’t feel clogged, so maybe it was just a fluke, but I felt it was worth mentioning for anyone considering buying the product separately. Now, back to the things I did like about this product.

The blush came with an extra cushion sponge, which is awesome for keeping things sanitary.

When you start to squeeze the package, this is what the blush looks like as it saturates the cushion.

This is what it looks like before it’s blended. It smells amazing, just like a bouquet of fresh roses. The texture is smooth, you can immediately feel the oils in it, but it doesn’t feel greasy at all.

Blended out, it’s a sheer peach that reminds me of watercolor, which I absolutely love. I like to apply it with the cushion, then blend it out with my fingers. I didn’t notice it eating through my foundation like some liquid/cream blushes do, nor did it settle into my pores. The finish was very skin-like, not overly dewy or matte, more of a satin finish. I this will be great in the summer months when I’m wanting more of a minimal look.

Final Thoughts:

The total value of this month’s box was ~$48.96 (not including shipping costs associated with buying each item separately), which is very nearly double the price of the box, and the highest box value so far (February’s box was ~$37). I loved everything in this month’s box. It was a great array of products, and they were all products I’ll get a lot of use out of. Additionally, they all are well-suited to my skin type. In my opinion, this box keeps getting better and better. Many of the products I’ve received in these boxes have made it into my regular rotation, and several of the products I’ve received were products that were already on my wish list or products that I was unfamiliar with/wouldn’t have thought to purchase for myself, but ended up loving. I can’t wait for May’s box!

I would recommend this box to someone looking to try new products and expand their collection, or someone who wants to try Asian beauty products and doesn’t know where to start or what they should be using for their skin type. The info card that’s included every month is very helpful, so I feel like this box is very beginner friendly. They also include a full list of ingredients every month, which can be found here on their website. Reviews of all of the previous months’ boxes, as well as additional information about the service can be found here. If you’d like to subscribe to Jini Beauty Box, you can do so here. Additionally, Jini Beauty can be found on Instagram (they post spoilers for each month’s boxes!) and Twitter. I can also be found on Instagram and Twitter, come hang out with me!

on
April 29, 2016

[Review] Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick

I tried the cult-favorite Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, and all I got was a face full of zits.

Yes, this cleanser made my skin throw a wee bit of a tantrum. However, before we get into the rest of the review, I just wanna remind you that everyone has different sensitivities, and the products that break me out, might not break you out. Obviously loads of people have had great experiences with this product or it wouldn’t be a cult favorite.  This was just my experience. I think it’s important to mention the good and the bad, so that you have all of the information you need to make the decision that’s right for you. Alright, on with the review!

Disclosure: This product was purchased by me with my own money.  All views expressed are my own authentic opinions. This post does not contain any affiliate links.

First, a bit about my skin. I’ve got oily-dehydrated, acne-prone, reactive skin. I do suffer from product-related breakouts, but haven’t been able to pinpoint any of my personal acne triggers yet. 
The Su:m 37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick is a twist-up, soft, creamy solid stick cleanser manufactured by LG and originating from Korea. The Su:m 37 brand is centered around natural and fermented ingredients. This cleanser is unique because of the rose petals in the top layers of the product and the fermented damask rose extract. 

There were a few key factors that drew me to this product beyond the major hype it gets in the AB community. First, convenience. This cleansing stick is super convenient for travel, and completely goof-proof, drunk-proof (verified personally for, uh, science? Yeah, no. We both know I’m not getting away with that one), whatever proof. Whether you choose to apply the stick directly to your face or emulsify it in your hands first, it’s very easy to use, especially since it doesn’t require the use of a spatula or any other special tools. 

The second was the pH. It’s got a pH between 5 and 6 according to Kerry of Skin&Tonics, which is beneficial for preventing damage to the moisture barrier (acid mantle), and can also be helpful for reducing breakouts in acne prone skin, among other things which I won’t get into here. If you want to understand more about why pH is important in skincare, especially in cleansers, I highly recommend you check out Snow’s post on this subject over on Snow White and the Asian Pear.

The third factor was the rose petals. I was going through a bit of an “omg give me all of the rose scented products, I want to rub them all over me and smell like fresh roses forever and ever amen” phase when I purchased this. The Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick has real rose petals embedded into the top layer of the cleanser. They help to gently exfoliate the skin, but since they’re only in the top layer you’ll only see that benefit for the first few washes (the petals lasted about 10-15 washes for me). As you use the cleanser, the pieces of rose petal begin to fall out, which makes a bit of a mess in the sink. However, once you get past the petal pieces, it’s a totally mess-free cleanser. The actual scent of the product turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, however. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely does smell like roses and not in a powdery way which can be quite polarizing. It just doesn’t have that certain something that takes it from “oh yeah, this smells like roses” to “can I implant this scent in my nose???” In terms that might actually be helpful to someone that hasn’t smelled this product in-person, it’s more of a creamy rose scent than a fresh, zingy rose scent. I personally prefer the latter, so I didn’t love the scent as much as I expected to, but personal preferences may cause you to feel differently about it.

It’s a low pH cleanser in a convenient form that offers a bit of lighthearted, indulgent skincaretainment, and does so in an elegant, approachable way. What’s not to love? Well, if you have sensitive or acne prone skin, the ingredient list may pose a bit of a problem.

Ingredients: Glycerol, Water, Orange Peel Oil, Lime Peel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Green Tea Seed Oil, Coconut Oil, Basil Oil, Ylang Ylang Flower Oil, Majoram Oil, Fermented Damask Rose Extract, Apricot Seed Oil, Olive OIl, Sunflower Oil, Betaine, Stearic Acid, Lauric Acid, Camellia Oil, Tocopheral, Rose Flower Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Lauryl Betaine

There are a couple of known acne triggers in this product, chiefly coconut oil and lauric acid. Lauric acid is an ingredient which is typically thought to be helpful for acne sufferers because it reduces the amount of P. acnes bacteria on the skin and the inflammation that is causes. Lauric acid is also part of the chemical composition of coconut oil (used here as a cleansing agent), which is why you may have heard that coconut oil is good for acne. However, both coconut oil and the derivative, lauric acid, are potentially comedogenic, meaning that they can clog your pores and cause breakouts. Since there are properties of these ingredients which make them potentially helpful and/or harmful for acne sufferers, unfortunately the only way to test whether you personally have a sensitivity to these ingredients is to use products that contain them and see if you have a reaction. If you’re unsure whether or not you have sensitivities to the these ingredients, I highly encourage you to patch test. I, uh, patch test with my whole face (whut? it’s a patch of skin… kinda.), so if you’re very concerned about breakouts, do as I say and not as I do.

For many people, the Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick will work wonders because of the pH and the gentle cleansing ingredients, but for others like me, you may find yourself with a fresh bouquet of zits decorating your face. Loads of other people I love and trust have had great experiences with this cleanser, so I’m obviously the exception.

I knew almost immediately that this cleanser was breaking me out, but just to be sure, I continued to test it on one side of my face, while using a cleanser by First Aid Beauty that I had used previously and knew wouldn’t cause any breakouts on the other side. The side I used the First Aid Beauty cleanser on began to heal up, while the side I used the Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick on continued to break out until I quit using it completely a week later. In total, my test period was 2-3 weeks and I didn’t introduce any other new products during the test phase.

It was also a bit drying for my skin, but that’s a problem I have with the majority of cleansers. This cleanser is sudsy (think typical hand soap) rather than foamy, so if you like large piles of foam, this probably isn’t for you.

Despite the breakout it caused, I do think this is a nice product. If I hadn’t had a reaction to it, I would still be using it, but unfortunately I seem to have bought myself an expensive shaving soap. For the record, it totally does work well for shaving so if it didn’t work out for you and you were unable to return it, at least there’s an alternative. I bought mine on Amazon Prime (so I’m certain it’s authentic due to Prime’s rigorous verification standards) for $24, but it retails anywhere from $21-37 depending on where you purchase it from.

The breakdown:

You’ll probably like this cleanser if:

  • you like creamy rose scents
  • you’re looking for a travel-friendly cleanser
  • you want a low pH cleanser
  • you don’t have a sensitivity to any of the ingredients
  • you’re especially interested in luxury Korean skincare and don’t mind a bit of a splurge
  • you have normal to oily skin (this would probably be too drying for dry skin)
Approach with caution if:
  • you like some rose scents but not all
  • you have acne prone/sensitive skin
  • you’re riding in on the hype train shouting “Choo, Choo!!” While this is a nice cleanser, you don’t absolutely need it. Weigh your options and consider whether or not you truly think this cleanser will work well for you before shelling out the $21+.
Avoid completely if:
  • you hate rose scents (Duh.)
  • the price tag makes your eyes bulge (also duh. While I do like this cleanser, if it’s not an absolute must-have for you, I’d say don’t spluge on it. There are loads of other low pH cleansers that cost way less.)
  • you only like cleansers that create mountains of foam without a foaming net
  • you’re sensitive to or allergic to any of the ingredients
  • you have dry skin

I hope this review was helpful to you. If you’d like, you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter.

on
February 10, 2016

MaskBox: Sheet Mask Subscription Box Review February 2016

Today I’ve got a brand new subscription box to share with you!

Maskbox is a monthly sheet mask subscription box. Each month you will receive between 2-6 masks, depending on the plan you choose. Plans start at $10. I’ll discuss the subscription options in more detail down below. Maskbox is based in Los Angeles and ships between the 5th and the 8th every month. The plan that I chose for my first month is the Combo Box, which contains 3 masks and retails for $10/month.

Disclosure: I purchased this product with my own money. All views expressed are my own, authentic opinions and experiences with the product. This post does not contain any affiliate links.


My MaskBox arrived in a sturdy cardboard envelope, with this cardboard pouch inside. It folds out to reveal the contents.

Bonus points for spelling my name correctly!

It contained a small note card, a sheet explaining how to use a sheet mask, and three masks.

February 2016 Combo MaskBox

 The Combo MaskBox is essentially a variety pack. The other box options are aimed at specific needs, such as anti-aging, or concepts, such as the Luxury MaskBox. Since I like to use a little bit of everything, I thought the Combo box would be the best fit for me.

These are the two Valsarea masks, Pearl on the left, and Royal Jelly on the right.
The first two masks are from the same brand, Valsarea, which I had never heard of before. I really appreciate that they’ve put in some masks that are more difficult to get in the U.S since many subscriptions tend to repeat the same brands and products. They’ve also translated the ingredients into English, which is really important for anyone who has any sensitivities or allergies. 
The downside to these being less well-known masks is that it’s difficult to track down any additional info on them, such as their price. I wasn’t able to find an active listing for either of these Valsarea masks anywhere, so I have absolutely no idea what their retail value is. What I can tell you is that they’re manufactured by Samsung and are sometimes also listed under the brand “FD Agency.” Valsarea has a physical store located in Tokyo. That’s where the info ends, unfortunately. I’ve tried numerous search terms, as well as the Korean and Japanese Google sites, but turned up very little. 
As for my personal experiences with these two masks, my feelings are a bit mixed. 

Valsarea Pure Essence Royal Jelly Sheet Mask

Price: edit 3/13/16— MaskBox is now selling a 10 pack of these for $30 on their website, so approximate value is $3. Still no idea what they sell for in Japan or any other Asian countries that have access to the Valsarea brand.

Experience:

When I took it out of the package, it was soaked with clear essence, and there was about 1.5 teaspoons remaining in the packet. The mask was made from a slightly stiff cotton, but not so stiff that it was uncomfortable. It didn’t adhere well to my chin, but was fine everywhere else, aided by the small slits that made it adjustable. At first, the smell was sharp, almost a bit vinegary, which I think was the royal jelly. It quickly became a sweeter, softer smell after I applied it to my face. It was light, but noticeable for the duration of use. I kept the mask on for about 30 minutes, at which point it had started to dry out. The remaining serum was non-sticky and absorbed quickly. Afterwards, my skin felt hydrated and soft.
Didn’t adhere well to the chin and was a bit big above the lip, but that’s a common problem for me since I have so little space between my nose and my upper lip.

Thoughts:

I liked it, but I don’t see myself repurchasing (assuming that I could actually find it anywhere). It was effective for hydrating the skin, and I really enjoyed the scent, but the fit wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t a bad mask, I just have others that I like a lot better. I don’t actually know what the purpose of the mask is since it’s not anywhere on the packet and there’s no info card included, but judging by the ingredients, I’d say it’s meant to be anti-inflammatory. I didn’t really notice any anti-inflammatory effects, just softer skin.
Totally ripped into this before taking a picture. Oops. Sorry.

Valsarea Pure Essence Pearl Sheet Mask

Price: edit 3/13/16— MaskBox is now selling a 10 pack of these for $30 on their website, so approximate value is $3. Still no idea what they sell for in Japan or any other Asian countries that have access to the Valsarea brand.

Experience: 

My experience with this mask was very similar to the Valsarea Royal Jelly mask. It was soaked with clear essence, with about 1.5 to 2 teaspoons remaining in the packet. It was made from the same stiff cotton, but this mask didn’t have any scent. I wore this one for about 25-30 minutes before it started drying out. When I removed the mask, my skin felt a bit slippery, almost greasy to the touch. Not so much that I felt like something was sitting on my skin or that my skin felt dirty, it just had a bit more of an oily feel. I’d compare it to the slight bit of oil that’s left behind from an oil cleanser if you don’t remove it properly. My pores appeared to be a bit less noticeable, but that was the only effect that I noticed from this mask.

Thoughts:

I didn’t really enjoy this one. I preferred the texture and scent of the Royal Jelly mask, plus I felt like it did more for my skin. I had the same problem with this mask: no idea what it’s supposed to do. Pearl is often used in brightening masks, so that’s my best guess.

Nature Republic Real Nature Shea Butter Sheet Mask

Price: $1.60-1.99 (not including shipping)

Experience:

This mask was a thin cotton, soaked in a milky essence. There was very little essence left in the package, maybe a dime-sized amount. It had a light scent that reminded me of baby powder. I’m not a fan of powdery scents, but surprisingly this didn’t bother me while I was wearing the mask. The fit was good, it conformed to my face nicely and didn’t have any major gaps, though it did stick up a little where it met my hairline. I wore this one for 35 minutes, but easily could have worn it for another 10-15. My face was cold from the heater coming on (blows cold air first, stupid electric heat) and I wanted to go to sleep. The essence was very hydrating, which allowed me to skip moisturizer that night. It did leave a little bit of a sticky feeling, like lotion before it’s dry, but I could only feel it when I touched my face. It didn’t end up being a problem, and trust me, if it had, I’d have woken up with cat hair stuck to my face. Luckily, I didn’t.

A bit too big for my face, but a good fit overall.

Thoughts:

This was my favorite of the three, and I would definitely repurchase this. I actually haven’t tried any of the Nature Republic Real Nature masks before, but after using this one, I plan to try the full line. The fit was very comfortable and it did a great job of hydrating my skin. This one did include a description in English on the packet: “shea butter nourishes the skin with a luminous glow,” which I definitely agree with.

Subscription Options:

$10/month. 3 masks per box. Choose from Hydration, Brightening, Anti-Aging, or Combo. 
$20/month. 6 masks per box. Choose from Hydration, Brightening, Anti-Aging, or Combo. 
$20/month. 2 masks per box. Luxury Box. This box features multi-step masks and hydro-gels. 
$40/month. 4 masks per box. Luxury Box. This box features multi-step masks and hydro-gels.
There is also an option to purchase a specially curated box as a one-time purchase, no subscription necessary. The current offering is the Girls Night In box for $40. Contains 12 masks. 
If you’d like to, you can subscribe here. You can also find MaskBox on Instagram and Twitter.

Final Thoughts:

I really like that they included masks I haven’t seen before, which I think gives them a possible advantage over other sheet mask subscription boxes. I’m curious to see if they’ll continue to send masks that are lesser known, I really hope so! Although the masks weren’t the highest quality, they were something I hadn’t seen before. I appreciate that they included a translation of the ingredients, but in the future I would really like to see some sort of info card included that explained what each mask was for and the retail price. I have no idea what the Valsarea masks cost, so I don’t know how much the total value of the box is**edit 3/13/16 total estimated value of the box is between $7.60-7.99, so for the value, no I would not recommend this subscription** Shipping was super quick since they’re based in Los Angeles. 
Overall, I think MaskBox is off to an ok start, but like any new company, there are a few kinks to work out. I have some mixed feelings, but I want to see how the future mask selections develop. Congrats on the launch Tammy and Bryan!