15 October 2016

Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Mask - Rice

Price: $1.20
Claims: Moisturizing, brightening. Moisture level increases by 125% after use.
Key Ingredients: Grapefruit Extract, Rice Extract, Aloe, Sodium Hyaluronate, Green Tea
Best for: All skin types

What I liked: It was definitely moisturizing and soothing to my skin. The essence wasn't too thick and the fragrance was not too strong. I liked that it contains green tea because I think that's an ingredient my skin really likes. It's nothing special, but I definitely would not kick out of bed (or my mask drawer).

What I didn't like: Innisfree claim that it's brightening, but I didn't see anything in the ingredients list that was particularly for brightening the skin.

14 October 2016

The Face Shop Real Nature Mask - Avocado

Price: $1.99
Claims: Improve skin's suppleness and elasticity
Key Ingredients: Avocado Extract, Alcohol Denat, Sodium Hyaluronate
Best for: Dry or Very Dry Skin

This review will be short because this mask was utter sh*t.

What I liked: The essence was very rich and creamy and the light fragrance was not bothersome.

What I didn't like: Even though Face Shop claims that this mask hydrates your skin, I actually had a different experience. My skin was really tight and dry after using the mask. It was really strange since I've never had that reaction, not even to masks that are targeted for acneic/oily skin. I thought it was odd that alcohol was listed as the 5th ingredient on the list since this mask is supposed to be for "hydration." I'm not a huge opponent to alcohol (the "bad" kind). I think as long as it's incorporated in small amounts, it's okay. However, I don't think it belongs in this particular mask. I definitely would not purchase again and will stick to It's Skin Avocado Sheet Mask.

23 September 2016

NOTD feat. Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Nail Enamel

Price: $5.59 (Target)

I haven't done a NOTD post in a while because I hardly ever paint my nails anymore. However, I loved these colors so much, I thought I'd share! In this photo, I am wearing the Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy nail polish in Jokers Wild and Lovestruck for the accent. I NEVER wear these colors because I'm all about that vamp life, but I wanted to do something a little different. I ended up really loving the blue polish and at the end wished I had switched the colors around, with Jokers Wild being the accent. My manicurist also used the Gel Envy Top Coat on me. I was impressed with both the polish and top coat. I experienced no chipping in the 7 days I had it on, which is pretty impressive for a regular nail polish. Although the name has the word "Gel" in it, it's not actually gel polish, at least not in texture. I removed the nail polish easily with regular nail polish remover. It definitely gives real gel polish a run for its money in terms of longevity. All in all, I'm impressed and willl most likely be purchasing Lovestruck for my own collection.

21 September 2016

My Skincare Routines

No, that's not a typo. I really did mean to type routine with an S! I understand that everyone's skincare regime is different, but a lot of the times people just post a general routine. We all know that our routines change; our day routines aren't the same, step for step, as our night routines and they definitely aren't the same when we want to give our skin a little bit more TLC.

That's why I decided that I'd share with you all my daytime & nighttime skincare routines, as well as my routine when I want to give myself a mini facial. It's inspired by the famous Korean 10 Step Routine as well as what I've learned at my current job at the spa. I'll also share my thoughts about each step, as well as some product recommendations.

Before I begin, I'd like to just point out that I have combo/oily skin, that's particularly oily in the t-zone during the summer months. I am also prone to acne, especially hormonal acne. Although I work in a spa, I am not a skincare expert, nor will I ever claim to be. I am  merely sharing my experiences and what's worked for me. These routines aren't completely set in stone, but I do feel like I've got it almost figured out. And what I mean by this is that I now understand why the steps are in the order that they are and because of this I don't think my future routines will steer too far from what I'm currently doing.

So maybe, just maybe, this is my final skincare routine post ever. Maybe. It will definitely be the most comprehensive, so I hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two. Or three!

Daytime Simple Routine
1. Gel/Foam/Milk Cleanser
2. Toner
3. Essence
4. Eye Cream/Serum
Optional: Sheet Mask, for days when I need a little bit more hydration/moisture in my skin or just when I want that smooth, luxurious feel. Makes your foundation sit real nicely on the skin!
5. Serum(s)
6. Moisturizer
7. Sunscreen

I know you might be going, "That's simple?!" It really is. On most days, I use 1 serum. I'll do two if I am having a little trouble with hormonal acne. Right now for example, I am using a hydrating serum to keep my skin nice and soft and an acne serum w/ Mandelic Acid to treat my jawline and chin. I have read though that you should apply serums with active ingredients BEFORE a sheet mask if you are going to use them, so that they are able to penetrate the skin better. I haven't tried this method, but it makes sense.

My nighttime routine is pretty much the same. I do the double cleanse and I obviously cut out the last part, which is applying sunscreen.

Nighttime Simple Routine
1. Cleansing Balm/Oil
2. Gel/Foam/Milk Cleanser
3. Toner
4. Essence
5. Eye Cream/Serum
Optional: Sheet mask or rinse off mask.
6. Serum(s)
7. Moisturizer

Is it crazy that although I work at a spa and am able to get services for free, I hardly ever book facials or massages for myself? So instead of booking an appointment, I try to take on the task myself. About twice a week, I give myself a mini facial, that includes exfoliating and a mask. This particular routine is inspired heavily by both the Korean 10 Step Routine and the facials I've been getting the last 5 years.

Mini Facial Routine (in lieu of a simple Nighttime Routine) 
1. Cleansing Balm/Oil
2. Gel/Foam/Milk Cleanser
Optional: High Frequency Wand* to target stubborn pimples and blemishes
3. Exfoliating Cleanser (used with a "flannel" or muslin cloth) or Exfoliating Peel Pads (I prefer this method)
4. Toner
5. Essence
6. Eye Cream/Serum
7. Sheet Mask/Rinse Off Mask
8. Serum(s)
9. Moisturizer

See, even with my Mini Facial, I don't reach the ten steps! And I don't mean to step (hehe) on the 10-Step Routine, but it's really not necessary, especially for everyday. Nevertheless, I do think each step has its place and is important.

I'm fairly new to this step and only started incorporating it into my routine in the last 3-4 months. My first exposure to it was the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, when I received it as a sample from Birchbox years ago. I wasn't as skincare savvy back then so I had no idea what it was even meant for and ended up chucking the cleanser. However, since I've started researching more about the Korean Beauty scene, I realized that it's an essential part of the routine. I think it's definitely a step that you shouldn't miss as it does help dissolve all the makeup off your face (even waterproof mascara!) as well as lift any other dirt and impurities (ew, I hate that I'm even using that buzzword) out of your pores. The first real cleansing balm I tried was the Botanic Farm Grain Ferment Cleansing Sherbet, which was included in a Memebox K-Beauty sample kit. I loved it instantly because it didn't make my skin feel dry after rinsing. By using a balm or oil first, in my opinion, it allows the foam cleanser to go even deeper since it doesn't have to work through all the gunk on the top layer of the skin. I've recently finished a tub of the Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm and I highly recommend it for those who are just starting out.

For me in particular, I like using gel cleansers with a pH that's a little more alkaline than acidic because I have oily skin. My favorite is the Pevonia Botanica Phyto-Gel Cleanser, which lathers up quite nicely, but isn't too drying. This step should be your final cleansing step (unless it's Exfoliation Night) so I'd suggest getting a cleanser that really gets all up in your business, your mama's business and your neighbor's business so you can be sure those pores are clean.

Ahh exfoliation, my absolute favorite step. I am what they call an "enthusiastic exfoliator" (which I totally just made up). Nothing makes me feel more productive and satisfied than a good exfoliation. I do both manual and chemical exfoliation, though I'm quite partial to the latter as my skin fares better with this method. Manual exfoliation tends to make me oilier at times, so it's not something I do often. I will only employ this particular method when I don't have my peel pads at hand (my favorite is the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel) or my Dermaquest Peptide Glyco Cleanser. It really is a step you cannot skip on mini facial nights. Since I started using chemical exfoliators, I've noticed that my skin feels much smoother, less irritated and the amount of the tiny closed comedones that like to hang out around my temples have decreased significantly (I still have some, though I'm chalking it up to other internal health issues).

When I first started getting into skincare, I thought toner was the final step in cleansing. It's supposed to be the product that really gets deep down into the pores to really clean them out. And I thought that your skin was supposed to feel really tight and dehydrated after using toner. However, as I've become more well-informed and educated in skincare, I've learned that toner really should be the step to prepare your skin for all the products you're going to put on. From personal experience, it's the step that I often say is "the step that brings my skin's pH level back to where it needs to be." I really do feel that that's its intended purpose (at least the newer toners), especially after cleansing and exfoliating, which can kind of mess with our skin's acid mantle. I am currently using the Missha Super Aqua Pore Correcting Toner (now reformulated as the Super Aqua Pore-Kling Toner)  and the Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin. I switch between the two depending on my skin issues. I definitely like to use the Innisfree toner after exfoliating as it's more nourishing as opposed to the Missha toner, which is more for when I want counter balance my oiliness.

To be completely honest, I'm not entirely sold on this essence business. I know that essences have a little bit more "umph" to them because they are more concentrated than serums. They also contain a lot more active ingredients and because it's a more watery consistency, your skin absorbs it much better. The one I'm currently using is the very popular Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Mist. What I can tell you about this particular product is that it's very hydrating and my skin feels very plump after it's been completely absorbed. Most essences contain fermented ingredients, mostly to help with plumping and brightening up your complexion. I've definitely felt that plumping effect, however, it hasn't done much in brightening up my skin or getting rid of any scarring.

If there's a step that a lot of people often neglect, I'd say this is one of them. I feel like this is a step that doesn't get enough attention on any front. I know we can't turn back the hands of time simply by applying eye cream or serum, but I think it's definitely important to help nourish that particular area of our face. The serum I'm currently using is the Wilma Schumann Eye Contour Revitalizing Serum.

I can almost guarantee this is everyone's favorite step. I always feel so relaxed when I have a mask on and I love that I can multi-task when it's on so I can get things done, especially in the mornings (like blow drying my hair or making my lunch!). Sheet masks are having their time right now and they are seriously popping up everywhere, even WalMart! I'm still quite partial to purchasing the ones at the Japanese stores I go to though. My favorite sheet masks are ones that contain green tea, honey, propolis, aloe and avocado. There's so many different companies that make them, it's hard to pick one favorite. I also use rinse off masks, which are great for days when you need extra help or your skin needs a little more hydration. My favorite rinse off mask is the Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Mask. I'm acne prone and this helps dry out my zits a lot!

This is the step when I really buckle down and target my skin's specific needs. You can either go crazy here or keep it simple like I do. On most days, I will use 1 serum and it's mostly a hydrating serum of some sort. On days that my skin needs a little more help, like when I'm breaking out, I'll add another serum or treatment. But really, I like to keep it simple and not overstimulate my skin. My favorite serums are the Dermaquest C Infusion Serum, Essential B5 Hydrating and the Dermaclear Serum. I also like the iS Clinical Super Serum because it really helps with getting rid of scars, but because it is so potent, I use it sparingly.

This final step is probably the most crucial. Moisturizer locks all the moisture in (and I'd like to believe it also locks in all the product you put on) and sunscreen helps limit skin damage. As someone who has oily skin, I love gel moisturizers. It really keeps the oil at bay, while keeping my skin really hydrated. I'm currently using the Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel. One of the best things about it is that it can double as a soothing mask. If my skin is particular fickle, I'll layer it on a little thicker than normal and leave it until it's completely absorbed then put sunscreen on top. Works like a charm every single time! Sunscreen, well that's a no-brainer. Put that shxt on or so help me!

*High Frequency Wand
I've put this on as an optional step because I don't think this is something that most people have. I'm fortunate enough that I have my own (thanks boss!). I use this to zap zits and help control my oil production. My recommendation is to get something similar to this, and making sure that it is ARGON gas (purple) that comes out if you are using it for acne. It also helps with skin tightening and boosting collagen production. If you are thinking of purchasing one for yourself, please read up on how to use it exactly. One important thing that I've learned is to never use it on skin where you've applied product containing alcohol. That's why I like to do this step just after cleansing and before exfoliating and toning.

Did you make it this far? Well if you did, bless your heart. Again, I just want to say that I am not a skincare expert and this post was just to share my experiences and thoughts on varying skincare routines and steps. My main goal with this blog is to reach out to my community of close friends and family and give them a little insight on things like skincare, makeup, etc. so treat this post as more of a stepping stone to the world of beauty! I hope that you have learned some things from reading this novel.

23 August 2016

Leaders Insolution Anti-Aging Treatment Mask

Price: $2.50
Claims: Combats signs of aging by minimizing wrinkles while firming skin that has lost elasticity.
Key Ingredients: Sodium Hyaluronate (hydrating), Adenosine (boosts collagen & elastin production)
Best for: Signs of Aging, Malnourished Skin, Tired Skin

What I liked: This mask kept my skin hydrated throughout the day and added much-needed moisture. There was no weird scent it and it was easy to use. There was lots of essence left in the packet after I used the mask and I was able to use it on my neck and also my arms. I didn't have any allergic reactions and it made a great base for my makeup as it made my skin very smooth and even textured.

What I didn't like: I didn't notice any lifting effects or change in firmness of my skin. I would not purchase again as their Aquaringer sheet mask leaves the same effect that the Anti-Aging mask does.