Skincare to Try 2018

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! I have been away from the blog for a long while because of some health issues, but I wanted to come back and really re-focus on self-care and self-improvement. So, here’s a post that is related to one of my favorite ways to take care of myself for me: taking care of my skin!

In 2017, I tackled some new-to-me Skincare Products to Try thanks to a thoughtful gift from Christine and, my personal weakness, value gift sets.

Before I launch into the embarrassing number of mini skincare products I now own thanks to these value gift sets, I never reviewed the products I tried last year. Quick reviews on each set of products (check the original blog post for the specific brands and products included):

  • The Tatcha Beauty Essentials Discovery set was really good for someone like me, who uses nicer skincare more sparingly than I ought to. The products felt great on my skin, although I don’t think I used them consistently/frequently enough to notice a difference attributable to them specifically. I used these products most when incorporated into the Fifty Shades of Snail pore minimizing routine, which requires a cleansing oil. (Definitely try this if you want to deep clean your face!) The powder cleanser is interesting (and, I believe, TSA-compliant, because it’s not a liquid) but more of a novelty to me. Still, this is a great introductory kit to the brand and really good if you like trying new products but not committing to them for the duration of however-long a full-length product lasts you.
  • The 2016 Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora set was really exciting to me but not only did I only end up liking products that I have substitutes for (the overnight water pack, the physical exfoliant) but I found some products just overwhelmingly mediocre? (Looking at the lip balm that sat there and didn’t do anything, the vitamin C serum that smells weird, and sorry but I never liked the smell of rosewater so that mist was doomed from the start). Also, I don’t know how to use the eyelash enhancer but if I’m using it right it’s not doing anything I think…
  • My 2016 Sephora birthday gift was okay… but I don’t understand the hype around these fresh products. The soy cleanser is a holy grail around the internet but it dried my skin but didn’t seem to really clean it very well, while the mask just sat goopy on my face until I washed it off to no real positive effect?
  • My darling Christine sent over some great Korean beauty items that I am still working through because, again, I am notoriously slow with using up my skincare items. But I do like the Skinfood mask/scrub as a replacement to my ol’ Freeman black sugar mask/scrub and have started incorporating that Missha essence in a modified 3-to-7 skin method to combat winter dryness. I’m not sure how well that’s working out… BUT the ampoule feels so lovely on my face and, while I never use it without the essence, I think that’s really kicking up my skincare efficacy.

Hmmm… maybe I should’ve made the reviews of last year’s skincare products its own post? If you want more in-depth reviews of the stuff I mentioned above, I can do that later, but let me introduce the products that I need to start using before I let myself try anything new.

So, I do have a bad habit of buying little gift sets of skincare for myself because they are a great value for a person like me, who uses products sparingly, infrequently, and inconsistently. (I have a bottle of face wash that I have been using for literally 6-7 years? It foams up a lot so I don’t need a lot per wash…  that being said I definitely use it way less than daily.) As a result, I am not allowing myself to buy anything else until I have tried everything I introduce in this post and use up at least… 1/3? 1/2 of the products? (That I like. Of course, if I hate most of the products, I hope I won’t force myself to use them up.)

Shout-out to the Pike & Rose Sephora for the sweet, sweet friends & family event they held where I walked away with not one, not two, but four different skincare gift sets.

My Sephora ~ H A U L ~ #notspon

I’ve always gravitated towards the curated Sephora Favorites sets. Even the sets that I am not as interested in, like the makeup and fragrance ones, seem like great values and a good variety of products to try. In fact, one of my first purchases at Sephora was their Sephora Favorites Superstars gift set, which comprises their bestsellers from every year. (I haven’t repurchased this in the years since because a lot of products reappear from year to year and I use my products so sloooowly.) However, this year, not only did I walk around holding these 3 Sephora Favorites boxes, I also impulsively grabbed an Origins set, maybe because I had spent a lot of time at a local Origins store event right before this shopping one. (Sorry for not buying from the Origins store, kindly Origins staff. In my defense, you were not carrying this specific gift set.)

Anyway, let’s meet each set!!

Origins gift set

This Origins set includes:

  • Modern Friction dermabrasion exfoliant
  • Ginzing scrub cleanser
  • Ginzing eye cream
  • Ginzing gel moisturizer
  • High-Potency Night-a-Mins renewal cream
  • Clear Improvement charcoal mask – single use pack x2
  • Drink Up Intensive overnight mask – single use pack x2

I’m excited for this because I had a good experience trying out the Modern Friction in the store and have heard great things about Night-a-Mins. I had a not-so-great experience with the Ginzing eye cream several years ago but 2018 is about me giving brands new chances so… here we are.

Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora

This past year’s Sephora Favorites: Scouted by Sephora set is curated every year to feature popular indie brands (like the internet favorite, Drunk Elephant) and includes:

  • Biossance squalane + vitamin C rose oil
  • Herbivore Blue Tansy resurfacing clarity mask
  • Cane + Austin Miracle Pad+ (back again from last year!)
  • Farmacy Honey Potion mask
  • Lancer The Method: Nourish moisturizer
  • Youth to the People kale + green tea spinach vitamins cleanser
  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial peel
  • Drunk Elephant virgin marula facial oil
  • Tata Harper repairative moisturizer
  • Sol Janeiro Brazilian bum bum cream
  • Rich Kid coconut oil gel
  • Skin Laundry foaming face wash

Sephora Favorites: Soko to Tokyo

There was an earlier iteration of the Sephora Favorites: Soko to Tokyo gift set, because I remember considering it heavily before Sephora started distributing Laneige. (I was wondering why Target stopped carrying them…) Anyway here’s what the box contains:

  • belif Aqua Bomb moisturizer
  • boscia sake cleansing water
  • Laneige water sleeping mask
  • Shiseido Benefiance eye cream
  • AmorePacific Moisture Bound essence
  • SK-II essence
  • Laneige Water Bank moisturizer
  • Tatcha Polished cleansing powder (as seen in my Tatcha Essentials kit from last time!)
  • Too Cool for School egg cream mask
  • Cicapair tiger grass cream

I love me my Asian beauty so I’m really excited to dig into this kit, even though I have used several of the products already. (That SK-II essence doe!)

And last but not least…

Sephora Favorites: Skin Wonderland

The Sephora Favorites: Skin Wonderland is a set of best sellers for those treat-yo-skin days and consists of:

  • Foreo LUNA play
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta peel
  • IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup cleansing balm
  • Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
  • AmorePacific Essential Creme Fluid moisturizer
  • Drunk Elephant Lala Retro whipped cream moisturizer
  • First Aid Beauty coconut priming moisturizer
  • fresh umbrian clay mask
  • boscia white charcoal treatment primer
  • Sunday Riley C.E.O moisturizer
  • Kate Somerville ExfoliKate exfoliant
  • tarte maracuja eye cream
  • Josie Maran whipped argan oil

I’m super excited to start making my way through these little bottles and tubs of products! In the meantime, don’t anyone let me buy anything new, okay?

Also, Christine got me more great KBeauty products to try out this year!

Soko Glam gift from Christine

Christine sent me a thoughtful package from Soko Glam, the curated Korean beauty marketplace, and I am super excited to try out:

  • Missha The First Treatment essence mist (the mist version of the essence she gifted me last year!)
  • Neogen Bio-Peel+ gauze peel in wine
  • Missha Safe Block SPF 50+ facial sunscreen

I have been hoarding all of these brand-new products for a long time, so I’m working hard to make sure I do my routine a lot more regularly (versus once a week, on a good week), so that I can clear out my old products and start trying these new ones!

What were some of your favorite skincare products that you’d recommend?
Do you have any thoughts on any of the products I listed that I’m going to try? Love it? Hate it? Super meh on it?

Snack Pack Pudding: Apple Pie A La Mode

This is a bit of a random review, but I am writing it for 2 reasons:

  1. This pudding was one of my go-to foods during my post-wisdom teeth extraction recovery period.
  2. My dad bought it, and I saw the flavor and was extremely dubious. My first impression was quite wrong.

Disclaimers: I am not being paid to write this review, and food tastes REAL good when you’re having trouble getting anything down at all.

Snack Pack Pudding: Apple Pie A La Mode

Snack Pack makes puddings and jellies that you may have seen while grocery shopping. These are usually NOT in the refrigerated section, because some kind of magic keeps them okay without refrigeration. (It says so on the package.) (Not the part about magic.)

My dad brought home some jelly and pudding while I was incapacitated and unable to eat solid food last week. I saw banana creme pie and apple pie a la mode and raised my eyebrows as much as I could muster at him. These were some weird-sounding flavors for pudding. I am usually really suspicious of foods that are ambitious and try really hard to taste like non-traditional flavors. (Those yogurts that taste like desserts? Why can’t it taste like yogurt?)

He had me bring it along with me to school while I was on campus working. I had one for a light lunch since I was still just a bit queasy and…

… it was so good. Wow. The layers in the pudding actually do represent different flavors:

  • The top, cream-colored layer was meant to be the “[à] la mode” part, aka the ice cream-flavored part. It tasted like standard vanilla pudding and not like anything too crazy. I like vanilla pudding, so I was pleased.
  • The bottom, caramel-colored layer was meant to be the apple pie part, and it was tasty without being, again, too ambitious. It has a hint of cinnamon but isn’t overly apple-y or pie-y.

Did it actually taste like apple pie served with ice cream? No, of course not. And personally, I really didn’t want it to. There are certain expectations at play when you are tasting apple pie and the texture is pudding-y, and when you are eating pudding and it doesn’t taste like chocolate, vanilla, or other traditional pudding flavors.

I will definitely be eating this again. I have one more cup in my fridge (although remember, you don’t need to keep it in your fridge) and I am saving it for a rainy day.

Well, would you look at that. It’s raining outside.

The Face Shop Real Nature Mask: Aloe Vera

I had a day to myself today, and with some time to spare, I tried out this facial mask that one of my roommates gifted to me a little while back.

With even more time to spare, I decided to write up a little review.

Disclaimer #1: I am not being paid to review this product.
Disclaimer #2: I have good skin, thanks largely to good genes, so please take skincare reviews with a grain of salt.

The Face Shop Real Nature Mask: Aloe Vera

A soothing/hydrating mask sheet containing aloe extract, which hydrates and soothes the skin with a rich sense of moisturization, to provide instant care to puffy and sensitive skin.” – from the package

Pictured: The Face Shop Real Nature Mask in Aloe Vera, as depicted on The Face Shop’s website

The directions indicate that you should use this mask following up a cleanser + toner regimen. I didn’t follow these instructions to a T, but oh well!

The mask is a cloth mask that is saturated with the formula. It is scented, quite strongly so, and smelled a lot like the cucumber-melon fragrance you may find in other products. I struggled a little bit with getting it to be in the right place on my face, but eventually I got it. The problem with this was that I don’t think my entire face was in contact with the mask.

I left the mask on for 20 minutes and could feel a bit of a tingle as I waited. I took the mask off and it was still very much saturated with formula, so I’ve since shoved it back in its bag and will maybe rub more formula into my face at a later date because I am thrifty and also bad at throwing things away.

The formula is pretty sticky, even after patting it into the skin after removing the mask. It doesn’t absorb extremely readily, either, but my face does feel refreshed and seems to be very moisturized.

Ingredients note: This product is not alcohol-free, silicone-free, oil-free, or paraben-free.

Bottom line

This is a decent mask, but I don’t know how moisturizing it actually is (will see how my skin fares tomorrow) or how good it is on sensitive skin. The scent may also be a bit irritating for people. However, I enjoyed it and liked pampering myself for a bit while scaring my little brother.

Would I purchase this on my own? Probably not.