Innisfree Haul + First Impressions

I always spend the summer in China as I'm off school and my parents live here, and one of the best things about it is stumbling across stores of Asian skincare brands that aren't available in North America. Sure I can always pick things up online, but I'm a weird one about buying beauty products online. I like to be able to feel the texture of the product on the back of my hand, test the colours, and check the scent of the product. When I saw an Innisfree store on a street corner while I was in Shanghai, I immediately plunged in and ended up leaving with quite a few things.

The first thing I picked up is the Wine Jelly Mask Set, which promises to create a smooth jelly-like skin by gently clearing off dead skin cells and providing hydration to the skin. The set comes with 5 sheet masks. At first, I thought "jelly mask" referred to the actual sheet mask being one of those gelatin ones, but the actual mask is a very thick paper/cotton mask. As it is a wine mask, it was expected that the serum in the mask had a plum colour and smelled of red wine, but without the alcohol scent. I left the mask on for 15 minutes, and when I removed the mask, my face looked brighter. Red wine masks provide gentle exfoliation to the skin, so that helps to brighten. Polyphenols are also a great source of antioxidants, which are great in the summer to help repair sun damage. There was still a lot of serum left in the mask, so I wiped it all over my decollete and legs. The serum leaves a slightly sticky finish, so some may prefer to wash it off the face afterwards, but I just slapped on my face cream and called it a day.

I also picked up two of the Capsule Sleeping Packs, one in Green Tea & Cucumber and one in Rice. They are basically overnight masks in little tiny pots, and they were just so cute I couldn't resist! I've only tried the Green Tea & Cucumber one, which is meant for hydration. I used this on a night when I got home from a very delayed flight at 4am in the morning. Thinking that my skin was definitely going to suffer the next day, I slapped this on as the last step in my routine, went to sleep, and woke up the next morning with plump, bright skin. I was rather impressed, really. The Rice one is meant to smooth and soften the skin. Rice ingredients typically do have that effect on my skin, so I'm excited to try it out soon.

The last skincare item I picked up was the Eco Natural Suncare BB Powder. It's basically a powder SPF with SPF 50+/PA+++ that's very slightly tinted. I've been using this everyday since I got it, so that goes to show how much I'm enjoying it. I'm going to be featuring this product in an upcoming SPF post, so I won't talk about it too much now. Be sure to check back on the blog!

I also picked up two makeup products. The first is the Mineral Moisture Base, which is a primer. Mine comes in a bottle with a pump rather than the tube shown in the link though. I picked up the one in green to help counteract redness in the skin as my skin is easily irritated by the elements. The product has a very lightweight gel-cream texture that's easy to spread and dries to a sort of satin-matte finish. I don't really have a problem with base makeup sliding off my face throughout the day, so I can't really comment on whether this primer helps makeup last. For those with dehydrated skin that see their makeup becoming patchy throughout the day, I do think that the hydrating texture of this primer would help with that problem.

The other product I got is the Eco Flower Tint in 3 Rose. Although it's called a tint, this is a lip stain. I'm very low maintence with my makeup and I don't like to have to touch up throughout the day, so lip stains are a perfect option for me. The product can be applied sheerly or built up for more colour. When applied sheerly, it's a really pretty rose tint and I prefer to wear it this way. When layered up, it has more of an apple red colour, which is also very nice. The product has a very liquid texture that is not drying at all for the lips, and once the product has dried down I can't feel it on my lips at all. Oh, also, because it is so liquid, it's easy to get it in your mouth before the product dries down. I accidentally tasted it and, wow, let me just tell you, it was not pleasant. 

With all of these products, I reached the 560RMB (about $93) point perk and received a free glass water bottle and five sample size products. The water bottle is so pretty and has a compartment inside for tea leaves, so I think I'll be getting a lot of use out of it. The samples included the Green Tea Seed Serum and Cream. The serum is actually a pre-serum used as the first step after cleansing to help retain moisture and help subsequent products absorb, so I thought that was interesting. The cream is the kind of gel-cream texture that I really enjoy. I also received the Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner, and Green Persimmon Pore Essence. I'm not really that concerned with pores, so I might pass these on to a friend who would appreciate them better.

Overall, I think Innisfree is a fairly affordable brand that's great value for money. For me, it's a score across both skincare and makeup. 

Have you tried any Innisfree products?


A Love and a Shrug #3: SPF Edition

I am currently in China visiting my family and summer is in full swing around here. While I try to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid the scorching sun and ridiculously high temperatures, SPF is an essential in my everyday morning skincare routine. UVA rays can penetrate through windows and those are the UV rays that cause photo-aging in the skin, so it's important to wear a broad spectrum UVA+UVB sunscreen even when staying indoors.

My love this month is the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Water Base SPF 50 PA+++. I've seen Asian beauty bloggers rave about this SPF, so I was pleased to find it at my local Watsons. This SPF has such a unique texture, I don't think I've ever seen another one quite like it. It really does feel very watery, even more so than most moisturizers I own, kind of like a really lightweight gel-cream texture. On the skin, it spreads and absorbs so effortlessly. Apart from the active sun protection ingredients, it also contains hyaluronic acid and citris fruit extracts to hydrate the skin. I wouldn't usually say this for an SPF product, but those who can't be bothered with too many steps in a skincare routine could skip the morning moisturizer and go straight to this SPF. It's incredibly hydrating and doesn't give my skin that greasy feeling that SPF products often have.

Despite the love, I do have a few problems with this product. First, it is a chemical sunscreen, and I do normally prefer a physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreen blocks UV rays like a shield, while chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays before they reach the skin. I guess I just like the idea of a shield more, because it sounds like I'm getting more protection, and chemical sunscreens are also said to be more irritating for sensitive skin. Being a chemical sunscreen also means that you have to reapply throughout the day (physical sunscreens don't have be reapplied as much if you don't sweat too much, go to the beach, etc.). I have to say that I'm really bad with reapplying SPF, but because this SPF has such a lightweight texture, it doesn't feel like you're piling too much onto the skin throughout the day. The product has a subtle floral fragrance, which is nice, but I do like to avoid fragrance whenever possible as it is a skin irritant. However, I have been using this SPF for a while and it does not irritate my skin at all.

Another problem is the high alcohol content. Alcohol is the second ingredient right after water, which means that there's a high concentration of it in the product. Alcohol in skincare is known to irritate and dry out the skin, but I'm kind of torn on this ingredient. Many well-known Asian skincare brands use alcohol in their products (AmorePacific is one that comes to mind) to achieve that lightweight yet very hydrating texture that my skin loves. I don't fuss too much over the inclusion of alcohol in this product because it works so well for me, but my other sensitive skin readers may want to take caution.

The SPF that didn't make the cut this summer is the Dr. Sebagh Sun-City Protection SPF 30. I bought this a while back when Feelunique was clearing out their stock of Dr. Sebagh products, and let me just say that Dr. Sebagh is not a cheap brand even at 50% off, so I had high hopes for this product.  In contrast to the Biore SPF, this is a purely physical sunscreen, which I usually prefer. Like all physical sunscreens, it does leave a white cast upon application, but that disappears in a few minutes. The texture of this product though, I really just don't understand. It's incredibly thick, so you have to really rub it in. It doesn't mix well with water, so if your face is wet from your prior skincare steps, you will have a very hard time spreading this SPF out. On the skin, this product leaves a very weird finish. When I touch my face, it doesn't feel smooth, kind of more like a chalky, almost rubbery finish. Not a comfortable feeling at all. The product also just kind of sits on the skin throughout the whole day and can feel quite heavy. Overall, I just found this a real pain to use and can't be bothered with it.

At the end of the day, remember to take your SPF off like you would take makeup off to avoid clogged pores and breakouts.

What is your favourite SPF this summer?


My Beauty Wishlist #1

(Images taken from the web, of course.)

I'm delighted to see some new followers of the blog over on Bloglovin, so welcome to you all! When this post goes up, I'm going to be up in the skies on my way over to China. If I don't update for a short while, it'll be because I'm not nearly organized enough to schedule several posts ahead of time, but I will be back shortly. Now, on to the post.

Yes, I know that I already have way too much in my beauty stash as it is. But as the old saying goes, a girl can never have enough beauty products. I think I may have just made that up, but the way I think about it, I don't drink any alcohol, so compared to others my age, I'm just using all that drink money on beauty products. Fair trade, right?

As I've been getting into lighter bases recently, it's only expected that I would finally become intrigued by the much coveted Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation. It feels like every single beauty blogger has raved about this product at least once. I always thought this would not be nearly enough coverage for my skin, as I suffer from acne scars all over my cheeks. However, my beloved Stila CC Color Correcting Cream has recently converted me to the whole sheer base + full coverage concealer type deal. The Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua is supposedly like "second-skin", so I expect a very natural yet perfecting kind of deal with this product. However, it's $51 at Nordstrom, and I'm just not sure I'm ready to spend that much on a light coverage foundation yet.

And now, on to skincare. I've been lusting after the Algenist Algae Brightening Mask lately. This is a kaolin and bentonite clay mask that uses algae extracts to brighten the skin. I'm particularly fond of algae as a skincare ingredient, and I've always been intrigued by Algenist as a brand. The company discovered its signature ingredient alguronic acid when studying algae as a means to harness renewable fuel energy. Although there isn't any research on alguronic acid available on the web (the only research being done on it was done by Algenist and not made public), there is lots of research on algae ingredients, showing their capacity to provide antioxidants, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits to the skin. I've tried samples of other Algenist products before and they've all been very nice. I'm more drawn to brightening products than anything else due to acne scars on my face. Fading acne scars definitely takes time, as well as consistent exfoliation coupled with good serums. I don't expect a mask to work any miracles, but I still feel like this mask could be one of those special occasion good-skin-in-15-minutes type masks with its deep cleansing and brightening actions.

The last item is a long time favourite of one of my favourite beauty bloggers, Igisele. The Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum  is meant to be used as the first step after cleansing. This serum is packed full of herbal extracts. Igisele says that it helps to really balance and soothe the skin, as well as aid in the absorption of subsequent skincare products. It's also full of herbal extracts to pack some antioxidants into the skin. Balancing the skin would mean balancing out oil production or dry patches, as well as soothing any irritation or inflammation. I find that balancing the skin is key to keeping down breakouts and redness, so I'm interested to see what this serum can do. Unfortunately, it's quick hard to get a hold of. Not many websites sell it online, and my local Korean beauty store is always out of stock, because it's just so popular. Many one day, I will finally get my hands on it.

What is on your beauty wishlist?