Review: Innisfree Jeju Orchid vs Cauliflower Mushroom range

Today, I’m reviewing the Innisfree Jeju Orchid and Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom (aka Innisfree White Fungus) range.

Let me start by saying “cauliflower mushroom” and “white fungus” are both terrible names for a beauty product, even if that is the active ingredient. That’s the elephant in the room with this range.

I was lucky enough to get a set of miniatures of both the Jeju Orchid range and the Cauliflower Mushroom range. I’ve reviewed the comparable items here.

This article covers:

  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Skin (toner) vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin (toner)
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Essence vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Essence
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Lotion vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Lotion
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Cream vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Cream

I’m going to start with the toner.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Skin (toner) vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin (toner)

I decided the best way to test the toner was to put orchid skin on one side of my body and cauliflower mushroom skin on the other side of my body.

I have been using K-beauty for a while (about 3 years now) and although I used to follow a 10-step routine, I have largely developed my own K-beauty routine which works best for my skin. But I could never quite figure out where to place the toner, and where other people said to put it (after essence and serum) didn’t work for me at all.

For the record, I’m 34, my face skin is still looking under 30 but my arms and legs have been ageing faster since my late twenties due to spending a lot of time in the sun in foreign countries. It’s the price you pay for being a travel blogger. But I’d still like to improve things and I’d heard that skin/toner was the product to use.

See, some K-beauty skin/toner products are exfoliating, using AHA or BHA to reveal the fresh skin and clear away the dead cells on the surface.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to know what’s in Innisfree products imported from South Korea because, of course, the labels are in Korean. When I bought their products in China, the labels were in Chinese. Go figure. And the American products are so translated that half the time I can’t even tell if something is the same product or a reformulation for the US market.

So anyway, on the one hand we have a bottle of gloopy toner in pretty purple packaging that is orchid scented and on the other, we have a bottle of toner in brown packaging that is… you guessed it. Cauliflower mushroom scented.

That’s about as good as it sounds.

I wasn’t entirely sure whether these toners should be left on or washed off, and toner seems to be one of the steps in the K-beauty routine you hear the least about. Maybe because no one else is sure whether to wash off their toner or not, too. Or maybe because most people doing K-beauty are, like, seventeen (I’m sorry, but statistics show most beauty bloggers are on average fifteen years younger than me) and therefore have no need for anti-ageing products.

So I used the orchid toner on my left arm and leg, and the cauliflower mushroom toner on my right arm and leg, then I left them for about ten minutes. They went on slightly sticky, feeling a bit like shampoo, meaning they definitely have things in them that should be washed off again. Like western exfoliating face washes.

I stepped into the shower and washed off. I had applied them to dry skin because they were quite watery and I wasn’t convinced that they would do much on wet skin, and I’m far too impatient to make my body damp then stand around in the Belfast November cold waiting for gloop to work.

When I came out of the shower, the difference was profound. The orchid skin toner had given a very mild effect, but the crumpled paper sort of appearance of the surface of my skin still remained when I pinched it (when you get to a certain age, when you pinch or squeeze your skin all these lines appear that you don’t usually see), and it felt rough to the touch, like it needed moisture ASAP.

The cauliflower mushroom skin toner had done something completely different. It had left my skin feeling smooth to the touch, and when I pinched some of my leg skin between my fingers, the crumpled paper appearance had drastically reduced.

My skin felt renewed and looked and felt younger.

I was very impressed. And also shocked that I had never seen anyone writing about this product because it’s incredible! I don’t know if it’s because the name cauliflower mushroom doesn’t sound appealing in English or because the packaging is a lot browner than the orchid’s pretty purple packaging (which I’ve commented on before in my review of the orchid eye cream vs. the perfect 9 eye cream).

The Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin/Toner is the best exfoliating toner for anti-ageing needs I’ve ever come across.

I don’t say it often, but Holy Grail alert! And I’ve had it sitting in my cosmetics drawer for months and never used it!

I wish this toner was more accessible to the UK market.

I wasn’t planning on doing this, but given how good this toner is, I am going to compare it to the Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peeling Exfoliator in a separate article.

Wow. So let’s look at the other products:

Innisfree Jeju Orchid essence vs. Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom vital serum

Essence and serum are sometimes used interchangeably but actually, they can sometimes be different things, such as in the Innisfree Soybean Energy range, where there used to be a (now-discontinued) serum which was different to their mega-amazing bestselling Soybean Energy Essence (which I swear I will review one of these days). Usually, however, “serum” is the English translation of “essence” which is a shame because essence is a prettier word. In the case of these two products, the word is interchangeable.

An essence or serum is sort of like someone put all the active ingredients of a cream into a container without any of the moisturising or hydrating properties. Sort of.

I’ve been using the Innisfree Orchid Essence on my face for several months, now and if I’m entirely honest, I’m not very impressed with it. I spent ages researching which products to get to replace the Soybean Energy Serum which is now discontinued and was my favourite product ever. The research I did said Orchid was just as good.

It isn’t.

I’m sorry if you’re a fan of the Innisfree Orchid Essence and I know it’s one of their bestselling ranges alongside the green tea seed products, but honestly I don’t like the Orchid Essence and I don’t feel like it’s doing anything to my skin. All told, I’m glad I got it in an Autumn Festival sale rather than paying full price for it.

So the bar was pretty low and tl;dr, the Cauliflower Mushroom essence was a lot better. I’m not rushing out to buy a full-priced bottle because there are so many serums out there to choose from and I don’t think it’s the very best, but at the same time I felt like it was at least doing something for my skin. It left my face feeling soft and hydrated.

I didn’t use the essence on my arms and legs because the bottle is a miniature and it’s even smaller than all the other miniatures in this set, so there isn’t much product.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Lotion vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Lotion

After my shower, I did put the Orchid lotion on my left arm and leg, and the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion on my right arm and leg. The Orchid lotion was thinner and came out of the sample bottle very easily, whereas the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion led to me doing the Innisfree Miniature Bottle Dance, which is where I spend about ten minutes tapping the mouth of the open bottle against my hand until enough product comes out to actually use.

If you’ve ever had an Innisfree gift set, you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean. They don’t put anything in a squeezy bottle.

Anyway after many minutes I got the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion out of the bottle and applied it to my arm and leg. It was honestly worth the wait. The Cauliflower Mushroom lotion was instantly hydrating and made my skin feel smooth. The paper bag appearance when I pinch my skin was totally gone, and I credit the Cauliflower Mushroom skin/toner and lotion combo for this.

For a lotion, the effect was very impressive.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Cream vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Face Cream

This is the last pairing in this review and I am not sure I need to really write it, at this point, because if you’ve been following this article, you can clearly see what I’m going to say. Except I’m not.

I have been using the Orchid cream for a few weeks on my face. I hadn’t opened the Cauliflower Mushroom miniatures set until today.

The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is not as startlingly good as the Perfect 9 eye cream, which I think is my favourite Innisfree product right now. The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is richer than the Orchid face cream, though, and which one you prefer will depend on your current skin needs.

It was super clear-cut that the Cauliflower Mushroom Skin/Toner, lotion and serum was better than the Orchid range, but when it comes to the face creams, I’m not so sure that’s the case.

The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is a lot richer than I currently need, and my skin wasn’t able to absorb it very well, suggesting it’s aimed at ladies who are ten or fifteen years older than me. The Orchid face cream was largely ineffective. Both creams left my face feeling weighed down (if that even makes sense) and over-saturated, and neither addressed my anti-ageing needs especially well.

So when it comes to the face creams, I wouldn’t buy full sized versions of either of them. And I’m glad I didn’t (I almost bought a full size pot of the Orchid one).

Conclusion:

Need a toner? Cauliflower mushroom. Need a lotion? Cauliflower mushroom. Need an essence/serum? Cauliflower mushroom. The Cauliflower mushroom range does these products extremely well.

But if you need a daytime face cream, I would suggest you keep looking, because neither of these quite hit the mark for me.

Review: Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream vs Innisfree Orchid eye cream

So I’m going to review two similar products, today. The Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream and the Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream.

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you’ll know I am a HUGE fan of K-beauty brand Innisfree. I discovered them in China, where there are Innisfree stores in airports, train stations, malls and pretty much anywhere else you can think of! They have a huge presence across East Asia, and it’s because their products are great.

I bought both these products at the same time. I got a sample-sized pot of the Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream and a full-sized one of Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream. I was actually really struggling to find reviews of the Innisfree Perfect 9 range online, particularly comparisons to find out what is better out of Innisfree’s many different ranges.

Basically, Perfect 9 has nine different active ingredients aimed to improve common problems in more mature skin, where the Orchid range is aimed more at women in their late twenties/early thirties, and the main ingredient in the orchid range is hyalauronic acid.

In K-beauty, it’s difficult to place Innisfree as high-street or high-end because by western standards, Innisfree is extremely high end (and is priced like that), but the true Asian high-end market is several orders of magnitude more high end and expensive than our western ranges (Nature Republic and Clé De Peau are proper high end luxury brands).

I’d say Innisfree is high end but not necessarily luxury beauty, a bit like how we would classify Benefit, Calvin Klein, or Urban Decay (compared to, say, Guerlain, Murad, Elemis or La Mer). It’s minimalist high end, if that makes sense.

Packaging:

Both creams come in identical packaging, it’s a plastic jar with a screw-top lid. It doesn’t look as fancy as the Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Essence Watery Cream but it’s also easier to store the Innisfree jars and to find space for them on my crowded dressing table (Americans, a dressing table is literally the table you sit at when you’re getting dressed. You put cosmetics on it and sometimes it has a mirror).

The Orchid packaging does appeal to me a little more because it’s purple, which is my favourite colour, whereas the Perfect 9 range is all brown, not my favourite. Perhaps this is intentional, because older women aren’t necessarily going to want bright colours on their dressing table? I don’t know. When I’m fifty, I think I’ll still like purple more than brown.

The full-sized jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream comes with a protective inner lid made of white plastic. The Orchid miniature jar doesn’t. This is usual for miniatures from Innisfree, I know, since I’ve had about 4 sets of miniatures at this point.

Scent

The scent of the Perfect 9 Eye Cream is what I’d consider a generic floral scent. The Orchid range obviously smells like guess what? Orchids, haha.

To my mind, neither scent is particularly strong or overwhelming but I have seen some reviews for the Orchid range by people complaining it’s overly-perfumed. I react badly to a lot of cheap western fragrances (I can’t use 80% of all deodorants because my nose and eyes start running and I feel like there’s a hairball at the back of my throat), and I’ve never actually come across a K-beauty product with a scent that caused me issues.

Consistency

Both creams are thick, you could turn both jars upside-down for several minutes and no product will fall out. The consistency is that of a very rich cream but somehow they still manage to not be overly-greasy. I wish western beauty companies would take notes from K-beauty because I cannot believe the amount of western “anti-ageing” creams that are useless because they’re oilier than putting butter on your face.

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is a little thicker than the Orchid Eye Cream, but there’s not much in it.

Appearance

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is a little darker in colour than the Orchid Eye Cream, but both creams are creamy coloured and opaque, meaning you can’t see through them.

For some reason, their appearance reassures me that they’re made of proper ingredients. My Innisfree Orchid Essence really throws me for a loop because it’s completely colourless which makes me wonder what’s effective about it (which is frankly silly because colour and opacity don’t determine how well a product works).

When you put them on your skin, they sit on the surface for a few minutes (especially if you have just used toner, essence etc) then disappear.

When to use it

I tend to use these at night time, around my eye area, and I pair them with the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender or the Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream.

Effectiveness

Okay, so up to now, the two creams are almost identical. You might be forgiven for wondering if Innisfree just puts the same stuff into different jars.

They don’t.

The Orchid Eye Cream is a gentle moisturising cream and when I use it, I don’t notice a vast improvement in the texture or elasticity of my skin. However, it definitely improves the moisture in my skin, which is usually prone to dryness.

I was surprised that a cream containing hyalauronic acid didn’t have any kind of noticeable plumping effect, even when I use it with all the other orchid products in the range.

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is literally the best eye cream I have ever used. Since using this cream, my skin has been transformed. I used to have deepening lines around my eyes which were especially noticeable when I smiled.

Since using the Perfect 9 Eye cream, those lines have faded significantly. I know this is a long-term effect because they stay faded on days when I use other products.

Verdict

My full-sized jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream is almost empty, and my trial size jar of Orchid Eye Cream is almost full. This is because I keep reaching for the Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream over and over again, its results are fantastic and I’m really happy with this eye cream. I hope they keep making it for years to come.

There’s nothing wrong with the Orchid Eye Cream, per se, it’s just not got the incredible transformative power of the Perfect 9 Eye Cream which I think is the best thing you can put around your eye area once ageing starts to take hold. I can see this being effective for older women, not just women my age (34).

Overall, when that jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream runs out, I’m going to order more of it. Given that there will be a 6 week delay before it arrives from South Korea, I’m going to have to use up the Orchid Eye Cream in the meantime.

I do also have the Innisfree White Mushroom range in miniature, so I’ll review those, too, in a separate post, and I will discuss how they compare to these.

Have you tried anything from the Innisfree Perfect 9 range, yet? I’d love to hear about their other products. Let me know in the comments!

Review: Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream High End Luxury K-beauty

In this article I’m going to review the high-end K-beauty product Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream.

It costs about £75 or $100USD from Nature Republic’s official website. For that, you get a full-size jar and this contains 50ml (just under 2oz) of product.

Packaging and first impressions:

It comes in a green cardboard box with a sleeve giving you product details (and stopping the cardboard box opening). Inside the cardboard box is a crystal-style big square jar which is colored green in a gradient from clear to dark green.

Everything about this product screams pure luxury. I heard about it from a friend who asked me to bring her a jar back from Seoul when I lived in China.

Here are some photos:

The white lid is a screw top and underneath, there’s a black protective second lid.

The cream itself has a jelly-like texture and consistency. It’s clear and colourless apart from the 24 karat gold pieces that are embedded in the cream.

It has a sort of perfumed scent, I think it would pair well with Chanel No. 5 because the scent is in the same style but different.

Active Ingredients:

Every active ingredient in this product is a powerhouse from nature. They’re all slightly a big deal in South Korea (slightly), and since we know for a fact K-beauty is all about the skincare, this product should be top of everyone’s list in the fight against ageing.

The active ingredients in this product are royal jelly, silk amino acids (known for their repairing properties for skin and hair), and extract of red ginseng.

Royal jelly is well-documented as an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. It contains antioxidants that work against free radical damage. Reference here.

Ginseng is a superfood that has been used as a supplement for decades in the west to help with middle-aged women’s problems. It stands to reason it’s going to bring its A-game to skincare products, and in K-beauty, it’s currently everywhere. Red ginseng contains vitamins B1, B2 and B12, and it helps increase oxygenation and circulation to skin cells. Reference here.

The 24 karat gold is supposed to improve your complexion. Reference here.

Gold is still the next big thing in skincare, especially Korean skincare, so whether or not it’s an effective ingredient, at least you’re getting some actual gold for your money. Gold is technically inert as it’s unreactive (chemistry, yo) but it can illuminate and brighten your complexion so there’s that.

Really, the gold is there to make it look pretty while the other ingredients do the hard work.

The ingredients also list zizyphus jujuba fruit extract, which is a well-known ingredient native to South Korea which they also make delicious jujube tea out of. It’s a superfood, darling, and it’s the Korean skincare equivalent of Japan’s matcha green tea extract except that’s an understatement because this stuff is packed with vitamins. Jujube is the nutritional lovechild of goji berries and matcha powder. Reference here.

Another powerful ingredient, much higher up the list, is Cāng Zhú, aka Attractolydes Root Extract, which has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is harvested in Springtime and it has antimicrobial properties. It increases your chances of sunburn (like retinol creams do), but conversely, attractolydes has also been shown to have anti-cancer cytotoxic properties, so wear sunscreen with this one! Reference here.

How good is it?

It depends on what your skin is like, your age, and how you use it. I am 34 with some minor first signs of ageing like fine lines which I can still disappear with the right creams, masks and exfoliations (just about).

When I first opened my jar of Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream, I mistakenly used it as a day cream and as a result I didn’t like it. Bad, bad plan. It’s FAR too gloopy for that. Instead, use it in place of a sleeping mask/night cream, or in the evening if you’re staying in. Don’t try using this cream with makeup, the results will be damp and sticky.

In fact, the texture is damp and sticky anyway, which is why I think this is much better as a night cream or sleeping mask. Keeping this on for 8 hours uninterrupted is going to do your skin a lot of good. When it touches your face, it literally feels packed with goodness. It’s like making your face take a bath in a 24-karat superfood smoothie.

I tend to use this Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream in the evening after the sun has gone down, and over winter, when my skin needs more nourishment due to the weather and more time spent indoors with the heating on.

For best results, pair this with the Ginseng Royal Silk Essence.

Over several months, I’ve found that my skin has become brighter and holds moisture much better than before I was using this product. I’m liking it better than the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream although that’s a thin day cream and this is a very thick night cream so the two could work extremely well together. I’ve reviewed the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream separately.

I don’t think this cream is targeted at people in their twenties at all. You won’t find any benefit from it. If you’re in your mid-thirties onwards, this cream really comes into its own. Unfortunately, the vast majority of beauty reviewers in the world are in their teens and twenties which obviously makes it difficult for them to review anti-ageing creams.

The reason I took so long to review this cream is on the first use it didn’t seem like it had made any difference. The reason it’s hard to assess on one or even a few uses is because it doesn’t have those skin-plumping ingredients found in many western creams that are actually just a quick fix and really useless for long-term anti-ageing.

This cream is so powerful, that after using it every night for 3 weeks, I started only using it twice a week and alternating it with Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender, because I don’t need to use this cream every day, yet, so now I’m just using it for maintenance. This means if you’re under forty, one jar will last you FOREVER. Well, a long time, anyway.

The Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream is a long-term fix for your skin. It’s skincare rather than skin-fakery. And that’s what makes it worth buying.

Travel Packing:

The packaging of this cream is a little over the top. I weighed it on some scales, the jar by itself was over 500 grams (over 1lb)! It doubles up as a great paperweight. However, this is definitely not a jar of cream that you would want to take on vacation or any business trip, especially if you like to only take a carry-on.

If you regularly take excess baggage on flights and don’t mind dealing with really heavy suitcases (I absolutely detest lifting heavy bags), you could probably take the whole jar, but I’m not a fan of carrying things when I’m on vacation and I find that even executive-level rooms at the Marriott or Hilton are not big enough for more than a couple of suitcases, which is two people’s normal luggage, so this cream is good for travel only if you are booking a whole suite or apartment.

If you’re travelling and need a K-beauty fix, I recommend you take Laneige Water Sleeping Mask in a little travel pot, instead, or decant Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream into a travel container. Since this product increases your sun sensitivity, I’d suggest the Laneige product if you’re travelling to a very sunny destination like the Seychelles, Maldives or Malaysia. Likewise, if you’re under 30, Laneige Water Sleeping Mask should be your go-to night cream/sleeping mask.

Where to buy:

You can buy direct from Nature Republic’s UK website www.naturerepublicuk.com or in the US you can get it on Amazon in this incredible offer of the Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream, Ginseng Royal Silk Essence and FIVE miniatures for $130, saving about $60 on the RRPs of getting all this separately. In South Korea, just pop into any Nature Republic store where the assistants will be delighted to advise you.

The verdict:

An investment in your future skin.

Add-to-cart potential: High.

Review: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender

While I was in Seoul, I was able to get a bunch of very exciting K-beauty products, including the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. I bought the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask in two different scents: Original (the blue jar) and Lavender (purple jar). In this review I’ll look at both, and explain why I bought the lavender one again after I finished them.

The original one has a nice, light scent to it, and if you’re used to it, you might not want to change to the lavender one, but if you haven’t tried either (and if you don’t mind scented products, which I don’t) then the lavender one is worth checking out.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Masks in Lavender and Original do exactly the same job. You apply them last, after cleansing, toner and essence. Some people put a thick layer on so it can be absorbed as they sleep. I suspect these people sleep on their backs.

I sleep face down on my front and I can’t sleep at all without earplugs and an eye mask, so applying any product thickly is a non-starter, it just makes my pillow wet, then when I move in the night, the product transfers off my pillow into my ear and I wake up with a silky soft ear and a nice-smelling pillowcase that now needs a wash.

D’oh.

I apply this after my other products have absorbed, and I only use a thin layer, so one jar lasts me FOREVER. While it says it’s a sleeping pack, if I’m not going out of the house at all on any given day, I will put a thicker layer on my face during the day and cover it up with my silicone mask shield which I got in Japan, then I can leave it to bake for an hour or two and get extra goodness infused into my skin.

Don’t literally bake your cosmetics.

That would be weird. And probably not very tasty.

So anyway, I like the lavender scent best because lavender helps you sleep and it’s also very relaxing. It’s one of my favourite herbs and I have a lot of other lavender products so this compliments those.

I also like the colour purple a lot so serious props that the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender comes in a purple container. The actual cream itself is not purple, it’s a sort of white colour, the same as the original scented Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.

The jar has a screw top and the inside has lots of product. I really don’t like skincare brands that put a tiny amount of cosmetic into a gigantic jar to make you think you’ve bought a lot of something when you haven’t. It’s a nightmare to pack products like that.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender is one of my holy grail products partly because of how easy it is to pack. Laneige do travel-sized jars of original scented Water Sleeping Mask and I keep getting them free with other purchases, so what I did is used up the original Water Sleeping Mask in my travel jar and now I refill that with Lavender Water Sleeping Mask to take wherever I’m flying to.

I use the other empties of this product to decant other products such as my high-end skincare from Nature Republic whose products are fabulous but the packaging is really heavy and bulky and therefore generally abominable for frequent flyers! I’ll review some Nature Republic products in the near future.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask original and lavender both come with a thin plastic inner lid to protect the cream from leakage and from getting damaged if you accidentally don’t close the lid properly.

When I use this product, it feels really cooling and soothing to put on my face. My skin feels super hydrated the next day and I think the scent helps me sleep better, too.

The other thing I love about the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask is it’s not rich or greasy at all, which is super for people like me who paradoxically have very dry skin that doesn’t like heavy, oily creams at all (does anyone’s skin actually respond well to those thick greasy creams?).

It sort of has a gel-like consistency, but it’s not as jelly-feeling on my face as other products with this consistency. I find a lot of “gel cream” type products cling to my face like a cheap lipgloss and my hair then gets stuck to my face and my skin looks weird like I just fell into a plate of jelly.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask isn’t like that. It’s basically the ideal consistency of any product ever.

I’m now on my third jar of Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender because it’s perfect and I intend to keep buying it as long as it’s for sale!

Have you tried Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender yet? Let me know in the comments! It’s available here on Amazon. You can also find the original one on Amazon if you want a less scented option (I know that one is available cheaper from other sellers, but that listing is the official and genuine Laneige product.

Not sure how to use K-beauty products? Check out this article!

Tested: The Holy Grail concealer for blue undereye circles, dark circles and tattoos.

I’ve been working on my under-eye blue circles for a few years now. Every time I get on top of them with a great skincare routine to erase dark circles, I forget to keep going with my routine then they make a comeback. Thanks, ADHD.

So it’s no surprise, then, that I have tried a lot of concealers to cover up under-eye discoloration and concealers to get rid of dark circles. And I’ve written a lot of reviews of concealers that get rid of dark circles. Here are my previous favorites, in case you are wondering.

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A few weeks ago, I found a product that was so good, it actually covered up my tattoo in just two coats. The Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer. Staring at the empty space where my tattoo used to be, I was still skeptical. I’ve been hurt by concealers that cover everything but cake in my fine lines and age me about two decades in one fell swoop. So I tested it some more.

Let’s look at it in more detail.

The Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer comes in a silver tube the size of a mascara. It looks great in my handbag. And because it’s shiny, it’s easy to find, even in low lighting like when you’re trying to touch up your makeup in the car.

Not that you’ll need to do many touch ups with this one. Honestly, with the amount of actors having to do their own make up right now, this product will be flying off the shelves.

Onto the testing.

So I have this tattoo. It’s Hello Kitty. You might think it was a moment of drunk regret, but you’d be wrong. I got this tattoo when I was in Santa Barbara, California, and the only time I’ve ever wanted to get rid of it was when I was in Japan because you’re famously not allowed to use the hot baths if you have tattoos, even Hello Kitty tattoos, in case you’re a gang member.

At the time I used a different method to get it to vanish, which I’ll talk more about some other time. Today, I decided to see if this waterproof concealer would have worked.

First I painted over half of it with one coat of the Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer. As you can see, the heavy black lines have significantly faded away.

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Interestingly, it actually conceals better in brighter light, as you can see in this photo with the flash on:

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However, since I don’t live my life on a film set, I live in a world of natural light, it would still be obvious to anyone who looked at my wrist that there was a tattoo there. Only now it was a tattoo covered in makeup.

So I added a second coat. That changed things.

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Now that’s what I call coverage. That’s in the same light as the first photo.

But wait. We haven’t tested two coats with the camera flash, yet.

Oh. My. God.

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You would literally have to be 30cm away from my wrist to know there was a tattoo there in bright light.

Okay, great, it works to make the tattoo disappear. But how long does that last?

Before we answer that, you’ll notice I’m wearing a dress with white stripes, I can confirm there was no transfer of cosmetics onto dress. Literally none.

Okay, now let’s see how long it lasted.

Using the time signatures from my phone, you can see I finished the second coat of concealer at 3pm:

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At 9pm, after about 6 hand washes, and doing the dishes, it was only looking a little faded, so it will give good coverage for at least 6 hours:

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At 2am, it had faded a bit but was still giving phenomenal coverage:

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“Ah,” you say, “But you said at the start of this review that testing it on a tattoo isn’t the same as testing it on your face.”

And you’d be right.

So I put it on my ugly mug and took some pictures. On one side, I put the Clio Kill Cushion Foundation SPF 50 PA++++ on top of my concealer. I left the other side bare except for the Urban Decay concealer.

I put it on at about 5pm and it gave pretty good coverage immediately (first photo is my face with no make-up):

And this was after applying the Urban Decay. On the right hand side of each picture, I put foundation over the top to see how this product would work with other make up, because let’s face it, few people wear just a concealer alone.

The coverage was so strong, and yet even up close, my face didn’t look made up, and there was no caking, it just looked so natural! If you get a good shade match for your skin, you could actually wear this concealer by itself.

To be honest I was quite busy that day so I didn’t get to check in again until 3am, at which point I’d lost my phone so I had to use my husband’s phone and get him to send the photos in a Facebook message. After 10 hours, his phone made it look like this, but I don’t know if his camera has some odd settings or isn’t HD or something like that because I didn’t feel that pretty when I looked in the mirror.

urban decay concealer review 3am

So because I wasn’t 100% sure of what I was seeing, I decided what the hey, let’s leave it on overnight and see what happened.

I woke up pretty late because I’m still breastfeeding a baby who demands milk every couple of hours and I’m coming off some medication I was taking for post-natal depression, and these things are conspiring to make me very, very sleepy right now. So it was 2:45pm when I got up and took a photo.

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Seriously I was shocked.

For comparison, I washed my face and took another photo #nomakeupselfie and all my usual imperfections came back:

 

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This apparently took ten minutes.

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And this is what my pillow and eye mask looked like after sleeping in my make-up:

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Guys the Urban Decay All-Nighter waterproof concealer is the real deal. 100%. If you can’t get rid of blue circles or want to know how to erase dark circles under eyes, this is the new best quick fix on the market. The best part? It’s waterproof and stays put for at least 12 hours. Even when you get it wet. There’s a huge range of shades and the bottom line is, it’s cheaper and better than Bobbi Brown’s concealer. And it looks better in your bag and doesn’t require you to buy a separate concealer brush.

Vertict: Holy grail product.

Get it here on Amazon if you’re in the UK and Ireland, or visit your local department store that stocks Urban Decay in the States.

Have you tried this, yet? Let me know in the comments!

It’s Skin Q10 Effector review vs Q10 supplements: Inside or outside?

After my article yesterday about eating beautiful, I thought I’d talk about whether the It’s Skin Q10 Effector Serum is better than taking a Q10 tablet as a supplement to improve your skin, because it’s in a similar vein.

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Basically, Q10 is a beauty ingredient that’s supposed to be good for anti-ageing, if we believe the L’Oreal advert and Naomi Campbell. Now, until I was about 27, I was completely in love with Q10 and it was the only thing I was using to make my complexion look good. One of my friends was getting seriously bad first signs of ageing (she liked coke, and I don’t mean the drink) and she was using the same products as me: Lacura (Aldi own brand) Q10 day and night cream.

Then, I had a bit of a problem. That cream seemed to become less effective. I needed more ingredients in my beauty regime, in a stronger cream. But I couldn’t find any better creams with Q10 in them that weren’t targeted at the over 40 crowd. It’s a bit soul destroying when you’re 27 and are contemplating creams that say 40+ on the back. Although, I think the cosmetics companies exaggerate to hit your self esteem and to make you think the creams for older people will work better. Certainly, at 28, I didn’t think Avon’s line of creams for women in their twenties was going to do a whole lot. But their next stage of products was for age 35+. What?? This was one reason I began beauty blogging: There’s a lot of nonsense out there, and finding the right products can be a minefield.

If anything, my skin has gotten BETTER since I hit 30, and I attribute that to two things: Diet and finding the right range of products.

So Q10… I’ve not been using a Q10 face cream since I was 27. But I *have* been taking Q10 supplements since I was 29. I think these have overall done good things for my skin. It’s not as instantaneous as vitamin E supplements, but Q10 doesn’t wear off as quickly, either. When I was taking vitamin E tablets, every day I didn’t take them, my skin looked worse. Vitamin E supplements also interfered with the vitamin K I needed to take, and it gave me bad headaches.

Because the effects of Q10 are subtler, it took me a while to decide if it’s been effective or not. Overall, I’d say it has, alongside all the other things I’m doing, and it gives my skin a bit of a boost when I can’t seem to get rid of the surface dryness which makes my makeup cake (when I actually wear makeup).

While I was in Korea over the past couple of weeks, I went shopping for loads of beauty products, and one of the things I bought was this incredible Q10 effector serum from It’s Skin. If I ever doubted the effectiveness of Q10, I know now that it’s definitely a good one for my skin. So which is better, supplements or direct application? The It’s Skin Q10 Effector Serum applies straight on my face, and it works really quickly and it complements the other products in my beauty regime. I’ve been away from my beloved Innisfree Soybean Energy Serum since I left China to go to America in February, then I spent 2 weeks in Korea, and that gave me a a great opportunity to try out this new serum.

Five stars, would recommend. The only drawback is now I can’t decide between the It’s Skin Q10 serum and my Innisfree Soybean Energy Serum on a daily basis. So I use one in the morning and one at night. Luckily, you don’t have that problem! It’s Skin Q10 serum is available in the US for about the same as I paid in Seoul, South Korea, and my favorite Innisfree serum is not. This is also half the price of the Innisfree one, so if cost is a factor, this one definitely wins out! Also, when looking at Korean products bear in mind that date written on the bottom is the date it was MADE not the expiry. 😉 Shop smarter than all the people who gave this product unfair shitty reviews.

The K-beauty regime: Is it for you?

The K-beauty regime is such a big deal in East Asia. It’s also popular to a lesser extent in China (you can buy the products but people don’t necessarily use them all, and there’s fewer brands to choose from in China, but there are still a LOT of brands; it’s just a testament to how much of a big deal K-beauty is in Korea that they have the biggest selection of beauty products that I’ve ever seen in my life). One thing to note, though, is that China has its own beauty brands (usually with European-sounding names) and they don’t like to think of themselves as aficionados of K-beauty. In China, the exact same things are pretty much classed as Chinese beauty. 😉

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There’s been a lot of online articles from western magazines and whatnot which are all like, “Korean women spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening on their beauty regime!!!” Honestly? While they sure spend time on it, with VISIBLE results, they also generally work very long hours (much longer than people do in the west) and so I’d say twenty minutes to half an hour, morning and evening, is probably more realistic, certainly on the days when I’ve done a full K-beauty regime. Sheet masks, of course, take 15-20 mins all by themselves, but you don’t do those daily; two to four times a week is more reasonable.

Why do they do it? Well, unlike in the west, K-beauty tends to focus on skincare. Get a good canvas, THEN correct flaws with makeup. It’s a much more natural look, and I really like the whole idea, I mean, depending how long you’ve been reading my blog, even before I came to Asia you may remember that most of my beauty articles were skincare related. Makeup? Eh. When I hit twenty-five, I started to feel like taking care of my skin was WAY more important. #realtalk #confessionsofabeautyblogger some days, I don’t even wear any makeup. Most days, I wear the bare minimum. But I never forget my skincare.

So, the FULL K-beauty routine goes like this (usually… there are some variations depending who you ask and what brands they use), starting from a completely cleansed face (you would use cleanser and whatnot first, if your face was dirty):

Essence goes on first. This is usually the most watery or thinnest consistency of product. If you’re ever in doubt about whether you’re using K-beauty properly, usually it goes from thinnest to thickest consistency of product. 😉 And at the end of the day, it’s no biggie if you get one or two steps back to front. I use this Soybean Firming Essence [light] from Innisfree; it’s about the same price in China as in the US, and I plan to review it at some point.

Serum goes on after essence. I use the Innisfree Soybean Energy Serum which TRAGICALLY you don’t seem to be able to get in America. It’s like my favorite thing so that’s very sad. I do also like the Innisfree Jeju Pomegranate Serum which you ALSO can’t get in the US. Sometimes around now I’ll use a moisture spray, too.

Then, you put on something called “skin” if you want, but I’ve never found one I especially loved and the consistency seems to vary between different ones, too, which makes me feel like I’m just washing off my serum and essence. Some K-beauty people call “skin” “toner” but where the west calls toner something you remove makeup with/clean your face with, K-beauty “toner” seems to mean something that improves the tone of your skin. I’m not sure if they mean color or firmness, but I’ve tried a few and none of them did either for me. I skip this step.

Next comes moisturizer or lotion. Some brands call it one, some call it the other. I would usually use one with an SPF, but if it’s a day when I’m not going outside, I’ll use one with other properties instead. My favorite non-SPF is the Innisfree Green Tea balancing cream. My favorite SPF is the Clio Kill Cover SPF 50 but you can’t get that in the US. My second favorite (better for oily skin as it has a matte finish, so with my normal skin, I use it on top of another moisturizer like the Innisfree one, above) is the Etude House Sunprise SPF32 (the US one is SPF50 and reviews claim it’s better for dry skin so maybe that’s a slightly different product to the one I have).

Now you put on your base (or primer, or veil… some people use veil and base, I personally feel they’re interchangable). I have some nice ones of these, and the K-beauty ones all seem to be good for color-correcting, especially if you have dark circles under your eyes. My favorites are the Etude House baby choux because I wear it on its own for color correction and it’s fabulous (I will review this, too, soon) and the Cle De Peau Correcting Creme Veil which I also wear on its own sometimes, without any other makeup on top. It is a French brand but, like many western cosmetics companies, they have a completely different line of (arguably better) products for the Chinese and Korean market, because they have to compete against homegrown Asian products that are really good. And HOLY MACARONI I had no IDEA how much that Cle De Peau one cost as I got it as a thank-you gift, as part of a big set of Cle De Peau cosmetics from a first-grader’s mom after I taught her daughter English. It’s sooooo good though. If all expensive cosmetics are that good, I can totally see why Kim Kardashian looks so good, even if we ignore the surgery and personal trainer sessions.

After primer, you add either BB cream, cushion, or what-have-you (whatever you use for foundation). I was using the Innisfree cushion but I’ve just ran out, so last week I bought the Clio Kill Professional one. I like cushion makeup (it’s like pressed powder but wet… I can’t explain it), because it’s quick to apply, but when I have time, I prefer BB cream applied with a beauty blender (or a 20-cent Chinese knock-off… $10 for a sponge?? Nope) as it’s more nourishing and I think it looks more natural on my face. I haven’t used western foundation since I got to China because it’s complete garbage compared to the stuff here, and SO bad for my skin. All the redness I’ve had, and which I’ve seen pretty much every western beauty vlogger seems to have before they apply their makeup, has vanished since I stopped using western foundation; I think there’s something badly wrong with it. Unless you have deeply tanned skin, Asian foundations are way better.

After that, you do the rest of your make-up; blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, brows.

Lastly, dust with some finishing powder and you’re good to go. And if you feel dry during the course of the day? Don’t be afraid to mist your face with moisturizing spray in public. Seriously, people do this SO OFTEN at coffee shops in Korea. I just got the LaNeige Water Bank Mist last week and I really love it. It’s so much fun, and quick and easy to use, although I’m lazy and only use it about once a day.

HOWEVER, there’s a huge difference between what I know I *should* do and what I actually do. I feel dowdy just thinking about the fact that some people are doing all of this every day. They will look like Zsa Zsa Gabor when they’re 80, and I’ll look like Sir Ian McKellen. I know I should do all this, but it’s so much effort and when I was working full-time I didn’t have time. Anyway, I tend to go along with how my skin feels, and a lot of the time, I don’t feel like I need to use all of that stuff.

So instead, usually I go:

Essence,

Serum,

Moisturizer/moisturizing suncream. I put all those on my face AND neck, because I feel like my neck needs more love than my body lotion can give it. If I get too much product on my hands, I also rub it into the backs of my hands and I’ve noticed the difference in my hand skin since I started doing that, but I still can’t bring myself to regularly use hand cream, it just isn’t me.

If I feel red or washed out I add one of the choux base veils I mentioned.

Then, unless I’m going out somewhere nice or Youtubing, I usually just sort my brows out, throw on some lipstick (my current favorites are Bobbi Brown or Elizabeth Arden… because I know where I left those) and get on with finding where I left my shoes and whether I have any hair elastics.

Then I am ready to face the day.

I’m a soccer mom waiting to happen.

Watson’s Cucumber Facial Mask

There’s a shop called Watson’s in China and Thailand that’s basically like the cosmetics part of CVS or Walgreen’s in the US. It has its own-brand of cheaper stuff, and I thought for about 80 cents, I’d try one of their cucumber face masks.

BTW, I really hope the pictures load for this, but I’m back in China and DETERMINED to keep beauty blogging, but the internet is so bad I can’t actually see if the pictures have uploaded to this post or not so can someone let me know in the comments please? ❤

I’ve seen a few of the cheaper brands doing cucumber masks in China, and I thought I’d try one because they all claim to be hydrating. This was a sheet mask, which, like the other sheet masks I’ve reviewed in the past, is MUCH less messy than the gloopy non-sheet masks that you smear on your face. One of my favorite things about sheet masks is how great they are if you’re a busy woman, like most of us are these days. I mean, I really love some non-sheet masks, too, especially the Dermalogica vitamin mask, and one day soon I might even review it, lol, but seriously, the main reason I don’t use it more regularly is because I do not have the time to get messy.

I put this one on my face for 15-20 minutes and when it came off, it took FOREVER to dry. I wasn’t in love with that. Nor was I in love with the fact that, after it did dry, my face felt sticky. I think the stuff this sheet mask was infused with was more of a gel than anything moisturising. I’m not sure if stuff like that works for anyone else, but I have normal skin that sometimes tends towards surface dryness, not a deep dry-skin issue, and I find things like gels and oil-laden creams don’t really help, and sometimes they even dry my skin worse or clog my pores.

When I washed it off, my skin didn’t feel any more moisturized than before, but on the other hand, my pores weren’t clogged and I didn’t have a breakout, either, so I’m going to chalk it up as one for making you feel good, rather than one for getting actual results. I don’t think I’ll be buying it again, though, because I don’t usually have the time for face masks that don’t deliver great results.

Oh, and one final thing. Last time I had a food-flavored face mask, Morgueticia challenged me to taste it, but I’d thrown it away and I never got another one exactly the same, so the world will never know if that one tasted of red wine or not. So, this time, I licked my finger VERY LIGHTLY after trying this one, then went and rinsed my mouth like a billion times because it just tasted like chemicals. I’m not completely sure this mask has ever seen a real cucumber.

PS. This post is prescheduled, but only by a day or so. I didn’t get around to writing any more posts from the US or from Korea, but I’m taking today to get them done, even though that means trying to do them through the Great Firewall of China and the exceptionally crap internet at the place where I live.

Five Asian Sheet Masks

Today I’m going to review some sheet masks that are K-beauty (and also C-beauty… China beauty. Yeah that’s a thing. And they’ve got some decent stuff available).

By the way, in case you’re wondering what happened, I scheduled my posts, one a week, for the last 4 weeks, and I thought it was a glitch that I couldn’t see them. Then, today, I checked behind the scenes and none of them are there. Hmm.
So while I’m figuring out where all my content has gone, here’s five of the face masks (sheet masks) I’ve tried since I got here, and I’m sorry if this is a weird time of day to get notified of a new post, but the scheduling thing isn’t working out so good:

Mizon Enjoy Vital Up Time Face Mask:

 


I’m not sure how I felt about this one. It was great on my skin and I felt super-chill while I wore it, but after… my face seemed moisturized and refreshed, and I was happy enough with the product, but I didn’t really feel energized or however else I’m supposed to very tactfully say, “not old” in polite conversation. It didn’t really do a lot on the anti-ageing front. There was a slight redness for a couple hours after, as you can see in the picture above where I’ve just taken the mask off, but then my face settled down again. So it’s definitely NOT one to try before an evening out. Maybe I’m being spoilt by so many sheet masks lately, because it was still above average for a sheet mask, and I think as long as you’re not looking to eradicate fine lines or smooth the skin it was good, and it did leave my skin glowing after the redness settled. There’s a selection of Mizon sheet masks available on Amazon; have you tried any of the others? I’d love to know how they turned out!

Conclusion: Great for a girly night in. Felt quite nourishing. Not so hot for fine lines.

Coryman Eye Mask Superior Shining and Repairing Eye Mask:
These were da bomb. Like, there’s no other way of describing them. I found them in a beauty store in a shopping mall in the city where I live, and they are the BEST GODDAMN THING that ever happened to my eye area.

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The scientific description is fundamentally meaningless but the actual product… I used it once and I noticed a difference under my eyes. The faint expression lines I’ve been getting since I hit 30 were gone when I wasn’t smiling. I like this. I wish they did a full face mask. I’d be all over it. It wasn’t the only thing I’ve used lately that’s shown a huge improvement in my skin’s elasticity, but it’s definitely in my top 3 products right now. Tragically, you can’t get these in the US, or I’d link you to them. 😦

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As you can see, it’s got collagen, pentapeptide-4, hydrolysed silk AND vitamin E in it. I love all of those.

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And as a DISTINCT plus, you get to sorta look like Zorro when you wear it. Kinda. In the right light. Maybe I imagined that. I’ll do a comparison on this and the Sea Algae eye masks really soon.

Conclusion: I am in LOVE with these.

The Face Shop The Solution Firming Face Mask:

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This one definitely felt like it was doing something. It firmed but it didn’t moisturize so it needs to be paired with a face oil or serum after you use it. This was £1.99 as I got it before I left the UK and just used it this week. On Sunday, I bought that cute kitty hairband to keep my hair and sheet masks separate, so they were a great combo now my hair is shorter again. If you’re in the US, you can get a multipack that includes a vast selection of The Face Shop masks on Amazon.

Conclusion: These were good on the anti-ageing front but my skin needed moisture afterwards.

I also tried tomato and broccoli masks from South Korea last week. The full name is V Prove Tomato Lycopene Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet and V Prove Broccoli Chlorophyll Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet. A lot of these sheet masks have names that sound like word salad. I really want to make a pun about literal salad being in these masks but I don’t remember the last time I saw broccoli in a salad:

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No, they did NOT smell or taste like tomato or broccoli. I was disappointed. It was like the Tony Moly red wine mask all over again (I’ve STILL not tried the Tony Moly rice one, because it’s to help clear skin and I haven’t had a breakout in SO long). I thought the “chlorophyll” in the broccoli one was a little silly, since human beings have no use for chlorophyll, and when my friend first showed me these masks my first thought about the chlorophyll was, “it’s what plants need” (its from a film called Idiocracy where people just repeat stuff they saw on adverts). The broccoli one was okay, and my skin felt fairly happy after I used it (I needed to moisturize after, though), but the tomato one (maybe this was obvious to anyone who wasn’t me) just made my face really red and sensitive for a day or two. At first I thought it would be gone in an hour or two but as time went on I realized it wasn’t fading. Eek!! I already have a redness problem, so I don’t recommend the tomato one. Maybe the tomato ones are for a different skin type (one that doesn’t have a redness problem). The broccoli one was like the Mizon Vital Up Time mask; the effects were moderate, but it was nice for a quiet evening spent not leaving the apartment! And I may have been imagining it but I sorta think (maybe, possibly, perhaps…) the redness was lessened with the broccoli one. I can’t find either of these on Amazon but there is a VProve soy one on there. I’ve not tried that, though, and since the broccoli was fairly decent, but the tomato was a miss, I’m not sure I’m going to try the soy one any time soon. Anyway, these come in a multipack so I have a lot of broccoli and tomato to use up, now!
Conclusion: Broccoli was a hit. Tomato was a miss.

Overall, then, The Face Shop and Mizon masks were predictably quite good, but they’re kinda expensive. I liked the broccoli face mask and it was unbeatable on value for money, but it definitely didn’t work any miracles. The Coryman eye masks were AMAZING and I need to get me more of these just as soon as I remember the name of the shop. I know the name of the mall, though, so it can’t be too hard to find… right?? Right???

Having said all that, no face mask will fix beauty issues on its own, and I’m going to talk about serums and essences next time, because I’ve found a couple of really nice ones that work very well when used as part of a beauty routine that incorporates regular sheet masks.

First impressions: Heroine Make Mineral BB cream.

I recently bought the Heroine Make Mineral BB cream so today I’m going to write about my first impressions.

Both my cameras really struggled to capture this product very well, because the tube is very reflective metallic pink (it’s very pretty).

heroine make mineral bb review first impressions

It has SPF50 and PA+++ which means the UVB and UVA protection are very, very high, which is a distinct advantage. I like products with good UVA/PA protection as it helps prevent cancer and premature ageing.

I opened it and swatched it. As you can see there’s a strong yellow base:

heroine make mineral bb review first impressions

heroine make mineral bb review first impressions

As you can see, a little of this product goes a long way so it’s definitely one to use sparingly. I blotted that with a tissue and the stuff left on my hand soaked in nicely and covered up some of the imperfections on the back of my hand; I’d say it’s a medium coverage BB cream. I especially liked that it didn’t seem to be scented and, after I blotted it, it stopped being greasy. An hour later, my hand still has a decent level of moisturization from this product.

So, I’m liking this product so far and can’t wait to try it on my face.