Naruko and Secret Key first essence reviews

Fermentation, First Essences, and that FTE Glow: Secret Key vs. Naruko Facial Essence Review

Years ago in a meeting room in faraway Asia, hardworking cosmetics marketers discovered that the story they’d spun, of peasant sake brewers with mind-blowingly soft and youthful hands, could sell bottle upon bottle of the novel new skincare product they were tasked with promoting. And thus, the first essence (or fermentation essence, or facial treatment essence or first treatment essence or FTE) became a thing.

These confusingly named products are credited with near-miraculous powers of beautification. In addition to hydrating and balancing skin and preparing it for optimal absorption of other skincare products, first essences supposedly brighten skin tone, lighten dark marks, firm and tighten skin texture overall, smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and prevent future ones from appearing, and impart radiance, taking complexions from so-so to DAAAAAAMN DAT GLOW. In the last several months, I’ve used three different ones consistently, for several weeks each. Let’s talk (briefly) about the famous SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and more extensively about Secret Key’s Starting Treatment Essence (Rose Edition) and Naruko’s Face Renewal Miracle Essence! Continue reading

Anti aging skincare routine Fifty Shades of Snail

On Actives and Extracts: My Anti-Aging PM Skincare Routine Explained

Getting older is a natural, inevitable, and wonderful thing. Getting older shows that we’re surviving all the crap that life throws our way. I have very few problems with getting older and only a couple of problems with the concept of my own mortality. I just don’t want my mortality to show up on my face right now because I’m enjoying the way my face looks right now, and since right now is pretty much all the time because that’s how time feels because I haven’t recently consumed any psychedelics that might alter my perceptions of that, I’ve built a very involved anti-aging skincare routine to keep my skin looking the way it looks right now for as close to all the time as is possible. (And to help it look more youthful wherever I can, giving me an extra head start on the years of aging to come.) Sometimes people request that I explain my routine in more detail than I generally do on my Instagram routine posts. This post is for those people. Continue reading

Sulwhasoo Innerise Complete Mask Fifty Shades of Snail review

Sulwhasoo Innerise Complete Mask: The Sad Fiddy Review

I distinctly remember telling someone, not too long ago and somewhere public, that I hadn’t yet found a Sulwhasoo product I didn’t like. Well. Joke’s on me, because now I have. Try not to fall over in shock as I introduce you to the Sulwhasoo Innerise Complete Mask. Continue reading

fiddy snails skincare routine

Casual Sunday: My Morning Skincare Routine Explained

The skincare routine post is a staple of AB blogs, and I’ve done my fair share. Routine posts are challenging for me because my own routine changes constantly as I choose what my skin needs the most from my unreasonably large beauty stash. Most of the time, I prefer to document what I’m using on my Instagram instead of in a lengthy post that will be outdated pretty much the next day. But when a commenter on one of my (more excessive) routine pics asked for a walkthrough of my routine, I got to thinking. Even if the products change from day to day, maybe I could write something helpful by talking about my decision-making process. If you’re curious about how I put together a morning skincare routine, read on! Continue reading

Cosrx Holy Moly Snail Mask material close up 1

Oh My Snails! The COSRX Holy Moly Snail Mask Review

It’s here! The COSRX snail sheet mask that COSRX snail lovers like me have been dreaming of ever since our favorite kooky-clinical-affordable-whimsical K-beauty skincare brand let me announce it all the way back in May is finally here! I’ve had mine since Saturday, and I’ve been busily masking and thinking and second-guessing what I’ve been thinking. Now down to just a couple  one out of the seven I got, I’m ready to talk. Read on for my review of the COSRX Holy Moly Snail Mask! Continue reading

Come See Me at KCON LA!

Holy crap. It’s time!

(Time for me to dig a backpack out of the closet and start packing my skincare routine for two nights in Los Angeles.)

If you’re going to be at KCON LA, I’d love to see you! I’ll be on the Korean Skincare Panel with Beauty Experts on Saturday from 12:30-1:30 pm in Panel Room 152. Then on Sunday, come visit me at my Meet and Greet from 11:00-11:30am at the Glow Recipe Booth #953. I can’t wait to meet you guys in person!

My KCON appearances are with Glow Recipe, who have arranged several other awesome events during the convention. Check out their full schedule here!

Now I have to figure out how to fit my beauty gear into my bag and still leave room for clothes. $5 says I end up taking two bags.

Review of Neutrogena Beach Defense sunscreen

Review: Neutrogena Beach Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70

This summer, I discovered a love of frolicking in the surf with my son. I also discovered how poorly my precious Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel and my Biore Aqua Rich Watery Gel fit into my new beach lifestyle. While amazing for everyday use, neither of these sunscreens is water-resistant, and frequent reapplication makes both extremely cost-prohibitive for beach use. I can’t slack off on body sunscreen the way I used to, either, since I’m using photosensitizing actives on my arms and legs.

I wanted the freedom to play in the water with Young Master Fiddy like a deranged mama seal with a high-energy pup, so I needed to improve my body sunscreen game without breaking my bank account. That’s why I ended up tossing a big yellow bottle of Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 70) into my cart during a grocery run one sunny, desperate day. Continue reading

Unboxing Sunday Funday memebox

Memebox Sunday Funday Box Unboxing!

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!?!?!?!?!

Memebox Sunday Funday beauty box

Not Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, I promise.

A little while ago, I talked about curating the Sunday Funday Memebox K-beauty box with my fellow blogger and Gudetama lover Christina from Christina Hello. If you want to look at the pretties, read on! Continue reading

Review of Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum

Review: Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum

All good things must come to an end, which my Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum did recently, the pump dispensing nothing but air right when I need that capsulized ginseng most, with KCON LA right around the corner.


But even tragedies have silver linings. The silver lining of this particular sad event is that I can review the Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum now: since I consider this a serious investment product, I wanted to finish off the entire bottle before giving my opinion. Keep on reading if you want to hear that opinion, in detail! Continue reading

Physical exfoliation pros and reviews

How to Exfoliate: When to Choose Scrubs over Acids, Plus Two Scrub Reviews

It has come to my attention that out of the four members of the Snailcast‘s Snail Unit, I’m the only one who likes physical exfoliation. Fiddy scrubs alone. And after spending so much time writing about how to exfoliate with acids yesterday, I feel the need to speak up in defense of my precious scrubs. You shouldn’t use them every day, this is true, and there are some things acids can do that scrubs cannot, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for a nice gritty physical exfoliant in a solid skincare routine! Continue reading

Chemical exfoliation guide

How to Exfoliate: Multitasking with Chemical Exfoliants

The most recent episode of the Snailcast was all about acids and how to exfoliate safely and effectively, and I’m super bummed because I wasn’t able to join thanks to moving hassles. But the topic got me thinking about acids and reminded me that I’ve been doing mine in a different way than I used to. A more efficient way, and one that substantially reduces the risk of overexfoliation and irritation. If you want to hear about it, read on! Continue reading

Flops and Faves Part 3 feature image

Spring/Summer 2016 Flops and Faves, Part 3: Yet More Hanbang + the Return of the AHA

Previously: Part 1: Classics and New Faves Part 2: Best and Worst Ginseng Skincare

This final installment of my spring/summer 2016 skincare routine update took me a very long time to write because so much has been happening with my life and my skin! Which sounds dire but in reality isn’t. Even when I’ve been let down by something I’d been sure I would love, I have fun talking about why. Let’s look at some more hanbang contenders and my recent adventures with acids, prompted by my repaired skin barrier! Continue reading

Leejiham Vita Propolis Ampoule review

Announcement: Shark Sightings Predicted at KCON LA!

I wasn’t kidding about having lots of exciting announcements to make. This one’s a big one for me and is a major motivation for me to get back in the habit of a full routine morning and night. I’ve gotten myself patting and slathering at full power again because I’ll be appearing at KCON LA at the end of this month: Christine from Glow Recipe (and Shark Tank! it’s a double sharking) invited me to join her, Sarah, and several other way-more-respectable-than-me K-beauty voices in a panel speaking on skincare and the Korean beauty scene. For the first time ever, I’ll get to expose my obsession to a live audience. It’ll be something!


We’re also planning a meet-and-greet at the Glow Recipe booth, and since I have some other friends doing things at the convention, I may be able to come up with some more IRL funtimes, too. I’ll post times, dates, and other details as I get them confirmed.

Also, I’m thinking I will bring presents. I owe many of you presents. And I hope I get to meet lots of you there!


Re:cipe Slowganic Cleanser in Adlay

Introducing Sunday Funday, a Collab with Memebox and Christina Hello!

So one of the things I didn’t mention in my last post was the sheer number of exciting announcements I have to make over the next few months. I may have been offline for a while and struggling with moving for even longer before that, but I’ve also been busy with a whole mess of projects, some of which I’m finally ready to talk about. This first one is for those of you who love K-beauty and Gudetama. Meet the Sunday Funday box, which I put together with my fellow K-beauty blogger and Gudetama fan Christina from Christina Hello! Continue reading