One of my favorite Korean beauty bloggers, Steph over at Misc. Bliss, does two things I really admire. Number one, she actually uses the samples she gets. And number two, she blogs about them, in a series called Sample Sundays, a concept that I am about to shamelessly steal, because I have a little problem.
What you see up there is what remains after a very recent purge. I give away and ship out lots of samples as the need arises, but I’m always still accumulating more. So last week, I decided I would make a concerted effort to actually use some of these samples. Best case scenario, I find a new love. Worst case scenario, I get a little product breakout, and if I do, eh. Whatever. That’s what my A-Sol is for.
In the last week, I’ve tried some things that really impressed–and a couple that didn’t.
Skinfood Black Pomegranate Voluming Serum
Man, I really wanted to love this. I go through phases where I absolutely adore Skinfood and phases where I completely forget that Skinfood exists. Right now, I’m in a high adoration phase.
This is an antioxidant-packed serum from Skinfood’s Black Pomegranate anti-aging line. The Black Pomegranate Voluming Serum supposedly hydrates, illuminates, and temporarily plumps the skin, so I reached for it on a morning when my sleep deficit was making itself known on my face. This is a lotion-type serum (honestly, why not just call it what it is, an emulsion? or is that not as sexy as “serum”?) with the typical artificial-but-pretty Skinfood fragrance. I patted it on, aaaaaannnnnddddd….
This serum reminded me of my many, many failures with Western skincare. Instead of sinking into my skin and leaving it bouncy and hydrated, it sat atop my face in a slick, shiny layer. If you equate shine with “illumination,” then I guess it “illuminated” my face, but as for hydration, I didn’t feel any, and it struck out in the plumping department, too. A dose of Hada Labo lotion would have been a better idea. The Hada Labo would have actually plumped up my skin, and it wouldn’t have interfered as much with my cushion makeup. Let’s just say I won’t be seeking out these samples in future.
Tony Moly Floria Brightening Peeling Gel
I’ve never tried a peeling gel before! I prefer more aggressive methods of exfoliation, like my daily AHA and BHA or the occasional sugar scrub. Peeling gels always struck me as far too gentle, as well as gimmicky (that eraser dust stuff that comes off is not, for the most part, your dead skin cells–it’s just the product balling up, and rubbing the eraser dust around on your face is what provides the exfoliation). But hell. I’ll try anything once.
I wasn’t really wowed by this, either. It smelled rather chemically and perfumey, and although I made sure to spread it out very evenly, the “peeling” happened very unevenly, with most of it taking place on my left cheek and the rest of my face left out in the cold, hardly any eraser dust in sight.
On the plus side, my left cheek really was a little brighter and pretty damn soft after I was done. I’m not interested in trying this particular product out again, but I am intrigued by the peeling gel concept in general now.
A.True Violet Petal Black Tea Hydrating Moisturizer
It was a warm and muggy day with thunderstorms on the way when I tried this sample out. I was hoping to fall in like with a lighter moisturizer for just such weather.
Now this is promising. This is a silky, milky lotion with a truly heavenly, feminine flowers-and-tea fragrance that’s miles above the Skinfood Black Pomegranate Voluming “Serum” scent. It sank in very quickly, softened my skin nicely, and kept my face feeling hydrated and comfortable all day. I’m a little bit sad that I only had the one sample foil. I’ll definitely be looking into this product more.
A.True Real Black Tea True Active Essence
After my pleasant experience with the A.True Violet Petal Black Tea Hydrating Moisturizer, I was pretty excited to try out this essence, too.
I used this in place of my A-Sol this morning for a bit of a change and really enjoyed it. These samples are making a wonderful introduction to a brand I haven’t had much exposure to yet.
The Real Black Tea True Active Essence is a hydrating essence, a little thicker than water, with the same type of smooth and slippy texture as Hada Labo lotion or COSRX Galactomyces 95 White Power Essence. That is to say, it spreads out easily and absorbs cleanly, hydrating without a trace of residue. Oh, and of course this smells divine, too. More tea and fewer flowers in this product’s fragrance. I like it. I’ve already taken some steps and now have a dozen more samples of this on the way.
Dear by Enprani Moistfull Booskin (huehue, it’s short for “Booster” + “Skin Toner”)
I saved the best for last.
This is…I don’t even know.
I’m sorry I keep harping on about fragrance, but so many of the samples I tried just smelled so amazing, and it’s one of the few things one can confidently evaluate based on a single use, so. This smells lovely. I can’t quite put my finger on what the fragrance is. It’s just this mysterious, undefinable sort of antique perfume. Very ladylike and very clean, but somehow not old lady-ish at all.
When I applied this, it didn’t feel like much, exactly. Based on the texture and absorption, it could have been any other decent hydrating toner. Thing is, something in this product made my skin not just extra soft, but extra receptive to everything I put on it afterwards. Essences and serums and ampoules disappeared into my skin like a dream, and my face just felt great. I’m not the only one who loves this, either. Moi over at 35th of May raved about the Moistfull Booskin. For her, it’s everything the famous Hada Labo lotion is not. It may be something special for me, too.
Confession: I’m already looking into a full size of this. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it soon.
And that’s the end of this Sample Sampler.
What’s your stance on samples? Do you use yours, or do they usually end up gathering dust in the cabinet under the sink?