#Enabled: May Skincare Purchases and the Stories Behind Them (aka Shopping Habits of a Beauty Blogger)

As a beauty blogger, I make a lot of skincare purchases. Many more, I imagine, than a typical non-blogger beauty consumer would. We’ve talked a bit about blogger shopping habits here and there on the Snailcast, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned mine in passing elsewhere, but I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and walked you guys through any of my purchases. Beauty blogger hauls can look like exercises in excess and are often blamed for creating a hyper-consumerist haul mentality, so it may be instructive to take a closer look at the anatomy of a beauty blogger’s haul(s). Here are my May skincare buys and which products I would (and would not!) still buy if I didn’t have a blog!


Affiliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*).


This is not a post about how to haul responsibly, because I…am not great at that. You might have noticed that my skincare shopping tips don’t focus on budget, but rather on product effectiveness and appropriateness for your skin. If you need tips on skincare budgeting and financially responsible beauty shopping, please check out the wonderful guides on Snow White and the Asian Pear, adoredee, and Wolf + Moroko. But read on if you want a look into how I keep my skincare wardrobe stocked both with much-loved staples and promising new additions queued up for review!

Sheet mask hauling

Look, it takes a lot to keep this thing stocked.

RoseRoseShop: Tons of Sheet Masks at Rock Bottom Prices

For a K-beauty blogger, I actually don’t purchase from Korean sites like RoseRoseShop too much. Nothing against the Korean shops, and as you’d expect, their prices are often much better than prices at US shops that must factor the cost of importing product into their retail prices, but I have no patience and am usually willing to pay the markup so I can have my goodies right now. So me hauling twice in the same month from RRS is unusual.

RoseRoseShop wholesale masks

RRS is like the Costco of sheet masks.

This haul happened because I’d recently become obsessed with creamy essence sheet masks. I used to avoid them because Lord Fiddy once had a bad experience with an Innisfree Acai Berry mask, but after using some Femmue masks and then an Etude House I Need You, Korean Ginseng! mask, I was hooked. My tretface loves creamy mask juices. I like to use creamy essence masks as a second step sheet mask, after a “normal” hydrating/watery essence mask. That way, my skin gets the juicy plumping effects of the watery masks, which are then sealed in nicely with the richer, more emollient creamy essences. Unfortunately, I found that the very limited selection of creamy essence sheet masks in my stash wouldn’t be enough to support my newfound habit.

Check out the prices on those wholesale lots of 10 Etude House sheet masks from RRS. $5.65 for 10 works out to FRIGGIN LESS THAN 60 CENTS PER MASK. I already knew that the Korean Ginseng, Silk Cocoon, and Royal Jelly flavors work really well for my skin, and I also already knew that I’d be using these masks frequently. That’s why I felt comfortable ordering 50 of them at once. And when I learned that Etude House is discontinuing the I Need You! line, I was even happier that I’d pulled the trigger on that haul. This one arrived a while back (DHL shipping is life). I’ve already finished off the ginseng, almost finished off the royal jelly, and am making a dent in the silk cocoon. Good thing I bought a lot!

What I would still buy if I weren’t a blogger: All of it, actually. These masks are a staple in my routine, as anyone who checks my Snapchat (mommasharkus) already knows. I use them several times a week.

Korean skincare haul from RoseRoseShop

Seriously, the Costco of sheet masks.

I ran back to RRS not long after, because I’d found another creamy essence sheet mask I really like: The Face Shop Mascream sheet masks. I’d read about them last year on Aaron Khim’s blog and finally gave them a shot via a variety pack of 4 from Amazon*. In some ways, these are like an upgrade to the Etude House masks, as the microfiber used in the TFS Mascream masks is ultra soft, silky, and clingy. I found the Intense Brightening variety especially effective for me. The thought process behind this haul was “if I can find a good price for them on RRS, they can be another creamy mask staple!” I did indeed find a good price–about $1.09 per mask–so a wholesale lot of 20 TFS MasCream masks in Intense Brightening went into my cart.

I also wanted to expand my collection of hanbang masks. I first saw LS Cosmetic hanbang, hanbok sheet masks in a Boyah haul done by my hanbang homegirl Snow. They’re cute, she seems to like them, and they also happened to be a good price (about $1.10 per mask), so I grabbed a couple of varieties of those as well. I don’t always blog about the sheet masks I try, but I do like to continually try new ones in case any of them are worth blogging about!

The other items in the haul have stories behind them, too. I’ve known about the Mizon Gold Starfish Cream for a long time but have never felt compelled to try it out. I loved the OG Returning Starfish Cream so much that I made a video of me jiggling it and didn’t think the Gold Starfish, which is known to have a lower concentration of starfish extract, could measure up. But the shiny-ass jars caught my eye in the Free Shipping section, so I YOLOed it into my cart for old time’s sake.

I’ve used both the COSRX Propolis Light Ampoule and the OST C20 vitamin C serum before. I went through a whole (tiny) bottle of the propolis ampoule without having any feelings about it whatsoever and am currently in a propolis drought thanks to the utter failure of Let’s Cure Honeybunny Propolis 40 Ampoule to wow me. I decided give the COSRX another chance before writing my review (and writing the product off) as a dud. As for the C20, I have a long-term blog project that will involve many vitamin C serums and it’s been a long time since I used C20, so since RRS has it so cheap, I grabbed that, too.

What I would still buy if I weren’t a blogger: The TFS MasCream masks.

What I wouldn’t buy if I weren’t a blogger: Everything else. The hanbok masks are intriguing but an unknown for my face; the possibility of getting a blog post or at least an IG minireview out of them was a major factor in my purchasing decision. Same goes for the Mizon starfish cream, about which I actually haven’t heard many positive things. I’ve already used and didn’t particularly like the COSRX ampoule and am only repurchasing to give it another shot for the blog, and I picked the C20 because of that blog project I have planned, too.

Memebox: Restocking that Just Can’t Wait

A few things I love about Memebox US*:

  • They carry a lot of my staples.
  • They carry a lot of my staples at prices comparable to those of Korean shops.
  • They ship for free if your post-coupon order subtotal is $30 or more.
  • They ship within the same state I live in, so I receive my orders super fast.

Hence, I do a lot of panic shopping on Memebox.

Memebox K-beauty haul

I’m sure my checkout finger was trembling with anxiety when I made this order.

Bonvivant* is a Memebox (Korea) house brand that’s launched a bunch of masks at Memebox US in the last few months, most of which I’ve gotten to try in my position as a Memebox brand ambassador. I don’t love the Botanical Mask Packs, which kind of burn my face for some reason, and I don’t love the Illuminator Age Cover Cream Mask, which has some lovely extracts but also contains a ton of temporary “whitening” ingredients (read: physical sunscreens) meant to leave a white cast on the skin. The Illuminator Age Cover Mask Packs, though? Hnnnnnng.

DO NOT LAUGH. I DID NOT COME UP WITH THE TITLE “MEMEBABE.” The Memecat is really cute, though.

I had six of them, provided to me by the Memebabe handlers, and I panicked hard when I realized I was out. These are creamy essence masks (are you sensing a theme yet?) but a much more luxurious creamy mask experience than either the Etude House or TFS varieties. The two-piece masks are made from “nanofiber” which does indeed feel plusher than the TFS microfiber, while the creamy essences are wonderfully moisturizing and contain just a hint of those “whitening” ingredients, enough to add a luminous glow when my skin’s illustrating what lack of sleep does to it but not so much that I go gray like a ghost. I like all the varieties equally but had to choose because there isn’t a multi-flavor variety pack. I grabbed the pack of five Volumizing Gold* and the pack of five Brightening Diamond*.

While I was at it, I realized I’ve never tried the red variety of the Mediheal Dress Code masks. I love the blue and like the black and violet, and ginseng is the featured ingredient of the red, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a few Mediheal Dress Code Masks in Red*.

The Lador hair products* were another panic buy. I don’t talk about hair much on this blog, but let’s just say my hair is generally fine, flat, and lifeless. Like, it’s healthy and silky, but it has no life. It’s as thin and limp as a supermodel hung over after a weeklong bender on Leonardo Dicaprio’s yacht. Lador is one of the only haircare brands that can put life back into my hair, and the Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack*, which I use every other day as a conditioner and scalp treatment, and the Scalp Scaling Hair Spa Ampoules*, which I use once a week, are HG for me.

What I would still buy if I weren’t a blogger: All of these things, since they all fill needs in my routine. I may not have been aware of how well the Bonvivant masks work for me if I hadn’t gotten to try them in my capacity of Memebabe, though. #Memebabe4ever

Memebox Kbeauty haul

No creamy masks here! Oh wait. Only one creamy mask type here!

This haul was almost all panic buys. I’m anxiously scraping the very bottom of my current jar of COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream*, which I grow more dependent on every damn time I buy it. I don’t want to be out of this stuff for a single day. I’m also out of all the cleansing oils and balms I like and down to using the second-rate ones I’d already relegated to brush and puff cleansers. Nooni Snowflake Cleanser* works really nicely for me as a first cleanser and costs a bit less than Banila Co Clean It Zero or my HG illi Total Aging Care cleansing oil, so I picked that one.

Then there’s the illi Camellia Oil Nourishing Mask*, yet another creamy essence mask. This mask smells like absolute heaven to me. The essence doesn’t seem to sink in quite as well as the other creamy essence masks I’ve tried, but I want to give it a couple more chances before reviewing.

What I would still buy if I weren’t a blogger: The COSRX snail cream and Nooni balm cleanser, both of which fill necessary steps in my skincare routine.

What I wouldn’t buy if I weren’t a blogger: The illi masks, which I’d have just written off as a moderate fail for personal use.

The Wild Jasmine: More Masks

I’m sure this will come as a surprise to you, but I go through sheet masks quickly. And my sheet mask preferences change with the ebb and flow of the tides of my ingredient biases. Right now, one of those biases is ginseng (and hanbang in general). Since Snow is queen of all things hanbang, therefore, her reviews have enabled me in a lot of hanbang purchases, including my first haul from newish AB shop The Wild Jasmine. The Wild Jasmine carries the Evercos sheet masks that Snow raved about around this time last year and that I’ve tried and liked, thanks to her care packages.

The cleanser was a gift with purchase because the owner of The Wild Jasmine remembered me mentioning an interest in it. It’s a low pH cleanser. Of course I’m interested. Also, doesn’t it look like the ginseng in the back is doing something naughty to the ginseng in the front?

I got twenty of the Evercos Hanbang Herbal Clinic sheet masks: 10 ginseng, which I know work for me; 5 of the licorice, which turn out to give my face an amazing glow; and 5 of the houttuynia cordata, an ingredient I’ve been intrigued by for a while.

What I would still buy if I weren’t a blogger: The ginseng and licorice for sure, and, let’s be honest, the houttuynia cordata too, because my lust for new experiences doesn’t just come from my blog. So, everything, all of it. Sheet masks. Come on!

Amazon (Is Everything)

I have an Amazon Prime subscription and an inability to wait patiently for purchases without compulsively refreshing tracking all day long, so of course I do as much of my AB and skincare shopping on Amazon* as is reasonable (and probably a bit that isn’t reasonable, as you’ll soon see). The nice thing about Amazon is that you can get just one or two items at a time, with no pressure to add more items just to get more value out of shipping fees. The bad thing about Amazon is that it’s really really easy to end up buying a whole lot of stuff over time.

Etude House snail sheet masks from Amazon

We’ve talked about creamy masks already.

Etude House’s I Need You, Snail! sheet masks* are yet more of the creamy variety. I snatched these up not long after hearing about the discontinuation of the I Need You! line, because they won’t be around much longer.

Would I still buy these if I weren’t a blogger? Yes. They do nice things to my skin. Specifically, they make my face smooth and firm. And even with the Amazon markup, they’re reasonably priced per mask.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX from Amazon

Here’s where one can quickly get into trouble.

 

Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum from Amazon

“YOLOOOOOO!” she shouted, while her wallet wept.

My newfound hanbang obsession made it inevitable that Sulwhasoo and I would meet someday. I thought I had the patience to keep waiting, but as it turns out, I didn’t. Nor do I have enough chutzpah to ask a sponsor for a single item at these prices. I bought the First Care Activating Serum EX* and Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum* in a fit of YOLO.

Would I still buy these if I weren’t a blogger? No, at least not without having used samples of them extensively to determine whether they do anything valuable for my skin (and I only used one sample foil of each of these). These products are investment-priced. I purchased them because I’m enthralled with hanbang and Sulwhasoo is a hanbang icon, of course, but I wouldn’t have taken the risk if I didn’t figure I could at least get a few blog posts out of them even if they don’t work out for my skin.

Snails and My Beauty Diary, oh…my!

The Naruko Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair* and My Beauty Diary Liposome Hyaluronic Acid* sheet masks were much less risky. I’ve been using the MBD Liposome HA masks for quite a while and like to keep these ultra-plumping powerhouse hydrators in stock. The Naruko masks, meanwhile, are Taiwanese and contain snail, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at how much I like them.

Would I still buy these if I weren’t a blogger? Yes, oh yes. Calming and hydrating sheet masks like these are absolute necessities for my skin; I use masks like these every day and am always running out. These are not products that will end up abandoned in the back of my sheet mask drawer.

Ciracle Jeju Mayu sheet masks on Amazon

Mayu is horse oil, just so you know.

I’ve had a single Ciracle From Jeju Mayu Anti-Aging Mask* in the fridge for months. It came in a variety pack of Ciracle From Jeju sheet masks, and though I liked all the other masks in the pack, I just couldn’t bring myself to try the Mayu. I’ve had a slight aversion to horse oil products ever since I tried and disliked the Guerisson 9 Complex horse oil cream and hydrogel masks. I finally used the Ciracle mask last night. It’s very nice! It doesn’t smell like steak fat at all and doesn’t leave my skin oily, just smooth, firm, and luminously moisturized.

Would I still buy this if I weren’t a blogger? Yeah, I think so! Horse oil is said to be excellent for supporting compromised barriers and dry skin, and these masks deliver it in a way that is palatable for my skin. Ciracle makes good stuff. I liked the mask so much that I made the order minutes after taking it off.

And finally, there are these. These are necessities.

The most recent of my purchases was most definitely a panic buy and most definitely a necessary one. Because I believe sunscreen is critical to anti-aging efforts, and also because I’m currently using photosensitizing actives not only on my face but on my body as well, I need to keep my sunscreen wardrobe replenished. Which it wasn’t. I thought I had another tube of the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence* in my spares drawer, but I don’t. Shitshitshit. I have some lovely Thankyou Farmer PA+++ sunscreen that is great for mostly-indoor days, but the weather is gorgeous and I like taking my child to the beach, so I absolutely need PA++++ in my life.

Speaking of the beach, we sometimes stay there for longer than just an hour or two, meaning that if I don’t want to reapply my sunscreen, I’ll need something longer-wearing. Something like Biore UV Perfect Bright Milk*, which I also like on days when I want a matte finish to my skin. And because of the aforementioned body actives, I need the highest protection possible on my arms and legs now, too. The Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel* flares my eczema on my face but not on my body. It has the perfect weightless and fast-drying consistency and comes in bottles that are big by J-sunscreen standards. Boom. Two bottles acquired for slathering on limbs.

Would I still buy these if I weren’t a blogger? Yes. Of course. Sunscreen is a must!

Jesus, Fiddy. You sure do buy a lot. Where do sponsors fit into this mess?

I am really, really lucky to work with many very generous sponsors who are willing to provide me with whatever products they carry that I’m interested in, and of course I take advantage of that to acquire and review even more products than I would be able to otherwise. I realized lately that if I really wanted to, I could probably run this blog (and my personal skincare routine) on press samples and gifts alone at this point. But I don’t want to. I feel uncomfortable with the idea. One of the key aspects of a product is its value, the results it delivers considered relative to the cost of the product, and I think that if I never paid for a single product, I would lose my ability to evaluate the value of products for readers. That’s one of the reasons I bit the bullet and purchased two Sulwhasoo products out of pocket instead of waiting for an opportunity for them to be provided by a sponsor.

I also need total freedom of choice in my product acquisitions. While my sponsors do let me pick what products they send me, there are plenty of products not carried by my sponsors. And finally, I can’t ask a sponsor to give me something I’ve already reviewed. So I open up my warchest all the time. Doing so allows me to retain a sense of total ownership over my routine and my blog and lets me feel comfortable with accepting the products I do accept and working with the sponsors I do work with.

Sponsors like Memebox are great for introducing me to products, but once the introductions are made, I have to pay for future dates–and that’s totally as it should be.

There you have it, the anatomy of my May skincare hauls! Got any questions? Wanna tell the stories of your recent hauls? Talk to me in the comments section!

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34 responses to “#Enabled: May Skincare Purchases and the Stories Behind Them (aka Shopping Habits of a Beauty Blogger)

  1. This was interesting to read. Thanks for your honesty as to what you wouldn’t buy if you were a blogger, as well as press samples and gifts. Out of curiosity: are there any products that you don’t end up finishing because you have so many others in the same category, or do you end up repurposing them for other uses? Even though I’m a non-blogger, there are certain categories of products of which I have an excess and am eager to use up so that I’ll have less clutter on my counter, but I only have one face, and it’s a sensitive one at that. I can’t imagine how it must be for bloggers who own even more products.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jennifer! Products that I dislike on my face end up being used on my body, like that Danahan ginseng essence whose fragrance I can’t stand, and the Let’s Cure Honeybunny propolis ampoule that just doesn’t do much for me. Body skin needs love too! #buttskinfirst

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your response! That’s what I do as well. My body is getting a lot of luxurious products (but ultimately duds, or things that I’m bored with or are inappropriate for the season but will expire by next season) rubbed on it. For examples, my arms Y legs get doused with a rich Whamisa toner (perfectly fine toner, but too rich for summer, plus I have a better toner now) and then one of the Shara Shara bombs which I really want to use up. . .

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dude this was such a great read! I loved reading your thought process on why you purchase from what location and why. I realised that I do the same thing! Also, you’re on the money about sponsors. At the end of the day.. it’s your face? So while it’s nice that sponsors are willing to send things, your face isn’t a canvas for promotion, your routine is still something that’s very much for you. You might want to try new things, but at your leisure. Brilliant way of looking at things!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think 상황버섯 is phenellinus. I just count the number of character. houttuynia has only 3 hangul character.

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  4. Thanks so much for this informative post! How do you know who is a legit seller on Amazon selling Korean skin care products? I am usually wary of getting anything fake and therefore only shop directly from meme box and soko glam.

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    • I actually have not encountered any fakes in my 2 or 3 years in Kbeauty! It is rarer than it may seem. On Amazon, one way to be extra careful is to shop only from highly rated sellers and/or Amazon Prime sellers. And of course if the price is extremely off, be cautious: don’t buy $15 Sulwhasoo full sizes from Ali Express for example. But 99% of the time things are perfectly fine!

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  5. Currently making my face happy is the package that showed up unexpectedly early today from TesterKorea, containing that Banila Miss Flower yadayada toner you kept waxing rhapsodic about (omg), History of Whoo ginseng oil samples because I love their camellia oil so much, and, to complete the trifecta (I am already in love with the cleansing oil and water), the scrumptiously scented Illi Total Aging Care cleansing foam, which I am NOT going to pH test for at least a week because I want to live in sweet sweet denial of its potential pH level, although the lack of foaminess is promising. (I’m mitigating any damage with a pH adjusting toner.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For what it’s worth, Target now carries some of the MBD masks. Online only, but they’re a little cheaper than on Amazon and arrive almost as fast. Faster than other items I order from Target for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They may be shipped by a third party. IIRC that’s how the Mizon products Target sells are, too: the orders actually get fulfilled by Peach & Lily for that one.

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this post and seeiING not only what you hauled, but why and how being a.blogger influences you! I’ve been a blog reader for a while and I wanted to thank you for all of the information and all of the laughs too! I have a quick question: I’ve ordered the ost c20 vitamin c oil. I use the cosrx a-sol, and I also love the cosrx galactomyces toner. Which product should I apply immediately before the vitamin c? I know they’re both toners, but is there a way to know which would help the vitamin c work best? Thank you so much for your help, and I’ll keep looking forward to your posts!!

    Like

    • Actually you should put the vitamin C first before anything else. Then errrr I would go A-Sol then galactomyces, but with those two you can flip it around without really making much difference IMO. And thanks for commenting! You should go check out my IG or Snapchat…a couple of those hauls came in today and I’m buried in boxes o.O

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  8. Thanks so much for the advice fiddy! In time I guess I’ll add a pH reducing toner to increase effectiveness of the vitamin c, but I probably don’t want full power just yet!! 🙂 I had a feeling mine were more skincare toners than ph balancing toners. And I love your instagram posts– I check there often! Your blog was the first k beauty blog I ever found, you introduced me to snails which my skin Luhhhhhs, and my skin is so much better than before I fell down the kbeauty rabbit hole! Thanks!

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  9. I MUST MUST MUST make a stop at Etude House soon and stock up on those masks! I need to try the Silk Cocoon and the Ginseng, and also stock up on my favorites, like the Vita Complex and Honey ones. My credit card is already cowering in fear.

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    • Oh God…I’m having so many second thoughts about not restocking the Vita Complex. RRS may be hearing from me again if they still have enough of those in stock to make a wholesale 10pack. My thinking was “there are lots of nice, inexpensive brightening watery essence masks out there but not many awesome lotion essence ones” but….now I’m afraid.

      With that said, I imagine the new line will have something roughly equivalent. It better.

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  10. Oh noooo Etude House why you do this. The I Need You Honey and Vita-Complex masks are my favourite! I guess I should get my butt over to RRS before they’re all gone forever. Do you know if they’re also killing the Skin Note hydrogels? They’re a bit smelly but the Calming one is made of magic.

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    • OMG I like the Skin Note hydrogels too, and especially the Calming!! I haven’t heard word about discontinuing that line, but then again, I also don’t hear much about that line anyway, sadly 😦

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  11. I love it so much when people post sheet mask stashes that are bigger than mine. I actually have to schedule when I’m allowed to buy new sheet masks based on current usage rates, otherwise they would take over my house (and my budget!).

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      • Actually mostly trying some new things! The Face Shop just released a new line of masks with things like Goji berry and Lingzhi fungus and various other botanical extracts, so I bought one of each because I like variety in my masks. Also working my way through some 10-packs of Nature Republic masks, as the physical stores in NYC only like to sell the cheaper masks in big packs….. once I’m through more of these I want to buy some MBD masks so I know what to haul when I go to Taiwan this fall!

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  12. My hair is also fine so I tend to stick with the same hair products, Glad you included information about Lador.

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