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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!