My skincare closet is overflowing with bottles and jars, and not all of them have stuff in them anymore. It’s time for a purge!
Some of the products in this post were provided by Fifty Shades of Snail sponsors and are disclosed individually in the text. Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk(*).
Holy grail serum empties
This isn’t the first time I’ve polished off a bottle of these products, and it won’t be the last.
Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum
This was the second bottle of Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum that I purchased and finished. You can find my full review here. The condensed version is that this intensely ginsengy anti-aging serum gives my skin elasticity and resilience that no other product ever has. (Amazon* | Jolse | Sulwhasoo.com*. Check the special codes section in my right-hand sidebar, as Sulwhasoo US regularly offers Fifty Shades of Snail readers extra gifts.)
Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Essence Oil
I’ve lost count of how many bottles of this product I’ve used up in the last few years, but somehow I never got around to writing a standalone review of it. You can read some of my thoughts in this 2015 ampoule roundup. I love the intensely moisturizing Essence Oil, which contains a ton of hydrolyzed collagen for instant firming effects as well as fermented honey, propolis, royal jelly, and other goodness for long-term anti-aging and brightening benefits. (Amazon* | Jolse)
Taiwanese skincare brand Naruko is very good to me, both in terms of what their products do for my skin and in terms of the sheer amount of product they send to me. Both of these items were PR samples provided by the brand. Now that I’ve finished them off, I’d seriously consider purchasing more, if not for the fact that I’m still working through lots of other goodies from their warehouse.
Naruko Jingcheng Face Renewal Miracle Essence
My full review of the Face Renewal Miracle Essence is here. In case you don’t have time for that or just need a refresher, the Face Renewal Miracle Essence’s name isn’t quite as overblown as it might seem. This hydrating first-step fermentation essence gave my skin a translucent glow and softened up a bunch of very stubborn sunspots on my cheekbones. (Naruko Boutique USA*)
Naruko Dermalane Zero Dark Spot Brightening Serum
Not quite as powerful as the Face Renewal Brightening Essence, Shark Sauce, or the more hardcore brightening actives in my routine, Naruko Dermalane Zero Dark Spot Brightening Serum still held its own enough for me to finish the entire Kirsty Hume-esque bottle.
I think of the Zero Dark Spot serum as a secondary brightener, a supporting player to the stronger stuff. While it didn’t really accelerate the fading of actual dark spots on my face, I did notice (after running out) that it had helped keep overall pigmentation in control. Put more bluntly, it maintained a translucency to the upper layers of my skin. Those layers have a tendency to take on more yellow and sallow tones if I so much as look out the window before applying sunscreen. I never really realized that until I ran out of this stuff, because it didn’t happen while I was using it. Underappreciated product of the year!
In addition to some niacinamide, this daily use companion to the Zero Dark Spot sheet masks also contains brightening agents like arbutin, tranexamic acid, and the less common acetyl tyrosine and glutathione. It’s also smooth, scentless, and surprisingly hydrating. Full ingredients are available here. (Naruko Boutique USA*)
Surprise surprise! I’ve finished off a few more tubes of sunscreen! My usage rate has increased slightly since I started applying sunscreen with a cushion puff, but my morning routine has gotten about 15 minutes shorter, so I’m cool with that.
The ones pictured aren’t all that I used up, since some members of this household apparently forget that I hoard empties for blog posts instead of immediately recycling them, but they’re a good representation. For the first time since my unfortunate run-in with Laneige sunscreen back in the Dark Ages of my K-beauty exploration, a Korean sunscreen has joined the rotation.
Retired: My old favorite Japanese sunscreens
I’ve been using the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence and Shiseido Senka Mineral Water UV Essence sunscreens for over a year with hardly a complaint. I still don’t have many particular complaints about either, but for blogging reasons, I’ve been feeling it’s time to move on to other products. Also, I have a lot of FOMO. So while I still adore both of these sunscreens and consider them HG-level, I haven’t repurchased either and will try not to. Instead, I’m trying new things. (Amazon: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence* | Shiseido Senka Mineral Water UV Essence*)
Dr. G (Gowoonsesang) Brightening Up Sun
This tinted sunscreen from Korean brand Dr. G is one of the new (to me) things I’ve been using. My first tube actually came courtesy of my good friend Janice from Club Clio USA, and I hung on to it for a long time. (I’M SORRY, JANICE. LOVE ME ANYWAY.) I was hesitant to use it because it’s SPF 42 (not 50+) and PA+++ (not PA++++). As the days shortened, the weather cooled, and the UV index dropped, though, I figured I’d give it a shot. And I promptly wondered why I’d never paid attention to it before.
Dr. G Brightening Up Sun is perfect for my weekday sunscreen requirements. This is a fairly thick sunscreen that my cushion puff doesn’t readily absorb, meaning I go through less of it using my new method. It dries fast, allowing me to move on with my makeup or rush out the door faster. The peachy NC15-ish tint allows me to skip complexion makeup. And the petal-matte finish means I don’t even need to powder or blot. I’ve long said I don’t believe in sunscreen/makeup combos, but the Brightening Up Sun actually does the job. The fact that it isn’t moisturizing is actually a plus for me, since that means no shine issues throughout the day, either.
I’d still reach for a Japanese sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection in the highest tiers for very outdoorsy or very sunny days, but on a normal day, this is fantastic. I’ve already purchased and started using a second tube of the stuff. (Amazon*)
Carol’s Daughter haircare
Speaking of PR samples that I held on to for way too long, a very long while back, I received some products from L’Oreal-owned haircare brand Carol’s Daughter. At the time, I was firmly attached to my Lador haircare and didn’t give the products much of a chance. Then Lador reformulated the Hydro LPP conditioning treatment for no good reason and I got what was left of my Carol’s Daughter haircare out and started reevaluating.
Carol’s Daughter sent me the Mirabelle Plum Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Replenishing Conditioner (among some other products I’m not yet done testing). This shampoo and conditioner claim to be nourishing and volumizing. I found the shampoo gentle and non-stripping and the conditioner noticeably volumizing, though not particularly moisturizing after all. For fine, flat hair that needs some extra floof but not much moisture, I think these could work nicely. My main complaint with this line is that it is quite strongly scented, too much so for my taste. (Carol’s Daughter)
Writing these posts out makes me realize just how much product I go through. It’s a lot of product. Wow.
Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA
The skin on my body is like the neglected orphan in the closet under the stairs compared to the spoiled rotten skin on my face, but since I live in a place where short sleeves are appropriate pretty much year-round, I do prefer my body skin to look nice. I could scrub with an Italy towel or something, but that’s a lot of work. I’ve gone through tube after tube of this Paula’s Choice glycolic acid body lotion because it’s the easiest and most effective method I’ve found of keeping my body skin smooth and bump-free.
Using an AHA on body skin means having to use body sunscreen all the time as well, but I’m fine with that. I’d rather not turn into leather from the neck down if I’m putting so much effort into avoiding the leathering on my face, anyway. (Paula’s Choice; use my referral link for $10 off your first order)
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (decant)
So I have this friend, Megan, who is super cute and sweet and terribly crafty. She hand-makes snail plushes and Rilakkuma gear for fun! And she used the cuteness as an opening to slip me a decant of Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. I talked about the cleanser a bit in this post. Since then, I’ve finished the decant and used referral credits to get myself a full-sized bottle of the ultra gentle, totally non-foaming face wash, which is just the thing my skin needs when I’ve gone a little bit overboard with exfoliation or with other cleansers that don’t pander quite as much to sensitized skin. (Glossier; use my referral link for 20% off your first purchase)
Lador Scalp Scaling Spa Hair Ampoule
As far as I know, Lador has not reformulated this wondrous single-use scalp and hair treatment. If they do, I’m going to flip a table. I use this in place of conditioner once a week. Near the beginning of my shower, I thoroughly massage it into my scalp, enjoying the minty scent and tingle, and work it all the way down to the ends of my hair. Then I clip my hair up and do all my other shower things before rinsing it out. The result is weightlessly volumized hair that stays fluffy and bouncy all the way through the next day, and a healthy scalp that doesn’t feel dry or itchy or drop any flakes at all. I freaking love this and I want to repeat: THIS BETTER NOT GET REFORMULATED OR FIDDY WILL LOSE HER MIND. (Memebox*)
Banila Co Prime Primer Finish Powder
Of all the products I’ve finished off in the last few months, I like this one the least.
This is actually the second tub I’ve finished. Long story. Anyway, I find the Prime Primer Finish Powder waaaaaaay too powdery and waaaaaaaaay too matte. It’s what I call BBC matte, because for some reason every actress I’ve seen on British TV shows is just so matte. This is beyond shine control. It’s like shine genocide. Using the puff included with the powder takes the finish from powdery to straight-up bakery face. I had to very carefully use the tiniest amounts, applied with a very soft fluffy brush, to make the product work. I may or may not have been sloppy with application on purpose to spill product so I could get through it faster. I’m not getting this again. Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Powder* is the powder for me.
Now that I’ve freed up some room in my closet, it’s time to turn my attention back to polishing off some new things! And psst–you can check out my Instagram if you’re curious about the products I’m using on a day-to-day basis.