It’s a new year, but I still got the same old face, and that face still needs to have things put on it and cleansed off of it on a regular basis, so I’ve got another batch of empties to show off! There are some classics in here, some new (to me) items, and one new version of a nearly-classic that just…well. You’ll see.
Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk(*). Some of the items in this post were provided for my consideration by Fifty Shades of Snail sponsors and are marked with double asterisks(**).
Treeannsea Mella Smoothing Cleansing Water**
Before getting lash extensions, I didn’t play much with cleansing waters. I’ve been diligently double cleansing for ages without issues. The extensions made me rethink my makeup removal step, though, and in the last six months, I’ve gone through several big bottles of cleansing waters, among them this one, originally sent to me by Memebox, which unfortunately appears to be sold out of all the Treeannsea products* at this point.
I say “unfortunately” because I liked the Treeannsea cleansing water a lot. While I can’t vouch for its mascara or eyeliner removal abilities, the fresh-smelling product reliably removed cushion makeup, Glossier skin tint, various blushes, sometimes heavy-handed applications of Dipbrow, and layers upon layers of hard-wearing sunscreen without drying or irritating my skin.
Like most cleansing waters, the Treeannsea Mella Smoothing Cleansing Water does leave a little residue. The film is lighter than many other cleansing waters I’ve tried, though, and manageable. On most nights, I dealt with it by doing my usual second cleanse with a regular foaming cleanser. On lash fill nights, when I can’t get the new extensions wet, I went over my face with a damp cotton pad and was fine.
Presently, this product is a little hard to find. The only retailer I’m comfortable linking for it is YesStyle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Treeannsea products becoming more widely available soon, though.
Alternative: My other favorite cleansing water is illi Hanbang Total Aging Care Cleansing Water, which shares the Treeannsea cleansing water’s non-stripping quick makeup-removal powers and happens to smell heavenly, just like the illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil. (Bisou Beauty Bar)
Sulwhasoo and Amorepacific Empties
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have so many favorites from hanbang grande dame Sulwhasoo or luxury brand Amorepacific, but I do. I empty products from Sulwhasoo pretty regularly, and AP is about to join that club.
Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX**
One of the product types I think Asian beauty does very well is the hydrating toner. Meant to deeply hydrate and soften skin after cleansing, preparing it to better absorb subsequent layers of product, hydrating toners are thicker than the astringent toners many of us are accustomed to, fattened up with humectants and slip agents. Sulwhasoo’s Essential Balancing Water EX, which I received as part of the Concentrated Ginseng Trial Set sent by the brand, is a prime example.
My face drank up every drop of this ultra-smooth but non-sticky elixir and asked for more. I went through the little travel size far too fast. In addition to performing the expected hydrating/plumping/softening functions, the Essential Balancing Water EX also had a strong calming effect for me. It reduced redness noticeably.
The Essential Balancing Water EX has the classic Sulwhasoo herbal fragrance, but lighter and softer than some of the brand’s other products. I loved it and will be getting more.
Sulwhasoo US* (Check the special codes section in my right-hand sidebar, as Sulwhasoo US regularly offers Fifty Shades of Snail readers extra gifts.)
Amorepacific Treatment Cleansing Oil**
I raved about this cleansing oil very recently, crowning it the best cleansing oil I used in 2016, so I won’t spend too much extra time on it here. The classic floral fragrance wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but this is the most satisfying cleansing oil I’ve used probably ever. It breaks up and pulls away all traces of makeup and sunscreen in a flash and rinses so cleanly that I’d be comfortable not following up with a water-soluble second cleanser afterwards if I didn’t want to or couldn’t.
Amorepacific US* (Check the special codes section in my right-hand sidebar, as Amorepacific US regularly offers Fifty Shades of Snail readers extra gifts.)
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX
This is the second bottle I’ve purchased and finished; I think it’s safe to say that the First Care Activating Serum EX, which I previously reviewed, is holy grail status for me. What does it activate? The blood circulation in my face, apparently. Using this product regularly keeps me from looking like death when I wake up after my customary 4 or so hours of shitty sleep. (Yes, I’m working on this.) The only other product I’ve used that has similar enlivening properties is the new Radiance Energy Mask**, so I suppose Sulwhasoo’s herbs really do it for me.
Lador Hydro LPP Treatment
Enough of the positivity and love. Let’s switch gears and get mad together now!
I absolutely loved the original version of Korean haircare brand Lador’s Hydro LPP conditioning treatment. The OG Hydro LPP, along with the Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack* and Scalp Scaling Spa Hair Ampoule*, was one of the only products I’ve tried that ever gave my straight, flat, lifeless hair any kind of fluff or volume. I loved it. I bought it in multiples.
Let my good friend Tracy explain.
Guys. The surprise reformulation is #$@%!!!!!!! dreadful!!!!!!!!! The once-thick, nourishing product is now so watery that I went through this entire tube in two weeks because it kept slopping out of my hand before I could get enough into my hair. Not that it makes a difference, since it did exactly zero to my hair once some of it was in there. It’s like they took everything that was wonderful about the original formula and tossed it into the trash. I am not happy. I’m also nervous about restocking my other Lador favorites, because what if they zombified those too? But maybe I should really stock up in case the formula changes on me?
Okay. Deep breath.
Moisturizers take a while to finish, since I generally use a different one for day than for night, but all good things eventually come to an end. Credit for one of these empties really goes to Lord Fiddy, though. Since he claimed it for himself. No, of course my rage isn’t coming back. It’s fine.
Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Cream
One day, Lord Fiddy complained to me of unusually dry, flaky, red skin. I shoved my current jar of Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Cream at him. I didn’t mean for him to take it over completely. I should work on my communication skills.
But anyway. I was shocked, because although I personally have adored this decadent salve since my first jar of it, Lord Fiddy’s complexion generally leans oilier than mine and responds differently to products. Also, he doesn’t have a bee product fetish like I do. Somehow the Banila Co honey cream became his favorite skincare product ever. A little goes a long way for him, keeps his skin moisturized and calm, reduces shaving redness and irritation, and even softens and conditions his beard. And now it’s gone.
Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream
Speaking of moisturizers that work well for wildly different skin types, I finished off another tube of Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream.
This is one of those AB classics that seemingly every Western K-beauty fan has tried at least once. My friend Cat from Snow White and the Asian Pear loves it and has probably gone through a dozen or more tubes of it. My skin isn’t at all like hers, but I’ve also squeezed the last drops out of my fair share of pink tubes.
Since my skin is more dry-leaning, I don’t use this ultralightweight product as a standalone moisturizer. Instead, I use it as a kind of final sealing step at the end of my routine. It provides an extra hit of snail while laying down a silky-smooth occlusive film to keep good things in and bad things out.
Other uses: The silicones in this product make it a fantastic pseudo-primer under makeup. I also sometimes put this on small cuts, scrapes, and burns. And rub it into my cuticles when they’re ragged, since snail may help accelerate healing. No wonder they label it “Multi-Functional.”
Note: Some US retailers sell this product for ridiculously inflated prices. Please know that there’s really no reason you should ever pay over $10 for a tube of this. You can get two tubes for around that much on Prime.
My routine changes a lot, but certain things tend to stick around. That’s why you end up seeing them in my empties posts a lot. I don’t get tired of them because they just work.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
I’m at the “lost track of how many I’ve bought” stage in my relationship with COSRX’s smooth, slippery, simple snail soother, and that’s just fine with me. While I do branch out to try other snail products–Swanicoco’s Fermentation Snail Complex Care Serum** was enjoyable and effective in its own way–I keep coming back to this.
COSRX’s snail essence, which I first reviewed over a year ago, is the most potently snaily snail product I’ve ever put on my face. It shows in the effects: deep hydration, baby-soft texture, and the ability to bounce back quickly from product breakouts or other undesirable conditions.
(Paid for with referral credits)
Know how I said I still got the same old face (instead of a much more aged face)? Maybe that’s from having used Curology tretinoin for over a year. I’ve stuck with my 0.07% tretinoin/5% MAP/4% niacinamide anti-aging and brightening prescription through several bottles now and am still happy with it.
Long-term, tretinoin is one of the most proven ingredients for accelerating skin renewal. It promotes improved skin texture and firmness and helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles and prevent future ones with proper use of sunscreen every day. It also helps to fade hyperpigmentation.
I’ve found my prescription effective for all these things. My skin has also adjusted to the point where I don’t suffer the dryness or other side effects commonly reported with prescription retinoids, so at this point, it’s win/win.
Curology (referral link)
Even in winter, UV radiation will damage skin and cause premature aging, so I empty tubes of Japanese (and now Korean) sunscreens all year round. I’ve been taking a break from my longtime HG Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence. Bloggers need to switch things up sometimes.
Shiseido SENKA Mineral Water UV Essence
This sunscreen isn’t that new to me, actually. I’ve been using it sporadically since sometime in 2015 and reviewed it in a J-sunscreen post. This is a silky, moisturizing sunscreen that dries to a silicone-smooth, dewy finish. I especially love it under makeup and on days when the weather is drier than usual. I sometimes skip moisturizer when I know I’ll be using this.
Dr. G Brightening Up Sun
This Dr. G tinted sunscreen has completely transformed my morning skincare routine. And by “transformed,” I mean “made ridiculously fast and easy.” The peachy tint and soft matte finish totally eliminate any need for me to use complexion makeup or setting powder. Meanwhile, although this sunscreen provides slightly less UVA and UVB protection than my usual SPF 50+ PA++++ J-sunscreens, its sturdy staying power seems to make up for that. I haven’t noticed any new pigmentation or sun damage issues since I started using this nearly every day. Once dried, the Brightening Up Sun also grabs blush particularly well, giving my precious Missha Tension Blushers surprising longevity.
I do think the tint of this sunscreen could be problematic if your complexion is much darker than NC15. The initial noticeable pale cast fades quickly, but the peachy NC15-ish tint will remain. It also isn’t moisturizing, so most skin will do better with moisturizer underneath. Which is fine for me, since it saves so many makeup steps afterwards! This is either the second or third tube I’ve finished since I first mentioned this product. Definitely not the last.
It took me a while to put together this empties post because I was simultaneously conducting a huge product closet purge and reorganization. My stash will be a thing of beauty soon. I’ve also already made a few more empties, so keep an eye out for the next empties report. And if you’re curious about the products I use on a day-to-day basis, check out my Instagram and/or follow me on Snapchat, where I’m mommasharkus!