to pamper / amorepacific skincare

Amorepacific owns a ton of brands (including Sulwhasoo, Laneige) but the Amorepacific brand itself is not popular in Korea. My Korean friends often don’t even know that there are Amorepacific branded products!


via

The Essence

I love the Amorepacific Vintage Single Extract Essence. Green tea leaves are picked by hand from Amorepacific’s green tea gardens on Jeju Island, naturally fermented for 100 days, then the tea extracted through a 24 hour process. The “vintage” is from the product of a single crop and the aging process. It is full of powerful antioxidants, which protect against sun damage and is touted to promote skin clarity, texture and elasticity.

I bought mine in Seoul last October and am almost done with the 4 oz bottle after non-daily use (I alternate with a Sulwhasoo water). I am a bit heavy handed with application. I shake some into my palm and spread/pat it on my face. It is very watery. If you use serums, essence helps your skin absorb the serum and you should apply them while your skin is still wet from the essence. My skin feels hydrated, dewy from using this essence in addition to healthy despite what serums I use.

The con? It is pricey. A full size bottle is 4 oz and $145. They recently started selling a 2.36 oz bottle for $95.

The Treatment Enzyme Peel Cleansing Powder

This is a very popular item for AP’s sets. Chances are if you got a set, this was in it. You mix some powder with water and then massage it into your face, and then rinse. My skin does not feel tight, the pH seems to work well. A little goes a long way. I use it occasionally for a deep cleanse. I especially like using it before a sheet mask so the sheet mask can work off of a clean slate. Since it’s powder, it is TSA friendly. AP recently changed the packaging, I’m not sure if the formula changed at all. AP has an exclusive set of the full size powder and the mid sized essence for a good price (see below).

Other Products

  • Cleansing Oil – I’ve only ever tried this in the mini size. I like the formula but not the dispenser of the mini size. My face feels so silky smooth after I use the oil. It is scented and I don’t love the scent. I like trying new cleansing oils, so have yet to commit to a full size of this one.
  • Cleansing Foam – My friend loves this. It makes my skin feel a little tight, but after I apply my normal products, it feels fine. As someone who is deeply committed to the Cerave foaming cleanser for performance and value, I will use the free minis I get but will not commit to a full size.
  • Moisture Bound collection – This is their hydration line. I don’t like the scent so whenever I get something that has minis of this collection, I immediately gift it or it goes into the reselling pile. I especially hate the hydration spray. While the scent is also in some of their other products, it’s easier to tolerate when it can be washed off (cleansing product).
  • The Essential Creme Fluid/Vintage Wash Off Masque – I’m looking forward to trying these. The fluid is made with baby green tea leaves.

Where to Buy:

If you can get yourself to Korea…

  • Go to the Lotte Duty Free stores in the city. I went to one in Seoul and they had a great value set of the essence. I got 2 full sized bottles, 2 deluxe travel bottles, and a ton of minis/a roller for $209. This was not available on the app and I didn’t bother checking the airport.
  • Order on the Lotte Duty Free app for pickup at the airport and take advantage of the coupons (maximizing this would take a separate post).

In the US…

If you order from them, keep a record of your order confirmation screen. This didn’t happen to me on this site, but when I ordered from Sulwhasoo (sister site), I never got an order confirmation e-mail.

to pamper / sephora holiday beauty insider event

It’s that time of year again for Sephora’s annual sale. Sephora did push up the dates a bit. When you can shop depends on your Sephora Beauty Insider status. The discount applies in US, Canada, and JCPenney.

Rouge: Code ROUGEBONUS for 20% off from Oct 26-29 and Nov 2-5. Fine print for Rouge.
VIB: Code VIBBONUS for 20% off from Nov 9-12
Insiders: Code BIBONUS for 15% off from Nov 16-19. Anyone can sign up for Insiders.

I read that Rouge can use their code during the VIB/Insiders weekends as well. Also, the VIB/Insiders code is one-use only whereas Rouge can place unlimited orders. Sephora has been doing these annual % off sales for the longest. Now, there are other retailers that run similar promotions, however they don’t have all the value sets that Sephora has!

My picks:

Drunk Elephant. In the US, you can buy Drunk Elephant from their own site or Sephora. I quite like Drunk Elephant (old posts). My favorites are the vitamin C serum and the lip balm, then the eye serums, moisturizers, and marula oil. I don’t like the jelly cleanser or SPF.

(1) The Trunk 2.0 comes with 10 full size products, a snazzy acrylic case customized to hold the products, and 28% off. With the Sephora discount, it comes to 42% off. Of course I bought it (with some gift cards I’d been saving). This has since sold out on Sephora, but it’s hard to say whether it will be restocked before the sale ends. It’s also available on Drunk Elephant. Note, it does not include all of DE’s products. Missing: D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops, Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Shaba Complex Eye Serum, Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30, Juju Bar, or Pekee Bar.


Images: Drunk Elephant / Sephora

For the remaining kits, they contain at least one full size product that is priced close to the kit price. It is a no brainer to me.

Continue reading “to pamper / sephora holiday beauty insider event”

to pamper / beauty box review (allure, birchbox, sephora play)

If you’re interested in a beauty box, the Allure Beauty Box has been impressive. I subscribed in December 2017 when I heard of the January spoilers (a full size $85 Sunday Riley serum). They have a good balance of prestige and non-prestige brands. Value-wise, it is easy to pick 1-2 products in the box that exceed the $15/monthly fee*. The box contains a booklet that explains each product and discounts for the full size. You can go month to month, which is what I do.

A sample of what’s been in my boxes:

  • October 2018: 7 products. Sunday Riley x 2, Caudalie, Hourglass mascara, YSL lipgloss, etc. Valued at $86.

  • September 2018: 5 products, 2 were full size. Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, full size MAC lipstick, Tarte x 2, IGK, etc. Valued at $66.

  • August 2018: 6 products, 2 were full size. Laneige, Caudalie, Eyeko, etc. Valued at $69.
  • July 2018: 8 products, 1 was full size. Olay, Ouai, Sunday Riley, etc. Valued at $110.
  • June 2018: 5 products, 3 were full size. Kat Von D and Ole Henricksen. Valued at $69.

Continue reading “to pamper / beauty box review (allure, birchbox, sephora play)”

to pamper / tata harper concentrated brightening serum & huxley brightly ever after essence

Like many other Asians, my skin is prone to hyperpigmentation, freckles, sun spots, etc. It’s not just about sun exposure, it’s also about temperature. I regularly use brightening products to keep the spots at bay.

I’m reviewing two empties today: Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum and Huxley Secret of Sahara Brightly Ever After

(1) Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum

Tata Harper is an American natural beauty brand and I love the concept of clean, natural beauty, but it’s pretty expensive. Products in green colored packaging are her standard line (previously mentioned). Products in yellow colored packaging are pricier and not sold as pervasively as the green line, but has a wider distribution than it used to.

What’s In It? I don’t really read ingredients as my skin is not sensitive, but I looked for reviews (there weren’t that many useful ones). I regularly use Tata products and know that she would never put silicones into her products. From her website: A blend of targeted technology takes a triple-action approach to fighting and minimizing the appearance of dark spots. Brassica Napus and Sea Fern Extract helps to minimize the appearance of dark spots. Colorless Carotenoids help prevent the appearance of dark spots, and Norwegian Kelp boosts glow and helps reduce the look of dark spots.

Texture: It has a consistency of a light lotion unlike what you think of as a serum. For the summer, I used it with the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster powder mixed in. It mixed really well. I use it after any liquid products, like the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum and Water. Even in the hot summer days, it never felt heavy.

Smell: Nothing memorable. I think it smells floral/natural?

How Long It Lasts: I used about 1-2 pumps in the morning. I don’t remember when I started using it (I hate breaking into expensive products and sometimes do it slowly), but I would guess late winter through early October. That’s over half a year for the 1 fl oz and there was a scant amount left after the pump stopped working.

Does It Work? Yes, it does brighten. I noticed it one day after a month of almost daily usage. I have some old, dark spots that didn’t budge, not that I expected them to.

Packaging: Externally, Tata’s products are 5 stars. Internally, it’s also 5 stars. The airless pump works perfectly to deposit the right amount and to keep it hygienic. Glass bottle bottom, but not a deterrent for traveling light.

Pricing: Tata Harper is by no means budget-friendly. Let alone the yellow line. I got it for 30% off (US sales tax included in calculation) by purchasing it from the UK site Cult Beauty during their 20% off Black Friday sale stacked with cashback from another site. Also, there was a very nice Tata Harper gift with purchase, which I placed value on. Purchasing from Cult Beauty means that VAT is removed for US orders and you are also not charged duty tax.

Note on Cult Beauty: I think they send US-bound packages in bulk from the UK to a US third party, aircitypost, which then mails it out. It took 5 weeks(!) for me to get my package. Aircitypost messed up my address (what happened to copy and paste?). Cult Beauty service was 3 stars out of 5. My order also came with a time sensitive coupon. Needless to say, I didn’t shop from them again, but may consider it in the future. Also, the plastic on the inside of the glass container has been warped since I got it – mystery solved after I pulled the top off of the empty bottle.

Would I Buy It Again? Maybe, but I rather try other products first. There are so many.

Where to Buy (available at more stockists than last year):
Tata Harper (especially if want Tata samples)
Nordstrom (sometimes great with stackable gifts with purchase)
NET-A-PORTER (also on their global sites)
Bloomingdales
Neiman Marcus
GOOP
24Sevres
Cult Beauty

(2) Huxley Secret of Sahara Brightly Ever After Essence

Huxley is a mid-range Korean brand. I first heard of Huxley on Glow Recipe, but pretty much everything on that site can be found for a cheaper price elsewhere.

This is called an essence, but I treat it like a serum. The terms essence, ampoule, serum, and water can be confuing. I layer from light to heavy texture.

What’s In It? From Glow Recipe: Huxley’s star ingredient, the antioxidant-rich Prickly Pear Cactus Seed, is still present in the new line to protect and strengthen skin, while new players such as Niacinamide and Mulberry work overtime to supercharge and brighten the complexion. Even better, the milky texture quickly absorbs (seriously, so quickly) to keep your skin slick-free and ready for your moisturizer. It also has glutathione, bisabol, and silicone but I can’t tell for the latter.

Texture: It is heavier than water, but very runny. It’s strange to put an essence in a serum bottle, but this is when the strict definitions of Asian skincare items don’t apply. It spreads and absorbs easily. I also mixed the True Botanicals powder above with this one. It works better with a heavier formula, so I don’t recommend it.

Smell: All of their products have a clean, cactus smell. I love it.

How Long It Lasts: It lasted a while because I didn’t use it consistently. It got to a point where I was determined to finish it, so left it on my vanity to force myself to use it.

Does It Work? It makes my skin feel moisturized and there is some brightening effect, but nothing drastic. It is very easy to layer, despite the silicone ingredient.

Packaging: Huxley uses the same dropper bottle for other essences. The dropper bottle works better than it does on the Oil Essence, but the last bits get stuck and you have to shake it out. Overall, all their products have glass packaging that has a solid feel.

Pricing: Retails for $58 in the US, I got it for $20 + intl shipping from SweetCorea in Korea. I think it’s great for the latter price.

Would I Buy It Again? Maybe, for the same reason as above. I want to try other products.

Where to Buy
Anthropologie
Saks
Nordstrom
Revolve
YesStyle
SweetCorea (cheapest but shipping from Korea is added later, great for a haul)
Harvey Nichols

to pamper / barneys love yourself beauty event

It’s well known amongst friends that I’m a bit excessive with beauty products (moreso skincare than cosmetics). I love minis and freebies. Especially high-end ones like Barneys, where it’s hard to find samples for many of these brands.

I normally wouldn’t post this because I’m a slow updater, but Barneys seems to have extended their September 5-9 semi-annual Love Yourself beauty event for a few weekends now. Spend $200 and you get a big bag of high-end cosmetics, skincare, haircare, and fragrance deluxe samples. (A few days ago their spend x and get y gift card promo ended.) Pre-order items don’t count. They have a nice curation of brands, including niche ones like True Botanicals (my favorites are out of stock), Surratt Beauty (my current eyelash curler), Hanacure (this is on deck for me), their own value beauty boxes, Peach & Lily masks (great for fillers), Shu Uemura Art of Hair, etc. They also have more mainstream brands like Tatcha, Chanel, etc. I think the Barneys gifts with purchase are nicer than Space NK.

And for those living in the NYC area, Barneys’ warehouse is in NJ; you get your order within a day or two!

The contents of the men’s and women’s bags:

(Image: Barneys)

I periodically go through my stash and either give away or sell anything I don’t use or like. This includes samples. While $200 is a high threshold, I was able to find some items that are easy to sell to meet the threshold.