CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

Throw out your Cerave cleansers, boys and girls, I have found the new cleanser holy grail! (Just kidding, don’t throw out the Cerave, it’s still fine). Seriously though, this $9, 5 fl oz bottle is awesome for sensitive skin.

It’s a cleanser, so I don’t think I’ll have too much to say in the review since the process is quick: you apply the clear gel from the bottle on your face with a little water, and rub it in. Then, you wash it off. However, there are a few things this product is capable of that, strangely, many cleansers cannot do:

1- You only need 1 dollop of gel for your face to cover your entire face (as opposed to like, four pumps out of a bottle, and even then, you still think to yourself “I probably need another”),

2- It removes makeup fully,

3- Doesn’t strip your skin: your face won’t feel dry after you wash the product off of your face, and…

4- Doesn’t cause break outs! I can’t say for certain if it’s because of the cleanser or not, but I feel that the condition of my skin has been better since I started using it a few weeks ago,

5- The price point is pretty good at $10 a bottle.

The smell of the gel is a bit sterile, but I can live with that. That’s the point of soap, after all, isn’t it? So there you have it! The perfect cleanser. I absolutely recommend this. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: n/a

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

My Current Routine

For the sake of documenting a moment in time, and perhaps to reflect in five years to ask myself “why on Earth did I use that?”, I wanted to list some of my current skincare favorites. I recently went on a short trip, which is always great for forcing yourself to decide on which products are truly must-haves (and also useful in those moments where you think to yourself, “why did I forget to pack that?!).

Now, of course, I don’t use all of these every single day, but everything listed is in heavy rotation. All of these products have been in my routines for a minimum of five months — some have been in my routine for over six years. I can say that all of these have maintained or improved my sensitive, acne-prone skin. Everyone’s reactions are different, but if I had to recommend products to someone with skin issues, these would all be included in that list.

AM Routine

  • COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray
  • Melano CC Gel (although I’m not 100% sold on this one yet…)
  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
  • Rohto Skin Aqua Super Moisture Milk SPF50

PM Routine

  • COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (I obviously love this)
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray (same with this, I would spritz this every hour on the hour if I could)
  • Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner

PM Exfoliant Options:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA
  • The Ordinary 5% Lactic Acid
  • Epiduo
  • Derma-E Anti Wrinkle Eye Cream

PM Moisturizer Options

  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
  • Cerave PM

PM Heavy Moisturizers — “Last Step”:

  • Bio-Oil
  • CosRX Honey Ceramide Cream
  • HadaLabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Solution

Makeup

  • IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Illumination – Medium
  • Maybelline Stick Corrector Concealer (under eyes, and on/around eyelids with careful blending)
  • NYX Tinted Brow Mascara in Brown
  • L’oreal Lash Paradise
  • Physicians Formula Eye Booster Pencil Eyeliner
  • Physicians Formula Mineral Glow Pearls in Bronze (used as bronzer)
  • Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in Molten Rose Gold

INNISFREE Daily UV Protection Cream No Sebum SPF35 PA+++

Innisfree UV Protection Cream came up in my search for alcohol-free sunscreens on Reddit, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was… lackluster, though not awful.

You get a tiny bit more product in this sunscreen than you do with most Asian sunscreens at 50mL, at an equivalent price point of $10-12. It was tough for me to find a US seller for this one, so there was a bit of a wait for this to be shipped from Korea.

The product comes out of the tube pretty easily. It initially has this, kind of… beige-colored tint? But it immediately turns white once you apply it to your face. Smells a little like fruity chalk, too. Ok, let’s try a better descriptor than that: like Flintstones vitamins. And that smell never fades at any point through the day.

It applies fairly easy onto the skin, but the white-cast is somewhat noticeable and doesn’t fade easily. That said; it does play well with makeup and other products underneath it, but you might notice the sunscreen ends up being a tad bit of a white-mixer with your foundation.

This sunscreen started to make my skin feel a bit dry after the 4 hour mark — although it wasn’t affecting my makeup necessarily, it felt like my skin was cracking each time I smiled.

I guess longevity isn’t technically a “thing” with sunscreens, because you should be reapplying after 2 hours anyway, but wearing the Innisfree sunscreen for a week or two instead of my usual SPF 50 made me realize how much more effective the SPF 50 is at blocking out rays. I got substantially more color on my skin in those two weeks.

I was a little paranoid this would make me break out because it dried my skin out so quickly, but it didn’t. So that was cool. Other than that, I guess I wasn’t really blown away by anything, and I probably won’t rebuy it. The whitecast was kind of annoying, it made my skin feel too tight, and I could also see how the smell would be off-putting for some. But hey — any sunscreen that doesn’t break me out is a friend in my book! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 3/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

THE ORDINARY Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

I think my skin has an “eject” button when it comes to TO’s products. I’d say about 50% of the products I’ve tried from them end in a terrifying amount of drying and peeling, with nothing to show for it.

The packaging is standard fare for TO: dropper bottle and dark packaging, to prevent light from affecting the structural integrity of the product (I think? Or did I make that up?). Sephora’s website says that the serum inside is “lightweight”, but I beg to differ. It’s pretty heavy and slow-moving — the dropper will likely take in way more than you need for both eyes. The serum itself is a light brown color, but that color is not noticeable once you apply it to your skin.

You really don’t need too much to spread under your eye. The formula is incredibly thick, but it’s fairly easy to push around. And for being so thick, it dries relatively quickly and fully, although you might feel that area of skin is a bit heavy for up to ten minutes. I can’t speak to stacking products over top of this one, since I think it’s overkill for such a thin layer of skin, but my next paragraph will explain this product’s time-delayed destruction of eye makeup!

Even if you’re careful to apply very little to the skin, within two to three hours you may notice your skin is starting to slough off, regardless of time you apply it. While initially playing well with eye makeup (assuming you’ve waited the dry time), it’ll start to crack any concealer, eye shadow or powder you’ve applied. This made me think “perhaps I should only apply this at night!”. In theory, this should be fine, since there’s no makeup around to break down at that point, but I still woke up with tons of rolling pills of skin and product under my eye.

Even after washing all of that… lovely mess off of my face, there wasn’t much to show for it, even after three weeks of use. I have noticeably recessed skin between my lower eyelid and cheek, so any dark circles or wrinkles that come into my life are on full display to the world. I didn’t feel like I was experiencing any brightening or decreasing of either. On the plus side, besides the crazy pilling skin, I didn’t experience any other irritation, not even in the instance it touched my waterline.

Another swing and a miss for me with TO products, although the low price tag of $8 doesn’t make me feel too guilty. I had a similar pilling issue with their Niacinamide and Buffet products, but those are HG’s for a lot of other people. So, as always, YMMV. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Fake Out

Physicians Formula got it right on their eyeliners for me, so I was hoping I could say the same for their mascaras. In general I get sucked in by PF products because they’re hypoallergenic, but this time around I will admit, it was DEFINITELY the cool packaging. I mean, look at that mascara. That is a cool looking mascara. (turns out though, it doesn’t make it any easier to hold).

But this $14 mascara really missed the mark for me. The implication of the name “Fake Out” is that this will mimic false lashes, but this mascara accomplishes the farthest thing from that. The overall effect is that lashes will be combed into pin-straight (but not elongated), separated lines, with minimal color to boost them. I’m not saying we should be buying mascaras that purposely turn our lashes into clumpy spider legs, but false eyelashes should add volume, and fan outward.

I guess if you were looking for minimal boost and an extremely low-effort look, this might be the way to go. But even the longevity is terrible. Within an HOUR, I found debris of the mascara under my eye. By hour three, the mascara was entirely gone from my lashes, and it looked as though I had applied nothing at all.

Now I’m no packaging expert, but it seems to me that the wand itself is just not conducive to picking up product in the tube — either that or the product itself is very dry. And it’s kind of a pain to go back into the tube to get more product, since the cap of the wand is really annoying to hold, and there’s a “suction” going into the actual tube that you have to push a little harder to break through. Not that getting more product is going to make too much of a difference anyway — it simply doesn’t stack, and you won’t notice a difference in the overall effect by adding an extra coat or two.

Big time “no thanks” to this mascara. It’s definitely not worth $14. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

ROHTO SKIN AQUA Super Moisture Milk SPF50 PA++++

I… I think I’m in love. Move aside, It’s Skin 2pm, I think I found a new holy grail of sunscreens. This little bottle is totally worth the month long wait to ship from Japan. Why do I love it so much? Let me count the ways …

1- No drying alcohols. Which leads me to my next point:

2- Has never broken me out.

3- Dries clear. There’s absolutely NO whitecast.

4- Odorless. Well, there is the faint sunscreen-y smell, but nothing noticeable or overwhelming, and goes away after a minute or two.

5- No pilling. Easily spreadable. Just give it a couple of minutes to dry, then go ahead and dump your foundation, powders, other moisturizers, literally whatever, on top of it. It won’t roll up.

6- Dries quickly. Kind of the same as #5, but I wanted to mention more of the texture. The sunscreen is a watery white gel that absorbs extremely rapidly — and clear. You’ll still feel a bit of a “film” on your skin, but it’s not heavy or bothersome.

7- A little goes a long way. Don’t be scared of the tiny 40ml bottle – you really only need two or three drops of this to spread across your face. Which reminds me…

8- No burning on application.

9- Waterproof. You can still “feel” the film of this on your face even after working up a sweat.

10- SPF 50! Can’t get much better than that.

11- Bonus ingredient: hyaluronic acid.

This is everything I could want in a sunscreen. It’s too perfect. The only thing I hate is the ridiculously long ship time. I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop because I can’t find anything wrong with it. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Maybelline The City Mini Palette

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted! I recently had a huge clear out of all my beauty products, and had some blogging inspiration strike me when I found some old favorites — and not so favorite — products in my drawer.

I bought two of these Maybelline powder eye shadows on a whim whilst remembering the errant MUA video I had seen with a relatively good color payout with these products. Generally, it seems like this eye shadow has good reviews. Now, full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of eye shadow to begin with, and I’ve privy to believe that no drugstore eyeshadow – powder or gel – has a good color payout.

I picked up Chill Brunch and Downtown Sunrise (pictured). I really liked the presentation sparkly silver and beige in Chill Brunch, and wanted to play with the orange in Downtown Sunrise. Sadly, between the two palettes, I wasn’t exactly blown away by any of the turn out. I’ll go over some of the highs and lows of these palettes:

Downtown Sunrise: I think I just grabbed this for the orange, if I’m being honest! The color wasn’t extremely noticeable, but definitely more pigmented than I’ve seen other drugstore-oranges. It actually stuck around on my eyelids for more than three hours! The color payout of the orangey-beige, yellow, and the pink, however, were terrible, much to my dismay.

Chill Brunch: They got it right on the shiny beige here, good coloration and it seemed to stick around for more than three hours. I liked the impact that the shiny gray and brown had – very pigmented, very sparkly — but they weren’t great for my skin coloration, so I had to pass on those. The purples, on the other hand, are good for my skin tone, but the color seemed to disappear or lighten within minutes of application.

An upside to both of these pallets is that I didn’t really have an issue with powder fallout into either my eye or my skin. But all in all, these were still typical Maybelline eyeshadow palettes. Some of the colors are very well pigmented, but a large majority are ineffective, even if you’re using a heavy hand in application. Even if you’re able to pick out a good color from the batch, chances are you won’t see the color after thirty minutes of wear. I did really like the orange from Downtown Sunrise, but there are definitely better palettes for orange than this one. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5