Review: COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid (BHA)

This was my first product from COSRX and my first experience into chemical exfoliation.

I use it right after cleansing and using a pH balancing toner (I currently use a simple DIY combo of apple cider vinegar and water) and before AHA, hydrating toners and serums. COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid is oil permeable which means it can get right down into the pores and work it’s gentle exfoliating magic deep in the skin.

I have quite large pores and this is gentle enough to use twice a day for me.

I really like this product a lot – it’s good value for money, and I really admire COSRX as a company for their integrity and dedication.

A while back on the AsianBeauty subreddit there was a discussion on the pH of this product as people with batches made from 2016 onwards were getting higher readings than the expected pH of 3.5-4.5 – most were getting readings of around 5-6.5 – however studies show that Salicylic Acid (and Betaine Salicylate – a neutralised form used in this product) are also effective at higher pHs (6.5). COSRX has responded that the pH had been raised as the previous versions were unstable, and in order to bring the pH back down they would have to add alcohol to the formula.

I find the product still works fine for me – it’s very gentle but I can really see amazing results when I use Fifty Shades of Snail‘s pore shrinking method with my Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask – so I will continue to buy and use this product even with the higher pH.

I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who has enlarged pores, blackheads, or is interested in chemical exfoliation or a K-Beauty style skin care routine.

Love, Selkie.

Review: Etude House Bebe Foot Mask

Okay! After the last one I wanted a foot peel that… well… did anything. Preferably working as advertised.

WARNING: GROSS SKIN AND FEET PICTURES BELOW. (It worked!)

So I picked up a pack of the Etude House Bebe Foot Mask – it came in a cardboard box (WITH BOOTIES) and the cute foot-shaped packet full of liquid, divided in two (one for each foot).

I didn’t get any photos of my feet in the booties, but they were comfy and easy to wear and didn’t leak.

I have a confession to make. I stuffed up. I dozed off while wearing the booties. (Also, the liquid tested at about pH 4 – low enough for exfoliating! Hurraw!)  It wasn’t uncomfortable or apparent I had over-exfoliated UNTIL I jumped in the shower. Holy wow. It hurt when the water touched it – my skin felt raw and burning hot. As soon as I jumped out of the shower it felt a little tender but that was all. My feet felt totally normal, a little dry, when I woke up the following day.

Fast forward to day 4… a tiny blister of skin appeared. The following day when I got out of the shower my skin peeled off my feet in huge sheets, mostly from my heels.

LAST WARNING BEFORE GROSS SKIN AND FEET PICTURES.

Snail gel for scale.

This was amazing. I have used multiple foot peels in the past and none have worked as well as this one did, is it possible that that’s because I over-exfoliated by leaving it on too long? Maybe. But I’ll definitely be picking these up again the next time I want a foot peel!

Review: Rolanjona Milk and Bamboo Vinegar Peeling Tendering Feet Mask


Here in Australia Autumn is finally starting to settle in and for me, that means foot peel time! I’ve bought a couple of cheaper foot peels off of eBay before, some worked okay, some were pretty awful, but this… THIS… aside from the fact that it was under $2, made me so sad.

Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures of the process or the packaging but as you’ll see there’s almost no need for it.

This was TERRIBLE.

First, after soaking my feet in warm water for about an hour, I opened the packaging. 


Surprise! No plastic booties in here, just weirdly thin paper-type fabric soaked in not unpleasant smelling goop. 

Argh. Okay. So I ran around grabbing some supplies. Which ended up being grocery bags, cling film and packing tape.

I picked up the now dripping booties to find not only was there not a foot hole and they needed to be cut, but they had weirdly fused together so I ended up with a small tear in one of the booties. Argh again.

After makeshifting a plastic over-boot for my feet to soak in I tested the pH of the remaining liquid with my cheap pH strips.


In order to exfoliate a pH of around 4.5 is needed. They read at… somewhere between 7.5 and 8. Argh.

So I sat and waited, and played some Animal Crossing to pass the time, and washed off the liquid.

Nothing. After knowing the pH I’m not surprised there was no peeling but there was nothing. No moisturising, no dryness, not a hint that I had even soaked my feet in anything. 

So, lesson learned. These suck.

My top 5 Beauty stuff that makes me cringe

Okay so, here’s a list of things that make me cringe. I’ll go into the why I don’t personally use them but if you have used them please leave me a comment telling me why!

1. Harsh physical exfoliating scrubs

Okay, so you know how soft and smooth you feel after a scrub? You might actually be doing more harm than good depending on which kind of scrub you’re using! One very popular scrub is the Patron “Saint” of physical exfoliants (I’m not going to hint any further with the name but you know the one) – using ground up walnut shells that actually create tiny tears in the skin. Others use little plastic beads that go down your drain and end up in our oceans. Sloughing off a few dead skin cells shouldn’t be so rough as to be creating wounds and tiny tears in your face! When I had bad pimples as a teenager, I used this particular scrub to try to get rid of them, but they kept getting worse! I one day noticed that the less I did to my skin, the better it was, and until recently have strictly adhered to this!

What to try instead: Maybe look into chemical exfoliants – these have changed my whole perception on exfoliation! I love COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid. Or if you really like the feeling of scrubbing your face clean, try gently scrubbing with a sugar scrub while in a warm shower or a “gommage” type exfoliant!

2. Lemon juice

This one is all over Pinterest and makes me want to curl up into a ball and click “report for harmful content” every time. Lemon juice is much much too acidic to go onto your skin, never mind cutting one in half and scrubbing your face with one covered in coffee grains or sugar ugh no no stop. Adding baking soda or bicarbonate of soda to raise the PH doesn’t work unless you’re testing it accurately… even then. Unless you know what you’re doing, leave it to the pros.

What to try instead: If you want the brightening effects of Vitamin C all over your face OST C20 is a fairly inexpensive popular choice.  If you want a scrub, well we’ve covered that.

3. Vaseline

Ugh. I mentioned in my Clean it Zero review post that me and Vaseline do not see eye to eye. I understand that some people are happy using it as their occlusive layer and that’s them, but the thick viscous feel of it always makes me cringe.

What to try instead: Try amping up your hydration! If you’re hydrated to the max and love Vaseline as an occlusive then go for it! This one is totally a personal preference.

4. Peel off masks and “quick fix” crazes

Okay so, we’ve all been there. The newest craziest easiest beauty product just hit twitter/instagram/everywhere and you NEED that $463 (okay I just pulled a number out of my butt – like I feel some of these companies do) black peel off mask. OR did you know you can just make it out of things you have in your house for free? Ugh. I hate when things trend like this. Sure, sometimes they’re interesting, fun, or occasionally actually not terrible products (some people hate the Elizavecca Carbonated Clay mask – I like it!) but mostly the idea that you can throw some glue on your face and “instantly, magically” fix your skin (and the accompanied savvy businesspeople trying to sell you 30mL of glue for a ridiculous price because it’s trendy) really makes me kinda sad. Yes, for some people it may be a gateway to taking amazingly good care of their skin – unfortunately, most of these trends are one off – do nothing – wastes of money. That is, if they don’t damage your skin,

What to try instead: Ensure you have a base skincare routine you’re happy with. Try new products – but always take everything – especially anything labelled as “the hottest new skincare trend” or similar – with a grain of salt. Or maybe it’s just me that’s salty…

5. Nose strips

Okay, immediately relating to the above peel off masks, these can actually damage your skin. Those tiny little flecks that get pulled out of your nose/forehead/chin/eyelids aren’t actually blackheads – they’re sebaceous filaments,  and they’ll be back in a couple of days. Overuse of the nose-strip type ripping/pulling mask technique can lead to scarring of your pores, and I’m unfortunate proof of this. I had really bad blackheads so I was using the strips – as directed – twice a week. Then I notice one pore in my nose had gotten big. Like REALLY big. Like 4 of my other pores mashed together in a line. It’s been that way for 10 years now, and I’ve accepted my goof, but seriously, please don’t use peel type strips or masks!

What to try instead: GENTLE exfoliation. You can try chemical (it’s not as scary as it sounds, honest) or any of the techniques I mentioned above.

So weirdly, most of my cringe inducting skincare related junk is related to exfoliation. Just remember – a pimple is a wound. If you had a scratch on your arm would you be scrubbing sand onto it to make it “go away”?

Love, Selkie.

Beauty talk!

Also known as, what the heck is she talking about?! As my beauty routine expands I’m finding new and interesting things all the damn time, so I’ll be adding some of them below as to a sort of “cheat sheet” to ingredients and terms I may use that might not make any sense to you… yet.

I’ll be periodically updating this post as I find new and interesting things that might need explaining!

If anything below needs more explaining, if you know of something interesting I should add or *gasp* if I’ve made an error, please comment and let me know!

Image source

 
Acids or actives – Scary sounding but (for me) life changing chemical exfoliants. Acids may reference alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), vitamin C and more! They are used for anti- acne, anti-aging, and brightening skin tone.

AHAs – Alpha hydroxy acids. In skincare these are usually formulated from fruit extracts (citric acid), sugar cane (glycolic acid) and milk (lactic acid) and are water permeable. They are used to “unglue” the top dead layer of skin, and are used for anti-acne and anti-aging

Arbutin – A chemical compound found in wheat, pear skins and bearberry plants. It inhibits the production of melanin and is used as a skin lightening ingredient.

Bee Venom – Pretty much what it sounds like – the stuff that moves through a bee’s stinger when it stings. I’ve read that in some cases it is extracted without killing the bees by having them walk on a very lightly electrified “mesh” that the venom passes through without damaging the bee or their stinger. Bee Venom is used in skincare for plumping, anti-aging and anti-acne, and is said to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

BHAs – Beta hydroxy acids. In skincare this is most commonly salicylic acid, found in willow bark, and is oil soluble. These can penetrate deep into the pores the exfoliate, making them great for anti-acne and also for anti-aging.

Ceramides – The molecules in your skin that hold moisture and hold the cells together. Ceramides are used to replenish any that have been lost from dehydration or aging. They are used as anti-aging, and moisturising.

Double cleansing or oil cleansing – Using an oil based cleanser to first remove sunscreen, makeup and general gunk before using a second cleanser (these are your more “normal” foam cleansers).

Hanbang – Korean traditional herbal medicine. Relating to skincare this usually includes herbs and botanical extracts (and the occasionally potent earthy smells!). Ingredients that are considered Hanbang include the ever popular ginseng, mushrooms, lotus, camellia, bamboo, green tea as well as traditional processes such as fermentation.

Hyaluronic Acid – A molecule that retains moisture, naturally occurring in skin and cartilage. Improves wrinkles and skin elasticity and also helps skin retain hydration and moisture.

Hydration – Adding water – as opposed to moisturising which adds oils.

Fermentation – You know, like beer! But really, fermented ingredients in skin care are closer to the “good bacteria” you hear about in sauerkraut. Fermented ingredients can have anti-aging and skin brightening properties.

Grits – The small pieces of gunk that come out of your face when oil cleansing (I’ve had this happen ONCE. It was AWESOME.) These may be sebaceous filaments (SF) or even bits of fluff from towels or in those air that may look like they’ve come out of your face when they didn’t.

Lightening or Whitening: First and foremost, this is NOT about skin bleaching. While I’m naturally as pale as a ghost I do get hyperpigmentation spots after pimples, as well as the annoying red scarring. This is where the “lightening” products come into play for me – think of them more as “evening out” or “brightening” your skin tone rather than changing the shade. Generally while blogging I prefer the term bright over light or white.

Niacinamide – A form of vitamin B3 – it’s been very well studied and is efficient at evening out skin tone, adding “brightness” to skin and even reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Occlusive – A moisturiser that is used a final seal in your skincare routine. Anything from your bare-bones Vaseline to high end luxury creams that lock in moisture and hydration to keep all that goodness from escaping out of your skin all day or night long.

Peptides – Moisture binding agents (amino acids) that make up proteins – these may be used in skincare to reinforce naturally occurring proteins in the skin such as collagen, keratin and elastin. They can increase firmness, elasticity, smoothness and hydration.

PIE and/or PIH – Post Inflammatory Erythema or Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. When you scar after a spot if it goes red or pink it’s usually PIE, and if it goes darker it’s usually PIH. Also, hyperpigmentation won’t react to pressure the way PIE will so if you want to test which you have, press a clear flat-bottomed shot glass (the bottom part against your skin) and see if it fades. If it does, it’s PIE, if not, it’s PIH. Unfortunately no actual pies involved.

Propolis – Bee glue! It’s a resin-like substance that bees use to seal off sections in honeycombs. It is said to be antibacterial and anti inflammatory and may also reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Snail mucin or snail secretion filtrate – Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like. It’s snail slime. Snail slime is amazing for healing  (think about if the bottom of your feet were softer than your tongue!) and plenty of other benefits.

Review: Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask 

Ok so first off, I’m obsessed with cute gimmicky skincare. It constantly pops in and out of my routine but very occasionally I’ll find one that I actually like.

Now that the furore for this product is starting to die down a little, I figured I’d throw my two cents in. I bought it because it was cute, fun, and has a happy little pig on the container. It also wasn’t overly expensive.


Photo via Elizavecca.com

I think almost everything that’s to be said about this product has been said 100 times over by now, but I wanted to share something that I found really surprising.

After doing the amazing pore shrinking routine as shown here by Fifty Shades of Snail as follows:

1. Starting with makeup free but unwashed skin ( I did it first thing in the morning) apply your BHA. I used COSRX Blackhead power liquid – about 4 pumps to really slather all over my skin.

2. Wait around 20 minutes or an episode of Forensic Files.

3. Apply your clay mask – in this case the Elizavecca Carbonated Clay Mask.

4. Follow the directions on the packaging. Don’t sneeze. Don’t itch. Don’t think about how itchy it is. Don’t scratch.

5. Rinse off clay mask with lukewarm water. Be absolutely amazed that your pores actually look less hideous. Be astounded that the blue-black hair dye stains all down the left side of your forehead and cheeks from where it dripped have vanished without a trace.

6. Apply your oil cleanser, I used the regular Banila Co. Clean it Zero.

7. WAIT. This is important. Watch two episodes of Forensic Files and then doze off…

8. Gently GENTLY massage your face. Hopefully you are now learning what grits are, and not in the American breakfast (is it breakfast?) context, but all those clogs and dirt that were in your face are now free.

9. Finish routine as per normal (although I skip any other acids on days I do this).
It worked guys, like holy wow. Clogs I didn’t even know were there were leaping out and it EVEN REMOVED PERMANENT BLACK HAIR DYE FROM MY SKIN. I can attest I’ve tried everything under the sun, harsh exfoliants, bi carb soda, acetone, everything. And nothing NOTHING removed stains like this. With no damage, no scrubbing, no scratching. I’m blown away.

I’ve since tried it with the Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay mask – which I think I preferred for my skin, but it’s less entertaining and didn’t remove hairdye stains nearly as well.

I will definitely be repurchasing the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask again – if only for those pesky hair dye stains immediately before an important event!

Banila Co. Clean it Zero! A review and comparison of all four types.

When I first started my Asian beauty inspired routine I knew what my first step had to be, both literally and figuratively.

Oil cleanser! I live in Australia, I’m very pale, and I want to keep it that way so I wear a LOT of sunscreen. I read that it was the best way to remove makeup, sunscreen and general goo from your face so your “normal” cleanser can really get in and do what it’s supposed to do.

So I approached the idea with caution. This is because I dye my hair and sometimes use Vaseline to cover my skin to stop it from going blue-black but ugh. That feeling… It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. It’s greasy, sticky, and personally, I’m not a fan. I can’t stand using it so I put up with dye stained ears for a few days rather than subject myself to the evil vat of petroleum sludge.

So first hearing about oil cleansing I got that same, crawling feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was going to wash my face… with oil? Ew. No thanks. Nope. No.

So I read up on it, I asked around on reddit, and someone suggested the Banila Co. Clean it Zero to start me off, as it’s a different texture, easy to find, not drippy and messy, and a bit easier for a creeped out newbie to handle. Sounds good!

I managed to snag a sample pack of each of the four kinds because I’m quite indecisive and even though I looked quite a bit I couldn’t find a comparison that suited the questions I had. (If you find or have written one please please link me!)

I’ve broken down my comparison as I have a couple of requirements, however my skin is pretty hardy and not at all sensitive and firmly balanced between oily and dry – yes I’m a mythical creature of no not combination really it’s normal skin type.


1. Smell
If I’m going to be slathering this stuff on my face daily, massaging and hopefully drawing out those stubborn grits out of my nose, it has to smell okay. It doesn’t have to be scented at all, but if it is, I want it to be nice. Not necessarily a deal breaker but it might help if I’m torn between two. Obviously the rating on this will totally depend on your taste. The scent on all four of these is quite subtle to my nose but if any of these sound gross to you, well, here’s your heads up.

Regular – sweet, lightly floral almost baby powder scent. A little cloying to me but that just because I jammed my nose in the pot. 3/5

Purity – one of the big draws for Purity is that it’s free from any added fragrances, but it does have a scent. It’s the lightest herby lavender smell, which considering it has lavender oil in it is unsurprising. 4/5

Reveratrol – very bright fruity scent, mostly green apple. This is my fave! 5/5

Radiance – soft, floral almost candy like scent. Kinda meh but not offensive. 3/5

2. Makeup & sunscreen removal

Now this is why I bought the four pack! I’ve tested them all quite a bit and found it to be a tie overall, but I did another small test so I could show you guys!


I slathered some makeup on my hand, two eyeliners, a liquid liner and a liquid lipstick as well as a slather of my indomitable mascara (review for that one coming soon!) as it’s easier to show makeup removal in picture format than sunscreen removal.


I tried really hard to put the same sized tiny blob of each cleanser onto each section of my hand. I rubbed them in a bit to get them breaking down the makeup, as you can see the liquid lipstick and eyeliners gave up immediately!


I ran some water over my hand and, still trying to keep each quarter seperate, emulsified them. You can’t see it here but all four went milky when mixed with water, this is when the liquid eyeliner gave in.


And rinsed off! As you can see that mascara doesn’t budge, unfortunately my hand isn’t a perfectly flat even surface for testing, but I can tell you that I was rubbing and working the hardest on the Radiance quarter.

So, after multiple face tests and the little experiment above I gave each one a score out of 10 for makeup removal.

Normal: 9/10

Purity: 8/10

Resveratrol: 9/10

Radiance: 7/10

3. Feel

Again, this is totally subjective but I wanted my oil cleanser to give me some slip, especially when I’m doing a facial massage.

Regular: Nice, creamy, soft. Emulsified well. Left minimal residue. 8/10

Purity: A bit more slippery when melted than the regular kind. Left no noticeable residue. 9/10

Resveratrol: Almost the same as the regular. Minimal residue. 8/10

Radiance: Same again, doesn’t feel different until rinsed off. Leaves a film behind that my regular cleanser removed. 6/10

4. Bonus round!

Purity gets a bonus point for being clean, simple and free from stuff that makes people not able to try the regular kind, sooo a point for being inclusive.

Regular gets a point for being the most readily available and usually the cheapest.

Final thoughts.

I really like all of the “flavours” of Banila Co Clean it Zero… except Radiance. I was so so excited to try it but it wasn’t the best at removing makeup, smells not so great and just left me feeling kinda meh.

I was also interested in the Resveratrol version as I keep seeing it advertised being for oily skin OR anti-aging. I didn’t notice any difference in oil production or skin texture during my tests but I may grab a full size soon to investigate further.

Down the track I may purchase a full size of the Radiance, just to see if I’m being too harsh but for now, I’m totally in love with the other three, but the smell of the Resveratrol version has my heart.

Love,

Selkie