K-Beauty on Amazon: Rebuilding a 15+ Step Routine if My Stash Caught on Fire

Phew, I did it!  As I mentioned in Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types, that if I managed to not throw myself  off a cliff after finishing all 4 skin types, I might do a bonus "My personal kit if my house burned down and I had to start over with nothing but Amazon gift cards" version.  *knocks on wood that will never happen.*

I also warned that unlike the original starter kits, my lineup would not have just 5 items or less, because that's not how I roll.  Here's yesterday's products, for example:

korean beauty product routine
Instead of "drive it like you stole it", it's "layer it like you bought it & it has a limited shelf life"?
I'm coming back to this series as it's something that people seem really interested in, but I'm going to have to break it up a bit because I want these posts to be heavy on visuals and light on wordswordswords.  This is also going to help answer those questions like "why does toner go after a first essence?" and "where do I sheet mask?" which despite all the numerous guides I've made over the years, still remain a frequent visitor to my inbox.  Visuals for the win!

What I'm going to do once this post is done, is create visual examples of how these products can be combined into different routines.  That will be coming up next, woo!

In this post: 

  • My K-Beauty picks on Amazon (if my house burned down)

Let me just say before we start that 1. you do not need all this stuff.  Really.  2. this is not a recommendation of skin treatment; that is a discussion between you and your doctor.  This is just a curated (eurgh that word) round-up of Korean beauty products I throw my money at that are readily available on Amazon, in case you are the "two day shipping or bust" vs the "80% off retail and wait 3 weeks" type.  If you're the latter, this post is for you: From Beginner to Expert Mode: Where I Buy K-Beauty & Asian Cosmetics

K-Beauty On the Road: Inappropriate Sheetmasking & Involuntary Strobing

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you've no doubt already seen/heard my special-event-attendance woes leading up to this weekend; I live a hectic life full of important things like reorganizing my spreadsheet or inventorying my sheet masks, not to mention writing a blog post every weekend and working 60 hours a week at my day job.  This means social outings that require the trappings of non-hermit life such as well-behaved skin, makeup, and spanx is more than I can handle.

Having had to do it a few weekends in a row has me ready to retire from human contact until at least midsummer.  Stress and troubled skin is a bad combination, but weddings are one of those events that you can't really dodge, so I took advantage of our out-of-state drive and loaded our car trunk with (I kid you not) a cardboard box full of skincare, makeup, and sheet masks.  Being 'ready' was beyond my means, but this was as close as it was going to get.

Korean beauty product routine
I loved the dark cherrywood of this desk so much that I'm writing this covered in sawdust. More on that later.
I'm actually already a few hours overdue to be asleep for an early morning workday, so this post is going to be brief (ahahaha no) and terrifying; I'm going to include a demonstration of the cushion + (accidental) highlighter on my skin.

I've also finally figured out how to properly create a linked table of contents (I think), so you can now just jump to the section you want, woo!

In this post:

I need an adult, or preferably an adult beverage, but then I'd fall asleep at my computer and the rest of this post would be endless lines of "dfghjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj" and then possibly a tweet tomorrow about how I caused an electrical fire by drooling into my keyboard.  If you don't want to see how my repurposed highlighter + cushion looked after a full night of wear, duck out after the money shots of the cushion.  You've been warned!

How I Test and Review Products

While working on an upcoming project, I went looking for a post to link that detailed my testing and review process, and I realized I didn't really have one.  Whoops!  I do have a pretty in-depth post about my spreadsheet which focuses on how my stash is organized and how the testing schedule works, but I don't really have a stand-alone post about the testing process despite being pretty passionate about it ... so here we go!

An automated testing schedule is a lovely thing.

In this post:

  • Why (isolation) testing is important
  • How I test products for review
  • My testing schedule because I'm nerdy and unrepentant about it

While this post is intended to offer people a behind-the-scenes look into my process because I'm really keen about transparency and sharing my nerdy testing schedule with people, it's also going to be beneficial to anyone who's keen on a multi-step Asian skincare routine.

LS Cosmetic Oriental Herbal Skincare Premium Mask Pack Review: Four Flavours of Hanbang

I like sheet masks a lot, and I use them a lot, but I don't review them often as my blog would be nothing but sheet mask reviews if I did.  I'll sometimes review them on my Instagram, or I'll put them in a Best of post, or pick my top masks for a season's routine.

I'm making an exception for the LS Cosmetic Oriental Herbal Skincare Premium Mask Pack sheet mask set, of which I have types but one, as they're worth reviewing and people have expressed a lot of interest in hearing about them.  I'm sure this is due to 1. them being very, very Hanbang (한방, traditional Korean herbal medicine) and 2. being in ultra cute packaging that looks like different styles of Hanbok, a type of traditional Korean garment.  Normally cute packaging results in really disappointing masks, but these were a pleasant surprise.

I've also already used almost all of them, as you can see in this image below, so it's high time I review them before they're all gone.

LS Cosmetic Hanbang Sheet Mask Review
Yes, I did save these empties for this post. You'd think that I didn't like the blue or green ones as I have 3 left of each, but actually I'm hoarding them because precioussss.
I purchased these in my Korean buying service haul from the terminally adorable Boyah Shop, which you can read about here: Boyah Shop Korean Buying Service Review + Haul of Hanbang & Sheet Masks, and at this time they're not available (affordably!) anywhere other than Korean sites, but if that changes, I will definitely update the review.  These were about $0.86 each before shipping, and I'm quite pleased with them.

Even the boxes are fancy, with pretty gold detailing on the edges:

Image from: Boyah Shop Korean Buying Service Review + Haul of Hanbang & Sheet Masks
Still, when it comes to sheet masks, it's what's inside the package that counts, so let's get to it!

In this post:

  • Chaga Mushroom Sheet Mask - Wrinkle Care Type Review
  • Shang Whang Mushroom Sheet Mask - Sensitive Type Review
  • Silk Worm Sheet Mask - Whitening Type Review
  • Wild Ginseng Sheet Mask - Cleansing Type Review

Each mini-review contains product details, comments on fit, scent, essence, ingredients, and other details, including which ones I will (and won't) be repurchasing.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Foaming Cleanser vs Medicean ER Nature Cleanser Review: Low pH & Fun-Free

It's taken me a long time to review the Hada Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Foaming Wash, and not for interesting reasons.  It's hard to write reviews of unremarkable products-- sometimes products are really good or really bad, but most of the time, they're just bland.  Such is the case with the two self-foaming cleansers that I'm reviewing today as my newest "Dirge of Duds" post.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Foaming Wash Review
This outdoor image brought to you by SPF 50+ PA+++ sunscreen.
Ironically, my last Dirge of Duds post (linked above) also featured a Hada Labo product, but unlike the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion which I actively disliked, I actually emptied the entire bottle of the cleanser, which is a pretty amazing feat considering that I've got a lot of cleansers in my rotation.  Part of it was just determination to empty a cleanser so I could purchase something fun that excited me more, and part of it was that it was an easy sell for my husband's nascent skincare routine, being both utilitarian and unoffensive.

Still, both of these cleansers were so boring that they added to, instead of mitigated, my ennui towards cleansing and that resulted in me skipping my routine more often than I'd like to admit.  I purchased these with the intention to try a very famous cleanser (the Hada Labo is a favourite of adoredee and many others) and to compare it against a similar Korean product (the Medicean) which was a relatively rare animal-- an openly low-pH Korean cleanser.

In this post:

  • Product details
  • Ingredients
  • pH results
  • How they compare
  • Final thoughts

Before we jump in, I'd like to take a moment and remind people that skincare doesn't work the same way for everyone; many people don't care about Skincaretainment and just want their products to do the thing they're supposed to do.  I'm just jaded and can't get it up for bland products these days-- I need my products to motivate me to drag my exhausted backside into the bathroom and start my routine.

Both of the cleansers work just fine, and they're good options for beginner cleansers, which is why the Hada Labo cleanser appeared in my Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types series, which details 4 really simple beginner routines with only 5 products for a variety of skin types.  I just need excitement in my bathroom, and not the kind that evokes dead grandmothers and ignores safewords.

Sulwhasoo Herbal Soap Review: The Day I Hanbanged Too Hard

It's finally happened.  I've always been one of those reckless, flirt-with-danger, no-such-thing-as-too-hanbang, hanbang-me-harder types.  There are so many proverbs and fables that warn of this foolhardy approach, but I didn't pay any attention, seeking greater hanbang highs with every product, until it all culminated in traumatizing regret.  I'm talking about the venus flytrap of Hanbang products, the Sulwhasoo Herbal Soap set.  Don't be fooled by it's comely appearance; this product has no concept of boundary limits or safewords.

Sulwhasoo Herbal Soap Review
It looks so pretty, so enticing, so ... innocent.
It was only a matter of time before it happened, to be honest.  My endless thirst toward all things Hanbang is even something I'm known for; the Hanbang tag on my blog is a deep, deep rabbit hole ... the kind that smells of rich earth and ginseng.  Hanbang (한방) is traditional Korean herbal medicine, and has its roots in TCM (traditional Chinese herbal medicine) but with its own local herbs and fermentation-heavy preparation methods.  Many people aren't into the intensely herbal scents of Hanbang, but dried herbs, teas, and tinctures were all forms of torture commonplace during my childhood and I find the herbal notes in Hanbang products an irresistible alternative to the sickly-sweet synthetic florals that pervade most K-Beauty products I've tried.

In this post:

  • Regrets
Also includes: product details & ingredients, but mostly regrets.  Also, this review is going to be firmly NSFW so if you're unamused by concepts like safewords being used in a humorous context, turn away, this is not the review you are looking for.

Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kit #4 - Normal, Hyperpigmented, & Aging Kit

The last post of the Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types series is here!

This week's kit is in honour of my mother-in-law (and aunt-in-law) who I've been slowly luring into K-Beauty over the years-- she had a nonexistent routine and a very unfussy approach to self-care, so it's been all about baby steps.  That is, until she realized the products I've been gifting her have been fading the sun/dark/age spots she's started to develop in the last few years, and now she's on board.  I'm now working on my aunt-in-law; soon she too will be serum-ing and sheet masking with abandon! *shakes determined fist at the sky*

Left: simple. Right: eeeeek!  Both are examples of the daily routines I post on Instagram.
As a reminder, the products and routines in this series are actual routines and care packages that I've put together for actual real people (not usually all at once) as gifts or recommendations if they've expressed interest in my hobby.  I am not a medical professional and I am not 'recommending' things as a treatment for others; this is me letting you all behind the scenes into what I personally gave as gifts, etc, for personal friends and family.

In this series:

All starter kits will feature 5 items or less, what they're for, and how to use them.  All lovingly selected with thought and care, because when I make kits for my friends and family, it's a box o' love.  Obviously not everything works for everyone, patch testing is necessary, etc etc.  (Two weeks between new products!)  These are just my personal picks.
  • Starter Kit # 1: My college-age friend with oily, acne-prone skin (link here)
  • Starter Kit # 2: My college-age friend with dry, stressed skin (link here)
  • Starter Kit # 3: My mother's sensitive, dehydrated, aging skin kit (link here)
  • Starter Kit # 4: My mother-in-law's normal, hyperpigmented, aging kit (you are here!)
  • Bonus Kit if I haven't thrown myself off a cliff from creating all these visual (yes, visual) kits:  My personal kit if my house burned down and I had to start over with nothing but Amazon gift cards, which won't be simple, less than 5 items, or anything else straightforward.  No promises. (pending)
Once these posts are live, I will link them above.  Done! As I mentioned in the original post, these items will be from Amazon for accessibility reasons as a counterpoint to the more internationally-focused From Beginner to Expert Mode: Where I Buy K-Beauty & Asian Cosmetics post.  K-Beauty should be accessible and affordable for everyone; it might have a steeper learning curve at first but it's not a pretentious, elitist thing and there's options for everyone no matter your taste or budget.

Accessibility is an ongoing theme in discussions with the podcasters of The Snailcast and my decision to create this series inspired by the amazing K-Beauty routine that Tracy of Fanserviced-b posted for normal skin types, which you can check out here: Easy Starter K-Beauty Skincare Routine for $100 on Amazon.

My mother-in-law has normal, non-reactive skin that does not require any products to stay balanced; she has been doing a simple soap-wash-in-the-shower for years and only started exploring skincare when I explained it could help fade the hyperpigmentation spots she was getting from a lifetime of not using sunscreen.