Cosrx Low pH Gel Cleanser Review & Demo: My Acid Mantle is a Cheap Date

There's little not to like about the Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser; it's low pH, it's cheap, it foams, and it comes in a huge tube.  I'm into that.  It's not a perfect product, but the flattened carcass of my current tube is a pretty eloquent testament on its own:

Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
I've wrung every drop out of this tube.
It's also popped up in many routine post on my Instagram, in my Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types series, and in several posts.  I've been living the low pH life since diving into the studies on pH in Why the pH of Your Cleanser Matters back in 2014, but low pH is just the first criteria needed to earn a spot on my sink.

In this post:

  • Product details
  • Ingredients & gel 1st cleanser demo
  • Review & foaming 2nd cleanser demo

After I had to engage a bunch of whacking, flapping, squeezing, and scraping to get it out, I realized that I was rapidly running out of product with which to photograph for a review.  Time to get it done!

A Reluctant Review: Paula's Choice BHA Exfoliant

In last week's post Skincare SOS: My Recovery Routine When I've Been Bad, I mentioned I've been using the Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment With 2% BHA to help undo the results of neglecting my skin.  While most of my Skincare Wardrobe is comprised of Korean beauty products and cosmetics from Asia, I can't deny that western skincare is still in the lead when it comes to acids.  Specifically, acid exfoliants, chemical peels, and prescription-strength "bring your skin to Snesus" topicals like azelaic acid and retinol.

Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment With 2% BHA
Studies courtesy of my research frenzy for Cosrx BHA Power Liquid Exfoliant Review & My Descent Into BHA Research Madness
However, with a name like "Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment With 2% BHA", you would think it was a K-Beauty product, right next to other "ridiculously long product name" titleholders like the "Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule" and ... well, too many others to list.  Interestingly, Paula's Choice does make Asia-exclusive versions of their products, but this isn't one of them.

In this post:

  • Product details
  • Ingredients & how to apply
  • How I was lured away from my usual BHA
  • The good and the bad

 I'm somewhat reluctantly reviewing this product, because I'm not a big fan of the company, but dodgy science demos and flip-flopping shade parades aside, they make some gooood acids.

Skincare SOS: My Recovery Routine When I've Been Bad

I'm in the dermal doghouse.  My skin is in crisis: dry and greasy, flakes everywhere, clogged pores overrun with sebaceous filaments & blackheads, dull & uneven texture, every wrinkle in sharp relief, and coated in a disgusting shell of dead skin mixed with sebum and who knows what else.   I'm sorry, skin; I know I've done you wrong.

Today, as I apologized to my skin for neglecting it for ... weeks, really, it occurred to me that rather than reviewing the cleanser I was about to use in my "bringing my skin back from exile" routine, I should talk about that instead.  So today's post is all about how to bring skin back from the brink of despair.

Lineup of Korean Beauty and Taiwanese Beauty products
Farewell, lovely things on the right, until this skincare penance is over.
Obviously, everyone's skin is different, and what works for me isn't going to work for everyone, but it's not the specific products which are important, but their function, so anything that fills that role will work!

In this post:

  • Routine to recover from long-term neglect; illness, depression, or skincare ennui
    • Cleansing, re-balancing, and dealing with breakouts
  • Products I avoid while I'm nursing my skin back to health

As tempting as it is to go hard with every problem solver in your Skincare Wardrobe to bring your skin up to speed, resist the urge for instant gratification.  It will only bring woe-- and breakouts, more flakes, and possibly permanent damage.  We're playing the long game, and patience will be rewarded.

Korean Buying Service Haul: Jung Saem Mool, Make P:rem, & Pretty Bottles

As much as I love how accessible K-Beauty has become, there's nothing quite like getting an order of hard-to-find products straight from Korea.  This haul had a rocky journey getting to me, especially when I thought I spotted a car speeding away after thieving one of the boxes off my porch, but everything arrived safely at last, and I've accepted that good light for photos is something I won't see again until the season changes, so here we are.

Korean beauty products purchased with a buying service
'Tis the season for the Haul-idays?  Also, check out that adorable panda note! :3
This package arrived in two boxes, one of which came more than a week after the first one, which itself was a few weeks delayed, leaving me sweating over their whereabouts.  As usual, I ordered my goodies through Amy of Boyah Shop, who remains both the best and the cutest buying service I've ever worked with.

I also made my first purchase through AliExpress, because my thirst for gorgeous Hanbang-themed packaging for my decants overrode my nervousness about ordering from the site.

In this post:

  • Jung Saem Mool Beauty: Colour correcting palette, blushes, & sample swag
  • Make P:rem: Cleansing water, cleansing foam, & cleansing ... pack??
  • About Me: Ginseng mask pack & disaster
  • AliExpress: Hanbangin' mist bottles
  • Sulwhasoo: Perfecting Brightening #11 & Evenfair Perfecting #11 cushions, & sample service galore

If you aren't familiar with how a buying service works, here's a quick recap: 1. you tell your buyer what you want, 2. they invoice you for what it will cost them to buy your goods + a small fee for their service, 3. they receive the goods and prepare them for shipment, and invoice you for the actual shipping cost, 4. you receive your package and squee.

If you're looking for more details on how to find what you want, check out this post: Guide to using a Korean buying service when you don't know Korean, ft blogger Kahime , which covers everything from copypaste-able keywords and brands in Korean, shopping sites, search engines, and an automated calculator to estimate the KRW currency conversion and your final costs.

The perks of using a buying service is that you can get products that aren't readily available through regular K-Beauty vendors, and/or skip huge retail markups.  I've mostly done the former in this haul, but I've had posts where I've detailed the crazy savings you can pull off depending on what you purchase.  Let's get to it!

Multiple Skincare Steps: Neither Vanity nor Virtue

I've had a lot of thoughts percolating around in the last week about skincare and the relative virtues of a minimal, or maximized, skincare routine.  I'm not sure why people are getting caught up in debunking a multi-step routine lately, but sometimes it takes on an odd tone.  I think it's understandable that we are so quick to assign virtue (or vanity) to skincare, especially in those groups who have been influenced by a "skincare first, makeup second" philosophy, which is a key concept in K-Beauty.

It's not surprising that things veer into subconscious bias pretty quickly-- cosmetics are pretty intrinsically linked to vanity, and that gets caught up in societal constructs around attractiveness, worth, and virtue.

Sometimes skincare is just skincare, though, and I don't think we need all the baggage with it.

Example of minimal and maximized Korean skincare routines
Neither of these routines are a measure of virtue or vanity.  They're just skincare.
To this day, we repeat tales of Cleopatra's supposed cosmetic excesses as the pinnacle of legendary vanity, even as we add sheet masks with donkey milk and honey essences to our carts because hey, if donkey milk and honey were a favourite of hers, it's worth checking out?  As a counterpoint to makeup, which has always had connotations on the virtuousness of the wearer, skincare falls on a wide spectrum between the most basic of hygiene to the most expensive of indulgences, ensuring there's always going to be a sweet spot for everyone.

In this post:

  • Skincare first, makeup second: K-Beauty influence in western makeup
  • The 10+ step routine myth - it doesn't matter, let it go
  • Self-care, treat choself, and mindful spending

It seems as complex skincare routines become more common, what was once a necessary chore has achieved the same infamy as its cosmetic cousin, with judgements about vain excess and the backlash of virtuous minimalism cropping up beyond just makeup.

Tower of Empties: Empties, Discards, and Pretties

Last week, I mentioned in What's In My Stash: Forgotten Finds & Organization Overhaul that one of the last tasks I had on my to-do list was to tackle a giant box of empties.  I wasn't kidding; this thing is so massive it deserved its own post!  Behold the dragon, unslain:

Just imagine how big this box is, if my phone looks that tiny.  Click for huge size.
I admit I was a bit daunted, but I was determined get my office to 100% organized, so this box needed to be dealt with.  It contained a mash-up of empties tucked back in their boxes, packaging for products I'm currently using, empties orphaned from their boxes and boxes orphaned from their empties, products banished to the discard pile, and gorgeous product packaging worth keeping regardless of how I felt about the products inside.

There was also a staggering number of sheet mask boxes, which I haven't included in the photos because there would be no room for anything else.  That reminds me, I still need to inventory my sheet masks ... oh dear.  Still not at 100%  Another day, then. *shakes fist at the sky*

So without further ado, here's the Tower of Empties (at least what would fit) precariously perched in my office:

The tower of empties, discards, and prettily packaged products
It looks like so much less when it's all tidily arranged, no?  Ah wait, that's right, this is all that would fit without falling off.  Click for huge size.
Mmm, so many empties.  I've taken close-ups of each tier, and will be calling out some notable products from each.  They'll be numbered for ease of  "what the heck is that one 4 places from the left?!" identification.

In this post:

  • The "would not repeat" tier
  • The "gone but not forgotten" tier
  • The "so pretty I'm hoarding it" tier

Of course, now that I've managed to assemble this house of cards boxes and bottles in order to take photos of it, I need to pack it all away because our struggle has reduced my office to rubble.

Onward to the goods!

What's In My Stash: Forgotten Finds & Organization Overhaul

This weekend I finally battled my stash, and I believe I've succeeded in wrestling it into submission.  I may have ragged fingernails, skinned knuckles, and more bruises than I want to contemplate, but after a weekend of hauling around boxes, sorting piles of products, and late-night furniture assembly, I've finally managed to properly set up my stash!

By that, I mean that I wanted a way for me to visually see my skincare stash at a glance instead of having to go digging through drawers and boxes, because I have a lot of interesting things that I just don't pull out and ogle nearly enough.  Like these:

Limited edition IOPE duochrome case and Sulwhasoo 2004 Shine Classic compact
IOPE, why did you have to change your refill inserts right after I bought this limited edition case for a giveaway?
I'm not usually too concerned with the state of my stash organization, because I have it organized in a spreadsheet that keeps track of it all for me, but my home office had become overrun with partially-unpacked orders, various photography trappings, and a thriving colony of packing materials that seemed to be breeding in every corner.

I'm good at keeping track of what I buy (that spreadsheet, yo) but I somehow manage to forget to enter the things I receive as gifts, either from friends or "gifts with purchase" which arrived in store orders.

In this post:

  • The result: behind the scenes in my home office & tamed stash
  • Interesting finds from the depths of my stash: "Oh hey, I should totally use this!"
  • Adventures in stash wonderland: inside drawers, shelves, refrigerator, & my bathroom counter
  • What's left on my to-do list

I was amazed at how little space it took up once I sorted through everything and pulled out all the empties, boxes, and discards-- I have no idea how large the average beauty blogger's stash is, but compared to the jaw-dropping stash videos I've seen, mine is downright tiny!  Bless you, spreadsheet, for keeping me in check, even if you can't display all the pretty packaging.  Time for lots of photos!