Weekday Randomness: Spreadsheets, Testing Schedules, and Why pH Pre-Testing is a Good Idea

It's high time for some mid week updates: I have so many things going on that just don't warrant a weekend post but I'm still interested in talking about, so here we are!

In this post:

  • Spreadsheet organization
  • Automatically generated testing schedules
  • Why you should pH test your pH-dependent products before you use them
  • Base product emergency backups
  • What's in progress?

Spreadsheet organization:

I recently came to the realization that after collecting a truly massive series of hauls over the summer (click here to see 'Haulzilla' in all its terrifying glory) I could no longer keep track of everything in my head/boxes/strewn around my bathroom.  I needed organization.  I needed a spreadsheet.  I don't really need an excuse for spreadsheets since I love them, but I needed some serious organization of everything, stat.

So I asked for inspiration from some of my fellow Asian beauty fanatics, and as it turns out, spreadsheets are very common among the skincare obsessed.  I wonder if it's just a natural evolution?  You start with a sheet mask, the next thing you know you're 100+ items deep in an inventory?  After a feverish data entry marathon, I have managed to set up a sortable list by step, brand, frequency of use, quantity in stock, number of empties, how old it is, and most exciting: an automatically generated testing schedule that spits out when my current product is scheduled to finish, and when my next one begins.  It's also completely self-adjusting if I happen to stop testing a product early, or start a new one late.  It just shifts the start and end times of everything left on the list for me.

For example, until it finally occurred to me to pH test my BHA (and I'll get into that and why I am a total idiot later), my testing schedule looked like this:

However, I knew the Sidmool Dual Effect BHA Gel was only 0.5%, and from what I have read, BHAs are more effective in higher concentrations (at least 1-5%).  I diligently tested it, adhering to my timeline of a minimum of two weeks between introducing new products (as well as using them for over a month in total before I review them, and up to 6 months if it's a whitening product- you can read my rant about my philosophy on testing and reviewing here) and methodically worked my way through the product despite the fact that I wasn't impressed.

Why you should pH test your pH-dependent products before you use them:

Now, I assumed I was being unfair to the product; just because I noticed almost immediate effects with the Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner and then eventually the Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum when I introduced that too-- that doesn't necessarily mean the BHA isn't working.  Things can take time.

Then tonight, three days before my two week schedule was complete, it finally occurred to me to pH test it.  When I finally did even a cursory look into BHAs, which I should have done far earlier, I learned that in addition to needing a higher concentration to unclog pores, BHAs that rely on salicylic acid (as this Sidmool gel does) also need to be a pH of 3-4, and are ineffective at a pH over 4.

What was my result? At least 4.5.  So not only is my BHA too low in concentration, it's also too high in pH!  Forget this noise, I am officially pulling the plug on testing this any further.  I'm quite angry with myself for wasting almost two weeks when I could have been testing something that had a snowball's chance in hell of actually doing something.  It's my own dang fault.  Do your research, kids!  Don't be me.  Good thing I have set up an ... 

Automatically generated testing schedule:

However, my handy spreadsheet will do right by me; all I had to do was to enter the date I stopped this BHA train of fail, and it prettily tells me that I am free to start my next product and as you can see, it also automatically changed the dates from here out.

It's a relief to know that I can instantly adjust my schedule without having to recalculate 'by hand' so to speak; because if something is breaking me out, as soon as I've confirmed what's triggering it, that product is history.  Which brings me to my next step in organizing my stash.

Base product emergency backups:

I've also come to the conclusion that I need a 'smash glass in case of emergency' set of base products in the event that my skin reacts to something and I need to go back tried-and-true basics until my skin forgives me for my transgressions and I can start testing things again.

To that end, I have decided I will keep one backup of each my base products in case of emergencies, which will sit unopened in the fridge until disaster strikes or until they near their expiration date (tracked by my spreadsheet of course!) and need to be used up and replaced.

They are:
  • Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner
  • Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum 
  • Mizon All-In-One Snail Repair Cream (tube size)
  • Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream (aka The Precious- reviewed here)
That gives me 4 very affordable base products that I know I can dump everything and go back to in the event of a skin emergency.  Now I can veer farther afield in the search for new loves without worrying about what will happen they don't suit me. 

What's in progress?

As you can see in the screencaps above, I had been working on finally adding a BHA to my routine, but it looks like we're back to square one on that front.  

This morning as I wrung the last drops of my Mizon All-In-One Snail Repair Cream tube, I realized I need to move on to another light cream.  Since I don't want to touch my 'emergency backup' tube, it's time to grab something from my test list.  I may do the Mizon Mela Defense White Capsule Essence as per my spreadsheet but I really want something that will match as closely to the texture of the All-In-One as I can.  I may just have to break into the pretty deluxe sample jars of hanbang products that I got for eventual sample decanting, and hope that I don't a. break out, or b. fall in love because they are expensive.

In general, I am currently testing the Nature Republic Aloe Fresh Sun Milk SPF50+ PA+++, but since sunscreen clogs the skin, I only wear it when I leave the house.  I work from home, so I spent a lot of time in my vampire cave, hiding from the harsh desert sun.  I plan to continue to test this, one sample per use, until all 10 are gone and I will either purchase a full size or replace it with something else, but I'll definitely post a mini review of my thoughts on it.

As a result, I am also testing the Mizon Real Oatmeal Cleansing Sherbet at the same (in)frequency, because I only double cleanse if I wore sunscreen and/or makeup that day.  Since I work from home, I normally just wear moisturizer and thus don't need to double cleanse.  (You can read more about double cleansing here, and Asian cleansing techniques here.)   Unfortunately I have had to admit that the Etude House Real Art Moisture cleansing oil not only does a stellar job of coaxing out the grit in my clogged pores, it also breaks me out afterward.

I am also occasionally checking out the Mizon 10vely Secret Concealer on the rare occasions I wear makeup, as well as the Skinfood Peach Sake Silky Finish Powder.  Neither one of these gets tested often as I wear makeup only a few times a month, if that. 

I'm so excited to try out some of my new serums, but I'm also running low on my current toner bottle and my ampoule is nearly empty, so I may need to work around upcoming gaps.  

What are your strategies to organize your stash?   Do you try new things as you empty old ones, or do you have a testing schedule?  Drop me a comment below, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter!

All the best, 

**Disclaimer: All products reviewed/mentioned in my blog, are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 which swore me off of them forever.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. Ah yes I always Ph test everything before I use it! I PH test cleanser before I schedule them since I usually only use to high PH cleansers when I ran out of everything else.
    I know what you mean though. I dont leave the house often either and I use make up very rarely. I actually use it more to test than to actually wear hehehe. So some items take longer to test for me too

    1. I seriously need to start adopting this when it comes to all my products. I'm still annoyed with myself for wasting all that testing time!

      As for wearing things just to test them, I even do that for the most informal socializing; one of my husband's friends tried to argue with me that it wasn't necessary (I had told him I needed 30 minutes to get ready) and I had to use a video game analogy:

      "Imagine that you had bought a very nice, but expensive gaming system which can only be used when you have company over. You have a regular gaming system which you could use of course, but wouldn't it be a shame not to take advantage of your company and break out the expensive one you rarely get to use, so it's not going to waste?"

      Comprehension dawned. Sometimes you just have to find the right analogy! ;)