2015 in Review, Part I: My Favourite K-Beauty Products of 2015

This year has been definitely been an exciting time for K-Beauty and Asian beauty product fans; long-time fans have seen what was originally a grassroots niche become mainstream.  We've seen the advent of products carried in Sephora, Amazon, and other major retailers, regularly featured in major magazines like Vogue and Allure, and even book releases on the subject- K-Beauty and AB (Asian beauty products) has really come into its own this year, and it's the time of year for 'best of' posts, so here's mine!

Best Korean Beauty Products of 2015
The amazing scent of this wreath makes up for the needles everywhere.  Mostly.

There will be two parts to this post, the first a light-hearted rundown of products, and the second a more reflective discussion of the themes, concepts, tips, trends, etc, of 2015.

In this post: Favourite Products of 2015

  • Favourite Cleansers of 2015
  • Favourite First cleanser
  • Favourite Foaming Cleanser
  • Favourite Travel Cleanser
  • Favourite Cleansing Tool & Honourable Mention
  • Favourite Acne & Anti-Aging Products of 2015
  • Favourite Skincare of 2015
  • Favourite Toner
  • Favourite Essences
  • Favourite Serum
  • Favourite Cream (and overall top pick for 2015!)
  • Favourite Sheet Masks
  • Favourite Sunscreen
  • Favourite Makeup of 2015
  • Favourite Base Makeup
  • Favourite Lip Product
The more serious-toned Part II is here: 2015 in Review, Part II: My Favourite K-Beauty Tips, Concepts, & Trends of 2015, and includes:
  • K-Beauty goes mainstream: does it have to be Korean to be K-Beauty?
  • The most influential concepts of 2015
  • Healthy habits: things I adopted and let go of in 2015, for the better
  • Top tips from 2015: things that made my life easier
  • Trends I loved in 2015 and will continue to love in 2016
It should go without saying that this is just my personal list of top picks; please don't be offended if your favourite isn't here!  This year has seen a lot of interesting developments beyond just the products, so rather than just focus on the tangible products, I'll also be giving a shout-out to the intangible developments that excited me the most in Part II- now finished and linked above.

This list was surprisingly difficult to assemble, because I'm a fickle creature who is only monogamous in my marriage; in fact only only product this year has kept my attention all year, but I had several which I loved hard for at least a few months before I inevitably moved on to something new.

I haven't chosen a product for every step possible in a Multi-Step K-Beauty Skincare Routine; if there wasn't something that caught my attention that step, it didn't get a spot on the list.  Some products are diehard HGs, others are simply things I liked enough to repurchase, but considering the huge number of things out there waiting to be tested and reviewed, that's still saying something!

Just as a quick reminder: this blog uses both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and if you choose to click the fomer before you shop, your purchase may contribute a tiny amount to the maintenance of this blog.  See full details at the end of this post! #receipts

Favourite Cleansers of 2015

I've been goin' hard on cleansers this year; in fact I managed to develop an entire closet of cleanser options, all of which see heavy rotation: What's In My Skincare Wardrobe: Cleanser Edition.  This is a list of the cleansers that rocked my world enough to repurchase, which is saying quite a lot considering there's always something to be tested and reviewed!

Favourite First cleanser: Cremorlab Gel Oil

First cleansers, if you aren't familiar with them, are used in Double Cleansing.  You can read more in Cleansing: Double Cleansing, Types, Tools, & Techniques, but the short version is using two cleansers: an oil-based cleanser to break down sunscreen and makeup, then a foam-based cleanser to remove residue from the oil cleanser and actually cleanse the skin.  There are a lot of variants; different kinds of 1st and 2nd cleansers; micellar waters, pool cleansers, non-foaming cleansers, cleansing milks, cleansing creams, etc, but the basics of using one type as makeup/sunscreen remover and a second type to properly cleanse the skin remains.

Cremorlab T.E.N. Cremor Cleansing Gel Oil
Image from Cremorlab T.E.N. Cremor Cleansing Gel Oil, Why Can't I Quit You?
While this was originally sent to me for review (and was the catalyst for me deciding to no longer accept press samples- see Cremorlab T.E.N. Cremor Cleansing Gel Oil, Why Can't I Quit You? for full details) I have since repurchased it myself  because this is, to date, the only 1st cleanser I've ever used that doesn't break me out or clog my skin.  My skin hates oil cleansers, but they're not a step I can skip- especially since I can only use physical UV filter sunscreens, which are notoriously hard to remove, and in my experience, require a 1st cleanser to properly clean off.

Why it made the list:
  • It's the only 1st cleanser that doesn't break me out
  • It does the job and rinses clean
  • It smells incredible- like rose petals
  • The packaging is lovely
Cons: It's expensive and hard to find.  It's still worth it for me, because I can't skip wearing sunscreen so I can't skip a cleanser to remove it afterward.

Where to get it: eBay $40 (free shipping) | ohmyface.com $20 (free shipping over $70, otherwise $10 per order. I have not purchased from here yet) | Peach & Lily for $32, and you can get $10 off $50 on your first order with this link, if you choose to use it. | KR via Avecko $20 | Testerkorea $25 with $6 shipping

Favourite Foaming Cleanser: Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam

The second cleanse to remove oil cleanser residue is is a must for me, or the residue becomes trapped in my pores and clogs my skin.  However, low pH foaming cleansers that are pleasant to use were very rare (the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick used to be the only game in town) and no matter how many I tried, I just wasn't totally happy with any of them.

Until the Sulwhasoo Snowise poofy floofs of fluffy cloud goodness came into my life.

Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam
Image from Low pH & High Luxury: Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam Review
That's low pH foam, baby.  Not only is it low pH, it does not contain either SLS or SLES, yet it has foam that just won't quit.  For even more insane foam photos, where I show the different kinds of foam it can create, check out Low pH & High Luxury: Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam Review, which also contains a full ingredients list.  Did I mention it's also Hanbang, aka Traditional Korean Herbal Medicine, and it has the scent to prove it?  I tore through 20 sample packets of this and repurchased it in a travel size because I just couldn't bear not to have it on hand.

Why it made the list:
  • Foam: low pH but with foam that puts the badonkadonk in the "redonkadonk-levels of foam."
  • Scent: to quote my review: 
Like a forest is trying to hump your face.  Personally, I've grown to love the Hanbang (한방, traditional Korean herbal medicine) herbal smells favoured by companies like Sulwhasoo, but if you don't like using things that smell like a grove of pines and field of flowers are trying to make sweet love to your epidermis, stay away.
Cons: it's expensive.  Sulwhasoo is a luxury brand, and this stuff is pricey.  Samples and travel sizes make it more reasonable, thankfully.

Where to get it: Amazon: 30ml for $13, 80ml for $19, or 150ml for $35 | ebay: Sample sets less than $1015ml for less than $10, 30ml for $10, or 150ml for $38 | Koreadepart: 150ml for $36 w/o shipping |  RoseRoseShop: 150ml for $37 w/ shipping. You could also use a buying service like Avecko and possibly get it even cheaper, although you would have to consider shipping costs.

Favourite Travel Cleanser: Su:m37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash

This was my foaming cleanser runner-up, and it's a fantastic cleanser for travel.  Not only is it super convenient, impervious to leakage, tiny enough to fit in nooks and crannies of your suitcase, it's also super fun to use.

Su:m37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash Review
This giant tin is full of tiny packets, which not only protects the product from getting wet but also perfect for travel!
This is a powder cleanser, and the little packets slip so easily into a purse, overnight bag, or suitcase, and they don't count towards your liquid restrictions when you fly.  On top of being a great travel cleanser, it's also a great cleanser, period.  You can see a full demo and ingredients list here: Alchemy In Your Bathroom: Review of the Su:m37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash.

Why it made the list:
  • Foam: low pH yet has decent foam, especially for a powder cleanser
  • Scent: like lemon custard and fresh linen
  • Packaging: the large tin is lovely, and the tiny packets are ultra convenient
  • Skincaretainment: the novelty of powder-to-foam when you mix it before use
Cons: It's also expensive.  Why does my face like nice things?  Argh.  I repurchased this in the full size tin after finishing the samples I had.

Where to get it:  It's pricey, but readily available.  I purchased mine from 11st for $40 | Amazon Prime for $40-$45eBay in sample sizes | It used to be available from Testerkorea for around $40 but it's 50+ now so nope!

Favourite Cleansing Tool: Clarisonic Cashmere Brush Head

Before I talk about this, let me give some context.  I am not, in any way, suggesting anyone run out and buy anything, but especially not a facial brush like the Clarisonic.  It's not even an Asian product!  I don't use facial brushes- I much prefer to use chemical exfoliants as I find them gentler, more effective, and have added anti-acne or anti-aging benfits. 

However, if you find yourself in possession of a Clarisonic brush and you cannot use it because it feels like "taking an rotary sander to your face" (quote from @astrogoob) even with the gentlest brush head, this can rescue your $200 facial brush from becoming an expensive yet soggy paperweight or bathroom-shelf dust-gatherer. 

Clarisonic Cashmere Brush Head
Bristles are easily 2x or 3x longer than a normal Clarisonic brush head
I'm including this because it's been my most-recommended cleansing tool this year, always in response to people who ask me if I have/use a Clarisonic; without this brush head my answer would have been emphatically no.  With this brush head, the answer is "yes sometimes, if it feels like my skin needs it, such as after an oil massage."

Why it made the list:
  • Ultra-soft, ultra-fine, ultra-plush bristles that feel like a makeup brush on your face
  • Cleanses deeply without the irritation of a usual Clarisonic brush
  • Easy to clean- just pop it off, rinse, and let dry
Cons: useless if you don't have a Clarisonic already, and I don't recommend getting one unless you're terrified of chemical exfoliants and you're having issues getting your skin clean enough.  Even then ... ehhh.  But if you already have one and you can't use it because it's too harsh, this $30 brush head may save it from the trash.

Where to get it: Amazon Prime $30 | Sephora $30 | Clarisonic $30 | eBay: much less if you're willing to go "used on someone else's dead skin cells" or "probably a fake" but I wouldn't personally risk it.

Honourable Mention for Everyone Else: Foaming Net

Have you heard of foaming nets?  Also sometimes called bubble nets, they're cheap little plastic mesh nets that can make all your lather dreams come true.  Here's what the Snowise EX Cleansing Foam looks like when superpowered with a foaming net:

Snowise EX Cleansing Foam
Image from Low pH & High Luxury: Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam Review
If you have a local Daiso, they're $1-$2 and they last forever.  You can also get them online: Amazon for $2+ | eBay for $1. You can even use them on powder cleansers to increase the foaming action, or other hard-to-foam cleansers.

Favourite Acne & Anti-Aging Products of 2015

Azelaic acid and Curology

This list is really short, with just one entry.  Azelaic acid has been the most potent thing I've added into my routine, and Curology (formerly PocketDerm) made it possible for me to get my hands on it, and then eventually tretinoin.

Curology PocketDerm Azelaic Acid Tretinoin
Image from A Review of Curology (PocketDerm) & Why I'm an Azelaic Acid Fangirl
You don't have to get Azelaic acid from Curology; if you have access to a dermatologist in the US you can get a prescription through them, and there are other teledermatologists.  I love the convenience (and affordability) of teledermatology; for $20 bucks a month I get a prescription that I can ask to be tweaked and adjusted, and a dermatologist to pester with my questions.

You can read full details here: A Review of Curology (PocketDerm) & Why I'm an Azelaic Acid Fangirl

Why they made the list:
  • Azelaic acid contains properties of BHA and AHA exfoliants without increasing photosensitivity
  • Curology is cheap, effective, and easily accessible for me
Cons: Azelaic acid needs a prescription in the US so you will need a derm, Curology is not available in all states, and it may be too harsh for some people's skin.

Where to get it:  Curology is available for $20 a month with one month free with a referral.  You can use this one if you need one.

Favourite Skincare of 2015

Favourite Toner: Mizon AHA/BHA Daily Clean Toner

This has been a long time favourite of mine, and I've tried other low-pH toners such as Pixi Glow and Cosrx AHA / BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, but none of them worked as well for me as my old standby from Mizon.

Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean Toner
#Receipts: look at all those empties.
Not everyone needs pH-adjusting toners, especially if they are already using low-pH cleansers, but I find that when I skip this step, my skin gets angry, irritated, flaky, and red.  I use this to prep my skin for acid exfoliants or pH-dependent products, so that I can rely on weaker actives that are more gentle on my skin, without sacrificing effectiveness.

Why it made the list:
  • Gentle, effective, keeps my skin happy
  • Cheap and easy to source
  • Smells pleasant, which is more than I can say for some prep toners
Cons: Uh. Hold on, I'll think of something.  It keeps being rumoured to be discontinued, which causes crazy price gouging.
Where to get it: Amazon Prime for $20 | eBay for $18 | Testerkorea for $25 | Elsewhere for a lot more, but why bother when it's so dang cheap on Amazon or eBay?

Favourite Essence: Leejiham Tea Tree 90 Essence & Holysnails Snowbang Essence

I've picked two for this category, because one of them is a former favourite and the other is still in development, and not yet readily available.

The LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence was a mainstay in my routine until it was unceremoniously usurped by the Holysnails' essence which would eventually be named "Snowbang", because "Snow White and the Asian Pear's Dream of a Hanbang Essence Designed for Dehydrated Combo/Oily Skin" was just way too long.

Leejiham Tea Tree 90 Essence

Leejiham Tea Tree 90 Essence
The last in a long line of LJH Tea Tree Essence bottles

This essence/serum is watery, light, hydrating, soothing, and is favoured by oily/acne prone folks such as fellow Snailcast blogger Tracy of Fanserviced.  Some people find it helps to calm acne or even prevent it; in my case I found it to be a great sidekick to a 'real' acne fighter such as chemical exfoliation or my Curology prescription, although not capable of miracles on its own.  Check out fanserviced's review for more details.

Where to get it: Amazon for $34 | eBay for $26 | BonjourHK for $22 w/o shipping | $LOLOL ARE YOU KIDDING elsewhere.

Holysnails Snowbang Essence

I've gone through something like 4 or 5 bottles of the LJH, but I will not be repurchasing it when my current bottle runs out, because there's a new bae in my life: the essence that Holysnails designed expressly to slake my ravenous lust for all things Hanbang (한방, traditional Korean herbal medicine) without it also being typically Hanbang-textured, which is to say heavy, rich, occlusive, and designed for mature, dry skin types.  I love Hanbang things (just check out the Hanbang tag on this blog) but my dehydrated combo-oily skin is definitely not the skin type 99% of those products are designed for.

I was desperate for a Hanbangin' essence that was suited to acne-prone, oily, dehydrated skin like mine.  Fellow Snailcaster Chel of Holysnails had recently designed an all purpose antioxidant and brightening serum for Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail, because Fiddy couldn't find something that had the right combination of ingredients in the right concentrations.  The serum, containing niacinamide, sea buckthorn, licorice, and a few other ingredients, eventually took shape as Shark Sauce (named for one of Fiddy's favourite animals) and it's also on my list.

Having made Fiddy's brightening serum dreams come true, Chel then turned her scientist-turned-small-batch-skincare-maker skills to my plight and produced an ultra-light, thin, watery essence with ceramides and a truly Hanbangin' line-up of Hanbang extracts which slid effortlessly into my routine, healed and soothed my skin barrier with its ceramide blend, and then disappeared without a trace of residue, like a benevolent skincare ninja.  Unf.  The LJH just doesn't do it for me anymore.

So why isn't it linked here?  Well, the overall formulation is still undergoing tweaks and USPS is being a huge jerk about delivering the 3rd generation formula so I won't be linking it until it's ready for mass release and I've confirmed it's as magical as the 1st gen that swiftly became an HG.

Favourite Serum: Holysnails Shark Sauce

My serum pick is also from fellow Snailcaster Chel of Holysnails, but it's not on the list for that reason.  Although I can't claim that I've had amazing the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) reduction effects that others have had with this serum, when it comes to hydrating, silky, cosmetically elegant serums I've used so far this year, this was the top of my list, and I've purchased a second bottle.  That's more than I've done for any other serum this year, so on the list it goes!

Holysnails Shark Sauce
Does not contain sharks or other hapless marine life
Shark sauce, as I mentioned above, does not contain any sharks, but it does contain powerful brightening ingredients in known concentrations which have been formulated by someone who has credentials in science, although not in cosmetic chemistry.  While DIY-turned-small-batch skincare is hardly new, I appreciate that Holysnails goes to the research, beta testing and tweaking, and stability testing lengths that she does; knowing that her products are properly formulated and preserved (and backed by research) was what convinced me to overcome my (rational) concerns about DIY in general.

Why it made the list:
  • Cosmetically elegant, with a lovely slippery texture that spreads and sinks in easily
  • Confirmed concentrations of beneficial ingredients
  • Hydrating and soothing
Cons: With all the Azelaic acid and Tretinoin-related purging going on, it's hard for me to judge its effectiveness as a brightener, but as a hydrating serum, I'm on board.
Where to get it: It's available in 30ml on Holysnails for $30 and sample sizes at 5ml for $7

Favourite Cream: Beauty of Joseon Cream

This is also my favourite product of 2015, hands-down.  This was also an awe-inspiring moment for me- this product was unknown in the English-speaking K-Beauty product community when I first purchased it, and it was only available via a buying service from Korea, but after I posted my rave review, within weeks it started popping up on export sites and eBay, and now is carried as a regular offering from major retailers.  To me, it represents the true value of K-Beauty; products found by the community, loved by the community, and earning its hype via word-of-mouth.

joseon cream review
Image from Review: Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream; a Hidden Gem
I'm now on my third jar of this product, and I've purchased 2 more as Christmas gifts.  I've broken up with all other creams and potential creams; I no longer have any pending cream-type moisturizers in my testing schedule, because I just don't want to use anything other than this cream.

You can find an ingredients list (Ceramides! Niacinamide!  Hanbang extracts!) in my review: Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream; a Hidden Gemalong with tales of how it works on my skin.

Why it made the list:
  • We don't have room in this post for my odes of love to this product.  3 jars and counting. THREE JARS.  One step emergency routine.  I could go on forever.
Cons: it used to be hard to find, but now it's so popular that it's carried by many vendors.

Where to get it:   It is currently available on eBay and is supposedly going to be restocked on Memebox and Crystal Cove Beauty in Fall 2016.  Update: Apparently Memebox will not be stocking it as planned, but Crystal Cove will be.

Favourite Sheet Masks: Mediental Balhyo, Evercos Hanbang, & Taiwanese Silk Masks

I have 3 options listed because I use them for different purposes.

Mediental sheet mask, Evercos sheet mask, and Lovemore silk mask
L-R: Mediental Balhyo, Evercos Prunus, and Lovemore Pearl Barley & Milk silk mask

Favourite Winter/Emergency Mask: Mediental Balhyo Jinjeong Troubled Skin Healing Mask
  • Why it's on the list: it's the most intense water-bombing mask I have; it's my "special event" mask as well as my "oh snailmary save me I've wrecked my skin and I need snesus" mask.  All 4 types of this mask provide deep, intense hydration and an incredible fit.
  • Cons: the price, it's easily $2.50-$3 per mask, so not an every day pick for me.
  • Where to get it: eBay for $2.50 each | Amazon for $3.50 ea | Imomoko for $3 ea but they often have 20% sales that drop them to $2.40 ea. I purchase these a box at a time when I can get them for $2.50 ea or less.
Favourite All-Season Mask: Evercos Hanbang masks, in any flavour, although the Prunus is my favourite.  These are also a product that was all but unheard of when I picked them up from 11st on a whim in early 2015; they're now hugely popular and much more widely available!
  • Why it's on the list: Evercos masks were the reason that I didn't get swept up in the silk mask craze; I'd already tasted the charms of an ultra soft, ultra-clingy delicate mask that effortless molds to your face like a second skin, and the essence on this is so gorgeous and hydrating and unf.  The Mediental masks are too heavy for summer, but I could wear nothing but Evercos all day and by happy.
  • Cons: they're still hard to find, and they can be pricey if you aren't doing a group order from 11st.
  • Where to get it: 11st for around $1.50 +shipping (you can read my guide on how to use the shipping coupons for 11st here) but due to the low list price and high shipping weight/cost, it's not feasible to do a purely-masks 11st haul. | Using a buying service like Avecko; you can get them $1-$2 in KR + shipping. | Testerkorea for $3.50 ea incl shipping | sometimes eBay for $3 per mask if you factor in shipping.
Favourite Summer/Everyday Mask: Taiwanese Silk Masks, Lovemore, My Scheming, etc.
  • Why it's on the list: Silk masks have the great fit of an Evercos, just with a lighter essence that dries faster, but they're available for $1.50 each (on Amazon no less!) so they're a solid everyday mask option.  I like to stick to $1.00-$1.50 for everyday masks, and silk masks give me that price point while still being really lovely to use.
  • Cons: Their essence dries more quickly, and some people have these way marked up.
  • Where to get it: You can get Lovemore from Sasa and BGO for $1.50 ea, but My Scheming is also silk and is on Sasa in boxes of 10 masks for $10, and 10 masks for $15 on Amazon.

Favourite Sunscreen: Goodal Mild Protect Natural Filter Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 

This year also brought me a sunscreen that I actually don't hate to use, and while it's not perfect, I'll definitely be repurchasing it when it runs out as it works better than anything else I've tried.

Image from Goodal Mild Protect Natural Filter Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ Review
Sunscreen is not normally this hard.  However, my skin has ugly, violent reactions to chemical UV filters, so I can only use physical UV filter sunscreens, and they leave a harsh whitecast and can chalky, unpleasant to wear, and don't play well with makeup.  You can read a full review of this here: Goodal Mild Protect Natural Filter Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++

Why it made the list:
  • Physical-only yet has a comparatively minimal white cast
  • Strong, full-spectrum sun protection rating
  • Has a cosmetically elegant cream texture, which is easy to work into the skin and can be worn under makeup if you're careful, which is more than I can say for every other physical-only sunscreen I've tried
  • I'm going to repurchase it, which is amazing because normally I hate sunscreens and I'm constantly searching for one I can stand
Cons: If you're a deeper skin tone than NC25, this will likely leave a noticeable white cast.  I've demoed it on NC30 skin in the review linked above.

Where to get it:  Club Clio's US store for $16 ea (1+1 for $32) | Amazon for $30 |  eBay for $18 | It's also available on some KR sites but they were $15+ before shipping so eBay or Club Clio would be cheaper.

Favourite Makeup of 2015

Favourite Base Makeup: Cushions

I have two, and I've used them both heavily, which is saying a lot for someone who rarely uses makeup.  I firmly resisted the lure of cushions for a long time, citing my concerns with bacteria growth, etc, but eventually I was seduced by their ultra thin, natural, get effective coverage that made wearing makeup less awful than it had ever been before.

Hera UV Mist Ultra Moisture, Sulwhasoo Limited Edition Peony
Left: Hera UV in sunlight, where the holographic effect is the strongest. Right: Sulwhasoo Brightening in a LE peony case
I'm not 100% happy with either of my two cushions (one is the wrong shade, the other is too drying) but I'm so pleased with the finish of cushions in general that I'm absolutely ready for new ones in my future.  I don't think I could go back to BB creams or CC creams at this point; all I want is the sheer goodness of cushions + spot concealer.

Why they made it on the list & cons:
I own the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening in #17 (placed into a limited edition Evenfair peony case) which has a beautiful finish but is a bit too dark, and the Hera UV Mist Ultra Moisture in #13, which has a great shade match but a very drying formula.  I've purchased a refill of the Sulwhasoo in #13, hoping it will be a better match, and I'm saving the Hera refill for the summer when I'm melting.
Where to get the Sulwhasoo: Amazon $50 | eBay $50 | Elsewhere for $55+
Where to get the Hera:  Insider Beauty $45 (free shipping + 10% off w/ mailing list, so $41) | Amazon $46 | eBay $45

Favourite Lip Product: Clio Tension Lip in #7 Some

I love this lipstick.  I don't remember the last time I loved a lip product this much, or used this much of it.  I use it sheered out for a subtle wash of colour, I use it to make a gradient lip, I could use it as a full-out bold lip if I dared.  I love this lipstick on fair skin tones, I love it on medium skin tones, and I love it on deep skin tones, and I have the swatches to prove it.

Clio Tension Lip in #7 Some
Image from One Shade to Flatter Them All: Clio Tension Lip #7 'Some' Review & Swatches on Fair, Medium, and Deep skin tones
I definitely encourage you to check out the demo of wearing it sheer/gradient/opaque and the swatches on a range of skin tones in: One Shade to Flatter Them All: Clio Tension Lip #7 'Some' Review & Swatches on Fair, Medium, and Deep skin tonesbecause the lipstick bullet image above doesn't do this gorgeous plum/wine/berry shade justice, nor how pretty of a soft petal pink it can be when applied in a sheer stain.

Why it made it on the list:
  • Smooth, moisturizing formula
  • Intense, pigmented colour that can be worn opaque or sheer, and leaves a stain for when the lipstick finish wears off
  • Gorgeous colour that I've worn and loved in 3 seasons
  • Looks amazing on a huge range of skin tones
Cons: it's a lipstick, not a lip tint or lip stain, so it will move around a bit and eventually fade.

Where to get it: $20 on Club Clio's official US store | $18 on Amazon Prime | $13 on eBay

For my favourite K-Beauty tips, habits, concepts, and trends, check out: 2015 in Review, Part II: My Favourite Tips, Concepts, & Trends, which is a more serious, conversational discussion of 2015.

Have a question about one of the products on my favourites list?  Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!

Do you have something you'd like to share with me?  Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram at @snowwhiteandtheasianpear because I'd love to see it!

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 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. You are killing me with the Snowise cleanser.

    I'm dead. There, I'm dead now. Dead with longing for that cleanser.

    RIP Kstoops2conquer

    1. That foam, that pH, that scent of a randy pine forest. I can't get enough.

    2. That foam, that pH, that scent of a randy pine forest. I can't get enough.

    3. O rly? (https://youtu.be/_6FBfAQ-NDE)

    4. I just can't seem to get enough. Just like a rainbow, you know it sets me free.

  2. I have hauls in the post. I have sworn not to buy anything else. Sworn up and down the houses. Sworn on official looking books and blood relatives. I read one tiny review and the next thing I know I've just bought a jar of Beauty of Joseon Cream. How did that happen? Witchcraft....... do you have a black cat or a cauldron? ;)

    1. Uhh. I have a cat ear headband that I reluctantly wear (not into cat stuff) to keep my hair off my face when I do my routine, and I have a wine glass, does that count? ;)

  3. I adore your blog and you have given me so. many. wants. with this post. I already have and am completely obsessed with the Sulwhasoo Snowise cleanser and now I MUST TRY the Su:m37 powder wash. And that cream?!? It looks like heaven waiting to stroke my face with its loveliness. Thank you for doing what you do and guinea pigging your face in the name of beauty for ladies like me :-)

    1. <3 I hope it works for you, and thank you for your kind words! :3

      Take care

  4. I have the same problem with my skin loving expensive products, but what my skin wants, my skin gets, even when the price makes me cringe because it's better than dealing with my skin's wrath. Thanks for adding a few new products to my wishlist, notably the Sulwhasoo Snowise and the Cremorlab gel oil. I can't wait to try them! As for your sunscreen dilemma, the Radical Skincare sunscreen may be a good solution for you. It's a physical sunscreen, but it doesn't leave a whitecast because it has a soft golden sheen throughout. Dries matte, wears beautifully under makeup, and the golden sheen is subtle enough that you won't look like a disco ball without makeup over top. I freaking love it, and I have a similar skin type and skin tone to you (I'm also NC15 with oily-dehydrated skin) so I thought I'd mention it. The downside is that it's absurdly expensive ($55 for 1.35 oz), but it's the only sunscreen that I've even been truly happy with.

    1. That sounds great! If I find samples of it, I will definitely check it out. And samples make getting expensive products so much easier, thank goodness.

  5. I've heard such amazing things about kbeauty and I have been wanting to try it but did not know where to start! But this is a wonderful place to start! This was so helpful!

    Shannon Sage

  6. waah that much foam, amazing ! I need to buy a foam making net, my coringco brush doesn't really make tons of bubble lol.
    I've been eyeing an Hera uv mist cushion for weeks, i wanted to get the original version rather than ultra moisture because i fear it would be too dewy for my combo dehydrated skin but it's a drying formula? Wah i'm kind of surprised, its name is misleading haha

    1. Yeah the names of the cushions are so strangely reversed. Maybe it's because you need "Ultra moisture" to be able to wear it? LOL!

  7. I was using Nature Republic Sun Milk but they discontinued it; I wasn't wild about the original fragrance so I didn't want to try their replacement offering. Thanks to this list & your review, I purchased the Goodal sunscreen and look forward to testing a new physical sunscreen!

    1. I hope you like it! The fragrance of the Goodal is intense but it's so pleasant to use otherwise that I can forgive it this one transgression.

  8. The Sulwhasoo Cushion in #13 is lists as light pink... I know you have only tried the #17 and sometimes tones can range within a shade for a brand but did you find the #17 to be super pink? I'm very light but neutral possibly leaning yellow so I'm wary of the description.

    1. The #17 was actually quite brown/yellow/orange, sort of a tan shade? It was not pink at all. Very surprising! Just keep in mind that I have the Perfecting Brightening in #17, not the usual Evenfair Perfecting. :)