Take My Money: Swatches, Sulwhasoo Balancing Water First Impressions, & Beautytap Review

You know those shops that you always have on your radar, yet somehow never purchase from? That was me with Beautytap (née W2Beauty); it's been around for years, quietly part of the Korean-based shop landscape, a site I'd often check for new releases but ultimately bail on my cart, usually due to the high price tags and lack of distinction from the many other options I had for buying K-Beauty.

That changed when W2Beauty changed; all of a sudden they started doing smart things like bringing on top K-Beauty bloggers (like Coco Park of The Beauty Wolf and Sheryll of The Wanderlust Project) for their new Editorial section. Instead of the usual thinly veiled "advertorial" in-house blogs run by shops to shill their wares, they started publishing original content that was good, written by people who knew what they were talking about.

W2Beauty was always legit, but once it turned into Beautytap it seriously upped its game, and I started plotting out my second order before I even received the first.

Beautyap haul products
Once this SWS water went on sale, it was tiiiiiiime

They also hired people who knew K-Beauty; they brought on Fiddy Snails (of Fifty Shades of Snail and The Snailcast podcast) who unleashed terrible things upon the unsuspecting K-Beauty community, like daily flash sales of fancy products that gave me flares of grabby-handitis and made my wallet weep.

All sorts of products that I'd regulated to the "if I ever won the lottery" wishlist are now regularly appearing in their daily deals, and I need Snesus because they're trying to kill me.

twitter screenshot
This was some friendly fire, y'all.

In this post:

  • Am I affiliated with Beautytap?
  • Shopping experience: pros, cons, & why I'll continue to shop there
  • Swatch & first impressions: Peripera Ink Airy Velvet #10 Dry Rose Brown
  • Swatch & first impressions: Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX

You might wonder why I'd bother doing something as old-hat as a haul post/shop review, but 1. the world always needs more swatches, and 2. there's a lot more to say about a haul from Beautytap that I definitely want to cover. Plus, hanbang. Haaaannnbaaaangggg.

Just as a quick reminder: this blog uses both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and if you choose to click the former 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

Am I affiliated with Beautytap?

Let's cover this point first: nope. I am affiliated with Fiddy Snails, in that we're podcast-collaborators-turned-friends, but I'm not receiving any compensation to talk, shop, or promote where she now works. I have, to date, written two individual pieces for their Editorial section (on nerdy things, naturally) because I loved what they were doing with their editorials.

I did not receive any special (read: bloggerservice) circumstances around my order; I snatched up the Sulwhaso Balancing Water in their daily deal along with everyone else hot for hanbang. Since one neither simply walks into Mordor nor hauls just one item from Korea, I grabbed a few other things I had waiting on my wishlist to hit free shipping, and happily forked over my monies.

Beautyap haul products
Not pictured: the Vitamin C serum which was already chillin' (heh) in the safety of the fridge.

I received the same "gifts with purchase" swag that their other customers do, right down to the piece of candy (which I belatedly realized I haven't eaten yet, brb rectifying that immediately.) I think that about covers it, but if you have any questions about this, just shoot me a message; if you're a longtime reader you know I'd rather just be upfront about things than leave people wondering.

Shopping experience: pros, cons, & why I'll continue to shop there

Edit: I actually made my second order in the middle of writing this, because their daily deal was too good to pass up.

The cons:

  • Still isn't the cheapest place to buy K-Beauty

That hasn't changed; W2 was always upfront about keeping the goodwill of brands by not doing the drastic price undercutting we're accustomed to seeing. This has become a big deal in the last few years; I imagine there's always going to be the super-cheap-but-risky gray market on eBay, etc, but it sounds like KR brands are getting serious about controlling their products overseas.

This isn't a dealbreaker for me, as long as they make up for it in other ways, and imo, they do. More on that later.

  • Expect long wait times

Granted, I made my order in the midst of a major Korean holiday, but I've heard that Beautytap tends to be fairly slow to process and ship orders in general. I'm unbothered, because that's typical of KR-based shops.

As long as they keep me updated, we're cool. I've had packages from KR that took almost two months to be processed and arrive, so a few weeks is nbd. It's just an occupational hazard of ordering from KR directly.

Tiam C Source OST C20 rebranding
The rebranded OST C20 looks ... pretty much the same. Looking forward to comparing this to the OG version.

The pros:

If a shop doesn't offer the best prices, I expect them to make it worthwhile elsewhere.

  • Original editorial content

Hands down, this is what makes this shop interesting to me, and this was true before I wrote for them. (It's actually why I agreed to do it, in fact!)

The contributors and content are both diverse, which is A++. Coco's articles in particular have me checking every day for new stuff to read, like using K-Beauty for a French Girl Chic which justified my no-makeup-but-a-bold-lip daily dog walking look, and her savage takedown of the "K-Beauty vs J-Beauty" manufactured drama that's been everywhere lately:

I had to go rush to my Sulwhasoo and make sure it still existed and wasn’t replaced without explanation with a jar full of glittery turds in a cat-shaped jar. 

Preach. Product recommendations in their editorials aren't even limited to K-Beauty, let alone their shop; if this is their approach to distinguish themselves from other US-based shops, it's working. If for no other reason, and even if I hadn't written anything for them, I'd shop here just to support their original content.

History of Whoo Balancer
Sooo this happened as I was writing this. *sobs in flaming wallet* [image: beautytap.com]

  • Their 'Daily Tap' deals of the day

Yooo, I already have a cart waiting for the next tempting Daily Tap. EDIT: literally while I was writing this, they unleashed this History of Whoo Balancer deal, and their Sulwhasoo First Care Serum Daily Tap price was extended *cue raptor noises*. Those have both been on my skincare bucket list for ages.

So I just made my second order. While writing this review.

The Daily Tap is an interesting (or expensive) product on deep discount for the day. It's why I pulled the trigger on this Sulwhasoo Balancing Water; I'd had it on my wishlist for years and couldn't check out fast enough when it popped up on sale.

Lots of shops do these sorts "deal of the day" sales, but it's often random (or garbage) products. This is the only one I go out of my way to check every day, and it sorely tries my shopping restraint on the regular.

  • Interesting product selection

I want to see brands and/or products I haven't seen before, alongside reliable staples. I also want to know if they're worth trying; the editorials by people I trust (like Coco, who is pro makeup artist) with recommendations and how to use them = take my money.

They've also been doing interesting things like working directly with Jessica Jung (of Girl's Generation fame) on events to promote her skincare line. While that doesn't interest me personally, if I was a huge k-pop fan or a fan of SNSD, I'd probably be all over that.

The perks

Aka not enough to make me shop there on their own merit, but appreciated.

  • Next level packaging

They packed my box like they were expecting it to be drop shipped, as in "dropped from the plane at high altitude." I appreciate the extra precautions as someone who has received orders from KR literally in a plastic bag, box long since destroyed, with a "sorry your stuff got wrecked" note from the postal service.

Beautytap shipping packaging
They even double wrapped my Dinoplatz escalator mascara so the fragile box wouldn't get smushed.

Not only was each item individually bubble-wrapped and taped (instead of multiple products wrapped together), the GWP swag bag was heat sealed, the box was overflowing with extra sheets of bubble wrap to keep things from shifting around + heavy protective padding.

  • Good customer service

Although I didn't have any issues requiring customer service, but I watched them handle a big snafu on SNS during their transition phase. I was impressed how they stepped up to own it and make it right + took action to prevent it happening again in the future.

  • Gifts with purchase swag

If you're not getting cheap K-Beauty, you're probably getting some serious freebies with your order. Mine came with sheet masks and deluxe samples (and candy, which was a plus, heh) rather than just the usual foil sachets.

Swatch & first impressions: Peripera Ink Airy Velvet #10 Dry Rose Brown

Peripera Ink Airy Velvet #10 Dry Rose Brown
I'm 99% sure there's puppy fur somewhere in this photo.

Speaking of Coco's enabling, she recommended the Peripera Ink Velvet lip products and I carted one of them as fast as my rubber arm could untwist.

Peripera Ink Airy Velvet #10 Dry Rose Brown swatch
I did try to take lip swatches but ...

The colour is a pleasant MLBB but the formula is where it shines. It's lightweight, leaves a semi-matte finish without being drying, and lasts a long time before fading into a pretty stain.

It also blends really nicely before it dries down, as you can see here:

Peripera Ink Airy Velvet #10 Dry Rose Brown swatch
... but trying to match up edited shots of my asymmetrical face and lips made me want to drink myself into a stupor, so hand shots it is.

I'm definitely going to snatch up some more of these, especially if they come in plum or purple shades, because sadly I already have a lot of red lipsticks. At least I wear them out while walking the dog?

Swatch & first impressions: Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX

Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX
This is exactly what I expected it to be ... aka hanbang porn. Did not disappoint, A++ would hanbang again.

I've been lusting after the Sulwhasoo Balancing Water ever since hearing The Beauty Imprint rave about it. You all know I have zero chill when it comes to Sulwhasoo, and it hasn't disappointed.

I'll be doing a full review after I've used it longer (I've been using it for about 2 weeks) but I'm liking it so far. It doesn't smell as hanbang-y as I'd like, more of a floral + herbal scent, but it's got a beautiful light hydrating texture and the heavy glass bottle makes it feel so luxe.

Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX texture
Very liquid texture, check.

I've been using it as a hydrating toner in both my AM and PM routines, and it sinks in quickly so I can move on to sunscreen or my night routine steps.

As of this post, it's not currently on sale at Beautytap (although it's gone on sale in the interim, so check regularly) but it's widely available and comes in sample sizes, ayyy!

Where else to get it:  Amazon | eBay | Jolse | Sulwhasoo US

Have you tried the Sulwhasoo Balancing Water, and if so, what did you think of it? Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!

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

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products I review on 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. Personal gifts from friends & family will also be identified.  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. I got hooked on Swanicoco Fermentation Snail Care Emulsion about a year ago, then it became really hard to find. Beautytap always has it in stock so it's become my go-to .com to re-up. Since shopping there I've explored other Swanicoco options as well as some by SanDaWha. They frequently run 30% off promotions on both brands, so I've become a regular beautytap buyer.

    I'll agree that the site has improved recently, but there are still some frustrations and/or annoyances. I did have a problem with an order recently when half of the products I paid for were not in the box they shipped. It turned out that they'd run out of inventory. Getting this resolved (there's no guidance on the site as to how or where to address problems with orders) took way too long and way too many slowly answered emails that were infuriatingly vague.

    As to their shipping options, I've not noticed that any method is faster than another, and I've never been able to track my orders. It generally takes 3 weeks for orders to arrive at my west coast address, which is fine by me.

    I've not used the Sulwhasoo Balancing Water, but I've been using the TimeTreasure Water off and on for many years. I've explored the rest of the line fairly extensively and there are very few products I don't love (although none of their eye creams really work for me.) I also love just about everything made by AmorePacific. If beautytap started carrying AP and running daily deals on their products, I'd be a happy, but very broke, camper.

    1. Having easy access to customer service is a necessity, imo. Snafus can happen to anyone, but they need to make it right. Did everything get sorted out in the end?

      AP products are often tempting but then Sulwhasoo shakes its hanbangin' booty at me and it's all over. Sigh. I need to go on a low-buy for a while, not because I'm overspending, but because I have a full dance card of pretties waiting for me. T-T

  2. I'm on mobile chrome so it might just be me, but I just want to mention that several of your links aren't working.

    1. Hrm, they're working for me in regular chrome but I will definitely check them on mobile, thank you so much for letting me know!

  3. I've never tried the ink airy velvet from Peripera but I love love love the regular ink velvet line. You might like #6? It starts as coral when I first put it on but then it turns into a really nice pink MLBB on me (most recent MAC match was NW 15 so not as pale as you are XD)

    1. I wasn't in love with any of the regular Ink Velvets (mostly because they're all similar to shades I already own) but I'll definitely take a second look at this one!

      May you always be skin cancer free, in the name of the Snail, amen.

  4. I just need to thank you. Someone linked one of your posts that talks about what skin type are you in a forum, and for the first time someone addressed why I'm an oily mess with flaky skin and why thick creams were just masking the issue and causing breakouts. I'm still not 100% sure who my blogger twin is (western skincare has skewed a lot of my issues. I don't think I'm even that acne prone anymore, just oily...) anyways, just by changing the way I do a couple things in my routine, my normally severely flaky skin is COMPLETELY flake free. So, I'm off to read everything I can about asian beauty and hydrating my skin!

    1. Hot damn, congrats! Being flake-free is a huge step forward! Figuring out the need to balance water and oil in my skin was game changer.

      Take care,