A Year of Surprises & The End of the K-Beauty Decade

This year has been a plot twist that I never saw coming. Yes, this is happening: a post, on my blog, shambling out of a dusty corner of empties and snarled with torn webbing of sheetmask silk.

Even though this year has been non-stop and the most transformative and momentous period of the decade for me, I couldn't let this year pass without an update +  some thoughts about the past and future of K-Beauty.

Vancouver, BC forest
The pacific northwest is so much more beautiful than any photo can convey.

Many of you have sent me messages and emails asking what I've been up to, why I haven't been posting, and if I'm going to be posting again. Here it is, and this year has been wild.

In this post:

  • What I've been doing instead of blogging aka "The Year Life Yanked Me Out of One Timeline and Shoved Me Into a Totally Different One"
  • What hooked me on K-Beauty & why my loins are no longer aflame about it
  • What soured me on the K-Beauty scene & beauty blogging
  • Where I think K-Beauty is going in the next decade if it lasts

Have you ever had the experience of having the next, say, 5-10 years of your life plotted out, and you're minding your own business, living day to day, and then suddenly, something happens that snatches you up by the nose hairs and hurls you, metaphorical pants around ankles, into a completely new reality?

(Seriously, drop me a comment if you have had this happen to you. Because, wtf, man.)

Giving Tuesday Destash: the Snails Send Self-Care

I'm hopping out of hibernation early this year; I have a few posts upcoming but they're being temporarily shelved for something more important. It's Giving Tuesday and I want to talk about what I, my fellow Snails, and you can do with our neglected-but-new beauty products, unwanted gifts-with-purchase, and mountains of foil samples we've guiltily banished to the back of our skincare stash.

You've probably been there: unexpected 1+1 gifts with purchase, loads of random foil samples, unwanted sheet masks, deluxe mini sizes of products we'll never use.

I've got a lot of convoluted feelings about the term "self-care" and how it's been co-opted  from its original activist roots into a marketing slogan. The Snailcast episode The Evolution of Self-Care dives deep into the topic, so I won't get too wild on it here. This post is about gifting packages of self-care to women in need, and where and what you can send if you'd like to do so yourself.

Doing something that's genuinely helpful for others, especially in the wake of the Black Friday consumerism hangover, feels like exactly what's needed right now.

4 Minute Morning: My Quick 6-Step K-Beauty Routine

How long does it take to do a multi-step Korean beauty product routine? A lot less time than I thought, as it turns out. Gone are the old days of lazy 20+ minute AM routines, where I could leisurely apply layers of products between answering emails and sipping my coffee.

My AM routine now consists of potty dancing in front of my mirror as I slap on products while my puppy chirps and whines to be let out of her crate. It's easy to slap on a bunch of products as fast as possible, but it's trickier to have them absorb in time for your sunscreen to safely adhere to your face.

Fast K-Beauty morning routine
It's fast, it's fervent, it's done on a full bladder: it's my 3 minute and 47 second K-Beauty morning routine

It's also as hot and humid AF right now, which means my sunscreen wants to slide into my eyes as soon as I step out the door, resulting in me staggering around my yard trying to wipe my burning, streaming eyes like a freshly maced frat boy. I need my products in place and locked down against the summer heat, and that's a lot harder to do in the time it takes for the puppy to lose patience and start chewing her bed.

In this post:

  • It's all in the timing; a simple change made a big difference
  • Which 6 steps are necessities
  • A full face with +2 minutes extra

Trying to get all this stuff done in stages, in between her AM potty break and AM playtime, just wasn't working for me. Instead of popping outside in a hat, doing the thing, and zipping back indoors for my next step, anything less than a fully ready face resulted in me chasing her around the yard trying to dig rocks, sticks, and occasionally my shoe out of her mouth, without sun protection. Hat + chasing down a speedy tinydog = unplanned sun exposure.

Necessity was the mother of inventing a workable AM routine so fast I decided to time it to see just how long it took for me to roll out the door, ready for puppy potty & playtime in the summer sun.

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.

Love Me Low [pH] & Gently: Make P:rem Safe Me Cleanser Review

You know what I should be doing daily? Washing my face with something other than puppy slobber and the occasional half-hearted swipe of BHA exfoliant on a cotton square. Somehow, though, that hasn't quite always worked out as I planned, much like my plans to raise a perfectly trained, polite dog that doesn't jump on people's faces to greet them and isn't plotting diabolical schemes to procure bits of steak on demand.

That had quite a bit to do with why I'm reviewing the Make P:rem Safe Me Relief Moisture Cleansing Foam, but I'll get to that shortly.

Make Prem Safe Me Relief Moisture low pH foam cleanser
Sure it says it's pH 5.5, but is it really? We've been mislead and our wallets waylaid before.

As it turns out, puppy slobber can be pretty irritating, or perhaps it's just the combination of noncon puppy tongue baths + the winter elements when it's 11pm and -18C** and you're outside huddled in your jacket chanting "go potty, go potty" like some sort of scatologically-obsessed cult member. Wind chapping is no joke, I'd almost forgotten what real winter weather is like after a decade outside Canada.

**That's just below zero Fahrenheit for my non-metric peeps out there.

It turns out that skin savaged by winter like the twitterstorm that obliterated that article about the "skincare con", isn't thrilled about the application of products. Especially cleansers (even low pH ones) gamely trying to strip the last remnants of lubrication out of your moisture barrier.

While digging through my stash (much like my dog in our doomed garden, except with less mud and no eating of unknown objects) I realized I had a full tube of the Make P:rem Safe Me Relieving Moisture foaming cleanser waiting to be used. I had bought the full size after going through several sample sachets, and remembered liking its gentle, mild foam. It's also low pH (as proclaimed proudly on the packaging) and into my bathroom it went, standing like a lone, forlorn soldier against the tide of unholy bacteria no doubt marching across my face.

In this post:

  • Product details
  • Ingredients
  • Does it foam, though?
  • Cleansing demo
  • Overall thoughts

I suppose not everyone is as concerned with the qualifications and performance of their cleansers as I am, but everyone's got their kinks. Mine is for low pH cleansers that snuggle my skin's horny layer with soft suds and sultry scents, and I'm not ashamed. Let's roll!

First Impressions & Swatches: Make P:rem Blue Ray Sunscreen

Good all-physical UV filter sunscreens are hard to find. "Physical" filter (also known as "inorganic") sunscreens  are sought by people with sensitive skin and/or reactions to chemical UV (also known as "organic") filters, such as yours truly. The most common recommendation request from phys-only sunscreen hunters is for a high protection rated sunscreen with no white cast.

Sadly, with phys-only sunscreens, that just doesn't exist. One of the two options, Titanium dioxide, is literally used as white pigment. Think back to your trusty tube of Titanium White in art class. That's your sunscreen filter bro giving your paints the "whitest white" and also making your sunscreen search hell.

When my former favourite all-phys sunscreen was possibly reformulated (it's not, but more on this later) and I was blown away by a chemical sunscreen I could actually use from Make P:rem, I needed to get my ass in gear and test out some new all-physical options, stat. But I can't review the (orange cap) one I've been using. More on that later too.

So here's a first impression of the Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream SPF50+ PA++++. That's right, four PA ratings.

Make P:rem Blue Ray Sun Cream physical filter sunscreen
Our backyard wild bunnies were displeased that I plunked this down in their bun buffet patch.

(Incidentally, if you'd like to see one of the bun patch bunnies in action, I tweeted a short video of one that visited during this post here.)

In this post:

  • Why this is a first impression instead of a full review, aka I'm lightly brined by unfortunate developments
  • Differences between the orange (Natural) and blue (Blue Ray) cap versions
  • First impressions of the Blue Ray Sun Cream
  • White cast swatches on NC10 and NC30 skin tones
  • Is it worth it & where to get it

I was initially put off buying this version because I'm highly suspicious of anything "cooling" because that usually means either 1. massive amounts of alcohol, or 2. added menthol, which can be highly irritating.

Just give me a high-rated sunscreen with physical (inorganic) filters that's pleasant to wear, doesn't break me out, and has minimal white cast. So how does the Make P:rem Blue Ray Sun Cream stack up?

Weekend Travel Essentials For Lazy Summer Skincare

I don't travel well. Or rather, I don't prepare for travel well. I always feel stressed out of proportion about the packing stage, and having a multi-step skincare routine complicates even a simple weekend trip by car. Rather than fuss with what skincare to bring, I just grabbed necessities off my sink.

Does anyone else have issues with the sudden appearance of skin troubles during travel? It's like one's cycle; always picks the worst possible time to visit. With that in mind, I prepared for a skin rebellion just in case. They say that what you prepare for doesn't happen, after all.

K-Beauty skincare
I managed to snap these in between intermittent summer showers.

It fit in a ziploc, at least. A large one.

In this post:

  • Sunscreen
  • Double Cleansers
  • Clear Pores & Soothe Skin
  • Brighten & Moisturize
  • Nullify Blemishes
  • Cushion and Concealer
  • Mist because it's @#^$# hot out and heat makes me crabby

Also, these photos will not only feature "Skincare I Brought With Me to My In-Laws' House" but also "Random Items I Pilfered From My Bemused Mother-In-Law's Decor For Photo Props" and "Gifts Of Quirky Things She Correctly Thought I'd Like, Such As Old Books And Shiny Things" because hey, you work with what you have on hand when you're travelling. It's ... a metaphor. Something about necessity, or something.

Anyway, here's what I brought to keep me safe, sane, and with as few surprise pimples as possible.