Mediheal NMF Intensive Hydrating Mask

Lately, the weather around here has been anywhere between 25° and 70°, and my skin is suffering for it. Even my coveted My Beauty Diary masks don’t seem to be doing much in the way of re-introducing moisture back into my skin. So I decided to look for a sheet mask that was a little more heavy duty in hydration.

This mask is a pain to get out of the packaging and unfold since it is over-saturated (in the best way possible, of course) in product. That said, the fact that the linen is already soaked through makes it a lot easier to contour to your face, making this one of the better-fitting masks I’ve tried in my lifetime.

Right away, I loved the way this mask felt on. It was immediately relieving, and refreshing! Since it’s over-saturated in product, the overall effect is cooling. But I just felt like the tightness and irritation were going away in real time.

Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of the tacky residue the mask leaves behind. As with most other masks, you can’t really stack other skincare or product over this for at least 30 minutes to an hour, or else it will pill. But this stuff is really sticky. Sure, that probably means that it’s better at retaining moisture, but it’s just a little bit too uncomfortable, for too long.

The long-term effects, however, are amazing! My skin has been brighter and clearer since I started to use it. It doesn’t aggravate my skin, and I haven’t experienced any breakouts from using it, despite the obnoxious pore-clogging texture that the mask seems to leave behind after use.

I think for how much improvement in quality my skin seemed to experience, $11 for a box of five masks was more than worth my money. Despite my complaints about the immediate after-effects of this mask, this is a great pick for anyone with sensitive skin and enough time to spare for this product to fully sink in. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3.75/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

After a little Googling, I just saw that Mediheal has BTS special edition versions of some of their masks. I wish I had seen this before, how freakin cool!

Hada Labo Tokyo: Skin Plumping Gel Cream

I used this moisturizer a lot in my early skincare days, and I’m trying to remember why, exactly, I abandoned it. This gel cream is close to HG status for me, with maybe a few flaws that prevent it from ascending to that level. Oh, and if you ever wanted to live out the glory days of the old Clinique Moisture Surge (which, in my opinion, is now a shadow of it’s former self), this is the moisturizer to do it with.

The packaging of this white gel cream is a luxurious square-shaped glass jar, which admittedly, is a kind of awkward to fit in a standard-issue medicine cabinet. And while it definitely looks good for the camera, the packaging is unfortunately pretty wasteful. It really doesn’t hold much product at all, given how much room the jar could technically accomodate. Considering this is $23 out of the buyer’s pocket, I think they could have done with more product, or packaging the product more efficiently.

The gel cream is quite smooth and easy to spread. While I have my gripes about the amount of product in the package, you really don’t need too much to cover your entire face. The gel cream dries down clear. This leaves behind a bit of a residue, but it’s soft to the touch, not tacky, and intended to hold moisture in. Living up to it’s name, my skin looked plump, and seemed more hydrated even after a full day of wearing this.

Because of that remaining residue, this moisturizer doesn’t exactly play the best with foundation over top, or really any other product over top of it. But also not… the worst? A few times I noticed my makeup starting to pill around hour 2 of having both applied — not substantial enough to require re-applying, but enough to make me reconsider using this moisturizer for daytime use. The residue it leaves behind tends to hang onto your skin for dear life, making it difficult to fully wash off your face.

Besides some of it’s hang-ups, this moisturizer does a great job of hydrating your skin. This is oil-free, there are no drying alcohols or anything inherently terrible in the ingredient listing, save for the rampant polymers that are likely to blame for the skin smoothness and pilling alike. This also boasts collagen, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. My favorite thing of all was that it never broke me out!

If you’re ok with splurging a bit, this is a nice face cream for night-time use, or bare-faced use, particularly for users with sensitive skin. Just be warned of this moisturizer’s long-term commitment — it’s clingy, and you’re going to have a hard time getting rid of it. 🙂 ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.25/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Missha Near Skin Total Ceramide Cream

This ceramide cream is a simple-yet-effective moisturizer that’s found itself in pretty heavy rotation in routine. Even with the inclusion of PHA’s, this moisturizer isn’t exactly a heavy-hitter with stand-out results, but it’s simple, and sometimes that’s all I’m looking for in a routine.

There’s 50ml of product in this tube (which, by the way, is super portable and great for when you’re on-the-go). But it never really feels like there is truly 50ml in this product, like, there’s seemingly a lot of empty space in the tube, which is unfortunate because I go through this stuff pretty fast. This comes out of the tube as a white cream, is easy to spread on the face, and absorbs quickly. It’s about medium weight, so it’s sufficiently heavy enough to make you feel moisturized for most of the day. It doesn’t cause any pilling, so it’s great under foundation.

I think this was my first experience with a PHA cream. It exfoliates to a much lesser degree than a BHA or AHA would, thus the irritation is incredibly minor, if there even is any at all. That said, don’t use this before slapping on your retinol at night. There’s also some dispute on whether it enhances the effect of Vitamin C or just causes irritation. I’ve used Vitamin C with this with no issue, so this is ok to use in the morning provided you’ve snuck in some SPF in your last step.

As far as long-term effects of the ceramides and PHA’s go… well, there haven’t been any, really. But this hasn’t caused any breakouts for me, so I think this could be a good pick for someone with sensitive skin. Also, it’s relatively cheap to buy online, between $10-15 depending on where you look. You’ll most likely have to wait a couple weeks for the international shipping, but I think it’s worth the wait to try it out.

This was a pretty short review, but you know what they say, less is more. I stan a basic moisturizer! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 3.75/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Holika Holika Good Cera Super Ceramide Cream

In preparation for winter, and knowing that Cerave in a Tub is no longer a go-to option for me, I went on the hunt for a heavy ceramide cream. It’s a bit on the pricier side — $18 — but it had a few good reviews on r/asianbeauty, so I decided it was worth the splurge. The 2 fl oz’s go a long way.

I was surprised by the heavy jar when I got this in the mail, but I do like the yellow packaging. Nice, bright, and clean! This cream itself feels great: it’s very smooth and creamy. It is peach-colored in the jar, but the color disappears immediately once it is applied to the skin. It melts, actually, which I love. The only drawback here about the physicality of the product is how much I dislike the smell. It smells like some sort of lemony household cleaner.

The ingredient listing is where I become a bit conflicted. The ingredient listing is SO LONG and I am unfamiliar with quite a few of them, which isn’t always the best sign. I mean, it’s great that there are no drying alcohols in it, but I DO think my skin is a little sensitive to this because of how many oils they put in. Now, oils for me are hit or miss — some certainly play better with my skin than others, but this just seems like a lot:

Phew! Not listed in this screenshot is the inclusion of coconut oil and aloe vera (which both tend to be comodeogenic for my skin). On the plus side, we’ve got three types of ceramides, niacinamide, and allantoin.

Despite drying a little bit more tacky on my skin than I would care for (don’t put makeup over this one!), this does make my skin feel protected and soft. I don’t think it quite lived up to the “72 hour” claim, but the feeling did persist up to about the 18 hour mark.

As for my skin condition over all… I do think I have a bit of a sensitivity to this. Although it works GREAT as an emollient, especially overnight, I have woken up a few times with clogged pores, blotchy skin, or tiny break outs. But, I went into this knowing it wasn’t oil-free, so that was the price I paid.

If you’re not sensitive to oils, don’t mind the smell of Pine-Sol, and you’re looking for a great overnight mask, this will do the trick. Otherwise, sensitive skin users, be careful with Good Cera! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Hada Labo Goku-Jyun Premium Hyaluronic Acid



I REALLY like this product a lot. I just don’t think it quite delivers much in the way of long-term results.

For the price of $14 this plastic bottle has a TON of product. It can be a pain to wait for this to ship from Japan, but you shouldn’t need to re-order it too often just because there is quite a bit of product. You really don’t need a ton of this for application on your face, either.

I’m impressed by the contents and the ingredients overall. Alcohol-free, fragrance-free, oil free, and five types of hyaluronic acid. This has NEVER aggravated my skin in the four months I’ve been using it. This watery gel is colorless, so you won’t have to worry about any white cast.

But… well, the watery gel composition is just the problem. Everytime I read a review that says, “this goes great under makeup!”, I think to myself “what?” Sure, the gel will fully absorb after 30 minutes or so; it’s not going to persist the same way that something like Bio Oil would. But if you wanted a product that was going to make just about anything over or under it pill up, then this is the product to do it. Initially, I thought this lotion was simply removing grit, but no, it just likes to roll off your other products.

So that’s what makes this lotion a little confusing. Where does it go in your routine? It seems like you could use it in place of a regular moisturizer, but if you had an extra emolliant to layer over that moisturizer, well, forget it. And while this lotion IS incredibly hydrating, I don’t find that it quite cuts it in the winter on it’s own. So I’ve been using it as an additive: If my skin dries out after my regular night-time routine, I will very carefully apply this on my skin for an extra layer of hydration.

Probably because I am most likely using it incorrectly, I haven’t seen any noticeable results. It is super hydrating — I think someone with a minimalist skin routine, and normal to oily skin type could probably get by on just using this. But it doesn’t create the effect of “bounciness” in my skin as some of my Cerave products do. Still, the fact that this has never caused any irritation puts this lotion in high regard for me, despite how finicky it can be during application. ~A

Buy Hada Labo Goku-jyun HA Lotion here:https://amzn.to/2DeqM23

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 3/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Derma-E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer

I’ve always heard anecdotes about Vitamin C serums being far more effective than moisturizers, since the type and the percentage of vit C is higher in the serum. Be that as it may, my skin is still crazy sensitive, and sometimes these serums simply don’t dry in time before I need to leave for work. So this was my first ever Vitamin C creme moisturizer.

It comes in a pump bottle — this is relevant because it keeps the Vitamin C stable, since exposure to air will cause it to break down. So if you learn anything from this review, don’t buy anything Vit C related that’s in a jar or tub. I digress. There’s quite a bit of product in here and it’s another case of one or two pumps going a long way.

The cream is white but absorbs quickly and colorlessly, although some white residue might cling a little bit to peach fuzz you might have on your face (been there…), so be careful of that. Don’t use this as your only moisturizer, it’s not at all heavy enough — use something over it. Probably one of the bigger selling points of this product, for me, is the scent: It’s AMAZING!! If you like Fruit Loops. Which I do.

There’s essentially no dry time, so it can go under any of your other products without any pilling issues. Make sure you wear sunscreen with this product, as Vitamin C will increase your sun sensitivity. Now, speaking of skin issues, you might encounter a break out or two initially, because Vit C is an exfoliant, but you shouldn’t expect to see anything terribly uncouth. Unless, of course, you have sensitivities to oils, in which case stay away. This has a few of them. Other than that, though, the ingredient listing is largely naturals, and has no drying alcohols.

As for the overall effect, I noticed my skin was “brighter” for the first hour or two of wearing this — longer term, it seemed my pores had shrunk in size, and some of my skin tone had evened out. As for deeper icepick scarring, ehh — this product didn’t help much.

Considering moisturizers are not as powerful as serums, I think this product is shockingly effective and fast-moving: If you have any spots that are in the process of healing, this moisturizer will speed up the process tenfold of turning the skin over. I had a bad patch of skin with superficial scarring that I thought would take weeks to heal, and using this product did it in about 3 days. Unfortunately that meant my skin was quite literally flaking off in the middle of work. Not my best look.

All in all, though, I would repurchase this $17 bottle. It works, it smells good, it’s lightweight, and it’s pretty darn effective. ~A

Buy this powerhouse Vitamin C moisturizer here:https://amzn.to/2UcNSAE

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Elta MD Intense Moisturizer

Elta MD Intense Moisturizer

This is a weird one. During my cystic acne phase, I used this as an occlusive, and continued to use it for the first five months of treatment. I didn’t have any issues breaking out “more” than I already was. Using it now, though, now that I’m back to combination skin, I’ve noticed it’s congestive to my pores. This seems weird to me as the ingredient list is simplistic — petroleum, and paraffin — both of which are in other products I currently use. So, for all you sensitive skin/acne sufferers: I would actually suggest giving this a try first and see how you react. I really liked this in the beginning and thought it worked great. I’m guessing as my skin recovered, my sensitivities changed.

Onto the review! There is quite a lot of product in this tube, and you don’t need very much at all. The only smell is really the mineral-y, waxy smell of the petroleum. This moisturizer does, as they advertise, “melt” — it comes out as a thick line of waxy product, but starts to disintegrate into water when it makes contact with the heat of your skin. That makes this product best as a last step/occlusive, after you’ve put all your other products on for the night (just be careful not to sleep with your face on the pillow…). It’s awesome particularly in the winter when you feel like you honestly could never get enough moisture in your skin — this moisturizer will provide it!

A full eight hours is about the time it takes for this product to fully break down, but the end result is that you wake up feeling that your skin is bouncy and soft. As I mentioned before, I used to not really find that I had any “new” breakouts (that were caused by this, anyway).

I’m kind of bummed out that I don’t have great results with this anymore like I used to. I think it’s the most moisturized I’ve been from using one product, and the price point of $10 is great for the amount of product and overall effect. I’ll give it the review I would have given it when I had bad acne though, because I think it could definitely be a holy grail for acne sufferers, so long as they don’t have any sensitivities to petroleum. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel (and Water Gel Extra Dry)

Neutrogena Hydro Boost

This stuff has been part of my nightly regime for close to a year now, and I love it.

There’s really not too big of a difference between the two formulas except the color — in fact, I accidentally bought the extra dry formula online, and didn’t realize that it had even existed until I looked at the color and wondered what on earth I had bought (extra dry coloration is white, instead of the normal formula’s blue). Extra dry is a little heavier, and application is a bit tackier, so it might require a longer setting time but still won’t interfere with the rest of your process. I think I’m going to use extra dry a bit more in the winter.

I think the color is kind of neat for the original formula — light blue! It doesn’t apply that way, though. The stuff sinks in almost immediately, and it’s weightless. Your skin will be softer on touch. That moisture will persist for at least eight hours, and won’t pill off throughout the day. The fragrance is nice — very light, fresh, won’t drive you insane during the day. And, added bonus, the packaging is kind of cool in the light blue container, making it hard to miss in my vanity.

What I love love love about this stuff is that it does not conflict with anything else I put on for the day — be it extra layers of moisturizer, sunscreen or makeup. NO PILLING!! Ah, yes, and for all you acne-sufferers out there, this stuff is oil free, and was a mainstay during my hormonal acne.

The price point is a little annoying at $14-18 depending on where you buy from, but it should last between a month to three months, contingent on how much it gets used. ~A

To try the regular formula, click here: https://amzn.to/2GXTdFT For the extra dry formula, click here: https://amzn.to/2VvPEtP

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Clinique Dramatically Different Gel

Clinique Dramatically Different

What I originally thought was an underwhelming moisturizer, Clinique’s Dramatically Different Gel became a must-have staple for me. I’m a sucker for good packaging or good marketing tactics, so, as you could imagine, I didn’t exactly feel “dramatically different” after using this product as the package may have suggested right away. And besides hyaluronic acid and caffeine, this moisturizer doesn’t boast any skin improving quality that falls out of the norm.

But for long-term use, this gel really does work! It’s medium weight (despite advertising as light), so it doesn’t quite sink into your skin fully but it doesn’t feel like it’s weighing you down, either (nor will it leave behind a sticky feeling!), and you won’t need to go the extra mile to rub it in. It also seems like this is doing a better job of controlling my oiliness throughout the day than the Cerave PM does. This moisturizer has a extremely faint vanilla smell, but will become odorless after application.

This product is oil and alcohol free, which makes it a great choice for anyone with acne-prone skin. I have never broken out from using this product.

I don’t have any issues with this product pilling with my makeup, particularly since this dries down quickly. I also didn’t feel that my skin dried out, or became tighter after a full day of wear.

For the price point of $25-28, it was difficult, at first, to justify the cost of such an initially underwhelming moisturizer. But as time passed, I learned that perhaps less is more. My skin quality has been phenomenal after using this prodycg long-term! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes