I bought 110 sheet masks, and a whole bunch of other things. If you’ve ever wondered how Asian cult beauty favourites perform, you’ve come to the right place. This is my skincare haul from my Asia trip this year, with swatches and mini reviews.
I have done more research on beauty products and skincare than I have for any school assignment.
Before my short Asia trip in May-June, I looked up pretty much every item one has to buy while in Hong Kong/Taiwan (I didn’t go to Korea unfortunately). I’ll make a Haul Part 2 that details the makeup products I bought. For now, here are some swatches and short reviews on all the things I got on my 14 day trip. Shoutout to the homie Joseph who lugged a lot of it back from his Korea trip! As usual, you can click on any image to zoom in and have a better look.
Nature Republic Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel
It seems like everyone and their mother has this in their regular beauty routine. It’s a multi-purpose product that is literally just 92% aloe vera. The consistency is very runny yet jelly-like, and I use it sometimes as a light body moisturizer (lotion can be too thick in the summer). The consistency is very lightweight and it easily blends into the skin leaving no sticky feeling behind. It also smells great. I got this 300ml tub for $5 CAD at Sasa in Hong Kong.
Banila Co. Clean it Zero (Classic) – Large Size
If you know anything about Asian skincare, you’ve heard this pop up at least a couple of times. It’s a makeup removing balm cleanser formulated with great ingredients like Papaya extract and Vitamin C. It goes on like a balm (see second image) but very easily melts into an oil (see third image) to effectively but gently remove any makeup, including stubborn and waterproof mascara. I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!! It smells great, is easy to use and comes with a spatula so you don’t contaminate the product with your fingers. Only downside: this leaves a slight residue on the skin that some people aren’t a fan of. But I always double cleanse anyway so it doesn’t bother me. I got the 180ml jumbo size from Sasa in Hong Kong for about $35 CAD I think.
Product Comparison: The Clinique Take the Day off Cleansing Balm. I like the Clean it Zero much better for a few reasons: 1. Great ingredients are always prioritized in Asian beauty. The Clean it Zero is also free of harsh ones (part of a 5-free system). 2. Clinique’s balm is harder to melt into the skin. It stays as a solid for longer so you have to massage it more to turn the solid chunks into an oil. 3. Both are about the same price… so why not pick the one with better ingredients? However, the Clinique balm leaves no residue behind so if that’s important to you, then go for it.
SkinFood Premium Tomato Whitening Toner
The SkinFood site says it’s “a brightening toner containing 10% sun-kissed tomato extract and vitamin-C to enhance complexion.” I’ve only started using this a couple days ago and I really like it. It was bought in Korea for under $20 CAD which for an alcohol-free toner with good ingredients, is a pretty competitive price. It smells nice and feels good on the face, and removes excess dirt left over by my cleanser.
I think now’s an important time to say that “whitening” in Korean beauty doesn’t mean “bleaching”. Whitening and brightening are pretty synonymous here, so any whitening products will help your face appear brighter and less dull, usually done with acidic ingredients.
Skin Food Rice Mask Wash Off
This rinse-off mask is an old favourite for many good reasons. As you can see in the second image, it has a very soft consistency and has real rice particles in it. Like all SkinFood masks, you massage it into the skin for a couple of minutes and leave it on the face for 4-5 before finally washing it off. After using this mask, my skin definitely looks brighter, and feels softer and hydrated/plump. This was about $10 CAD in Korea for the 100g jar. I have yet to go through this at all, so it’ll last me a while. An amazing product that I’ll definitely buy again (probably off Amazon).
Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask
If you were to buy any clay mask in Asia, this would be it. As a winner of 22 global beauty awards, every single article pointed to this product and I can totally see why. It’s formulated with real jeju volcanic clay to penetrate your pores and draw out oil and impurities. When applied, you feel a minty/cooling sensation while it works. The mask doesn’t completely dry to a different colour like most clay masks (images 2 and 3 are wet vs. dry). After 10 minutes, you rinse it off and your skin feels very soft and smooth underneath. With prolonged use, sebum production and blackheads should be reduced. I got this in Hong Kong for about $20 CAD.
Interesting find: while taking photos of the swatches, I noticed that this product has small glittery particles in it that reflect in the sun. This must be the real volcanic ash and other minerals in the product! Super cool.
Product comparison: The Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask. It’s super overrated in my opinion and equally overpriced. I used it for a long time trying to tell myself that it’s worth the money but honestly it doesn’t do much for me. The Innisfree mask in my experience is more effective.
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
Also in the top bestsellers by Innisfree is this serum. With real green tea seed oil and extract, this serum will keep your skin hydrated on a deeper level than your regular products. Green tea is an excellent ingredient for your health (no matter how it’s consumed/applied) and is known to help combat redness, inflammation and extra sebum. By using green tea to add hydration, this is a great way to help oily/combination skin.
When do I use serum? Well, the Innisfree site says to use this first after cleansing before anything else… but I usually apply this right after my essence and before my moisturizer. This product smells great, absorbs easily into the skin and really does help my skin feel more hydrated. Like all skincare products, prolonged use will show the results you want.
Too Cool for School Egg Mousse Pack
At $10 CAD at Sasa in Hong Kong, this was a steal compared to the $25 price point at Sephora. This literally comes out as a mousse, similar to hair mousse (see image 2) and once massaged into the skin, slowly fades away into a shiny texture (see image 3). Egg whites are a known ingredient to help tighten and smooth the skin, and sometimes even clear pores (a lot of DIY masks include egg whites). With egg whites and egg yolk, this mask brightens the skin and supplies it with moisture. After massaging it into the skin briefly, rinse it off in 5-10 minutes to reveal softer skin underneath. I find that after using this, the rest of my skincare routine is absorbed more easily. I really like this but I won’t be buying it again for $25.
Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence
You’re thinking either 2 things: 1. Iris, what the hell is an essence, or 2. I’VE HEARD ABOUT THIS!! HOW IS IT??
To answer #1, essence is a watery product you apply to your skin FIRST (sometimes after toner, which is how I like to do it) before anything else after your cleanser. An essence’s main goal is to make the rest of your products absorb and work better. This product is formulated with a TON of amazing ingredients, mainly fermented yeast extract which does literally every good thing for your skin possible (primarily anti-aging and restoring your skin cells). It also has niacinamide and other vitamins so you can treat your skin like royalty. It does everything in the book.
Now is it amazing? To be completely honest, I started using all these new products at once so yes, my skin feels great but I’m not sure what this product contributes exactly. It feels very nice on the skin and definitely boosts the effects of my other products on top of this. Maybe I’ll stop using it for a while to really test how much I miss it. The bottom line is, since using this, my skin feels very supple and hydrated. Do I recommend? Yes, because it’s one of the most affordable luxurious essences out there. This is actually supposed to be a dupe for the wallet-emptying SK-II essence (that one is over $200… lol). This was about $35-$40 CAD for the 150ml bottle, not bad at all compared to other essences.
And All The Rest:
I’m going to toss the rest in together because they didn’t stand out for any particular reason. I just bought them because they were cheap and accessible lol.
- Diaforce Ruby Undereye Masks: this big tub of 60 (30 pairs) of under-eye gels was a steal for under $20 CAD at Sasa in HK. They’re infused with Ruby which helps combat aging and keeps the under eye area hydrated. In contrast, this kind of a product at Sephora would be at least $50. It works well enough, and I use it on days where my eyes are more puffy/darker than usual.
- Tony Moly Tea Tree Cleansing Water: Cleansing water and micellar waters are pretty similar. They’re water-like products that primarily remove makeup and residue off the face. Tea Tree is a great ingredient for oily skin, and this 300ml bottle was only $10 CAD in HK. I’ve used it a few times and it removes makeup very effectively and gently, and doesn’t sting my eyes. A very good deal.
- Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Mist: I literally bought this because of the ADORABLE PACKAGING! LOOK HOW CUTE!! It’s a facial mist that I got for about $15 CAD in HK. The ingredients list is neither good nor bad (witch hazel water and fruit extracts, but also alcohol and some parabens). The spray nozzle sucks on it tbh and I wouldn’t buy this again.
- Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lip Scrub: this is a mediocre lib scrub. It’s white with soft granular particles in it, and was under $10 CAD in HK. It’s formulated with Jojoba and Macadamia Oil so it hydrates the lips but it doesn’t do much for exfoliation… which is its primary function. Cute but wouldn’t buy again.
- Cathy Doll Magic Baby 3-in-1 Bee Venom Treatment: I didn’t take pictures of this because I picked it up in Thailand and I’ve found no other way to buy it. It’s exactly what it sounds like and I bought it because anything with Bee Venom is usually really expensive (this was under $30!). The ingredients list isn’t bad, and it can be used as a serum, moisturizer or overnight mask (I do the last one). I like it a lot; it makes my skin very soft and hydrated. To compare, StriVectin (Shoppers/The Bay) has a bee venom line that is very pricey.
- DID YOU SAY BEE VENOM??? Yes, it’s actually a very great firming/anti-aging ingredient. And it’s totally safe in beauty products. Then again, if you’re allergic to bee stings you probably should avoid it haha.
So there it is… the ridiculous amount of products I bought for my one face while in Asia. Am I rich? Not on any level lol I’m just very irresponsible with my money. As for the 110 sheet masks I bought… I’ll probably detail that in a later post.
Look out for part 2 of my Asia haul where I detail all the makeup products I bought! Are there any Asian skincare items that you want to recommend? Please let me know and I’ll add it to my ever-growing list!
Direct Links to Each Product: