Beauty Review: COSRX x Charlotte Cho Triple C Lightning Liquid

So I actually forgot to mention this beauty in my recent round-up of skincare things I like for a very simple reason: it’s quite easy to forget. Despite the attempts at making the packaging look luxe, and the hype that was generated prior to its release, this is not a terribly glamorous or exciting product. It’s a vitamin C serum. Like dietary sources of vitamin C (i.e., fruits and vegetables), it’s rather something you use everyday because you know its good for you, but that you don’t necessarily expect rapid, earth-shattering results from. Oh, I know it’s an acid, so it can provide exfoliation, but honestly, I use vitamin C for the long game, not the short-term.

And yet, I realized the other day that for the last month, my skin has been particularly well-behaved. No major breakouts, just one hormonal spot at the expected time, and even that has healed up rather quickly, with the marks fading nicely. And, honestly, the last thing I added to my testing routine was this serum. So go figure.

Anyway, let us back up. I bought this because it’s a touch cheaper than my current vitamin C serum, and it’s actually a low-pH, L-AA serum, so it’s made with the stuff that has the studies behind it in terms of collagen-building. I was frankly dubious about its claims of stability, so I do keep mine in the fridge, but I’ve seen only a mild color change from completely clear to ever-so-slightly-champagne colored over the last month. It certainly has a long way to go before I would consider tossing it. Compare that to the mini Drunk Elephant serum that came the color of orange blossom honey, and I’m honestly impressed.

The bottle is quite pretty. It’s a very, very deep indigo color, almost black, but with just enough color that you can see it when the fridge light shines through it just so. The gold-rimmed dropper is a nice touch. It would look lovely sitting on my vanity, if I would dare leave it out of the fridge (not specific to this serum; I store any L-AA serum in the cold). My only complaint is that there is a bit of crystallization that happens in the dropper, which did start to clog it after a few weeks, but I poked it out with a clean pin and continued on my merry way. A minor annoyance at worst.

The product itself is very watery, with an ever-so-slight “chemical” smell to it (but of course, I’m not alarmed because everything is chemicals). It feels light and refreshing on the face, with a slight amount of “slip,” but I attribute that to the fact that it is quite acidic and I find acidic things feel lightly conditioning on the skin and hair. I felt a slight tingle the first few times I use it, and now if I use it after a breakout, I might feel one or two pricks, but nothing remotely resembling “stinging.” It dries down quickly and I don’t experience any stickiness. I find it comfortable enough to not put on hydrating toner right away, so I try to give this 10-20 minutes to sit before I continue with my routine in the morning.

A note about timing usage: Soko Glam recommends using this at night because it is acidic enough to exfoliate. The fact is that AHA exfoliants cause sun sensitivity for days after application, so your level of sun sensitivity will not change whether you use it in the morning or at night. I also use a 15% lactic acid three times a week at night, so I keep this in the morning. And I like the idea of putting on antioxidants early in the day so their activity is high during peak sun hours. But that’s your choice.

Anyway, I apply it directly after my morning cleanser, which is with a low-pH cleanser, so I don’t bother with pH-adjusting toner first. I let it sit while I meditate or make matcha or gather my lunch supplies. On days when I go to the gym, I might just walk out of the house with just this on my face (if it’s humid) because I go to the gym before sunrise. Otherwise, I give it maybe 15-20 minutes of wait time and then continue with the rest of my morning routine. And, yes, I always use sunscreen during the day.

So far, with relatively generous daily usage, I’ve made it through about a third of the bottle in a month, which is about right for vitamin C. And I definitely see myself repurchasing this when I finish the bottle.

Shop Review: Beautibi

This is somewhat out of the ordinary for me, but I wanted to say a few words about a few recent purchases I made from the shop Beautibi. You see, usually when I make an order, I include a disclaimer saying that not only was I not compensated for the review, but it’s likely the company doesn’t even know about my blog or my review. But in this case, it’s possible Jen from Beautibi will see this review because we¬†actually interact often enough that she’ll probably see this. Suffice to say that I haven’t been financially compensated and both of these orders were paid for by me.

Anyway, a little while ago, Jude at Fifty Shades of Snail posted about a giveaway of a Beautibi aNEW box. Now, I’m not big on beauty boxes, and I didn’t want to enter the giveaway, but looking at the box, it intrigued me. First of all, it included the Wishing U biocellulose masks, which are supposed to act like a hydrocolloid patch for your whole face, while also providing moisture and anti-aging benefits. Then, it included some travel-sized stuff from some brands that intrigued me. Including hair care. You guys, I love hair care! And the hair care is made with peat extract, which is just so appropriate for my upcoming Scottish honeymoon.

Finally, the thing that sold me was that, while the original box came with a full-sized BB, CC, or primer cream, Beautibi decided to offer the option of switching out color cosmetics for a peeling cream. I’ve never used a peeling gel or cream and I’ve been curious. So I decided to treat myself.

And then, seconds after submitting my order, I get an email: “Welcome to Beautibi, take 10% off your first order.” Oh. Well. Um. I just placed my first order, so how does this work?

So I went out on a limb and emailed them to ask if they could retroactively apply the discount. Well, not only did they respond and agree, they actually processed the refund so quickly, it came to me before the response that they were going to do that. No fuss. No muss. And since then, I’ve had some lovely interactions on Twitter and Instagram with them as well.

Well, after that lovely experience, I decided to splurge again and order during their St. Patrick’s Day sale. Beautibi has some brands that I don’t see everywhere, so I tried a brand of rubber masks that were new to me, as well as some garden-themed sheet masks, and an artisan perfume. It came packaged with the same lovely attention to detail, with speed that impressed even my Amazon-addicted self, and the same packet of whimsical confetti.

Beautibi is also nice because they carry a lot of Taiwanese brands, which are a bit less well-known than their Korean and Japanese sisters. I’ve been a fan of Taiwanese LoveMore masks for a while and I find the brands at Beautibi often walk a delicate line between being natural-leaning but without sacrificing science-led, effective ingredients. And the company often lists the pH of products, which is helpful for me.

I do believe Beautibi will have a longtime customer in me, next time I’m in need of a beauty pick-me-up.

Update: While this review was written with no ulterior motive, and the links in the main body of the review have not changed, I have since generated a Beautibi referral link. If you would like to support the blog, and get $5 off your first purchase, click here.

On Traveling With a Complicated Skin Care Routine

A few weeks ago I shared some photos on Instagram of the toiletries bag I took with me on a one-week trip to the mountains of Maine. I wanted to expound a bit on my tips and tricks for travel skin care here.

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I opted to bring only carry-on luggage, so I was limited to a 3-1-1 bag, as per TSA standards. I found out that sheet masks don’t generally count towards your liquids/gels/aerosol limit, and can confirm that I brought them through security with no trouble. But I still had to fit a multi-step, Korean-inspired skin care routine, hair care for thick, mid-back-length hair, plus deodorant and bug spray into a quart-sized bag. While I managed, it was a tight fit and definitely used my Tetris skills.

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You can see the difference between the compact bag and the laid out contents of just the plastic bag above! Here’s a list of products:

  • Julep Love Your Bare Face cleansing oil, trial size
  • Sulwhasoo Snowise EX cleansing foam, sample packets
  • Skylake Herbal face mist, trial size
  • Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence and Night Activator Ampoule, sample packets
  • Assorted foil samples (Tatcha Rice Powder exfoliator, Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery moisturizer, Fresh Black Tea Age Delay cream)
  • Trilogy Antioxidant oil, trial size
  • Mamonde Rose Honey sleeping mask, decant
  • Urban Decay Vice lipstick, two sample blister packs
  • L’Oreal Nude Balm in Plush Plum
  • Missha Signature Real Complete BB Cream in #23, sample packs
  • Sensodyne Pronamel toothpaste, trial size
  • Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting unscented deodorant
  • Sawyer Picaridin bug repellent, trial size
  • Kiss My Face SPF 30 lip balm
  • Homemade lip balm
  • DHC Lash Tonic
  • Skylake Silk Cocoon Conditioner, 2 trial size tubes
  • Skylake Herbal Cool Shampoo, trial size
  • Biore UV Perfect Milk

In addition to this, I brought three sheet masks: Skylake Trouble Care, Evercos Chameleon Leaf, and LoveMore Aloe and Loofah. As you can see, I’ve left a few things at home, like exfoliating acids, vitamin C, and most of my makeup. I chose to focus on skin care, and include just enough makeup to cover a breakout if I needed and enhance my lips naturally. I opted not to bring bright red lipstick to the mountains. Here are my tips for traveling with your complicated routine:

  1. Decide what is non-negotiable: For me, number one is sunscreen. I knew I was bringing a full-sized bottle of a water-resistant sunscreen that I knew wouldn’t break me out. I also knew I wanted my essence. In the future, I will refill my decant jar with my preferred gel moisturizer as well.
  2. See where you can edit: Like I said, I didn’t bring my whole makeup bag or even all the steps I use for skin care. The first thing I decided to leave at home was my vitamin C, as the antioxidant oil has some vitamin C in it, and I didn’t want to risk oxidizing my vitamin C serum by carting it around for who-knows-how-long during travel. Then I also chose to leave my exfoliating acids at home because travel notoriously upsets my skin and the last thing upset skin needs is actives. Finally, I drastically simplified my makeup because the conference I was attending involves a lot of outdoor activities and I knew I wouldn’t be wearing a red lip while hiking anyway. I also chose to buy sunscreen for my body at the conference site because you need enough to get proper coverage, that it’s not hard to use up a full-sized tube during a week of constant daily outdoor activity.
  3. Find trial and sample sizes: I found trial sizes of my shampoo, a good conditioner, cleansing oil, facial oil, and toner. I’ll probably refill some of the trial-size containers with products I use regularly, too. Then I got sample packets of essence, ampoule, cleanser, and BB cream. And I tested literally everything weeks before leaving on my trip. I also had some samples from Sephora and other orders that I’d tried before and knew I liked. Generally not a good idea to bring anything that’s utterly untested on travel.
  4. Decant where necessary: I didn’t have to decant my own products (the Mamonde decant was one I bought off a skincare exchange board), but I will next time. I can replace the cleansing oil with my everyday cleansing oil and the sleeping mask with my night moisturizer. I also have some small travel bottles to decant my other hydrating essence, if I want to in the future.
  5. Supplement with soothing and hydrating sheet masks: I looked around and decided that it was a pretty safe bet to bring sheet masks outside my 3-1-1 bag, so I threw a few sheet masks in my bag. I focused on masks that are good for breakouts and upset skin because I knew that 1.) travel makes me break out and 2.) I would be spending a lot of time outside. And it turned out great. I came home from one particularly long afternoon hike, took a long shower, and sat for a half an hour with an aloe mask on before evening sessions and my skin was very happy indeed.

So those are my thoughts about traveling with skin care. I will have another chance to put the tips into practice soon, but I think that’s a good place to start when trying to curate your routine for travel. Who still has fun vacation plans coming up?