004 Taiwanese Skincare Miirushop & Neogence Product Reviews

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tl;dr I absolutely love the two Neogence products sent to me by Taiwanese skincare site Miirushop! I'm really excited to support a fellow Taiwanese-American and, most importantly, the skincare products that she has personally curated have truly delivered visible results for my skin!

Disclaimer: The following products were sent to me for review but these are my honest opinions and I was not required to post anything. I had an excellent experience with Eden and am genuinely excited to support Miirushop!

Taiwan holds a tremendously special place in my heart, and not simply because it’s where my parents were born or because of the fantastic food :] I was fortunate enough to spend many summers in Taiwan throughout my teenage years, which is when I became increasingly aware of skincare and overall wellness. I marveled at how local Taiwanese girls had seemingly perfect skin and wore tights outdoors to protect themselves from the sun. Meanwhile, I was sweating buckets and trying to find the nearest 7-11 or Family Mart for treasured air-conditioning and Nestea drinks with Wu Zun’s face on it. It was during these trips that I discovered Japanese Biore sunscreen, blotting sheets, and 3M Nexcare pimple patches. I stocked up on any sort of "Asian" skincare I could find, and when I returned home, I would attempt to apply my grade-school level Mandarin Chinese to translate directions and ingredient lists. 

Although I'm so glad K-Beauty drastically brought quality Asian skincare to the American mass market, I've always had a soft spot for Taiwanese skincare. And not to be biased, but I have consistently fallen in love with lesser known Taiwanese brands such as L’Herboflore, DMC (Do Me Care), and My Beauty Diary. Yet despite the high quality results, I always found it difficult to find and purchase these products - I had limited directions for family members like "I think they have a store in Taipei 101" or "It's in a black container with a pink orchid on it." So when I discovered that Eden had taken the time to found Miirushop, an online retailer focused on curating the best of Taiwanese skincare to its customers, the inner middle-schooler in me was jumping for joy and screaming, "FINALLY!" 

Miiru is Taiwanese for "Beautiful Girl" and embodies the holistic wellness that Eden hopes to bring to her customers. Eden personally curates skincare products that deliver scientific results without unnecessary additives. In addition, I love how Eden supplements her shop with wellness posts rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. These posts always remind me of my own Mommy Tsay boiling chicken soup with goji berries on cold winter days :) 

After sharing my skin concerns (normal skin but dying of dryness under harsh heater conditions; permanent under eye bags) Eden was kind enough to send me two full-size Neogence products readily available on her site and two deluxe samples of products she was still considering curating. I've been realllllly slow to post my review (think: 5-6 months) because I wanted to make sure that I truly loved the products for their results and not simply because I'm biased :P And after finishing almost all of the products, I'm finally ready to share my thoughts! 

NEOGENCE Perfect Firming Renew Eye Cream:

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This was the product I was most excited for because I've been self-conscious about my puffy and dark under-eye circles since grade school. In fact, my first delve into makeup in middle school wasn't for pretty eyeshadow colors or eyeliner, but for cake-y under-eye concealer. While most of the research I've read simply states that under-eye circles are genetic and the best thing to do is to accept it, I do remember one knowledgeable Sephora associate being honest to me that the only eye creams I should spend money on are ones with Caffeine, which this Neogence eye cream contains. Caffeine is generally considered effective against puffiness and dark circles by constricting blood vessels and tightening the skin. Also included in the formula is a blend of Vitamin A Palmitate and Matrixyl 3000, which Miirushop claims stimulates collagen production. The formula is thin, milky, and nonirritating - it sinks into my eye area very quickly, and most importantly does not incur any milia (which I have gotten from other heavier formulas). To further help with de-puffing, this product comes in really innovative packaging - it has a metal-like rollerball applicator that is very cooling, even without storing the product in the fridge. The bottom has a twisting knob that opens the applicator and dispenses as much product as the user needs. And a protective cap covers the applicator between each use, keeping everything hygienic. This product is so convenient to use and creates such a nice smooth canvas for under-eye makeup in the mornings - but honestly this product left me confident enough to go out without any under-eye makeup. I'm not saying it erased my under-eye bags but I did always feel refreshed to where I didn't care that my bags were showing. Perhaps the only downside of this is I went through it so quickly - the 10ml only lasted me about a month - while most other eye creams seemingly last forever. But it's likely because I was constantly using it and showing it off to Mommy Tsay, who also fell in love. I would absolutely 100% repurchase this at $25 for 10ml, although I currently have two opened eye creams that I need to use up first. This is the first eye cream I'm rating as 5/5!

NEOGENCE Hydrating and Revitalizing Gel Mask:

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While I flew through the eye cream in a month, I think the second product I received from Miirushop will last me forever - it's a giant 100ml that has already lasted me throughout the fall and will surely last me throughout the winter - I'm still only about halfway through the product. I generally have normal skin but the changing environment from urban NYC living leaves my skin confused and fairly dry - it's cold and windy during my 30-minute walk to work and then dry and hot in my heated office. To replenish my skin, I've been using this as a 15-minute wash-off mask about once a week but it sounds like Miirushop also recommends it as a 24-hour lasting moisturizer. I like that this feels like it is truly hydrating my skin without the sticky feeling. It's a creamy yet light moisturizing gel, a bit similar to the consistency of Belif's true cream or Laneige's Water Sleeping Pack but slightly thicker and seemingly more concentrated. My skin absolutely loves the ingredients list (disclaimer - I'm summarizing these from Miirushop's website description, but my skin really loves these ingredients and drinks them right up): Centella Asiatica Extract to reduce swelling, Hyaluronic Acid to retain moisture, Aloe Vera to soothe redness, and Allantoin to soften and stimulate skin cell regeneration. Tornare is new to me, but Miirushop claims this is a polysaccharide to protect skin against environmental pollutants - as someone living in NYC, all I can say is YES PLEASE! In addition, there is little-to-no fragrance with this, and it feels so gentle with no unnecessary ingredients that I'd say it's safe for those with sensitive skin. This is a great basic to have and I can reliably come back to this every week to help my skin. It's a little boring but in a good way so I'm rating this as a 4.5/5. I'd repurchase this at $31 for 100ml although I'm not sure when I'd need to because I have so much product left! 

Overall, I'm so excited to discover more innovative products through Eden's curations at Miirushop. I've already used up and loved the two additional samples she sent, Neogence's Hyaluronic Acid Toner (water-y, instantly absorbing) and Dr Wu's Intensive Hydrating Serum with Hyaluronic Acid (viscous, with the most adorable dropper) and hopes she curates both soon! What are your thoughts on Taiwanese skincare products? How do you think they compare to uber-popular Korean skincare products? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!   

003 Peach&Lily's 2017 K-Beauty Sample Sale Recap

td;lr If there's one day of the year to mark in the K-Beauty calendar, it's definitely Peach & Lily's Original K-Beauty Sample Sale!! This is my second year attending and this is hands down my FAVORITE sample sale in NYC because Alicia Yoon and her team curate the best and latest K-beauty finds at truly affordable prices. Make sure you do your homework and plan accordingly in order to make the most of this event and stock up on items you truly need for the upcoming year. 

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Unlike previous years when the sample sale was hosted in August and lasted for two days [check out @BeautyandtheCat and @CeciBeautyTherapy for in-depth coverage on the 2015 and 2016 sales], Peach & Lily's 2017 sample sale was hosted in late September and only lasted one day. But since this is their third year hosting, the team had the process down pat - the event was hosted in a bigger space with increased stock and their social media team managed wait time expectations through live updates on Instagram. Prior to the event, attendees could follow Peach & Lily's Instagram or RSVP at events@peachandlily.com for sneak peeks of which brands would be available. 

To make the most of the event, I definitely suggest doing your research beforehand and determine what you want out of the sale. If you're a casual consumer and just want to dip into K-Beauty, there's no need to wait an hour in line and get flustered at the frenzy of people grabbing everything. If you're a K-Beauty master, you might spend an hour inside looking up every ingredient on your phone and miss everything as new and coveted products sell out around you. Or you might just want to try out everything and end up with too many products for the wrong skin-type that will make a forever home in your ever-growing stash. None of these scenarios sound like fun to me and you'll end up spending a lot more money then you need to. Kind of defeats the purpose of a sample sale, am I right?

Here's my 2017 recap and advice after having great experiences in 2016 & 2017: 

The Night Before:

  • Take an HONEST look at your current stash - and I mean a good, LONG look. What type of products do you actually need right now? What type of products will you need in 3 months? What type of products did you love in the past year and actually use up?  For me, I had been shopping my stash for most of the year and already depleted most of my stash. I was actually all out of cleansing oils, toners, and sunscreen and I was down to one backup bottle of essence and a few samples of eye cream. Since fall and winter were coming up, I wanted to incorporate hydrating mists into my routine because heaters in my office and apartment tend to really dry out my skin. And I wanted a few true powerhouse items for the winter because I spend the holidays in Chicago where I tend to get dry patches because of the weather / water. After looking at my stash, I realized I am actually horrible at sheet masking. I only do so about 2-3 times a month, at most. In contrast, I'm pretty good at using up wash-off masks and modeling masks. Finally, in addition to sheet masks obviously, I was already set for 2nd cleansers, serums, and moisturizers/creams for many years to come. 
  • Research & build a wishlist  - this is where my inner nerd researcher gets to shine. Stalk the hell out of Peach & Lily's website and any new brands that are mentioned during Peach & Lily's sneak peaks. From previous purchases and empties, I knew my skin loved products from Shangpree, Rose By Dr Dream, and Be the Skin. From online research/window shopping, I wanted to try Atopalm and Atoclassic. All of these also seemed relatively exclusive to Peach & Lily. Meanwhile, Peach & Lily also hinted at new brands Let Me Skin, Elisha Coy, Duft + Doft, Olivarrier, and Frudia. I decided I'd hold off on Elisha Coy and Frudia since although I love both, I knew Alicia helped CVS stock those brands and CVS often sends 30-40% off coupons. Duft + Doft mainly seemed like hand creams that didn't interest me. But Let Me Skin modeling masks were offered at Barneys/P&L for $20 each and Olivarrier selling at Glow Recipe for $36+. For the lines I was interested in, I listed out products I'd definitely want to purchase no matter what (marked with an asterisk) and items that were maybes (accompanied with their retail prices. I used Notes because I like doing research on my Mac and then pulling up the sync-ed Note on my phone during the sale. You can also get creative and pre-make a Google Sheet to calculate your total prices, but I'm not a huge fan of the Sheets app on my phone so I didn't bother. Example of my notes: 
    • SHANGPREE S-Energy Long Lasting Concentrated Serum * [$120]
    • BE THE SKIN Botanical Nutrition Power Toner* [$29]
    • ATOPALM Moisturizing Eye Repair Serum [$46, 40% Off = $27.6, 70% Off =$ 13.8]
  • Set a REALISTIC budget - here's the scary part. If you add up all the items on your wishlist, how disastrous is your total? Seeing everything added up really made me gulp and move more items from the Must Asterisk to the Maybe section. I suggest leaving some room for new finds at the sale, say a $10-$20 leeway. 
  • Decide your schedule - after doing the above, would you be heartbroken if you didn't get all the items on your Must list? Or maybe going through the process, you realized you don't need that many things and you just want to check out the sale for fun. Use these feelings to determine whether you want to invest the time to arrive before opening or whether you're fine strolling in at the end of the day. For me, I knew there were popular items (ahem Shangpree) that would sell out fast and my overall savings from the sample sale would be more than if I did my usual online shopping habits. On top of that, I had to leave by 11AM to catch a flight out of NYC that day...so I wanted to arrive early and leave as early as I could to still make my flight. 

Lines & Wait:

KBeauty fans will NOT let huge lines intimidate them away from a good deal. I arrived around 7:20AM and the line was already looping around the corner and growing past two blocks long. Luckily for me, a friend got in just after 7AM and was waiting in the middle of the first block [approximately #30 in line] so I was able to jump in and catch-up with her while we waited for the doors to open. The P&L staff opened the doors right on time at 8AM with Alicia at the door welcoming everyone in! 

  • Buddy Up - I suggest a buddy system and which can ease the process for both buddies - if Buddy #1 lives nearby and can hold a spot in line, Buddy #2 can take it easy on the commute. Then when Buddy #1 needs to rush off to work or school, Buddy #2 has got Buddy #1 covered. YAS SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS. What I wouldn't suggest is a buddy group larger than four - other girls waiting tend to give you the side-eye for cutting in line and orders for large orders across multiple people can get messy, frustrating, and pricey. Keep it small.  
  • Check Your Phone Often (& Bring a Charger) - The Peach & Lily team were totally on top of their social media game so it's worth coming to the event with a full battery. In addition to commenting with estimated wait times on their Instagram, they responded to inquiries about whether specific products were sold out yet. People waiting in line were already planning what to get once they reached the door because they were watching what others were currently getting inside. And those who were at school or work could determine whether they wanted to make a trip or save it if their favorite items were already sold out. 

In Store:

  • Don't bring extra baggage - If you're short on time, bring only a small cross-body to keep your wallet close and your hands free. The P&L team have a strict bag policy - anything that can be considered "tote size" needs to be checked-in. This cuts down on space, makes it easier to shop, and (I'm guessing from my short-lived retail career at Hollister) prevents shoplifting. A small line can form within the store of people waiting to check-in their bag, so if you're short on time, just don't bring one. Otherwise, hand your bag to the nice P&L associate who will hang it for you on a rack and hand you a ticket number. Another associate will give you a Peach & Lily shopping bag (or more if you know you're about to do damage) to hold your new items. 
  • Color coordinate your haul - Products are arranged by price, which is indicated by colored stickers. It's a great, efficient system. This year, the prices were Orange [$35], Red [$22], Yellow [$15], Green [$10], Blue [$6], Pink [$3]. As I found products on my wishlist, I added my count of each color - Eg 1 Orange, 3 Blue, etc. By the time I had looked through all the available products, I could see how over / under budget my current bag had. 
  • Stick to your wishlist & budget - This is where all the preparation really shows because people struggle with part. There's no room to sit down and start rethinking all your purchases - in fact, people who did were asked to move since they were forming a crowd right by the only entrance/exit (probably a huge fire hazard.) My best advice for this section is to justify each and every purchase - if you keep the Orange, put a Yellow, Green, and Blue back. Or if you're between two sunscreens, ask the staff for their opinion! They're incredibly knowledgeable and want you to be happy with your purchases.  
  • Check expiration dates - Always always always a must for any skincare purchases. This sale is always really good about expiration dates - almost all of the items I picked up were just manufactured and should be good for at least a year.
  • Pay happy - There were 2-3 lines for checkout arranged in a very Trader Joe-esque fashion, with a P&L associate directing us to alternate turns as cashiers freed up. My cashier was super clear in separating out all the items by color and counting them clearly in front of me and showed me how everything added up on the iPad. Purchases over $350 qualified for a Peach & Lily pouch filled with their latest name-brand masks and acne patched. The staff staple up the Peach & Lily bags for you and text the receipt to your phone. I also saved the best part for last - there's no tax
Wish I had a better photo, but here's Alicia Yoon greeting @mybeautyjars at the door right at opening!

Wish I had a better photo, but here's Alicia Yoon greeting @mybeautyjars at the door right at opening!

Don't be surprised that Mr Peach & Lily (Alicia Yoon's husband) knows a ton about skincare too! He was answering questions and recommending products!

Don't be surprised that Mr Peach & Lily (Alicia Yoon's husband) knows a ton about skincare too! He was answering questions and recommending products!

The 2017 Haul 

FINALLY Here are a few of the items I picked up that I'm most excited about! 

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  • Olivarrieh Dual Moist Hyaluron Essence [ Green $10 | Retail $36 on GlowRecipe ]
  • Olivarrieh Dual Moist Toning Lotion [ Green $10 | Retail $18 on MelodyCosme ]
  • Olivarrieh Squalene Fluid Oil [ Yellow $15 | Retail $33 on RoseRoseShop ]
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  • La Muse Multi Effect Perfecting Face Oil [Green $10 | Retail $54 according to tradeKorea but currently unavailable]
  • La Muse Creme Solare SPF [Blue $6 | Retail $45 according to tradeKorea but currently unavailable]
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What did you guys pick up at the Peach & Lily Sample Sale or which products are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!

-V

002 ClubClio's 90% Off Sample Sale

tl;dr Club Clio's Union Square location in NYC had an amazing end-of-summer sample sale with brands Clio Professional, Peripera, Goodal, Dr G, and Soo Ae offering products up to 90% off. Deals are still going strong as of 9/18/2017! 

#boxesonboxes 

#boxesonboxes 

This post is about a month late, but Club Clio [11 W 14th Street] had an amazing sample sale from Aug 16th 2017 - Aug 31st 2017.  These were the most affordable prices I’ve ever seen on kbeauty yet, with items up to 90% off and most products selling for $10 or less. And according to the sample sale queen Dinara [@practicallyhaute], the deals are still going strong until they run out of stock and remodel their location :) 

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Club Clio currently has two makeup lines, Clio Professional and Peripera, and most items were between $1-$5! I’m totally loyal to the Clio Professional Kill Brown Waterproof Eyeliner but unfortunately most neutral colors were sold out within the first day of the sale. I hardly wear makeup so I picked up a few colorful eyeliners and lip tints to gift to friends:

3 x Clio Professional Gelpresso Waterproof Pencil Gel Liner [3 for $5]

5 x Peripera Lumi Pang, Peri’s Tint, and & Peri’s Milk Balm [3 for $5]

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There was less variety available for skincare - I only saw a few single bottles of Dr G products that didn't interest me. I did use this chance to check out Goodal [@goodal.beauty] because their Deep Clean Pore Facial Clay is one of my favorite wash-off masks. While I’m super excited to try the items I purchased, there was little-to-no information on expiration dates. Because I was a little wary of how much I could use up on my own, I mainly bought multiples to share with friends with warnings to use them up in the next 6 months. I did check that each bottle was still sealed and in brand-new condition: 

1 x Goodal Phytorain Murumuru Seed Hydra Toner [3 for $5]

3 x Goodal Phytoshine Acaiberry Brightening Toner [3 for $5] 

3 x Goodal 100% Cotton Sheet Masks in Orchid, Cherry Blossom, & Baby Perennis [3 for $10] 

3 x Goodal Toning Lotus Water Oil [3 for $10]

1 x Goodal Orchid Nutrition Body Wash [3 for $10] 

2 x Goodal Moisture Barrier Liquid [3 for $10]

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My total order came out to exactly $50 which is insane considering the huge bag I walked out with! I felt like I robbed a store but nope, just an insane sample sale that I highly encourage others to take advantage of. I'll be sharing my honest opinions of the Goodal products as I work my way through them. 

What do you loves think? Leave a comment with your thoughts or, if you were able to make the sample sale, let me know what you got!  

- V

Disclaimer: Big thank you to Claire of DK Cosmetics for sending the details of this event with me in advance. This is not a sponsored post and as always, everything on this blog and my Instagram/Instagram stories are my honest opinion. 

001 My Everyday Summer Routine

tl;dr What better way to kick off this skincare blog than with a post showcasing my current routine? In this humid summer heat, I've been loving light hydrating layers and a time-saving routine. 

Current Skin Condition & Goals: I have normal skin but summer is always a little tricky for me. I'm sweating buckets after any commute, including my daily half-hour walk to work; however, once I'm in the office, my desk is right underneath the air conditioning which dries out my skin. As a result, my skin is constantly dehydrated yet looks more congested than normal. I have small bumps on my forehead that I've never had before. I'd like to add moisture back into my skin (without that sticky feeling) and smooth out them bumps. And since my summer has been busier than usual with longer working hours, the less time necessary = the better. 

My everyday summer routine is surprisingly simple - I'm really loving how I can go through this whole routine in less than ten minutes [clutch for them lazy days]. 

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Every night, I start with my trusted Banila Co oil cleanser on dry skin which melts off any sunscreen & makeup from the day. I've gone through four tubs of this and snagged a backup during MEMEBOX's closing sale [c/o @theglowingbee]. I feel like this spreads really easily across my face and leaves my skin clean without any stripping feeling. The Zero Purity version is gentle enough for my eyes [although I do recommend removing contacts beforehand] and gets off most of my eyeliner and mascara. I'll use Dior's Instant Eye Makeup Remover with a q-tip to remove any remaining eyeliner since I always tightline my eyes. At this point, I usually jump into the shower to rinse everything off. Note - I skip this step in the mornings and start with the step below. 

Next, I use Lagom's Cellup gel-to-water cleanser which is super gentle. It's a scent-free clear gel that seemingly has lasted me forever. Honestly, this product is not that exciting but that's also what I'm usually looking for - a no-fuss basic to wash off anything I may have missed. On nights that I need a little something a little stronger, I'll swap it out for Heimish's All Clean White Clay Foam or I'll use Neogen's Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser for something a little more fun. But I've mostly stuck with the Lagom cleanser and love how simple it is. In the mornings, it's exactly what I'm looking for - it cleans off any sebum or excess product from the night before and leaves me with a balanced canvas. 

After cleansing and stepping out of my shower, my skin can feel tight within seconds. I've found that if I spray my face with Lagom's Cellus Mist Toner, my skin will stay hydrated and supple for a full 1-2 minutes - especially in combination with the Lagom cleanser since it's so gentle. This gives me enough time to dry off and head to my room to finish the rest of my skincare routine. It seems like ridiculously specific use-case of a toner spray, but it's exactly what I was looking for.  

Once in my room, I'll follow up with an unconventional product - SK-II's Cellumination Mask-in Lotion. Even though I call myself a skincare fanatic and have seen a lot of products, I'll admit I was confused by how to use this and left it untouched for almost a year. [In fact, I'm realizing now that I have no idea what "Cellup," "Cellus," and "Cellumination" mean or how they differentiate...] Realizing I better use it before it expired, I looked up the instructions and turns out it's basically a time-saving toner/essence/mask/liquid lotion in one! I basically use it as a toner/essence hybrid to rehydrate my skin. It's not enough to completely withstand my air-conditioning on it's own, but it's not sticky and leaves my skin happy, balanced, and brighter. It's a beautiful luminescent milky liquid and smells like SK-II's signature Pitera ingredient. I'm not crazy out it's $80 price-tag, but I purchased it on sale and I'm very pleased with how much my skin loves it and drinks it up. I'm on my very last drops, so until I can justify another splurge, I'll be replacing this with Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner.

Finally, I'll finish with two steps - pat Shangpree's S-Energy Long Lasting Concentrated Serum to keep aging at bay and then seal everything in with Cremorlab's Fresh Water Gel. I picked up the Shangpree serum during Peach & Lily's sample sale and am crossing my fingers it's brought back this year at it's discounted price. While I can't speak for it's anti-aging properties because I don't have many wrinkles to start with, I love it's clear texture and how it doesn't feel like yet another layer on my skin. It's light, absorbs quickly, and seemingly firms my cheeks. Cremorlab's Fresh Water Gel is legitimately PERFECT for humid weater and comes in a tub large enough to last all summer. It's lightweight and feels like applying water to your skin in gel form - is that possible?? In any case, both are the perfect ways to wrap up my night routine. 

I mentioned two other items in my everyday routine that don't fit into my night routine. In the mornings, I'll also take the time to use Shangpree's Marine Energy Eye Masks. Shangpree hands-down makes my favorite eye hydrogel masks - I slap these on and after 15 minutes, my undereye bags are soothed and seemingly flattened. They also don't slip, allowing me to move around and make my morning cup of tea. Another product I've recently started incorporating is Huxley's Be Clean, Be Moist cleansing water. I'll use this as soon as I finish a sweaty workout or I'm back home from work. It's the perfect lazy way to get rid of the daily grime that has built up and keeps my skin hydrated enough for the next few hours before I go into my full routine. And for anybody who is currently head-over-heels in love with Huxley - yes, it has that heavenly fresh 'Huxley' scent.

So that's that! I wasn't expecting such a long post, but I ramble a lot when it comes to skincare - ergo, I'm hoping these posts will be more digestible than my long Instagram captions. To keep things short and limited to the products I use on a daily basis, I left out the different AHA/BHA exfoliating products I've been testing. I've also been trying a few different sunscreens...but I'll save both of those topics for future posts :] Stay tuned!

Wishing you all happy and healthy skin! 

- V