Aloe Vera for Skin (Ingredient Focus Series 1)

Arguably, the aloe vera is the most commonly used and the most beloved ingredient in cosmetics. Generally, they are used as soothing, moisturizing and anti-irritation ingredients in the cosmetics. Most of its effects are due to the rich phyto-chemicals in the A. vera juice. Many of us already know of A.vera’s moisturizing property. Arguably, Nature Republic’s Aloe Vera Soothing Gel is one of the most successful aloe vera products in K-beauty industry.

aloe main

Other brands such as Holika Holika and Skinfood also introduced soothing gels based on aloe vera. There are multiple research on moisturizing, emollient property of aloe vera, but many of the researches contradict to each other. However, it is known that aloe vera contains substantial amounts antioxidants such as α-tocopherol (vitamin E), carotenoids, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), flavonoids, and tannins (Radha, 2015.) Other molecules such as salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory property, and other phyto-chemicals such as pyrocathecol or p-caumaric acid.

aloe mask

Today, in the Ingredient Focus Series, I have brought 4 aloe vera sheet masks. The good news is one of them is $1 mask. All four of them have different composition in their list of ingredients.

1.       Tonymoly aloe Mask Sheets

Tonymoly’s Aloe sheet has decent amount of aloe vera extract (7,000ppm). Betaine and hyaluronic acid intensifies moisturization, witch hazel extract soothes your skin.

2.     Nature Republic Real Nature Mask Sheet

Three layered cellulose sheet promote penetration of the essence to your skin. Deep sea water and sodium hyaluronate moisturizes your skin.

3.     Skinfood Beauty in a food mask Aloe

While aloe vera deeply moisturizes your skin and portulaca oleracea extract calms down irritated skin and prevent breakout.

4.     Leaders Aloe Soothing Renewal Mask

While witch hazel and aloe vera soothe irritated skin, decent amount of hyaluronic acid and betaine deeply moisturize your skin. Palmitoyl tripepetide-5 is added for firming property as well.



Radha, M. H., & Laxmipriya, N. P. (2015). Evaluation of biological properties and clinical effectiveness of Aloe vera: A systematic review. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine5(1), 21–26.

Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. G. (2008). ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW. Indian Journal of Dermatology53(4), 163–166.

Fox, L. T., du Plessis, J., Gerber, M., van Zyl, S., Boneschans, B., & Hamman, J. H. (2014). In Vivo skin hydration and anti-erythema effects of Aloe veraAloe ferox and Aloe marlothii gel materials after single and multiple applications. Pharmacognosy Magazine10(Suppl 2), S392–S403.

Lawrence, R., Tripathi, P., & Jeyakumar, E. (2009). Isolation, Purification and Evaluation of Antibacterial Agents from Aloe veraBrazilian Journal of Microbiology40(4), 906–915.

Mask Review: Jayjun Baby Pure Shining Mask

jayjun mask


Nowadays, multi-step sheet mask is not a new type of product anymore. Road shop cosmetic brands such as Skinfood introduced several multi-step sheet masks such as Boosting Juice 2-step mask sheet Ceramide andWater Berry Ampoule & Essence Mask Sheet. Leaders brought Aquaringer Plus 2 Step mask  on the market. Llang also introduced 3 three step sheet masks (brightening, pore control, moisturizing) with large Q-tip peeling stick. However out of all of these high quality multi-step sheet masks,Jayjun’s Baby Pure Shining Mask is getting weirdly popular in nowadays. I opened a box and tried it.

jayjun open

First Impression

So, this mask consists of 3 steps

1.     Blooming Essence

2.     Mask

3.     Hydro Eye cream

jayjun essence

1.     Essence and eye cream is placed in sample-like film pouch. The amount contained in the film sheet is quite generous (1.5ml) so it is more than enough for 3 or 4 times of usage. The blooming essence has gel-like refreshing texture but does not observed really quick. Seemingly, Jay Jun did not put much volatile ingredients such as alcohol since the sheet mask should be used right after the essence.

2.     The mask is really thin Cupra (specially processed cotton linter pulp.) I have reviewed so many sheet masks but this mask definitely has the BEST skin affinity. It is very thin, hold so much serum and feel gentle on the skin. My only complain is that the sheet is so thin, so it is kind of difficult to unfold it. However, seriously, the mask quality is excellent.

3.     Hydro eye cream has creamy but light texture. Again, they put quite generous amount of eye cream in the film pouch, so you can use in your whole face for 3 or 4 times, not only for your eye zone.

jayjun put on

Ingredient Check

They put decent amount of proven beneficial ingredients. Niacinamide and adenosine were added for brightening ingreidnet, and many moisturizing agents such as hyaluronic acid, beta-glucan, trehalose, allantoin. Popular fermented skin conditioning ingredients such as lactobacillus soybean and Yeast fermentation extracts. The rest of ingredients are also quite safe. For the products with lots of active ingredients like Baby Pure Shining Mask, producers tends to triethanolamine as pH adjustor, but they used tromethamine, the safer one. Of course, it cannot be completely preservative free, so it has phenoxyethanol in the ingredients list, so be aware of it if it concerns you. It also contains silicon based moisturizer –dimethicone, so if you have acne prone skin, please test it before you use.

jayjun put off


As we can see from the name, it really does make your skin dewy and glow. Maybe you can see from the before/after pictures, it really does make your skin visibly brighter and glow. It is not only a really good mask for the treatment before you go to sleep but also a superb day mask for your important date or interview. The ingredients are impressive as well. It contains good amount of beneficial ingredients and minimized potentially harmful ingredients. I would definitely say this was one of the best sheet masks that I reviewed in 2016. Guys, just try one, and you will love it.


One Line Review


PROS: incredible ingredient / incredible glow

CONS: I wish they had protection sheet on the mask so that we could unfold easier

IDEAS: Use one & Get dewy!!!!


I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty !

I Hate you PORE !!!! Clear Pores & Save Our Skin


Hey, M-Friends. It’s Suzi again. How are you spending this humid & hot summer?

Well, even though it’s hot and humid, it’s still the party time, right? We have parties, festivals, vacations and camping plans to all over. So nowadays people go to river, beach and spend several days and come back. For me as well, I’ve been partying away all the time. You know, parties are always full of alcohol. Awww, I think I parted too hard. Excessive parties made my skin so dull and our worst enemy!!! enlarged pores!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Ewwww .


So, I will do my “clear my pores and save my skin” routine.

let’s do It together If you were party girl last week. Lol


1. Knock, Knock – Are you there blackheads? 

I generally put damp towels into microwave, and make the steam towel. Of course if you are diligent enough you may boil the water, soak your towel, remove excessive water then use it. Put the warm steam towel on your skin for 5 to 10 min. This simple process will unclog your pore. I know it’s annoying but you know, I want invest some time for my skin.


2. Actually remove unwanted sebum & impurities.

We have lots of pore brushes available from various brands. I generally use small one for my nose. Put a little bit of foam cleanser, make bubble and cleanse out your pores.

(BTW, dirty pore brushes will cause break out. So, always remember to clean the pore brush before and after you use.)


3. Extraction, Ah?

Rather than blindly extract the blackheads, we have more sophisticated one. Leaders Black Out Clear 3 Step Kit contains blackhead melting gel. This fluid removes sebum and blackhead softly but clearly. It is not very irritating, so it’s good for the people with sensitive skin. But you know what? I have pretty strong skin, lol. I feel sadistic pleasure when I see flakes of dead skin and blackheads in my peel-off type sheet mask.

For the people like me, try Skinfood’s Egg White Pack Peel Off Nose Packor Cha Lab Pore Clear Mask. Egg white peel off nose pack contains egg white extract, and it will snatch blackheads and extract them out when you peel off. Before you use, put generous amount of water on your nose and put your mask. Be careful with bubble and wrinkles. When it hardened, take it off from the side.

I PERSONALLY prefer Cha Lab Pore clear mask. This is not only for the nose but for the whole face. It will remove make up residue, micro dirt, dead skin and sebum all at the same time. You should completely dry up your skin after you wash your face. When the sheet is completely dry up, take It off from the side. They said this sheet has anti-aging function as well. So, just try them out if you like 🙂


4. Bubble it up, Carbonic acid Pack

Well, you can skip this part but if you are a pore perfectionist like me, you will need this. So, if you extract them out well, that does not mean your pore Is completely clean now. Probably, you will have small residues inside of your pore. Eww, I hate it. But try Oxygen AHA Bubble Peeling mask. Interestingly, this sheet mask will make bubble after 5 to 10 min. Those micro-bubbles finally cleanse out your most stubborn blackheads roots.


5. The Must, hydration

Now you can see your pores are clean from your eyes and hands. But you know all of above steps will irritate your skin somehow. So, use soothing gel or moisturizing cream. I like Code 9’s Black Volume Cream. I generally use this for winter but I want to quench my skin today 🙂 You may use your hydration cream from any brand.

So, let’s take care of our skin well. Today this is all I prepare. See you next time.

Oozoo Face Injection Mask (Nutrient)

oozoo mask


I think (and I am sure many others as well) the sheet mask is the most iconic product in Korean beauty business. There were sheet masks before Korean beauty gained the popularity nowadays, but certainly the K-beauty trend made mask sheets more general, ubiquitous and a must-routine of skin care. From $1 mask of Missha in early 2000 to the Innisfree’s second skin mask with fermented green bean sheet, Korean sheet masks have evolved constantly. Oozoo Face Injection Mask is in the newest position of this evolvement. The Oozoo separated several ingredients in the separate syringe, trying to deliver active ingredient right before use, so that the user can benefit from the fresh mixture.

(before put the mask)


First Impression

So, this sheet mask consists of two parts. On left side of package, a syringe with separated powder tube and liquid tube is placed. On the other side,there is a sheet mask with injection hole. The sheet mask is already wet, so it is not like we inject small amount of liquid on the dry mask. First, you need a little instruction to use it. You have to inject powder into liquid part first. So the small piston on the top of the syringe should be pushed on, then the white powders will be dropped into liquid part. After you shake it, you can inject to the mask part through the hole. Check out the video, and then you will know what I am talking about. (Always visual instruction is better, right?)  Then you can open the cover. The sheet is thicker than most of the sheet masks on the market and folded with scaffold. Even though it is thicker than other mask sheets, it has great skin affinity, and it feels extremely soft because of the fine fibers on the mask.

 (mask on)

mask on

Ingredient Check

Since the ingredient is separated in two parts (mask/syringe), I did two ingredient checks. One thing that I am pleasantly surprised by Oozoo sheet mask; it has arguably the best ingredient composition in the market. While they minimized potentially problematic ingredients such as triethanolamine, benzyl alcohol and parabens, the Oozoo added decent amount of moisturizers and active ingredients. They used Phellinus Linteus extract (a mushroom extract that is used in Korean traditional medicine for nutrition) as solvent and added relatively safe moisturizing solvents such as butylenes glycol & glycerin. You can find acetylhexapeptide-8 (argireline) – a.k.a Botox derivative – relatively in the front, and adenosine is added as brightening/anti-wrinkle active ingredient. Well known conditioning agent Saccharomyces ferment filtrate, natural moisturizer beta-glucan are used for solvent of powder ascorbic acid in the syringe. It contains Glyceryl Stearate SE, and it is a safe ingredient but it can be acnegenic for someone so please be aware of it. Phenoxy ethanol is used for preservatives just like many other paraben free products.


After Thought

This is a good mask. Amazing ingredient, great texture and a little fun factor as well. The fine fiber on the mask provides great affinity to the skin even though the sheet is pretty thick. Thick mask sheets do not dry out quickly so you do not have to keep adding serum, and it deeply hydrated my skin and visibly improved fine lines. The moisture stayed on the next day as well so it made my skin nicely glow for entire day. The most amazing part of this mask is its ingredients. Without much of surfactant and preservative, they added decent amount of active ingredients, seemingly because they separated several ingredient to the syringe. I will definitely recommend this mask to anyone who have combination to dry skin and in my routine sheet mask along with Leaders First Ampoule mask.

One Line Review


PROS: Amazing ingredient, radiant glow with injectable syringe

CONS: a little more expensive than other masks

IDEA: Be your own dermatologist with the syringe


I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty

Do I really need famous 10 step regime?

The systemic approach of K-beauty – Do I really need famous 10-step regime?

Hello, M-Friends. We’ve been to KCON NY 2016 and all our staffs were busy with packing, selecting and communicating with beautiful people inKCON. While we were there, we were asked many questions from the participants about the order of cosmetics usage. So I have prepared special posting on this question, and it can be a long one. One thing that I want to emphasize before I start this posting is that you do not have to religiously follow this order and you can make your own modification any time. Again, cosmetics are just cosmetics. If you put wear cream before toner, it is not end of the world. ( I don’t recommend it though, lol)

llang cleansing

1. LLang Super Cereal Cleansing Ball

2.LLang Natural Foaming Cleanser

3.LLang Pure Melting Cleansing Gel

4,LLang Treatment Cleansing Balm

1.     Cleansing Steps

So when it comes to cleansing, the lip & eye make-up should come first to cleanse out point make-ups. You may use cotton puff with lip & eye make-up remover to soak eye make-up for gentle removal. Oil and balm type cleanser can be used after lip & eye remover for basic skin make-up. You gently massage out skin foundation and bb cream and wash your face with lukewarm water. Foam cleansers should be the last step of cleansing, leaving skin refreshed. If you want to add gommage or peeling gel, you can use them after the cleansing foam because if you use gommage or peeling gel on the top of your make-up, make-up residues may penetrate to the stimulated skin and may cause breakout. But if your skin is make-up free, you may use gommage or peeling gel before the cleansing foam as well. For the water type cleansers, you can use it before foam cleanser or you may substitute foam cleanser with cleansing water and skip the foam cleansing step, if you feel like to.

llang skincare set

1.LLang Softening Toner

2.LLang Healing Energy Essence

3.LLang Intensive Eye Cream

4.LLang Trans Emulsion

5.LLang Activating Cream

6.LLang Recovery Oil

2.     Basic Skincare

There is no absolute order of basic skincare but the fundamental is to use products with low viscosity first then move on to high viscosity; from watery to oily. So, you may begin with toner. If the toner is wipe off type (watery with almost no viscosity), you can use it for the first step of your skincare. If you have first essence or pre-essence type product, you can use it after the toner. But if you have a thick, sticky toner, you may use first essence before the toner. So consider the viscosity of the cosmetics and you adjust your order according to your skin condition and preference. The next step is serum/ampoule/essence. If you have gel-type essence, use it before the eye cream. If you have cream type essence, you should compare the thickness of essence and eye cream, and then you apply less dense one first. Generally, oily (especially silicone base moisturizers) textured products may hinder the penetration of the other products, so you can use them after watery textured products. The emulsion is a tricky case, but generally you can apply it after the serum or essence. If your essence is creamy, oily essence, you may use emulsionbefore your essence as well. So again, the order should be decided case by case scenario. For the last step of your skincare, you can use cream for the last step. Facial oil may be used before the cream or mixed with cream according to the instruction.

 3.     Add-ons

So generally, we recommend you to use sheet mask sheets after the toner but if your serum is a watery or gel type one, you may wear mask sheets after them as well. I was asked multiple times whether they should apply emulsion and cream after the sheet masks. Well, it’s a good question. If you think you should, you can. Generally, oily layer may lock up the moisture in your skin, so you can use emulsion and cream after the sheet masks but if you think they will make your skin sticky and uncomfortable, you can skip it.


I know many of people K-beauty fans already know about this order very well and they use a lot more add-on products other than the baseline products that I have mentioned above. However, you do not really have to use so many products at the same time. Your skin also has a capacity of water / oil intake. So too much products may cause sudden breakout or sensitivity. So always remember, too much is as bad as too little.


I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty

Gold Caviar Collagen Plus Serum


If someone asks what the most famous Skinfood product is, most of people will pick the Black Sugar Mask. But, Skinfood is not all about 11 dollar cleansing foam and cheap sheet masks. Actually, unlike many other road shop brands, Skinfood’s target audience is not limited to teenager. They have multiple product lines, and Gold Caviar line is the most popular premium line along with Platinum Grape Cell or Blanc Pearl line. Today I brought THE MOST EXPENSIVE serum from Skinfood – Gold Caviar Collagen Plus Serum ($62 or more expensive). Why not enjoy a little luxury from this reasonably priced brand, Right?

First Impression

The serum is placed in a pump type container, dispenses adequate amount (pea size) of serum for use. The serum has gel like texture rather than creamy/butter. When it is applied on skin, it feels refreshing and it is absorbed really quickly. It leaves slightly oily layer on the skin but it is not unpleasant and it moisturized my skin very well. It has very light floral fragrance, so it is not completely fragrance free product 😦


skin gun

From the PH test, it turns out this serum is slightly acidic (pH 5.5 to 6) than water, which is adequate for the skin because skin exists in slightly acidic condition. So it won’t irritate your skin interms of its acidity. Right after the application, skin gun test demonstrated water index was increased from 41.6% to 60.6% and oil index also increased from 18.7% to 27.2%. So we can see, this serum nicely moisturized my skin.


Ingredient Check

Interestingly, this serum used hydrolyzed marine collagen as its base. So it contains 80.8% of hydrolyzed marine collagen. Actually, collagen has been a very popular ingredient from early 90’s as firming and anti-aging ingredient. Yes, there are some researches that collagen may used for wound healing for the dressing purposes, but collagen is definitely NOT a recognized active ingredient for an anti-wrinkle or a firming agent. So we should understand the benefits from collagen (including hydrolyzed one) generally comes from its moisturizing effect. It also contains 800mg of caviar extract and safe moisturizing agents such as butylene glycol / glycerin. It contains dimethicone, so be aware of it if it concerns you. Sodium hyaluronate, adenosine and multiple peptides were added as anti wrinkle and firming agents. I can say this serum is made with safe compounds.


After Thought

Some of Korean bloggers recommend this serum as a cheaper substitute La Prairie’s Cellular Platinum Rare. I do not know the La Prairie can magically protect your DNA and brighten your skin (at least this is what they say) but certainly Gold Caviar Collagen Plus does its job. It moisturizes skin well and it contains good amount of anti-aging, cell repairing ingredients. So I would rather choose the Skinfood if I wanna go a little luxury.

One-line Review


 PROS: light but moisturizing texture with lots of lots of collagen

 CONS: A little expensive (62$)

IDEAS: Skinfood maybe go luxury. I love Caviar!!

I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty


Mask Sheet War – Inside K-beauty

fight cat

A little history…

When someone ask me what the most unique Korean beauty product is, I will say “sheet mask” without 1 second of hesitation. There are millions of mask sheets from all (not even almost) Korean brands, from 99 cents mask of Skinfood to 40$ per piece luxury mask of Amore Pacific. Actually, from the troika era of Korean road shop (Early 2000, Missha / The Face Shop / Skinfood,) 1000 Korean won (1$) masks were popular. However, the launching of Genics’ Cell Derma Hydrogel Mask Pack, aka Ha Yumi Pack (하유미팩) triggered sheet mask war in K-beauty industry. They launched through Hyundai Home Shopping and GS Home Shopping, they sold more than 10 million USD (Korea is a small country, this is pretty a lot lol). Now,hydro gel masks are from everywhere, but back then, Cell Derma’s hydro gel mask was somewhat innovative and sensational in Korean beauty industry, because Genic is the first company, made sheet mask with hydro gel in Korea. After the success of Genic, many Korean companies jumped on “mask sheet” bandwagon.

Now, the big 3 are

1. Mediheal : Mediheal began with small company, providing low-priced sheet mask to Olive Young (Korean cosmetic multi-shop). They have become famous with their signature hydration mask “NMF Aquaring mask.” With an interesting packaged design with IV bottle, they got fame on internet as well. Mediheal has very specific segmentation on their products. There are 11 different kinds of masks for their basic line “essential.” They have several hydro gel masks as well as eye patches.


Recommendation: WHP White hydrating Charcoal Mineral Mask

Mediheal’s best seller with their signature NMF Aquaring line. Good amount of Niacinamide & Sodium hyaluronate prevents pigmentation while moisturizes your skin. The sheet is black because it contains charcoal of Quercus phylliraeoides (They said it’s for clarifying but I could not find any reliable article, so I just mentioned this as a fun factor.)


Leaders: Leaders originally owned by a medical net work (Leader Plastic Surgery & Dermatology Clinic) but now it is sold to other cosmetic brand. Before, they used to produce cosmeceuticals only, but now they have become a kwon mask sheet brand. With mediheal’s Aquaring, Leaders’ Aquaringer became popular but now they make lots of sheet masks with interesting sheet material (fermented coconut gel) and pretty functional package.

Leaders First Ampoule Mask ( Snail Therapy): The mask contains in the test tube (시험관팩). They used chamomile extract / snail mucin as its BASE, meaning no water. It contains other moisturizing agent and no phenoxy ethanol nor parabens. It contains LOTS of serum so you can keep pour the serum on the top of the mask. (In my personal & humble opinion, this is the best sheet mask for me. Lol)


SNP got on the business with low priced pore masks then quickly became a best selling internet based (mostly Gmarket and Auction) cosmetic brand in late 2000. They introduced animal sheet masks and sold more than 10 million pieces, and keep introducing sheet masks with interesting features.

Recommendation: Bird’s nest Aqua Ampoule Mask

I’m not sure what Bird’s nest extract can do for our skin, it was added for the third ingredient. Witch Hazel extract and Centella Asiatica extract calm your sensitive skin and promote healing. It feels quite refreshing but be aware it contains ethanol, if it concerns you.

Rising Stars


Jay Jun: Brand name from a famous plastic surgery clinic in Korea. They got famous with “Refine to Shine” black mask. They are one of the first company that attached serum and cleanser in a separated pouch

“refine to shine” mask sheets” It contains good amount of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and moisturizing agent. Cleansing foam and serum is attached as well, so it is really convenient for travel.


Papa’s recipe: Papa’s recipe is a mega rookie in the market. The CEO began to make organic jojoba oil for his daughter, and they got famous with the pure white cream. Their My bottle lemon / Aloe soothing gel is also well known, along with its famous Bom Bee mask.

Bom Bee Honey Mask: Probably, the year 2016’s best seller in Korea, Korean bloggers call it “Honey Jar Mask” because of the printing on the mask sheet envelope. It smells very honey, and contains honey derived ingredients such as honey extract and propolis. Trehalose & hyaluronic were also added as moisturizing agent along with butylenes glycol and small amount of allantoin for anti-inflammatory function. It’s also phenoxy ethanol and paraben free product.


I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty