Product Review: Skin Food Wash-Off Rice Mask

Hallo from Germany, Fledglings! That’s right, my husband, dogs, and I have relocated to Deutschland for his work, and I fully intend to continue the blog from here – hopefully with some excellent French and German skin products to review for you, in addition to my K-beauty first love. If the posting time is a little different, sorry about that; I’ll do my best to adjust for the time difference and still get a blog to you every other week for your Saturday-morning reading enjoyment.

Okay, housekeeping done! Let’s talk about this mask, because it needs discussing. Most Asian beauty aficionados know about the Skin Food brand, but I’d never tried their products. I was worried this one would be too mild to have an impact on my skin – or worse, too rich and cause a breakout.

When you open the jar, the mask is kind of the consistency of rice porridge that’s been in the fridge. ‘Cool,’ I thought, ‘I’ve heard rice is good for the skin.’ It is a little bit funky in the texture department once you put it on your hands, not gonna lie. It’s not gritty like an exfoliating mask, but it’s definitely not smooth either. Again, think porridge, and you’ve got a good idea of how it feels.

The smell is really mild, which is fitting for something as simple and nourishing as a rice mask. I have to wonder why K-beauty products are either ‘mostly unscented’ or ‘holy crap my face is perfume.’ There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground here. This mask is definitely one of the ‘mostly unscented’ ones, which I love.

So, how’d it work? I know that’s why you’re here, but I’ve strung you along with consistency descriptions. Bad Bird.

Short answer: it’s like a hug for your face in a jar.

Longer, less-weird answer: this is the most soothing mask I’ve ever used, and y’all know I love to mask. Since it’s a wash-off, I use it in the shower, after my cleansers. Rinse my face, smear on a generous layer, then leave it to sit as I finish my shower. It has a little bit of an exfoliating property, but mostly it’s been great for calming and soothing my summer/travel-stressed skin. After I dry off and finish my skin routine, my face feels cooler and less inflamed. It even calms down some of the redness I have issues with on occasion.

Pro Tip: put the Skin Food mask on your neck as well. You should put all your normal skin products on your neck as well as your face, but this one feels especially nice.

I would absolutely buy this again, especially in the summer. If your skin, like mine, just needs to calm the heck down sometimes, this is a good way to achieve that. It would be great for almost any skin type, and it fits really nicely into a simple or complex skincare regimen. Definitely add the Skin Food Wash-Off Rice Mask to your beauty shopping list.

Advertisements

Product Review: Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner

There’s something about the heat of summer that calls for a really good toner. Maybe it’s because my skin is so oily that I have to use some really deep cleansers this time of year, so my skin’s pH is always in need of some balance. Or maybe it’s because I have to use such light moisturizers to keep from looking like a frosted sheet cake, so that pre-moisturizing spritz helps the lighter stuff stay effective but not heavy.Either way, PinkSeoul always delivers in the summer months with light and refreshing goodies, and this toner is no exception.Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner (which I got in my subscription box but the linked site, OhLolly, looks like I’m gonna be on there a lot more in the future) can do double duty as a toner and as an as-needed face mist. Hello summer travel essential. It’s botanical-based and is made for skin that gets hot, red, or inflamed easily, so basically it was made for me – thanks guys. This toner doesn’t really have a scent at all, so if you’re sensitive to fragrances, this might be a good product to try out. The best part about it for me is how quickly it absorbs – it soaks right in, but my skin feels a little softer and more hydrated, not dried out like some spray toners will do. Since it dries so readily, it’s also nice and cooling on summer skin. Remember that toner is supposed to balance your skin’s pH after cleansing, so you don’t need anything alcohol-based that’s going to strip your skin. If you’re cleansing properly, you don’t need to remove anything else after that step.I’m planning on taking this mist on the plane with me when we fly out in a couple weeks – assuming I can make it fit in my quart-sized bag. (#SkinCareProbs) Plane air is awful for skin. I just learned that it’s heavily filtered, so it’s not germy air, but it is really, really dry, so I’m going to try and bring a sheet mask and some face mist to keep from looking as haggard as I’ll feel when we finally get there. It might be too big of a bottle, but if so I’ll take one of my other mists because you gotta hydrate when you’re traveling. That’s the point I’m trying to make here.If your skin gets really ‘hot’ in the summer, with redness, oil, and inflammation, I hope you’ll give Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner a try. And if you’ve tried anything else from the Pyunkang Yul line, let me know what you think of it in comments! I might review some more of their products in the future.

Product Review: Tony Moly Egg Pore Tightening Cooling Pack

I got a nifty mask in my PinkSeoul box this month! I love Tony Moly products; they're good quality, not too spendy, and their packaging is ~*adorable*~.

This mask came at a good time for my skin. I've been using a cleansing regimen that I fully intend to review for you soon, and since it's made for acne-prone skin, it's been pulling up all those deep-set breakouts that were hiding under the surface and making them a lot more inflamed and visible as they clear up properly. When this mask came in, my face was in need of some extra soothing.

Like I said, the packaging on the cooling pack is super cute – it looks like an egg! This is appropriate, because the mask contains kaolin clay and powdered egg shell. Both have a drawing and tightening effect on the skin, and you'll find kaolin in other clay face masks on the market, mostly the ones designed to treat oily or acne-prone skin. When I first opened the package, I thought, 'Man, there's not much in here!' But it was kind of an optical illusion – the packaging has a decent bit of empty space in the top of the 'egg,' which makes it look a little empty even though the bottom half is full of product. I didn't need to use much more than what was stuck to the lid to cover my whole face, so I anticipate getting a good few uses out of this before it runs out.

To use the mask, I washed and dried my face and put on some essence to help the mask soak in. Then I just smeared it on with clean fingers! Definitely get your hair out of the way before you use this; the mask has a thick consistency (because clay), and it's a little tricky to get washed off if it gets in your hairline.

As you can see, there's no need to cake it on – a thin layer will do just fine. I paid extra attention to those really inflamed areas, making sure they got a good coating. The mask doesn't drip or run, so it was easy to finish getting ready for bed while it set for about fifteen minutes. True to the name, just after it goes on it feels cool! It's a refreshing feeling, especially in the heat of summer. After the fifteen minutes were up, I washed it off with warm water, which didn't take too much effort. I like it when clay masks are easy to remove; I don't want to scrub for another fifteen minutes just to take it off! You might want to use a washrag to get any bits that do wander into your hairline.

After rinsing, my skin felt fresh and clean! You can see the acne on my chin in the above photo – that's a breakout cluster that comes back over and over, and the cleanser I'm using right now is working overtime to get it healed up properly instead of just temporarily calming it down. I followed the mask with my eye cream and night moisturizer and hit the hay for the night.

The photo above is from the next morning. Look how much paler that chin breakout looks! It also felt flatter and less inflamed, and the pores on my nose were noticeably smaller. My skin didn't feel overly dry, which is always a worry with clay masks. My normal moisturizer was the perfect follow-up for this. If your skin is drier than mine, you might want to use a more nourishing sleep pack to keep from getting too dry after using this mask.

The Tony Moly Egg Pore Tightening Cooling Pack is a great product for oily skin, acne, or large/clogged pores. It smells pretty neutral, it has adorable packaging, and it left my skin feeling soothed and refreshed in the midst of a serious acne cleanse. If summer heat and oil has your skin in a tizz, give this mask a try to calm everything down.

Goo Hoarding and How to Stop

 

We’ve all been there, right? You open your bathroom cabinet or drawer, and you think to yourself, “How did I acquire this much goo???” Moisturizers, serums, hair product, perfumes, it all just piles up as you find a thing here or there and add it to the cabinet.

Since I’m getting ready to move, it’s time for me to look at the parts of my life that tend to get cluttered. For me, that’s clothing and skin care products. I’m doing well on the clothing at the moment, because I put a moratorium on buying new seasonal clothes since we’re moving somewhere with a different climate. The only things I’ve added to the closet are wardrobe basics, and when I add something new, I put something old in the donation pile.

But I hadn’t really looked at my skin care in a bit, so I figured it was a good time to address that. There’s no point in shipping things I don’t need, and risking them leaking or breaking in transit.

Here are my favorite tips for keeping your goo-cabinet from getting out of hand.

  1. Use bins. They’re a life-saver. Whether it’s shoe boxes, cute bins you bought, or the smaller boxes from a Lush shipment, use some sort of containers to compartmentalize your things and help keep you in check. If everything is supposed to be in a container, then you know it’s time to throw things out when it doesn’t all fit in said container. The other great thing about using these is that I know exactly where my products are. One box is only hair and bath stuff, one box is only skin care, one box is only essential oils, etc. When I need to go rummaging, I pull down the appropriate box, find what I need, then put it all back in the box and re-shelve it. Even if it’s just tossed in there with no order to it, my products *look* organized when I look at the shelf, because they’re contained in boxes. Personally, I like to reuse small boxes that I get packages mailed in, so that I’m staying organized and creating less waste.
  2. Go through your goo periodically. A quarterly goo-purging is probably all you need. Set a reminder on your phone, or put a sticky note on your bathroom cabinet with the date on it. When it’s time, pull ALL your stuff out onto the counter, take it all out of the boxes, and survey your collection. Do you love and use every single one of these products? Chuck anything that you were underwhelmed with, that’s mostly empty and you’re not using anymore, or that you bought on a whim because it looked cool but realized you’re never going to use it. If you bought a new toner that’s the best thing ever, you can get rid of your old, less-awesome toners. When are you going to use the mediocre ones in place of your new fave? Is anything in that box broken or leaking? Toss it; you don’t need puddles of dried stuff all over your cabinet. If you have a friend who’s into skin care, see if they want to give those ‘good but not for me’ products a test run instead of throwing them out. It can be your good deed for the day.
  3. Try to use up a product before replacing. This is hard to do, but it will save you money and space. If you’ve got a cleanser that works well for you, use it up completely before trying a new cleanser. Sometimes, I’ll get overwhelmed with products and I’ll have to stop buying things until I can use up some of what I have. I hate to waste product, especially if it works well, so to regain control of my cabinet, I take buying breaks where I just use what I have for as long as I can. Sometimes it’ll take me several months to use things up to the point of needing a replacement. That’s several months of not spending money on new products, and several months of slowly freeing up space in my bathroom. The products you’re already using must be working – if they made you break out, you wouldn’t be using them – so keep using them until you get the full value of what you bought. Don’t throw good money away if you don’t have to.
  4. Shop with space in mind. If you’re trying out a product for the first time, especially if it’s an expensive one, get a travel size or sample first. It will take up less room in your cabinet, and if you hate it, you can throw it away without feeling like you wasted a ton of money on a full-sized product that turned out to be a bad fit. Probably 90% of my Sephora purchases come from the little stands of travel products, because unless I know for a fact that a given product is going to work great on my skin, I don’t want to pay full price for it. That’s a big gamble; some oil cleansers can cost $50 or so. I don’t want to realize that was a mistake.
  5. Take advantage of return policies. One of the many good things about Sephora is their return policy. You can open up and use a product, and if it doesn’t work for you or makes you break out, you can return it. Their policy says products have to be ‘new or gently used.’ So don’t try to return something you used half of, but if you tried it once and hated it, and you still have your receipt, you can take it back and get a refund. Check the return policies of other places you shop as well; don’t keep products sitting around that you don’t like.
  6. Know your skin type. Buying products that are made for skin like yours will save you a ton of grief and money. If you don’t know your skin type, you’re basically just guessing every time you buy a new product, and hoping it will work. That’s got to get expensive after a while, not to mention leaving you with a cabinet full of failed goo purchases. I just learned a great way to find your skin type: get a piece of blotting paper, and pat your face with it in the middle of the day, well after you’ve washed your face. If the paper comes away soaked with oil and almost completely translucent, you have oily skin. If you have a few translucent spots but not enough to cover the blotting paper, your skin is combination. And if the paper comes away from your face like you hardly did anything to the paper at all, then your skin is dry. How easy is that? You can also ask your local skin care store rep to help you suss out your skin type before you start spending money; they know their stuff and are usually happy to help.

As Alton Brown says, organization will set you free. Nobody wants to open their cabinets in the morning and deal with a crapalanche of old products – we need our mornings to be easy, because sleep is good and digging through a packed cabinet just starts our day off on a frustrating note. When your products are easy to find, appropriate for your skin, and have intact packaging, your morning routine will be infinitely easier to pull off, so that you can leave the house looking and feeling fab.

Product Review: Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask

img_2104

Oh, Mizon. Your products never fail to be affordable and effective, which is why you remain one of my favorite K-Beauty brands. Since we talked about the glorious luxury skin care brand Tatcha last blog, I thought I would review a favorite of mine from one of the less pricey lines this time. There are definitely products that are worth dropping some cash on, but there are also some that work great and don’t cost as much. I recommend finding a good mix of both – spend money on the products that go above and beyond for your skin, and enjoy saving money when you find a great product that’s more affordable for you.

To that end, I bring you Mizon’s Good Night White Sleeping Mask. As the name implies, it’s a sleep pack that you put on as the final step of your nighttime skin routine. Since my skin is on the oily side, I use this in place of my moisturizer, but if your skin tends to be dry, you could probably use your regular nighttime moisturizer and then the Good Night White mask.

This isn’t a ‘mask’ like you think of a sheet or mud mask. It soaks into your skin like a lotion, so you can sleep without getting your pillowcase goopy.

However.

You do need to make absolutely sure you’re washing your face the next morning if you put this on at night. It’s a very heavy moisturizer, and it’s very nourishing, so you don’t want to leave residue of it under your makeup or sunscreen all day. If you’re a lazy morning person, first off let’s be friends, and second off you might want to use this sleep pack on a Friday or Saturday night, so that you can take time and do your full skin routine the next morning and make sure you remove the sleep pack properly. As congested as my skin can get, it’s definitely a job for actual face wash and water, not a cleansing wipe.

So let’s talk about the ‘whitening’ label in K-Beauty. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important to remember that when a K-Beauty product is labeled ‘whitening,’ they’re not talking about ‘skin bleach.’ Those Korean skin care models have fair skin because of genetics and staying out of the sun; they’re not buying chemicals to suck all the color out of their skin. So don’t worry about this being some kind of harsh skin treatment meant to ‘whiten’ you.

When K-Beauty products talk about ‘whitening’ properties, I think it translates better in English as ‘balancing.’ This product, and many others in the K-Beauty world, are designed to balance your skin tone, evening out dark or red spots and giving you a smooth, even complexion.

So, did it work for me? Well, yeah! There wasn’t some Disney-movie overnight transformation or anything, but I definitely noticed that the redness in my cheeks and my dark spots from acne were less noticeable, and that my skin looked smoother and brighter. Again, I didn’t look any paler or ‘whiter,’ because that’s not the point of these products, it just looked like the uneven coloring in my face had faded to a more even tone, which made me look pretty refreshed for someone who just woke up.

Personally, I don’t use this every single day. My redness and dark spots aren’t that bad, although both will flare up from time to time with hormone cycles or stress. During those times, I’ll go ahead and treat myself by using the Good Night White for a night or two, to get my skin to calm back down. For me it’s more like a treatment than a regular moisturizer. But hey, I could definitely see using it every night for a while if I had a lot of redness, or if my skin needed that kind of deep, nourishing moisture on a regular basis.

I came across this product in my PinkSeoul box, and while it’s not something I would have gone out of my way to buy, I’m glad I got my hands on it. It is a good moisturizer for evening out skin tone, and a nice, deep moisturizer for winter or for when stress or hormones make your skin freak out and need some extra soothing.

If you’re not overly prone to allergic reactions or breakouts, it’s nice to try new skin care products sometimes. You never know what will help your skin out, or what new brands might become your old favorites. For the price, Mizon’s Good Night White Sleeping Mask is definitely worth a try.

Product Review: Tatcha Dual-Cleanse System


If you’re just joining the blog, you’ll need to know that I have oily skin and really visible pores, especially on my nose. Most of my blogging about skin care involves my quest for something to effectively clean my skin and keep my shine to a minimum. You should also know that I’m pretty obsessed with the Tatcha skin care line. Vicki Tsai is an Asian-American businesswoman who makes absolutely amazing skin care products, and is also generally a wonderful person whom you should follow on Snapchat at ‘tatchabeauty.’

And yet, through my year+ of obsession with her products, and my previous reviews of them, I haven’t reviewed the foundation of her skin care line: the dual-cleanse system.

The first thing I noticed about this system compared to a Korean-style double-cleanse, is that Tatcha’s doesn’t require a toner afterward. The products are carefully pH-balanced, so that you can skip right to your essence and other treatments. These are expensive products, so the fact that you can literally remove a step in your skin routine helps offset that a little.

The first time I used the rice enzyme powder, I was in Hawaii last year, and I was immediately surprised by how great my nose pores looked after using it. Normally I have quite a lot of debris in my skin, no matter how religiously I wash and exfoliate, and since I just can’t stop picking at my skin (I’m trying, I’m trying), I’d end up trying to smoosh all the debris out of my pores semi-regularly, irritating my skin and sometimes causing a breakout in the process. Counterproductive, much?

Not so with this cleanser! It’s a powder that you add water to and work it into a foam. When you wash with it, those super-fine particles get right up in those nasty pores and clear them out. It also removes a very small layer of dead skin, without irritating the new skin underneath. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. My skin feels soft and renewed, and my pores have never looked cleaner.

You can use any oil cleanser you want with the rice powder cleanser, but if you use two products that are designed to work with each other, you’re likely to get better results, and that goes for any skin care line. Enter the Camellia Cleansing Oil. I only use oil cleanser at night, because of my skin type, but some people may want to use it in the mornings as well. It’s totally up to you. This cleanser is absolutely fantastic at removing makeup. It just melts it all off – waterproof, setting spray, sunscreen, all of it just dissolves when it meets this oil cleanser. Then, by virtue of some kind of magic Tatcha uses, the oil completely emulsifies in water and rinses off your skin. No residue, no heavy feeling, nothing – it’s just gone! That almost never happens with me and oil cleansers, so I was duly impressed. Following up with the rice enzyme powder leaves my skin feeling completely clean and smooth, and completely balanced, without any lingering oil or dry tightness hanging about.

To recap, this system works the same way as your K-beauty dual cleanse, with slight modifications:

  • Dry hands/Dry face, massage the oil cleanser on
  • Rinse
  • Wet hands/Wet face, work rice enzyme powder into a foam, massage onto skin
  • Rinse again, pat dry
  • No toner needed, skip straight to your essence, treatment, and moisturizer steps

I’ve seen such good results with this line, you guys. It’s worth every penny.

Speaking of pennies, if you’ve clicked my links you’ll have already found out that Tatcha products are definitely more expensive than a lot of what I review on here. Much as I’d like to disagree with the price, I really can’t argue too strenuously, for a couple of reasons: 1) It works SO WELL, and 2) You get a LOT of product in one order. I got my current round of Tatcha double-cleanse about a month ago, and I’ve hardly made a dent in it. I’m still trying to finish up an in-use bottle of oil cleanser I got months ago – I thought I was running out, but it just keeps going. The thing about the high-quality products is that you use less of it, which means the same amount tends to last longer.

Now, don’t think I’m trying to say that all expensive products are better than all cheap ones – you KNOW my favorite eye cream costs $20. I’ve also tried samples of high-end products, only to get so-so results. It depends on the product and how it interacts with your skin. But as far as ‘expensive but worth it’ products go, this double-cleanse is absolutely worth the dollars. I’d say the full-sized versions could last me a good 4-ish months, not even lying, especially since I only use the oil cleanser at night.

If you’re still a little spooked by the cost, I get it – it is a lot of money up front. The way I got into it was by getting a travel-sized rice cleanser and taking it on a trial run (yep, Sephora carries it too). Hell, even that travel size lasted me two or three months. It’s legit.

I know it sounds like I’m getting paid by Vicki to hawk her wares, but I assure you that if I were getting paid to promote Tatcha, I’d just be moving to California to work with her directly, and my blog would probably look a lot less like a free WordPress account. This isn’t an ad, it’s literally just my favorite skin care line and the best cleanser I’ve ever used. I hope you try it out and are as amazed as I am.

BirdFashion Road Trip Essentials


I don’t know about your part of the world, but it certainly feels like summer here in Texas. What better time than now for a good old-fashioned road trip? It’s a summer staple in America; we have books and movies and songs about the event, and to my mind, it’s an excellent chance to experience something new without ever having to get in a TSA line.

I just got through with a wonderful road trip with my parents and sister. We drove from Texas to Massachusetts, and it was incredible. On this trip, I not only saw some gorgeous sights, ate amazing food, and talked to friendly people, but I was inspired to blog about what I wore and took with me that made my road trip even better. If you’re hitting the road this summer, here are some suggestions on what you can bring along to enjoy the journey just a little bit more.

  • Clothing that isn’t restrictive – It wouldn’t be a road trip without hours spent in the car, so your clothing choice is going to determine a lot of your comfort on this trip. Structured waistbands are probably not your friend here; opt for sundresses, maxi skirts, or leggings and tunic tops. Nobody looks good after ten hours in a packed car, so embrace it and get comfy! For undergarments, bust out your comfiest sports bra or t-shirt bra. You don’t need underwires trying to shank you while you’re napping against the car window. When you consider shoes, consider the weather, but have one pair of slides or flip-flops that you can wear while you’re actually in the car. Sitting for a long time makes your feet swell, so you need something you can kick off. You can pack your comfy or cute shoes in the trunk for sightseeing once you stop for the day.
  • Some way to be alone – This sounds counter-intuitive, since you’re going on a road trip to go somewhere *with people* right? But let’s be realistic here: after a couple days on the road, you’re gonna run out of things to talk about, or people’s normal habits are going to get annoying. You can create some privacy for yourself even when you’re crammed into a vehicle together, but it takes some preparation. If you like to read (and can do so without getting carsick), pack a novel or two to get lost in, or bring your Kindle. Does music soothe your soul? Bring an external charger for your phone and some comfortable earbuds so you can get your groove on without a dead phone ruining your day. Coloring books (like my personal favorite) or small craft projects are good options too, as long as you have plenty of sealable storage options for your supplies. Losing a 64-pack of colored pencils under the seats wouldn’t go over well with the driver.
  • A way to record the journey – You’re going to want to celebrate and remember this epic trip you’re taking, so bring along a way to memorialize it! Ditch the phone-camera and bring a legit video camera along if you have (or can borrow) one. Or if you want to travel light and aren’t going for an HD movie experience, keep your phone and post some good moments to Facebook Live or Snapchat so your friends can follow along. Of course, if you’re feeling lo-fi and a little artsy, you can always go for a journal or a sketchbook. Bonus with those last two: you never need to charge them.
  • Car-appropriate skin care – Long car rides to places with different elevations, weather, and allergens can do a number on your precious skin, and leave you looking like the road you came in on when you disembark. In addition to your regular morning and nighttime skin routines when you get to your AirBnB, consider an in-car skincare pack. You can use this for skin emergencies, or boredom emergencies (car spa party for the passengers?). Pack a small bag with moisturizing face mist, sheet masks, cleansing wipes, body lotion, and a travel-friendly refreshing eye cream. Depending on what your skin does in the car, you’ll have a chance to address it on the go without making a mess. Don’t forget to put that sunscreen on everyday!
  • A sense of adventure! – There is no such thing as a perfect road trip. You might get lost, have a flat, get into an argument with your car-mates, or find out when you get there that the art gallery you really wanted to see is closed for renovation. It’s disappointing, and it’s *completely* okay to feel bad when things go wrong. But road trips are about having an adventure, and those disappointments can either be just disappointing, or they can be part of the adventure. Getting lost may take you through countryside you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. That argument could end in one of those deep, soul-searching conversations you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Your favorite gallery might have been closed, but what else is in that town that might similarly blow your mind? I can’t guarantee you road-trip success, Fledglings, but I can say with some certainty that if you practice optimism and gratitude the whole way, it will be much easier to roll with any surprises that come your way, pleasant or not-so-much.

Safe travels! Comment with some photos or stories about your own road trips and what products you can’t leave home without.