Product Review: Burt’s Bees Cleansing Cloths

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Yeah yeah, this one’s not strictly K-Beauty, but sometimes you need to get more face wash and your PinkSeoul box is on its way, so you don’t feel like paying $20 for cleanser that you might already be getting, so you go to the drug store. It happens.

I also needed something travel-friendly, since I’m taking a family vacation in a couple weeks, and I’ve used face cleansing wipes for as long as I’ve been adventuring around this world – they’re the most handy things ever. You can put them in your checked luggage in a zip-top bag with zero issues, they don’t count toward your liquid carry-on if you want them on the plane, and you can freshen up in the smallest or grossest bathrooms your travels may take you to – they work on most non-face body parts as well, just saying.

I hadn’t used any Burt’s Bees products in years and years, but I remember being a huge fan of them in college. There was this adorable hippie nature shop near the UNT campus, and it sold Amy’s frozen vegetarian meals and essential oils and Burt’s Bees products. The Burt’s Bees brand has since been picked up by one of the larger conglomerate companies that actually controls everything we buy, but from what I can tell their packaging, branding, and formulations haven’t really changed. I’ve seen that with craft beers as well; when Coors or Anheiser-Busch buys a local brewing company, they don’t change how their beer tastes, they just help distribute it more widely and take a cut of the (presumably much larger) profits. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for you to decide, but there it is.

I got two different packages of the face wipes, since the drug store had a BOGO sale, but the one I’m using currently has white tea extract in it. For me, this is a perfect face cleanser for my morning routine. It freshens up my face just enough for me to get my toner, eye cream, and sunscreen on. Bonus: it’s quicker to use than cleanser and water! For someone who’s just perpetually late for work because why does it have to start so early, anything convenient is a winner for me.

When I used these face wipes at night, they didn’t really do as well for me – my face was a little greasy the following morning, making the morning use of the wipes less effective. So now I use my Mizon face cleanser at night, and the wipes in the morning. It’s making my regular cleanser last longer, and I still get the benefits of convenience and effectiveness from using the wipes in the morning. I’m guessing the reason these wipes weren’t doing the job for evening cleansing is because they weren’t dissolving my sunscreen well enough to take it off – sunscreen is oily, and it takes some work to remove it properly. Word to the wise: you can take shortcuts with your skincare in the mornings (as long as you’re applying sunscreen), but at night, you should go all-out on it. Sleep is when your skin repairs itself, so it’s worth investing an extra five minutes in doing your full routine properly.

I did not try these for makeup removal, but since they didn’t do so great removing just my sunscreen, I certainly wouldn’t recommend them as a solo act for taking your makeup off. One of the labels does claim that the wipes remove makeup, but I’d probably use them to loosen up my makeup, then follow up with oil- and water-based cleanser to really get it all gone. I find that wipes often work better for getting eyeliner or mascara off, because I have a little more control over the remover and I’m less likely to get oil in my eyes.

These wipes have a mild smell, definitely not perfumey, so it’s in keeping with what I remember of Burt’s Bees products. None of their products tend to be heavily-scented, and they’re generally really mild, so they’re great for sensitive skin. The packaging is good too; a lot of face wipes just have a sticker to keep them closed, and that sticker fails after about a week. The Burt’s Bees wipes have a little plastic lid that snaps closed, which keeps them from drying out. You can always stick them in a zip-top bag as well, to keep the moisture in longer. Or add a splash of water to one before you use it – you’ve got options, is what I’m saying.

All in all, I’ve used some other face wipes before, including some K-Beauty ones, and these are among my top picks for cleansing cloths. They’re great for general freshening up, for morning cleansing, and for travel. The packaging is solid, they don’t smell too strong, and they’re really affordable (I think I got both packages for $8, and that equals like two months’ worth of wipes if you use them once a day).

If you need an affordable-yet-effective cleansing wipe to add to your summer skin arsenal, Burt’s Bees cleansing wipes are a good option.

What I’ve Re-Bought: K-Beauty Favorites

I’ve seen some of my favorite YouTubers and beauty bloggers doing ‘Empties’ posts, showing what they’ve used up in the previous month and reviewing them. I like this format; if you liked a product enough to use up the whole package, I would like to know more. I might start making a monthly ‘Empties’ post on here, but for right now, I was inspired by these other beauty mavens to post about the products I’ve bought at least a second time. These are my top four go-to Asian beauty products; as I get new products in, these are some that I just keep coming back to.

  1. Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream – Guys. This eye cream is the BEST. I didn’t even think I needed eye cream, but as I was getting into K-beauty and reading up on their obsession with moisture I thought, ‘Why not? Couldn’t hurt.’ No, no it couldn’t. This eye cream was unexpectedly excellent for me, so much so that I think I’ve replaced it three or four times now. Not only is it affordable, but it lasts a long time – at least two months for me, probably longer, but I haven’t been keeping track. I use it morning and night, and while I don’t have crow’s feet to contend with right now (and hopefully won’t for a while now that I moisturize), the big and noticeable improvement I got from this eye cream was that my dark under-eye circles practically vanished. For someone who’s always had at least a little bit of a shadow under there, that’s huge. It’s honestly the most visible difference for me, between now and my pre-K-beauty days. My eyes look brighter and healthier, I look less tired, and on the rare occasions I wear contacts, I don’t feel the need to put concealer on if I don’t feel like it. I also suffer from allergies on and off throughout the year, and this cream is very soothing to my eye area on days when my face is puffy and irritated from seasonal allergies. It’s been a true game-changer for me.
  2. Shiseido WetForce Sunscreen – One of the biggest lessons Asian beauty has taught me is the importance of sunscreen. I’ll be honest, I was not up on my sunscreen game before this, mainly because I’m already so oily and acne-prone that putting something oily on my face every day wasn’t exactly in my plans. Also, I’m prone to tanning as opposed to burning (thanks, Native fam), so I just didn’t see the need. But then, as I’ve told you before, my dad got diagnosed with skin cancer and had to have some parts of his skin removed (gyaaaaahhhhhh). I decided it was time to stop  playing fast and loose with those UV rays, acne be damned. Thankfully, Asian sunscreen is a whole other beast compared to the American brands. Since Asian people wear it every single day, no matter what, they’ve developed sunscreens that are good to your skin, not just an oily mess that you need when you’re at the beach. American brands are catching up, but for my money, the Shiseido WetForce is absolutely my jam. It’s SPF 50, so no burning here, and it claims to work better when it’s exposed to sunlight, which is an awesome claim, if one I haven’t researched. I’ve used it on the beach in Hawaii, walking around street fairs for hours on sunny days, and at cookoffs and barbecues in the summer, with nary a pink hue to be found on my face or neck. This stuff is legit. Also, it doesn’t leave me looking shiny and it doesn’t make me break out! That’s like the Holy Grail of sunscreen, right there. It may be a little spendy, but the travel-sized bottle I got the first time ended up lasting me SIX MONTHS. I bought a full-sized bottle after that, and it’s nowhere near being used up. A pea-sized amount covers my whole face and neck, so not only is this sunscreen hella effective and nice to your skin, but it’s a great value as well, since you only have to buy it maaaaaaybe twice a year.
  3. May Coop Raw SauceMy travel bestie. You know I love me some products that do double-duty when I’m traveling, and Raw Sauce delivers in a big way. It’s a combination toner and essence, so I can pack one bottle instead of two, and it’s so, so soothing on travel-parched skin. It has maple extract in it, which makes me think of maple syrup, but I’m assuming they’re not the same thing. Probably. Either way, the Raw Sauce does smell sweet, and it leaves my skin feeling so soft and refreshed. When I used up my travel-sized bottle, I immediately went and bought a full-sized one. I decanted some of the big bottle into my airline-approved one, so now I’m all set! Once I grind through the essence I’m using up right now, I’ll likely switch to using Raw Sauce for my daily routine as well as for travel. Considering it’s two products in one, it’s a great value in addition to it being so effective. It’s just a good product all around.
  4. These Hella-Cheap Sheet Masks – The sunscreen and toner/essence combo above are both higher-priced, but worth it. The eye cream is mid-range, but again a really good value, as all three products last for months before needing to be replaced. But Dermal Korea sheet masks come for less than a dollar. If you sheet-mask regularly like I do, this needs to be in your arsenal like right now. I stock up on these the minute I run out, because I’m never too strapped for cash to afford them – they’re 6 for $5 at the Asian market in my town, and they’re about the same unit price or cheaper everywhere else I’ve seen. Hell, you can even buy them in bulk on Amazon, because why not. The masks fit well, the essence gives deep moisture without making me break out, and they’re just solid players in my skincare game. It’s not often that a product so cheap does such good work, but here it is, in all its glory. I do have to use a lighter nighttime moisturizer on my sheet-mask nights, because like I said, my skin tends toward being oily, but I’ve also found that any of the masks with citrus, herbs, or green tea tend to be moisturizing in a good way for my skin. Some of the richer ones I save for winter, or for if I did spend a lot of time outdoors in the wind or dust or pool. Sometimes you need to make it up to your skin, and this is an inexpensive and wildly effective way to do it. Yes, there are other masks out there that are more ~*fancy*~ and are priced to reflect that, and they’re great for trying out on occasion. But for a weekly sheet mask, go with these guys. They work great, and you can save your money for other products.

Sorry for the break in posting the last few weeks; the rest of my life got in the way and I’m just now getting back on track. I am working on some other projects, though, so hopefully they’ll be a good addition to my blogging efforts! Until then, I’m going to try and get back to my every-other-week posting schedule here, bringing you more of the product reviews you crave. Have a good week!

Product Review: Mizon Water Volume Aqua Gel Cream


Oh Mizon. You were my first K-Beauty love, and yet you still surprise me with great products that aren’t too expensive.

With the shift to hotter weather coming up, I’m exploring lighter moisturizer options, since the May Coop moisturizer I used at night through the winter is really thick and will probably cause me to break out or look greasy during the hotter months. Combination skin is a beast, but hey, it means I get to try more products! Silver lining?

Per the usual, I got this (full-sized!) Aqua Gel Cream in my PinkSeoul box. This is the first box I got that’s geared toward combination skin as opposed to oily – it turns out that better skin care has actually made my skin less congested and oil-producing, which makes me quite happy. PinkSeoul knows it’s stuff; they sent me several well-balanced products that I’m looking forward to reviewing for you guys.

This ‘cream’ almost looks like a gel. It’s nearly translucent and kind of viscous; it’s definitely not runny or thin. I’ve used it several times as a lighter nighttime moisturizer, so it’s the last step of my pre-bed routine. It’s also great if I take a shower right after the gym and still have things to do, so that I’m not putting on a heavy sleep pack several hours before bed.

If your skin is very oily, I can see this working as a nightly sleep pack and doing a great job at it. It absorbs well and provides good moisture, but it’s not heavy at all, so it’s unlikely to contribute to a breakout. For me, since I do have that combination skin thing happening, and because I’m using a lot of pore-tightening products right now, I have to pay attention to how my skin feels on a given night and moisturize appropriately. Sometimes, this is perfect, and other times I need something heavier, especially if I’ve gotten a little sun or been out in that west Texas wind. Also, if I do a really rich sheet mask at night, this is a great moisturizer for me, because the sheet mask has already provided tons of moisture, and doubling up with a heavy sleep pack would probably be too much for my face.

So you’ve got options on how to apply this, although if your skin is solidly on the dry side, this might not be enough even in summer – but if you used it after essence and before sunscreen as a light-but-additional moisture layer, it could work well for you. Somebody with dry skin give that a try and get back to me.

One thing to note about the Aqua Gel Cream is that it does have a very perfumey scent. I’m not sensitive to fragrance, but when I put it on my first thought was, ‘Whoa, that’s some perfume.’ It doesn’t smell *bad*, mind – I actually like it – but if you’re particularly averse to stronger scents in your beauty products, it’s something to be aware of. The scent lingers for an hour or two before dissipating.

As always, Mizon delivers a great product with this moisturizer. I think I’ve found a key player in my summer skin routine.

In Defense of Ritual

Hey Fledglings. Let’s talk about ‘busy,’ and why it’s not doing us any favors.

We all try to pretend that we can go full-throttle through life, reacting to whatever gets flung at us, and that this tactic is both sustainable and a path to real happiness. But how many of us are happy, and how many of us are just stressed out? Sure, we feel important and needed when we schedule every second of our day, but what’s all that ‘busy’ getting us, other than a stress headache?

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, I’m busy *now*, but eventually things are going to calm down. You know, when I’m more successful/make more money/replace my car/finish school/etc.”

Is that true, though? Think really hard about this. Is your compulsively-busy life in pursuit of a specific goal, after which you have a concrete plan to change your habits? I’m betting that, like so many before you, you’re more likely to be using your busy life as an excuse to not deal with some things. I know I’ve pretended to be ‘too important/needed/busy’ to face down my negative thoughts, bad relationships, or horrible finances before. Take my advice; that’s not a sustainable plan. Life catches up, whether you want it to or not.

If we have goals in life, doing everything we could ever do ever, is not the way to reach them – it’s a good way to wind up on blood pressure medication, but it is not a good way to reach your goals. To achieve the things we want to achieve in life, the main thing we need is FOCUS. Remember how we talked about SMART goals a while back? Well, taking on All The Things, whether or not they serve our goals, just because we want to feel needed, does not fall in line with the theory behind SMART goals.

So what’s a lady to do? How can we better achieve our life goals, actually feel happy right NOW, and become comfortable with looking at ourselves and our own thoughts?

This is where ritual comes in. I’m not talking about religion, although if that’s your thing, by all means make it happen. I’m talking about the kind of ritual we can build into our daily lives, the kind that gives us time to focus on our own thoughts and goals and how we can improve them. If you’re constantly on the run from one thing to the next thing, you don’t have time to do that. So, are you reaching your goals? How would you know? You haven’t sat down in a month and a half; where are you even at on your way to those goals?

This is why I love Korean skincare. Yeah, it makes my face look and feel amazing, but it also comprises about twenty minutes of each day where I do nothing but take care of myself. During that time, I can let my mind wander. I can ponder things that are stressing me out, or things I’d like to change. I can think about my goals and if I’m doing enough to reach them. Taking time to just think is absolutely crucial to being successful in life – if you slow down for a bit, you can choose your path more carefully, and the ritual of a full skincare routine forces you to slow down.

Embrace your thoughts, even the negative ones – they’re there for a reason. If something is not right in your world, you have an opportunity to change it, but only if you know what’s going on. Paying attention to how you think and feel for a few minutes each day, maybe while you moisturize, is a good way to acknowledge that things could be better for you, and then take steps toward making things better.

I try to relax in the bathtub for a while at least once a week. It’s where I can let my mind wander for a bit, relax my sore muscles, and just be silent. Yet again, this ritual is great for me feeling grounded and able to take on the rest of the week. I usually put on a sheet mask while I’m at it, because I might as well do it up right! Heck, just making time to blog today is helping me put my own goals into perspective. I need to do that sometimes, and you do too. So let’s build a little more ritual into our lives, so that we can use that time to focus ourselves and be more successful during the rest of the day.

Here are some suggestions for time you can take to be quiet and focus:

  • Morning and evening skin routine (get that sheet mask going, you literally can’t do anything for fifteen minutes)
  • Religious services, if that’s your jam
  • Yoga/meditation class
  • Working out
  • Bath or shower time
  • A meditation app, like Headspace

No, that last bit isn’t getting me any money; I just downloaded the app about a month ago, and it’s kind of changed my life. It’s a series of ten-minute mindfulness meditations to help you focus and be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It’s fantastic.

Ordering your day so that you can include a ritual or two can open up so many possibilities. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time – the things I suggested take between ten minutes and one hour – but adding in some you-time will help you reach your goals more directly. If you feel like you’re flailing around trying to reach your goals, or even trying to figure out what those goals are, try and put some more rituals into your daily routine. Get used to moving from one thing to the next as you get ready for bed, or when you come home at the end of the day. See how it feels to relax your mind a little and just be with your thoughts.

I’ve gotten some good results from this. I bet you will too.

Product Review: Studio 35 Beauty Deep Cleansing Mask


This review is a little different from my usual ones, because this isn’t a K-Beauty find – I got this mask at a drug store in town. I was hanging with my bestie, and we wanted to get our spa on, so we picked up a bunch of masks on their BOGO sale.

This review is also a little different…because I didn’t like this product. I’ll get into that; let’s get started with the review.

The Deep Cleansing Mask is aimed at purifying your skin and helping draw impurities out of your pores. I really needed this the other day, because I’m doing this stupid super awesome and healthy fitness challenge this month, and my skin is Freaking. Out. All the sweating I’m doing is giving me horrible, red breakouts all over the place. They’re not cystic acne breakouts, they’re just really red and obvious and need to go away, like now.

The main ingredient in this mask is kaolin clay, which I’ve heard is the new hotness for purifying skin – I even saw a commercial for some clay-based shampoo for managing oily roots, and I’m kinda tempted to give it a try after my I Love Juicy runs out. So I was pumped to try this mask, and I was really hoping to see some results in the form of less acne on my poor, sweaty face.

This mask is bright, robin’s-egg blue when you squeeze it out of the packet. I applied it evenly all over my face, and it felt a lot like other clay masks I’ve worn before, in that I could feel it drying and kind of tightening my skin as it sat. It rinsed off really easily, which is a great quality in a face mask for me. I used a washrag with warm water on it to loosen it up, then I used my hands to rinse the rest off.

Now, I said I didn’t like it, and this isn’t because it didn’t work well or was difficult to use – it really did soothe my breakouts.

No, this stuff smells TERRIBLE.

Oh man, it smelled so bad. Like bathroom cleaner. It literally smelled like tub and tile cleaner. I’m pretty stalwart in the face of bad smells (thanks, former health care job!), so I powered through it for the fifteen minutes of recommended set time, but MAAAAANNNNN. It was a chore. My skin even smelled a little bit after I’d rinsed it off and finished my nighttime skin routine. After my morning routine, the smell was completely gone, so it won’t make you smell forever, but during the time it smells, you will definitely notice it.

Would I use this product again? Yanno…probably not. I know for a fact there are other masks out there that soothe my breakouts and don’t smell awful. It was effective, and it’s a cheap mask (especially if you’re getting that BOGO deal), but it was just not worth smelling all night.

Moral of the story: drug store skincare can absolutely be great! But sometimes you get a miss, and for me, this was a miss. It did help my skin, and it was affordable, but it just didn’t smell good. I may try some of their other masks later and see how they work/smell, for the sake of comparison. Never let it be said that skincare is not an adventure.

Product Review: Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash


Okay, so this one could alternatively be titled, ‘How the Fashion Bird Doesn’t Follow Instructions.’ But I got there eventually, and that’s what counts, right? Join me on this journey.

If you’ve followed the blog for a bit, you’ll know that my skin is oily, acne-prone, and in need of just all the exfoliation. So when I found out about enzyme powder and rice powder cleaners, I thought ‘Great! I can exfoliate SO MUCH now.’

I got the Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash in my previous PinkSeoul box, and I was super pumped. Not only is this some extra exfoliation, but it’s also a much-cheaper enzyme powder cleanser than the Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder that I absolutely love, and absolutely can’t afford right now. Vickie, if you’re listening, you know I’d buy only your products on the regular if I could, but as it stands, I buy what I can and shill for you on all my social media accounts instead. You seem really nice on Snapchat, so I think you’re okay with this.

I do have to thank Vickie, though, for showing me how to properly use the Tosowoong powder, after weeks of getting it wrong. I’d been using it as a scrub, just putting the powder on my wet face and rubbing until it lathered up, and I was really only getting mediocre results that way (probably because I was scratching the crap out of my face twice a day). Then I watched Tatcha’s Snapchat story one day, where Vickie explained that no, Bird, enzyme powders are not supposed to be a scrub. You’re supposed to pour a little powder into your hands, put some water on the powder, then rub it between your hands to dissolve the powder into a foam. Only then do you put it on your face and start washing.

‘Well,’ I thought. ‘That explains the middling results of this scrub.’ I started using my cleanser like Vickie recommended for hers, and lo and behold! This stuff is amazing, when you use it properly. My skin feels so soft right now, and just smooth and luminous all around. My nose-blackheads are almost invisible, which is just huge for me, and some of the acne cysts I’ve been battling along my jawline are finally starting to clear up properly.

Weird how things work better when you use them as intended.

Now that I’ve used the Tosowoong powder properly for a bit, I can safely say that this is a great product, especially if you have oily, rough, or congested skin. The enzyme action helps clear away all those extra skin cells that keep hanging around, and the foaming action feels really pleasant. It rinses off very cleanly, so there’s no residue or anything left behind, even if you’re double-cleansing or washing off makeup. There’s also not a strong smell to it, so I’d definitely recommend this to any Fledglings who are sensitive to the more perfumey skin products. At $11 on Peach and Lily, I doubt you’ll find a better deal on a cleanser – I’ve been using mine for almost two months now and haven’t used it up.

Of course, as an avid traveler, one of my favorite parts about this powder is how well it travels. No melting, no leaking, no separating – it’s POWDER. I could put this in my checked bag on a plane flight and save some room in my carry-on, as long as I taped the flip-top lid closed or put it in a baggie.

I’m going to get some more product reviews to you in the coming weeks, so keep watching the blog, and feel free to send me suggestions for new products to review on Twitter!

Product Review: Lavanila Natural Deodorant

 


There are several reasons a person might want to switch to a natural deodorant – maybe their skin is sensitive to the big-box brands, or they want to try a smaller brand to support a different kind of company, or they don’t like smelling like Cucumber Moonbeam all day. Wearing the natural stuff does require a little more work than the big-box deodorant, but if you’re thinking about making the switch for whatever reason, I have some tips for you, as well as a handy product review. You can get good results with the more natural products, with a few adjustments to your routine.

I got a hot tip from a Buzzfeed article a couple months ago, so I decided to try a new kind of deodorant. I’ve mentioned before that I once made my own deodorant using essential oils, but the thing about the homemade stuff is that it doesn’t travel well. The recipe I used, while effective, is made with coconut oil, which is only solid at room temperature. Leave it in your car for too long, and it’ll turn to liquid and you’ll have to wait for it to solidify again before you can use it, or risk making a huge mess. Gods forbid the container you put it in doesn’t seal well.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to use the terms ‘big-box deodorant’ and ‘natural deodorant.’ The first will describe your mainstream stick or gel antiperspirant/deodorant combos that we all see on the aisles at the pharmacy. The latter will describe a botanical-based deodorant that still goes under the arms to make the user smell better, but is an alternative brand that might be less widely-available than the Big Box kind and is formulated differently. Are we good? Okay.

I’d done a round or two with some other store-bought natural deodorant brands before, but I didn’t like them for one reason or another. The main reason was that I smelled nasty when I used them, which kinda defeats the purpose of buying deodorant in the first place. They were also weirdly sticky when I applied them, which was off-putting. So when the article suggested Lavanila natural deodorant and insisted that it works well AND smells good, I was willing to give it a try.

Generally, I steer clear of any kind of scent that makes me smell like dessert, cuz ew. So I wasn’t completely on board with the vanilla scents in this line, but I thought I’d roll the dice on the Fresh Vanilla Lemon scent and see what happened. Citrus is usually a winner for me, so I was hoping the citrus would come through stronger than the vanilla.

Lavanila is some good stuff. It doesn’t have an overpowering smell like so many big-box deodorants do, which is a big plus for me. I don’t like having a ton of competing smells on me all day. It mostly smells like baby powder, but the smell is so subtle you have to work to find it once it’s on. It also stays solid, and goes on with a kind of powdery finish, so it’s convenient to keep and to wear. Overall, it’s a good one, and I’d recommend it.

Come back in two weeks if you’re wondering what it’s like to switch from big-box deodorant to the natural stuff! I’ve got some tips to make it easier and more effective.