Sunday, 22 March 2015

Review : Bio-Essence Hydra Tri-Action Aqua Droplet Sleeping Beauty Mask

Have you got your 10/million step Asian skincare routine down to a T? Great - get ready to make room for sleeping packs next. Sleeping packs or sleeping masks AKA overnight masks to us Westerners are designed to deliver an extra boost of anti-oxidants, hydrate, brighten etc. and are applied as the last step in your skincare routine. 

The Bio-Essence Hydra Tri-Action Aqua Droplet Sleeping Beauty Mask (50g) aims to hydrate, protect and nourish. It contains:
Water, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Glyceryl, Polyacrylate, Sodium Chloride, 1,2-Hexanediol, Betaine, Methylpropanediol, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hyaluronic Acid, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Fragrance, Sodium Oxide, Calcium Oxide, Magnesium Oxide, Methylisothiazolinone

Key Ingredients 

Butylene Glycol 
A humectant: attracts water to the top layer of the skin to improve hydration.

An occlusive moisturiser: creates a barrier over the skin and helps prevent moisture loss. The number of silicones listed is sliiiightly off-putting and I wondered whether this mask would feel like a layer of cling film over my face. (It doesn’t help that one of them cones has VINYL in its name.) Short answer is that it does not.

Hyaluronic Acid & Cranberry Extract 
Ads focus on three key ingredients: Power Nano Hyaluronic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid and Cranberry Extract. I don’t think the stuff listed after silicones are in amounts significant enough to really benefit the skin - but that’s just my opinion~ Beginning with the first one … wth is “Power” Nano Hyaluronic Acid? Sounds like something Heisenberg might cook up but anyways... I can’t read the labelling (all in Mandarin) so I took the following description from Cultbeauty: ‘Power Nano’ hyaluronic acid has a small molecular size (15-25nm), for instant absorption and immediate skin plumping benefit, and hyaluronic acid - which creates a large, subcutaneous water ‘reservoir’, retaining up to 1000 times its molecular weight, for prolonged skin dewiness and softness. For my review on Hydraluron last year, I did a bit of research on hyaluronic acid and it seems the molecules are too big to penetrate the skin’s deeper layers and this business of it holding x1000 times its weight is irrelevant when it comes to topical application. What it does do (and do very well) is provide surface hydration and support the skin’s protective barrier.

Cranberry Seed Extract is an anti-oxidant.

The box is shrink wrapped and inside is a protective seal over the product. This is reassuring since one of the reasons I don’t order products online is a fear of contamination/hygiene issues. It doesn’t come with a spatula but eh. I prefer to use little coffee spoons to scoop it up.

How to Use 
1. Massage gently until aqua droplets form

2. Gently pat in until fully absorbed

3. Apply a thin layer as daily moisturiser or a thick layer as sleeping mask for a more intensive treatment

The mask starts off as a light, watery gel and melts on contact with skin forming little droplets. It has a lovely fresh scent which isn’t overpowering and doesn’t linger. As an overnight mask, I like to smooth it on and leave it be. It’s a bit weird to walk around the house with a wet face but no one cares what I look like at that time. It takes ~30 minutes to sink in. When applied as a thicker layer, it takes hours to sink in - I’m fast asleep by whatever time that is. The reason why I don’t pat the product in as per the instructions is because some of it will be absorbed by your hands = waste.

Obviously, this is completely impractical if you want to use it as a moisturiser - unless you have loads of time to spare in the morning. I don’t, so I apply it in small amounts and pat it in. It seems tedious but doesn’t take long. You could also smooth on a layer, wait ~10 minutes and then pat it in. I’ve made the mistake of not allowing enough time for it to fully absorb and my suncream turned to soup when I applied it TT.TT

I put the mask through a pretty tough test. In the week before my order arrived, I was using Benzoyl Peroxide to treat a pesky bout of spots which turned my skin dry, flaky and EW. I didn't want to try any of my new products in case they caused another breakout or made the buggers resurface. I tried a scrub and hydrating serums without any noticeable success so I gave the mask a shot (praying that it wouldn’t suffocate my skin with silicones) and couldn’t be happier with the results! I applied a thinnish layer as an overnight mask and by the next morning the flakiness had almost completely gone. My skin felt soft, supple, more radiant (though I don’t fully trust my judgment on that haha) and hydrated - seriously impressive! As a stand-in for moisturiser, it worked well to seal in other products and didn’t leave my skin feeling dry at the end of the day. My skin went back to normal in about three days ;)

Overall, I'm super happy with this purchase. I'd recommend it to anyone with dry/flaky skin and spot issues. The ingredients list makes the product look as though it’s chock full of silicones, but it’s really very water-heavy. About three quarters of the products I try cause breakouts; I've used this mask twice daily for about two weeks and haven’t had any issues.

Prices & Where to Buy 
Bio-Essence doesn't have an online shop and isn't sold in the UK. I ordered mine from for USD 17.50 (30% off, usually $25) equivalent to GBP 11.80 
For some odd reason Sasa sells a 50g size but all other shops sell an 80g jar o.O I didn't notice this when ordering >.<
It's also available on for GBP 29.00/80g

In Singapore, it costs SGD 33.90 (Guardians) which is equivalent to USD 24.38 / GBP 16.63 You can also stock up and buy two for SG$49

And finally, in Watsons Malaysia, it's RM 55.92 = just over £10! Found this via Paris B's IG and dayum.

I’d definitely repurchase this mask BUT I'd also like to try Laneige’s Water Sleeping Pack, which is apparently the best. Boom Ratatata.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Shopping for Asian Skincare: SASA

I finally succumbed to the allure of Korean skincare and ordered myself a bunch of products from Sasa is the go-to stop for Asian skincare and make-up but I hesitated to shop there because of bad customer reviews. (And I distrust online shopping haha) The shipping times are famously slow but what really put me off are reports of Sasa selling expired products. Sasa is very affordable and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was selling out of date products at a discount. Before I post my mini “haul” (vom), I thought I’d share my experience of shopping on Sasa.

Times: Shipping is estimated to take 14-21 business days. I received my order 14 calendar days from ordering, which isn’t too bad!
Cost: Sasa always seems to have free shipping promotions going with a $50 or $75 spend. The threshold is easily reached, believe me…

My order arrived safe and secure, with the products wrapped in a bubble wrap bag in a box packed with loose fill polystyrene.

Use-By Dates:
SO happy that everything is well within the expiry date and doesn’t appear to be ‘old stock’. I bought:
- A couple of cleansers from The Face Shop which expire in 2017
- A sleeping pack from Laneige, manufactured 2014-11-06
- Sleeping pack from Bio-Essence, manufactured 08/07/2014 and expires 07/07/2017

The only ‘bad’ thing I have to say about Sasa is the lack of ingredients lists. It’s a pain in the a$$ to trawl the internet looking for ingredients lists and more often than not I can’t find them in English -.-“ (Someone needs to start an Asian version of Beautypedia asap!)

I’d definitely order from Sasa again - and in fact, the big haul is on its way … (*kong-dag kong-dag kong-dag*) (nal boa nal boa Gwi-Soon…)