product review

My Acne Ride or Die: D’Ran Wonder Tea Tree Essence Review

D’ran is a Korean dermatological brand whose products rely on many natural herbal ingredients to deliver results. The D’ran Wonder Tea Tree Essence contains a powerful 5% concentration of Tea Tree Oil, in addition to several other nutritive and hydrating powerhouse ingredients.

This essence is supposed to help with a multitude of skin woes, most notably acne and excess sebum, but also with tone/textural issues like scarring and PIH. While the product focuses on “natural effectiveness,” it also boasts suitability for sensitive skin.

The brand claims that this product is multi-functional, meaning that it can potentially be used on the scalp to help manage dandruff and irritation while providing nourishment. I have only ever used this on my face and neck, so I can’t speak for this product’s effectiveness when used in this manor.


Water, Butylene Glycol, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensus root Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Alcohol, Niacinamide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Ammonium Acryloydimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glyceryl Caprylate, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Adenosine

Click here for the CosDNA analysis

Macadamia Seed Oil: improves skin elasticity and helps with moisture retention

Tea Tree Leaf Extract/Oil: a classic anti-acne ingredient, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties

Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil: all are highly moisturizing. Meadowfoam can help strengthen the skin barrier (skin protective ingredient) as the oil closely resembles human sebum. Argan Oil has nutritive properties that can lend a healthy glow to the skin. Jojoba Seed Oil has soothing properties in addition to being highly moisturizing.

Vitamin E: a deeply hydrating ingredient with antioxidant and smoothing properties.

D’ran Wonder Tea Tree Essence also contains a few of my favorite ingredients, namely both the whitening/brightening niacinamide and deeply hydrating sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid).

A quick heads up that this product does contain alcohol which can be irritating to some. Tea Tree can also be known to sting a little when first applied (like Vitamin C).

The Results:

I’m nearly through my second bottle of this essence and have been very happy with the results. For my skin, this product’s main draw is its anti-acne properties, but before I began delving into using prescription-strength actives, also one of the most helpful products in terms of reducing red marks/PIH.

Tea Tree is a very old, time-tested, acne fighting ingredient, and at a 5% concentration, unlike many tea tree products, this essence’s concentration is high enough to actually yield results. It helps prevent the formation of acne without drying out or irritating the skin. After a little over two weeks of consistent, twice daily use, I began seeing a decrease in the number and severity of spots, especially around my ever-acne-prone chin/jaw area.

I had some very mild pockmarked areas on my cheeks and a lot of PIH from over a year’s struggle with adult acne to contend with. After finishing about 2/3 of my first bottle of this essence, much of my PIH had lightened from deep red/purple to a light pink/brown. Some of the less severe PIH wasn’t even visible anymore! I also noticed that my skin was a lot smoother in the pockmarked areas, to the point that it was no longer noticeable at all with minimal makeup on, and only visible with no makeup on to those hunting for it.

I started using actives around the time I finished my first bottle of this essence, and I think the results of this product in terms of skin lightening/texture are comparable to most 8% AHA’s, but it may take an extra month or two for this product to show the same results.

However, even though most actives may work a little quicker than this essence, this essence isn’t anywhere near as drying (or as finicky-no pH or wait times to worry about!), and also delivers superior anti-acne benefits to regular AHA/BHA products. Its only drawback is potential stinging/burning. Just like most actives (think Vitamin C) and anti-acne products, any sensitive area (like sunburn) or open wound/acne is going to sting and/or burn slightly upon application. It is not severe by any means and quickly dissipates after a few minutes, but it is something to consider if sensitive skin is an issue.

I am now steadily working through my second bottle of this D’ran Tea Tree Wonder Essence, and am still impressed with how helpful it is in managing acne, and even more so, with its gentleness. Even in combination with a prescription-strength treatment, it still does not dry out my skin, and has been vital in helping manage my roller-coaster skin purging experience(s). I continue to see my skin’s texture evening and smoothing out with continual use, which may be in part due to the heavy-hitting active I am using, but given the results of my first bottle, I know this essence is helping those results along as well.

Some other perks worth mentioning include the super-sanitary pump bottle packaging, the sturdy glass bottle, and the lack of smell. There is also no wait time, pH adjustment, or photo-sensitivity to worry about. It is also amazingly quick to absorb, and other products can easily be added on top of this product-including makeup (no balling, fuzzing, etc).

Rating: 2-a solid part of my routine for now ūüôā

Rating Scale:

1:Holy Snails! Its a Holy Grail!

2:Current-routine worthy (would buy again unless I found something better)

3:Meh, it was worth a try

4: Bleh, this was terrible. Don’t buy this. Ever.



Real Talk+Etude House Play Color Eyes: in the Cafe Swatches and Mini-Review 

Staying content and happy in life can be really hard in today’s modern culture. Juggling professional demands with staying on top of house work, keeping up with social and romantic relationships, for some:maintaining a family or at least taking care of pets, trying to keep in touch with friends and family, social media, and simply trying to have a life on top of all this is a recipe for disaster and emotional burnout.

So where am I going with all this?

Your beauty routine can help you.

For me, personally, a diligent skin routine not only got me back on track in terms of self-care, but taught me to work with myself instead of against myself…give your skin what it needs over saturating it with harsh treatments. That easily translates into healthier habits beyond the vanity table.

Using your bathroom counter top as the starting point for a healthier, happier you may be the most helpful thing you do for yourself in the next year or so.

Having said all this, picking products that speak to you, that capture who you want to be, where you want to go, in short, inspire you, has become a hobby of mine.

This isn’t to say that, like, my deodorant reflects my future career path or anything, but I try hard to pick the product that will deliver the results I need in the most aesthetically pleasing way as possible.

In steps Etude House (and no, not because my ultimate life goal is to be a princess…although I wouldn’t be all too opposed to that if it were to just happen). When I saw this palette, I saw the seamless merging of three things that always put a smile on my face: Etude House, eyeshadow, and coffee. Oh. Hell. Yes.

First of all, can anyone look at the case without instantly thinking of their favorite cozy coffee cafe or smelling a dark, rich roast? It’s literally like your morning coffee…but for your face.

This palette has gotten a lot of love on a regular basis…should have cleaned it up a bit more for the photo but was too excited over this post-so my apologies! But one month strong and I’m still reaching for it more than any other one…let that be the proof.

The colors themselves are lovely basic essentials. I have blue eyes, so browns help my eyes pop. When I first got the case, the shadows were protected by a plastic insert that had the most adorable coffee/latte drinks printed on the along with, well, coffee-related names. Now if only they smelled like their titles (mmm, cafe mocha and honey milk )…

Etude House Play Colour Eyes In The Cafe - Hikoco - Korean Beauty, Skincare, Makeup, Products in New Zealand - 2

Here are some translations of the colors and a good view of the shades: Image credit

The colors all work really well with each other which is such a plus!

Even though I had to wait over a month for this palette to ship to my country (#kbeautyproblems), I am so glad I bought it. It’s by no means high-end in terms of quality,  but the pleasure I get from its super cute packaging and it’s wide range of simple, pretty, totally-spending-the-afternoon-in-a-coffee-shop-appropriate looks, makes me really glad I splurged on some shipping charges and got this favorite addition to my collection.

This review isn’t so much about recommending this particular product (although it’s really great and you should go buy it if you’d like!), but recommending using the things that will regularly add more pep to your step.

Things won’t make you happy; even all the Tony Moly and Etude House products won’t ever magically make your life turn into the life of your dreams. But treating yo’self to things that regularly put a smile on your face and help you feel you can take on the world? 100%worth the investment.

So go slay ’em readers! Take on the world!

What products or rituals help you channel your inner-awesomeness? What do you think of the palette?

Banish Blackheads for Good with Elizavecca’s Hell Pore Clean Up Mask

The Elizavecca Milkypiggy Hell-Pore Clean Up Mask is an oldie but a goodie. Its essentially a liquid pore strip that you can put wherever your face might need a little pore-cleaning love. Once it dries, just peel it off and rejoice as you stare in strange fascination at the gunk its pulled out. Even though this product is no new release-its over a year on the US markets-its so effective that I want to be sure to spread the word!

This mask is supposed to help manage excess sebum, blackheads and whiteheads, and dead skin. When used over time, it can help minimize the appearance of pores (as they are kept clean and unclogged).


Water, Polyvinylpyrrolidone, Alcohol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Charcoal powder, Titanium Dioxide, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Rhus Semialata Gall Extract, Diospyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Rosa Hybrid Flower Extract, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Illicium Verum Fruit Extract, Aluminum hydroxide, Silica, Methyl acetate, Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Fragrance, Cosmos Bipinnatus Callus Culture Extract, Saccharomyces/Caragana Sinica Root Ferment Extract

Click here for the CosDNA analysis of this ingredients list.

This product has two main types of ingredients: skin moisturizers (mainly the plant extracts) and thickening agents (silica, polyvinylpyrrolidone, alcohols, etc). Please note that many people do find alcohol (and similar ingredients) to be irritating, so use with caution if you know or suspect you may have a sensitivity to said such ingredients.

Some ingredients of interest:

Charcoal is known for its absorbent properties. In skincare, it “sucks” gunk out of pores.

Titanium Dioxide is, of course, a sunscreen. Chances are it is being used for its pigmentation and/or thickening purposes in this product though.

Salicornia Herbacea Extract is also known as glasswort. This plant has potentially moisturizing properties. Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Rosa Hybrid Flower Extract, and the like are all essentially moisturizing ingredients as well.

Rhus Semialata Gall Extract is a plant found in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract is actually made from lotus flowers. They are known for whitening/brightening of the skin and (more symbolically than actually)its purification. Similar to this is the ingredient Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, or white water lilly, which is also know for its skin lightening properties.

Illicium Verum Fruit Extract is also known as anise. While it is a potent anti-acne ingredient, it is often a potential irritant.

What’s “sand” doing in here? Silica is often used in skincare products as an absorbent and thickening agent.

The last  ingredient is yeast-based, fermentation being a popular trend in Korean skincare. Rumor has it this “obsession” with Saccharomyces and Galactomyces stems from the large portion of the Korean diet that consists of fermented foods. Fermentation seems to have a positive effect internally, when ingested, so why not try it on the face? It appears to solve a large number of common skin care woes (much like snail or starfish), and almost all brands have a yeast-based ferment first essence or toner to hop on this trend.

In all honesty, this ingredients list is nothing to write home about, at least, in my opinion. Unlike a serum or daily moisturizer, where subtle blends of ingredients can make or break a product for someone’s skin (especially over time), with a product that is meant to latch onto nastiness lurking in my pores in under 20 minutes, all I care about is whether or not it does just that. Its a lot like a cleanser or a cheap sheet mask; as long as they do the job placed in front of them, I’m happy. Anything more is considered an added bonus.

The Results:

I’ve been using this product for around 8 months now, about 1-2 times per week. It works partially like a clay mask, in that it leaves your skin smooth, but free of excess sebum. I tend to need most of my facial oils (sounds so weird when put that way, doesn’t it?) as my skin is quite dry, but for oilier skin types, using this mask 2-3 times a week would definitely help manage that “oil slick” feeling. I actually recommended this product in my oily skin shopping by skin type series a while back-you all should know it works!

It also functions much like a pore strip that you would traditionally put over a wet nose and then peel off once it hardened (and then stare at the aftermath for longer than you would like to admit to yourself). When you pull it off, clogs and blackheads (and peach fuzz-oh my!) will be standing up like little soldiers much like you would find with any other sort of pore strip.

Here is the process taking place on my hand (no one needs to see the contents of my nose pores on the Internet just yet):

Tips and Tricks

While this product will pull stuff out of your pores if applied to clean dry skin, why not get the most bang for your buck (and the maximum peel-off grossness) and allow a BHA to work its magic 25 minutes or so before using this mask? It ensures that every last bit of whatever nastiness is lurking within your pores will “loosen up” so it can easily be pulled away, and pulled away in its entirety. This method is especially effective on stubborn clogs and blackheads. One and done.

This product can be pretty brutal on the more sensitive areas of your face. While it won’t actually rip out your eyebrows, it will definitely feel like it is. This product is designed to remove dirt and impurities from deep inside your pores. Upper lip peach fuzz doesn’t stand a chance to put it mildly. If you wouldn’t put a Biore nose strip on the area, then you sure as hell shouldn’t put this product there.

Ripping it off like a waxing strip of band aid doesn’t work that well from my own personal experience. If you want big chunks or a full-face portion of mask to ogle over at what just came out of your face, then speed is definitely not an option.

If you apply the mask too thin, it won’t pick up very much in the way of pore debris and be a b**** to try to get off. If you apply it too thick, you will be waiting a very, very long time for it to dry (both from personal experience everyone). The ideal medium is really the thickness of a Biore pore strip or a business envelope. You’ll want just enough product to do the job and still be able to be pulled off intact.

Redness afterwards should be expected. You just peeled something stuck to your face off of your face after all.  However, go ahead a show it a little love with a light moisturizer or sheet mask. I treat it much like waxing or shaving. If you don’t want irritation, throw on some oatmeal or snail or something.

You don’t have to put this on your entire face all at once. Sometimes just a nose, chin, or T-zone application is all you need. This product is harsh so don’t fix what isn’t broken (its a, um, peel-off mask, so… yeah). You may being saying “well, duh,” but you would be surprised how many people see the videos and ads for this product, featuring full-face masking, and think that that is how they have to use it each and every time. Think outside the box, or tube, in this case.

At around 12 $ for a whole tube of this stuff, it puts traditional pore strips (which around here cost about 12$ for a package of 8) to shame. It is not only slightly more effective, but much more versatile, not to mention so much cheaper. Even though I have dry skin, this product keeps my skin smooth and clog free (they’re bound to happen when you use 20,000 moisturizers a day just to stay flake-free). However, knowing so many people who use this (or perhaps I may have made them use it and gotten them hooked for life like some sort of K-beauty crack dealer) on their not only oily, but acne-prone skin. Its pulled out stubborn blackheads and clogs that they had been trying to remove for weeks, months even, in just under 45 minutes. A quick session with a BHA of choice to loosen up the gunk, and then the attack from the Hell Pore Clean Up Mask, gets their skin into a much smoother, clearer state after just one or two uses.

Rating: 2.5-I have major doubts if I will ever find anything more grossly satisfying…

Rating Scale:

1:Holy Snails! Its a Holy Grail!

2:Current-routine worthy (would buy again unless I found something better)

3:Meh, it was worth a try

4:Bleh, this was terrible. Don’t buy this. Ever.

So that’s it for me, singing its wonderful, peely praises. Have you ever tried this product before? Would you want to?


The Holy Grail of Sheet Masks: Pony Effect Luminous Boosting Mask Pack Express Soothing Face Mask Review

Hello everyone!

I received this Pony Effect Luminous Boosting Mask Pack Express Soothing Face Mask from Memebox as a freebie from my very large sheet mask haul and am crazy excited to do a review on a product so shiny and with such a long name. Haha-why are so many Korean products like that?

For starters, Korean makeup artist Pony has teamed up with Memebox and produced a large number of various skin and makeup products for over a year now. This mask is one of the latest addition to her collaboration with them.

This mask is made of bamboo fiber and promises to deal with unevenness in skin tone and skin texture while¬†prepping it to its “best condition prior to makeup” AND simultaneously nourishing skin. The list of claims is as long as the actual mask name!

*The ingredients analysis may be a little long for some as there are A LOT of really neat ingredients packed into this mask. If plant extracts aren’t really your thing, feel free to skip down to the non-ingredient review part of this post!


Water, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Extract, Betaine, Panthenol, Carbomer, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Allantoin, Potassium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Paecilomyces Japonica/Saussurea Involucrata Ferment Extract Filtrate, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water, Aloe Barbandensis Leaf Water, Honey Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Sciadopitys Verticillata Root Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Mentha Spicata Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance

Ok, am I the only one who noticed an entire garden in there? Let’s break it down!

What all those herbs and extracts do:

Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Water is lotus water which is known for its soothing, regenerative properties. It can help stimulate blood flow to the face while it calms and moisturizes.

Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Extract is a bit controversial in skin care as the fruit can brighten, hydrate, function¬†as an astringent, and give the skin a boost of anti-aging antioxidnants, but can also be very irritating due to its limonene (the chemical responsible for the grapefruit’s smell) content. It can potentially cause contact dermatitis.¬†Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract (lemon) is also potentially irritating, but is known for its anti-microbial, pore tightening abilities. However, there are¬†also¬†several anti-irritants listed in this mask like allantoin (an anti-irritant derived from urea) which should help offset any potential irritation.

Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract is an old skincare favorite, known for its acne-busting ability, but also its anti-inflammatory properties.

Paecilomyces Japonica/Saussurea Involucrata Ferment Extract Filtrate: I had never heard of this ingredient until now. The Internet has surprisingly little information on it, and while I emailed Memebox, who supposedly emailed the manufacturer, it’s been long enough that I’m doubting I’ll get a reply… From the best that I can tell (at this point), the paecilomyces japonica is a type of mushroom that grows on silkworm larvae and saussurea involucrata is known as snow lotus. It seems that there is a yeast enzyme that can be derived from the snow lotus which would be the thing breaking down/fermenting the mushroom. So this ingredient is a type of mushroom broken down by ¬†snow lotus yeast enzymes and then extracted and filtered. Both appear to have anti-inflammatory and nutritive properties based on a limited selection of scientific studies and both have a background in traditional Chinese medicine (but it seems this is typically drunk and not applied on skin?). There aren’t any studies I found on this particular ingredient combination and its uses in skin care, although it seems it is in several other more hangbang brands/products. For the sake of ever finishing this post, I will have to put this puzzling ingredient on a future research list. Ferments are gaining popularity in skin care (just look at first essences) so let’s just leave it at that for now. If I ever hear back, you readers will be the first to know!

Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water is derived from the chamomile plant which you may know from chamomile tea. It is known for its skin calming effects along with being anti-microbial/anti-acne and anti-inflammatory. Aloe Barbandensis Leaf Water is derived from the aloe plant which is known, like chamomile, for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey is a great anti-microbial ingredient which you might have/still make DIY face masks from, but is also an anti-oxidant with anti-irritant properties. Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract is also known as green tea (yet another anti-acne, anti-inflammatory, soothing ingredient).

Sciadopitys Verticillata Root Extract is basically a skin conditioning agent. Nothing to see here people. Move on.

Houttuynia Cordata Extract is known for its purifying effects in traditional medicine but needs more scientific study to back up these claims.

The “herb garden” ingredients (lavender, rosemary, oregano, eucalyptus, peppermint, and spearmint extracts) are all potentially irritating ingredients that may also have antimicrobial properties. Most of the time these sorts of ingredients are added for fragrance purposes. The chemicals in the plants responsible for the fragrance are generally the main source of potential irritation. However, extracts generally contain less oils than direct plant matter. These are also the very last listed ingredients, and while there is controversy over how to analyze korean-english ingredient list translations, chances are these extracts are in negligible amounts no matter the nuances.

In short, this mask has some pretty neat plant extracts at first glance and that is surprising for just a Memebox sample sheet mask. However, given the number of them crammed into this mask, I can’t help but wonder at their concentrations. Tea Tree oil generally needs a 5-10% concentration to be effective, yet most skin care products boast less than 1%. Oh well, let’s see if any of this plant mumbo-jumbo actually paid off.

The Review

Now that the ingredients list is out of the way, let’s get on to the actual mask and everyone’s favorite, the results!

Pre-mask, my skin wasn’t exactly a happy camper (but when is it ever?). There was some dryness, some remaining granola-purge face, and some granola-purge face+dryness-related redness going on. Probably the only perk of said facial state was¬†that it featured everything the mask said it was supposedly going to tackle.

Uneven tone?: check

Uneven texture?: check…er, plus…

Needing nourishment: definitely, check

And using it in the morning meant makeup would be coming after. So prepping skin to ideal makeup applying state?: yes please

The mask itself was gloriously soft and silky (it felt amazing even for a slightly-pricey 3$ mask…is this what 8$ masks feel like?) and was drenched in essence (it was dripping everywhere as I took it out and put it on). It had a nice fit, covering my face all the way up to the hairline and covered a comfortable amount of under-eye area (you know how sometimes the material can “cut” in this area? Not here, just silky goodness). I wore it for a good 45 minutes and the mask stayed soft as it dried, even though many masks will start to feel uncomfortably “crusty” as the essence absorbs/evaporates.

It has the typical “sheet mask smell” (clean, fresh, skincare product-y) but with a subtle¬†yeasty note (which I actually love that raw bread/yeast smell so heck yeah!). Minus my taste in smell (heh, that sounds strange…), it is by no means overpowering so even if you are sensitive to smell, you will most likely be fine.

Post-mask, non-plauged skin was no longer red and back to its typical corpse-y white state. My lovely party of best friends hanging out around my jawline  were a lighter, easier-to-conceal shade of pink vs bright, tomato red (oh, the joys of being pale). Not a single flake or trace of dryness left.

My face was brighter and quite dewy; my skin felt refreshed and smoother (not silky smooth by any means, but the bumps were not as pronounced and felt so, so much softer). The residue left over just felt like really moist skin-not filmy, oily, or sticky-but…damp?(almost like a frog or something…but in a good way).

There was a definite, noticeable improvement from this mask after just one use. To put it bluntly, red, swollen spots that makeup would only highlight went to light-pink bumps that were softer and easy to conceal with makeup. Skin went from dry to totally, deliciously moist in 45 minutes. The ingredients list seems pretty justified after trying this mask out.

Rating: 2.5 (I might just suck it up and fork over more than a 1.50$ for a sheet mask to have a small stash of these for bad skin days)

Rating scale:

1-Holy grail worthy

2-Current-Routine-Worthy (would repurchase again until something better came along)

3-Meh. It was ok. YMMV.

4-Bleh, not good. Do not buy this.

1-that one mask

Have you tried this mask? What was your experience? And what do you think of all those extracts? Especially that one hang bang ingredient?

Miracle In a Bottle: La’dor Perfect Hair Fill Up Ampoule

Pretty much anything hair care from La’dor will have me shoving my money in the face of the nearest retailer, ¬†but one of their products has become a personal favorite of mine…actually, all of their conditioners are my absolute favorite, but oh, well. Today, I will be focusing on my favorite¬†ampoule by them, which is called the Perfect Hair Fill Up Ampoule.

Basically, there is a vial of this miracle liquid that gets mixed in a 1:1 ratio with water. Once stirred around a little bit, the two substances blend together to form another white mixture that goes on your hair for 20-30 minutes. After it is rinsed out, the hair just needs to be blow dried for you to feel all the benefit.

The Ingredients:

water, steartrimonium chloride, alcohol, hydrolyzed keratin, hydrolyzed collagen, hydrolized silk, ceramide, methylparaben, polyperaben, fragrance

In order for proteins to have any positive effect on hair, they have to be hydrolyzed (aka undergo hydrolysis, aka be broken down into a modified substance) so that the amino acids that make up the proteins can become small enough to bond to the hair shaft.How these ingredients work is similar to emollients in the moisturizing world (you can read more about that in this post). The hydrolyzed proteins fill in the cracks and gaps in the hair shafts (from sun damage, coloring, etc), providing a temporary fix to the hair. Despite the temporary nature of said fix, it is vital in keeping hair looking healthy and at its best.

Hair is roughly 90% keratin (a protein) so seeing a hydrolyzed form of that in the ingredient list is no surprise. Keratin is an ingredient that will make hair feel stronger and also help the strands retain more moisture-which means softer, smoother, more lustrous strands.

Collagen is a word commonly tossed around in the realm of skin care, but when it comes to the hair care world, hydrolyzed collagen means more moisture for the hair. The protein derived from silk (called sericin) is again, another moisture-binding ingredient.

Ceramides are another ingredient that both the skin and hair care world love. These naturally occur in nature and are long, lipid chains that help retain moisture and repair damage (a favorite ingredient in fixing damaged moisture barriers or giving hair new life).

That scary-sounding ingredient listed second is responsible for the solution that results after the ampoule is mixed with water (what goes on the hair). Steartrimonium chloride is an anti-static that is commonly used in all sorts of personal care products. It can help water mix with oils and help form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the product that contains it and keep it suspended in another liquid. Its probably lurking in your conditioner or hair dye.

Given this ingredient list, this ampoule is a high-powered hair-transforming machine, pretty much guaranteed to moisturize and smooth hair. I could have just told you that,but doesn’t knowing¬†why just feel so much better?

Awkward close up of the awesomeness (as bathroom lighting, well…)

Having used this product on a weekly basis for about four months now, my overall hair texture has greatly improved. I have very thin, fine hair that is easily weighed down by the amount of moisture it craves and this product has not only been able to hydrate without turning my hair into a pancake against my scalp, but has gradually helped thicken my hair (probably plumped it up with enough moisture that it actually looks like I have hair on my head now).

Before & After: what you cant see is the ridiculous softness

For an investment of 20 minutes a week, even my lazy, hair-care hating self can pull a treatment like this off. The results are more than worth it!


Sheet Mask Showdown/7 Day Sheet Mask Challenge

Unless you are totally new to this blog (which if you are-welcome!), its completely obvious that I may have a slight sheet mask addiction. I’m that girl who wears them around the house like they are some sort of face-shirt or something: while I watch TV, while I’m at the computer, while I’m washing dishes, cleaning, studying…I’m more used to seeing a mask on my face when I look in the mirror than my own bare face. It doesn’t help the fact that I’ve now got retinoid-face from my Curology prescription…so I am completely #enabled.

So before my friends and family hold an intervention and I get hauled off to a sheet mask addiction clinic, here is a quick round up of the masks I’ve tried this past week. One per day keeps the skin woes away!

Pony Effect Luminous Boosting Mask Pack Express Soothing Face Mask

This mask was so awesome that it deserves a post of its own. In short: its one of the more amazing masks I’ve tried…and that is really saying something coming from mask queen over here.

Botanic Farm Cherry Blossom Mask & Botanic Farm Kiwi Mask

While these masks are not as great as my beloved Etude House I Need You ones, they are still a decent everyday mask. They fit pretty well, don’t have any sort of overpowering/obnoxious smell, don’t break the bank, and provide an extra boost of moisture to give you that classic, dewy sheet mask glow. I tend to alternate these sorts of “1$” masks with fancier, pricier ones so that my skin can leave me in peace without making my wallet fall to its knees.

P.D.F  A.C Dressing Ampoule Mask

Going along with its name (I guess), this sheet mask felt like a bandage in texture. As I was removing it from its packet, I was afraid it would be a bit rough, but once on my face, it wasn’t any different than any other fiber-based mask. This one did a good job of staying saturated for a long time (no weird crusty dry bits) and really helped with my dryness. It had a soothing effect as well which was a perk.

Innisfree Its Real Squeeze Mask Bija

I really liked this mask and am so glad I ordered a bajillion of them when they were on sale back from my Memebox haul. Its very effective at hydrating my skin without any residue/film, and always leaves my skin soothed. I’ve used this mask a few times now and have fallen in love with how fresh-faced I always look after wearing it. Its a miracle worker on angry spots; this mask is excellent at taking down the redness factor several notches. Highly recommend.

Bonvivant Aloe Botanical Mask Pack

Aloe is a classic skincare ingredient, known for its soothing properties. This mask¬†lists¬†aloe extract instead of water as the bulk filler and is made of ¬†plant fiber. Mainly, this mask just moisturized my skin-my face was hydrated, but my spots were still doing their normal angry-red thing. The only stand-out thing about this mask was how freakishly soft it was; I kind of didn’t want to take it off…ever. But the results were sub-par to even the Botanic Farm cheapies.

Botanic Farm Polar Energy Camel Milk (Anti-Aging) Hydrogel Mask Pack

I have to say, while this mask did really help brighten my face, it was so, so, so uncomfortable. For starters, hydrogel is just sort of…icky to me. It makes me a little squeamish; its texture is like putting raw meat on my face (you are welcome). So while my wallet rejoices, jello-textured masks are a rarity in my routine and I always forget how face-conforming they are. Sometimes, this is a good thing (like whoa! I forgot how well they fit-I can do all sorts of things while wearing this! Why don’t I buy these more often?) or, as in this case, how hard it can be to get a good fit. I could not wait to take this mask off because it just CUT into my face. Anywhere the mask ended, it got sharper and sharper as it began to dry. The eye area was the worst. It covers a good amount of under-eye area (usually a perk), but I had to keep looking up the entire time I wore this mask to prevent a razor sharp edge from attacking my poor eyebags. The results were by no means wimpy-everywhere was bright and dewy-but not worth the cost or the experience.

Well, there is your peek into the life of someone living on the cusp of needing sheet mask rehab. I hope you found these quick, mini-reviews helpful. If there are any masks (besides the super-jaw-droppingly-awesome PONY mask) that you would like a more in-depth, ingredient-analysis type review of, just let me know! It doesn’t even need to be a mask listed here, just one you are curious about. I’m always looking for new things to try!