Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner Review

The Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner is a slightly acidic toner to rebalance the skin’s pH after cleansing to protect the skin’s moisture barrier. This toner uses 97% naturally derived ingredients and claims to balance, hydrate and cool stressed skin.

Ingredients: Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, Betaine, Panthenol, Madecassoside, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, 1,2-hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Carbomer, Polyglycerin-3, Disodium Edta 

There are a number of moisturizing/hydrating/humectant ingredients in this toner; propandiol, glycerin, panthenol, betaine and butylene glycol. Madecassoside has soothing and repairing properties. Betaine is also an anti-irritant. Camellia sinensis leaf (green tea) extract is used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Directions state to saturate a cotton pad and sweep onto skin after cleansing or apply in the palm of the hand and pat onto skin. Once absorbed, continue with your skincare routine.

I don’t generally use toners in my routine, but read about the importance of pH balanced skin, so gave this toner a try. I have been using the Soon Jung toner for a few weeks, morning and night, applied with Klairs Toner Mate 2-in-1 Cotton Pad.

There is no scent. It has a water-like consistency and applies nicely to the skin. The toner does absorb, but leaves behind a layer, that almost feels protective or a dry-sticky feeling, so that there is tugging on the skin when I run my finger down my cheek. It doesn’t bother me too much; it is not a heavy feeling and I don’t feel it on the skin, but rather to the touch.

After I applied the toner, I followed with The Ordinary’s Marine Hyaluronics, then NIOD SDSM. I didn’t apply moisturizer, as I wanted to see if the Soon Jung Toner provided hydration/moisture without using a cream for the first couple times of use (which it does; my skin feels more hydrated). I have oily skin and using the above routine, my skin didn’t seem to have the greasy shine that it usually does, but more of a dewy-like complexion. With continued use my skin feels more hydrated and my complexion looks better in general. I don’t notice a cooling effect, however.

Redness is one of my biggest skin issues (blackheads and large pores being others). After the first few uses I was surprised that the redness on my cheeks improved by about 80% and didn’t get much redder as the day went on.

I also applied to the backs of my hands and they feel smoother and softer, likely due to the layer left behind, though doesn’t feel as sticky on the hands as on the face.

I would definitely repurchase the Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner.

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask Review

The Lip Sleeping Mask by Laneige is an overnight treatment that claims to reduce flakiness and fine lines, and soothe and moisturize for smooth, soft and supple lips.

Ingredients: Diisostearyl Malate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Phytosteryl / Isostearyl / Cetyl / Stearyl / Behenyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Polybutene, Microcrystalline Wax / Cera Microcristallina / Cire Microcristalline, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Synthetic Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax / Candelilla Cera / Cire de Candelilla, Sucrose Tetrastearate Triacetate, Butylene / Ethylene / Styrene Copolymer, Ethylene / Propylene / Styrene Copolymer, Mica (CI 77019), Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Dimethicone, Fragrance / Parfum, Polyglyceryl-2 Diisostearate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Methicone, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax / Cera Carnauba / Cire de Carnauba, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Red 6 (CI 15850), Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Water, Potassium Alginate, Propanediol, Glycerin, Alcohol, Lycium Chinense Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Fragaria Chiloensis (Strawberry) Fruit Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Rubus Chamaemorus Seed Extract, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ascorbyl Glucoside

The mask contains Moisture Wrap technology that forms an 8-hour time-release moisturizing layer on the skin that locks in active ingredients, and Berry Mix Complex that is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Directions state to apply a generous layer to the lips in the evening, leaving on overnight and wiping off or cleansing in the morning.

I got the mini size original lip mask as part of the Goodnight with Laneige kit that included the Water Sleeping Mask. I had gone camping last week and forgot my Quench lip balm, and my lips got quite dry, had some flakiness on the bottom lip and a couple cracks, so took this opportunity to try the lip mask.

It has a slight berry scent and taste. It applies smoothly with a bit of a sticky, heavy feeling on the lips. I applied with my fingertip and when rinsing with just water, there was a thick oily layer left on my finger, so needed soap to wash it off. It had taken me about an hour to fall asleep and by then, the mask had absorbed into the lips by about 50%. It has good staying power and I still felt it on my lips in the morning.

In the morning my lips felt a bit sticky and not as moisturized as I would have liked. They look okay in the “morning” photo. After cleansing with my regular cleanser, it looks like the mask helped with some surface hydration, but there is still a visible dry layer.

Above, I took a photo 20 minutes after cleansing as my lips felt drier and the three cracks on the bottom lip are more visible.

In the photo above, for a closer comparison, the surface hydration is better; the lips feel dry, however, and I still feel the flakiness on the bottom lip.

I also tried a small amount of the lip mask during the day and it made my lips drier and flakier than they were to begin with. To use up my mini jar, I might try it over lipstick to give a bit of shine, but wouldn’t put directly on the lips again.

The above photos were both taken the morning after their respective evening routines. I wanted to see how my regular evening lip care routine compared to the lip mask, so the next night after cleansing, I misted my lips with water, added a drop of The Ordinary’s Marine Hyaluronics, followed by my long-time favorite, Quench Lip Treatment Balm by Your Best Face Skincare, and Biossance 100% Squalane Oil. My normal routine performed much better than the Lip Sleeping Mask. In the morning, my lips felt moisturized and soft and the three cracks on the bottom lip were nearly gone. There appeared to be fewer fine lines (likely due to so much moisture and softness) and I felt no flakiness on the bottom lip.

While the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask improved surface hydration, my lips still felt dry and flaky. I would not repurchase.

Thank you for reading.

Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel Review

Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel is a hydrating eye gel that claims to reduce puffiness, crepiness, sagginess, appearance of dark circles and gives eyes a well-rested look.

Biossance has added a recently new eye product called Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream and on Instagram has commented that the Marine Algae Eye Cream is richer and targets fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness while the Peptide Eye Gel is lightweight and targets puffiness and dark circles. If using both, the Peptide Eye Gel can be applied in the morning and the Marine Algae Eye Cream in the evening.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Squalane, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Panthenol, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-5, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Tocopherol, Pentylene Glycol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lycium Barbarum (Goji) Fruit Extract, Lycopene, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Skin Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caffeine, Acacia Senegal Gum, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate HCL, Lecithin, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol *Organic

Going over some ingredients – Niacinamide is the fourth ingredient; this is vitamin B3 that, among other functions, can improve fine lines and wrinkles. Chondrus crispus extract is a seaweed extract full of vitamins and minerals used for skin conditioning and has the ability to protect against UV rays. Malus Domestica fruit cell culture extract, also known as Swiss apple stem cell extract, can protect the longevity of skin stem cells. Acetyl tetrapeptide-5 (Eyeseryl) is a humectant that can improve elasticity and smoothness and reduce puffiness. Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 (Argireline) is a neuropeptide claimed to relax muscles thus reducing expression lines. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is a form of vitamin C. This eye cream contains caffeine (just over halfway down the ingredient list) that can reduce puffiness.

Directions state to gently dab around upper and lower eye area with fingertip, morning and night. Allow to absorb 1 to 2 minutes before applying makeup to avoid pilling.

I have fine lines under my eyes (luckily not much in the way of crow’s feet yet), dark circles and puffy eyes that generally make me look tired. I have used the Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel for 3 months now, morning and evening, dabbing around the entire eye area up to the brow bone. This feels like a mix of gel and light cream. It is lightweight, goes on smoothly and the under-eye feels smooth and moisturized to the touch all day. Makeup applies nicely over this eye cream.

The below photos were taken at the same time of day (a couple hours after waking up).

Above, looking at the dark circles and puffiness, I don’t notice a reduction in either. Depending on the cause of the dark circles, particularly if genetic, an eye cream may not help. I don’t notice any immediate or longer term well-rested look to the eye.

Above, looking at the fine lines, there is a bit of reduction on the lower outer side of the eye and perhaps toward the inner eye area; not so much under the eye. After a couple weeks’ use, I noticed, in the mirror, some reduction in fine lines, but on further use, they seemed to come back and did not reduce further. The puffiness toward the lower eye area is still visible. I don’t see any improvement in puffiness or dark circles in the mirror.

While Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel is a nice moisturizing product that makes the under-eye feel smooth and hydrated to the touch, I’m not seeing results in lines, puffiness or dark circles and would not repurchase. This might be good for those looking for a first eye cream who need hydration and moisture. I have since ordered Your Best Face Skincare’s Refresh Eye Cream.

Thank you for reading.

Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Cleansing Gel Review

Biossance’s Squalane + Tea Tree Cleansing Gel claims to remove makeup, purify pores, balance skin and reduce excess surface oil while leaving skin visibly clearer and softer.

Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Disodium Coco-glucoside Citrate, Squalane, Cocoyl Proline, Melaleuca Alternafolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Sodium Levulinate, Hydrolyzed Pea Protein, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Leaf Extract, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Gluconate, Caramel, Citric Acid, Linalool

To go over some ingredients – Cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine and sodium cocoyl isethionate are mild surfactants derived from coconut oil. Disodium coco-glucoside citrate is a mild surfactant. Cocoyl proline is a mix of coconut fatty acids and the amino acid proline used as a hydrator and conditioning agent. Sodium levulinate is used as a preservative and skin conditioning agent. Alfalfa leaf extract is said to soothe skin and help make skin look brighter.

Directions state to dampen skin, massage a dime size amount into a light lather and rinse.

This is a gel cleanser that forms a light lather. On rinsing, the cleanser itself doesn’t leave the skin feeling oily, but does leave it feeling a bit dry (though not as drying as Drunk Elephant’s Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser), which is surprising given the addition of squalane oil. It took a bit more effort and more water to rinse than other cleansers (I found this to be the case as well with the Drunk Elephant Jelly Cleanser; perhaps that’s the nature of gel cleansers?). The Squalane + Tea Tree Gel Cleanser smells nice; a herbal scent, which I’m guessing is the tea tree oil (I don’t think I’d used anything with tea tree oil previously).

I have oily skin that is prone to breakouts, blackheads around the nose, congestion and redness. One of the reasons I chose this cleanser – for probably about 5 or 6 years I had gotten pimples on the right side of my face in one area on my lower cheek above the jawline; no idea why and I couldn’t get rid of them. One would break out, start to heal and a couple days later, the next would break out, until I had about six in various healing stages. About a year ago they disappeared; no idea why. Three months ago, the breakouts started again, in the same manner as before. I thought I’d give this cleanser a try, as tea tree oil is said to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory properties that can target acne.

The Squalane + Tea Tree Cleansing Gel is able to cleanse light coverage foundation, but for heavier full coverage foundation, heavier eye makeup and mineral sunscreen, needs two uses.

Having changed nothing else in my skincare routine (other than an eye cream; I’ve been using the Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel), I’ve used the Biossance gel cleanser for a month. As above, throughout the month, the breakouts have healed nicely and I haven’t gotten any new ones. My skin looks generally less congested with a bit less redness. My skin is perhaps a bit less oily overall (though salicylic acid works better to balance oil). I noticed at day 16 I had less blackheads on my nose, but by day 30, there were more. My skin doesn’t feel any softer.

I’m happy with the results of this cleanser, but I have to wonder if the cleanser itself provided the results or if, by some coincidence or other variable, the breakouts have stopped. Being a rinse-off product, I’m generally skeptical of a cleanser providing results beyond cleansing makeup and sunscreen from the skin.

I’ll continue to use the Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Gel Cleanser (and would repurchase) and will update here if the breakouts start again with continued use or on switching to a new cleanser.

Thank you for reading.

Better Than Sex Mascara Review and Wear Test (And Comparison to Damn Girl)

Too Faced’s Better Than Sex uses an hourglass-shaped brush and claims to provide extra volume, and lengthen, thicken, curl and lift the lashes after just one coat (comparison to Damn Girl mascara below – see full review here).

Ingredients: Water, Synthetic Beeswax, Paraffin, Glyceryl Stearate, Acacia Senegal Gum, Butylene Glycol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax/Oryza Sativa Bran Cera, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Polybutene, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Copernicia Cerifera Cera, Aminomethyl Propanol, Glycerin, PVP, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Polyester-11, Cellulose, Trimethylpentanediol/Adipic Acid/Glycerin Crosspolymer, Propylene Glycol, Disodium Phosphate, Polysorbate 60, Acacia Seyal Gum Extract, Sodium Phosphate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-1, Dextran, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Iron Oxides (Ci 77499), Ultramarines (Ci 77007), Black 2 (Ci 77266)

I have small eyes and wear contact lenses. My lashes are short, thin and grow out straight. For this review, I didn’t use an eyelash curler, lash comb or lash primer, as I wanted to see how the mascara performs on its own.

The brush is a good size for my small eyes and lashes. I got some transfer on the lids, likely due to my short, straight lashes. While this claims to lengthen, curl, thicken and lift after one coat, I feel like I need three coats to get the lift and volume I wanted. The brush seems to separate the lashes pretty well and the formula isn’t clumpy. The mascara doesn’t feel heavy on the lids and doesn’t irritate my eyes.

Above, is after 16 hours of wear. There is some clumping and a bit of flaking and a loss of volume and lift.

The mascara washes off easily with The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser or Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Cleansing gel I’ve been using lately.

Comparing Better Than Sex (BTS) and Damn Girl (DG), the scent of BTS is slightly less. The bristles generally look the same length (DG has a mix of long and short bristles), perhaps a bit shorter on the in-curve of DG, but the wand is thicker for DG and the brush more of the hourglass curve, making the brush larger overall. The brushes are the same length. DG’s formula is thicker and wetter.

Left – Better Than Sex / Right – Damn Girl

Comparing the above, for BTS, while applying, it is less messy and I get less transfer on the eyelids, getting curl seems easier, the brush separates the lashes better, there is a bit less thickness to the lashes, length of the eyelashes is similar, but less of a dramatic look overall. Using BTS, since the formula is less wet and thick than DG, I am able to get more separation and less clumping on the lashes. Three coats of BTS is similar to two coats of DG. While both mascara applications end up looking pretty similar up close, BTS might be better suited to a daytime look and DG for a night out, as DG looks more dramatic (particularly from further away). The lashes with DG have more flexibility than BTS. I wonder how the DG formula would look applied with the BTS brush.

Left – Better Than Sex / Right – Damn Girl

Above, BTS does not have near as much lasting power as DG after 16 hours.

I might consider repurchasing Better Than Sex mascara, but hoped that it would have more staying power.

Thank you for reading.