A post about the Korean beauty products specially curated for me by the wonderful team at Peach & Lily.
In case you missed it: Peach & Lily is a website that sells the most innovative and cult-favourite products to come out of Korean and Japanese beauty. They have been featured on The Coveteur, Into The Gloss, and New York Magazine. Founder Alicia Yoon is a licensed aesthetician and graduate of Harvard Business School (the combination of these two makes her the perfect person to be doing what she’s doing) who travels back and forth from New York City to Seoul, visiting R&D labs and searching for the latest and greatest of K-beauty to bring back to North America. Peach & Lily offer a variety of products from specially-selected brands that cater to a wide range of skin types/concerns, price-points, etc. If K-beauty is something you are interested in, I highly recommend starting with Peach & Lily. Their Ask Lily program is a service that allows customers free skin consultations and personalized advice to fit their skin’s needs. The program is run by a team of licensed cosmetologists and aestheticians, so it’s pretty safe to say you’re in good hands!
Last month I was contacted by the lovely Stephanie from the Peach & Lily PR team. She asked if I was interested in experiencing some of their product offerings first-hand to share with all of you. All I had to do was let them know what my skin concerns were, and they took care of the rest. Since K-beauty has been something I’ve been interested in for a long time, this was a great way to finally open the floodgates. K-beauty is a globally glowing trend, and every time I’m perusing Instagram I see more and more people jumping on the bandwagon. K-beauty companies aren’t scared to put things like snail mucus, ground-up starfish, donkey milk, and pig collagen in their products. Some people throw caution to the wind, but I’m not as daring. I don’t know if I’ll ever be. In fact, when I was e-mailing back and forth with Peach & Lily, I specifically requested that such products not be included in the parcel, because I’m a tad squeamish about them! Maybe one day…
Below are my thoughts on the products that Peach & Lily graciously provided, of which I am eternally grateful. Since using these products, I have done some of my own research on brands, products, and routines, and hope to continue experiencing the crazy world of K-beauty going forward! If you click on the name of each product, it will take you to its designated page on the Peach & Lily website, where they have meticulously detailed the ingredients of the product, how to use it, and why they love it. These links are not affiliate links. [Please note that I incorporated some of my own products into routines with the ones from Peach & Lily, trying to emulate the typical 10-step regimen a lot of Korean beauty lovers follow, over a period of time… for reference, the sequence is as follows: (1) Oil cleanser; (2) Water-soluble cleanser; (3) Exfoliator; (4) Toner; (5) Essence; (6) Serum; (7) Sheet Mask; (8) Eye Cream; (9) Moisturizer; (10) Sleeping mask for night, SPF for day]
Peach & Lily also sent me the gold bowl and spatula (sold separately) to mix up the mask in. You can use any bowl and spatula you already own, of course, but you guys know I appreciate this kind of attention to detail. This product is super fun. The box comes with two large sachets—one of them contains gold gel, and one of them contains active collagen powder. You mix them together in a bowl, apply the mixture to your face, leave on until it sets, and then peel off. The gold gel actually looks like melted gold. It’s a beautiful colour, and it smells like extremely expensive shampoo (which I love). The powder is a light tan colour and it has little brown chunks speckled throughout. The scent of the powder is absolutely vile, but once the two are combined, the amazing scent of the gold gel—thankfully—prevails. Applying this mask is a bit tricky, because of the gloopy texture (it really wants to fall off your face in big globs), so you have to take your time and keep smoothing it out until it reaches a point where it won’t drip off. I had a lie-down for about 35 minutes after applying it. Really satisfying peeling it off as one slimy rubbery gold sheet! Don’t expect it to look like it does on the box. Instead, expect it to look like your face is melting off. I must say, I enjoyed the process of mixing, applying, and peeling off. Although my skin felt very comfortable and soothed after using, there was no visible difference in clarity or firmness as the packaging suggests. So as long as you’re not expecting miracles where those things are concerned, you will like this mask—it’s a good pamper product.
I put this mask (and the next one I’m going to talk about) in the fridge so it would be super cold, prior to application, per Peach & Lily’s suggestion. I thought this was going to be a single sheet mask based on the packaging, but when I removed it I was a bit surprised to see two hydrogel sections (one for your forehead, nose, and cheeks, and one for your jaw and mouth). The gels themselves were fragrance-free, extremely slippery, and had two differently textured sides. I guess I’m an idiot, because I had no idea which side I was supposed to stick to my face. After fiddling around with them and having each one slip right out of my fingers (seriously) and fall on my countertop, I was a bit annoyed. I just slapped them on and hoped for the best. They didn’t really stick to my face well, so I tried flipping them over to the other side. Same issue. This kind of mask just isn’t my bag. I prefer sheet masks that are paper or cotton and in a single sheet, because they actually stay put on your face so you can sit at your desk with them on or walk around. The only way this mask was staying on your face is if you were lying down. I ended up ripping the gels off after about 10 minutes (normally I leave sheet masks on for an hour if I can tolerate it) due to the frustration of them not staying on my face. I squeezed out the remaining essence in the packet and applied that to my face, but in all honesty, it didn’t do anything. This one was a dud, unfortunately.
Now THIS mask I liked! This was a proper, single pliable cotton sheet mask, completely drenched in essence. It also had a gorgeous soft floral fragrance (I’m all about floral scents). The cotton stretched easily to cover my entire face, the mask stayed saturated through the entire treatment (with plenty of essence leftover, I might add…), and my skin looked a hell of a lot better after I removed the mask. Hydration, brightness, and clarity all benefited from using this mask. This one I would highly recommend, and it doesn’t break the bank!
“Essence” is a category of product that eludes a typical non-Asian skincare routine. A lot of people in the West see it as an extra, unnecessary step, in the same way a lot of people still find toners to be unnecessary. I actually prefer essences, watery liquids, and toners to serums. I have only tried a few serums in all the years that I have been testing skincare products that actually work for me, and I’ve made this clear on my Instagram and on this blog before. If you prefer a certain kind of texture in a product, and that product contains great ingredients and a great delivery system for actives, there is nothing wrong with you preferring that product to something else. I happen to like waters, oils, and rich moisturizers, and happen to dislike gels and serums. Them’s the breaks. There are so many different essences out there that have stellar ingredients, and tend to be a lot cheaper than serums containing the same ingredients in the same concentrations. Nobody can say that an essence isn’t as effective, or can’t be as effective as a serum. So, mini-rant aside, do I like this Mizon essence? The answer is yes, but if I had a choice of reaching for it or something like my Shiseido Benefiance essence, I’m going to choose the Shiseido. I find the words first essence in the name of this product to be more pertinent to the case of someone looking for an introductory-level essence, rather than to be the first essence applied before layering others, which is what these words actually mean. I can easily see this being a good starter essence for a young person who’s newly embarking on a proper skincare regimen… perhaps a teenager with oily skin who doesn’t require a lot of moisture or anti-aging ingredients, but still needs something with good stuff in it that won’t weigh their skin down. This essence looks and feels like water. It smells a bit like green Palmolive dish soap (there I go again with smells… don’t ask), but I don’t find that off-putting at all. The scent is very mild/barely-there, and it dissipates immediately after application. This isn’t my first time at the rodeo, though, kids. I have used essences for years, and my skin doesn’t just need a teeny-weeny bit of hydration (like the kind this essence provides)… it needs a lot. It’s used to essences that provide a lot, so it can tell when a product is coming up short. This essence doesn’t contain the superstar hyaluronic acid to add hydration, but rather the water-binding and mildly exfoliating lactic acid. I think this product is much better utilized as an exfoliating toner, immediately after cleansing, rather than an essence, which is used at a later step in the typical Korean regimen. I had little success using this as an essence, but greater success using it as an exfoliating toner. Cotton pads are the way to go with this one! Another positive point of this product is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!
This cream looks good enough to eat—it literally looks like fresh butter in its beautiful glass jar. This is the product I was most excited about trying, but sadly, it was the one that left me the most disappointed. Everything about it looks amazing—amazing box, amazing jar, amazing appearance texture-wise… it just doesn’t perform well on my skin. When I first sampled it on the back of my hand, it seemed promising, but the back of your hand always tells a different tale than your face. In the jar, the cream has a faint sweet smell. On your face, you can definitely smell the lanolin (which is touted as the star ingredient in this product). If you’ve used Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream and hated the smell, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. The scent of band-aids/plasters that is overwhelming in Eight Hour Cream gives you a big ol’ nod in this product as well. Truth be told, that’s just the way lanolin smells. I don’t mind it, but I know some people despise it. If you fall into the latter category and are thinking of purchasing this product, don’t go by the scent from the jar. Test it on your hand and let it set for a minute to see whether or not you’ll be able to tolerate it. I know some people are funny about smells like I am, so I just wanted to throw that out there. Something else that lanolin is famous for is being sticky. It doesn’t have to be, in a good formulation, however… I’m never “mean” with my products—in the case of moisturizer, I like to take a generous finger scoop, warm it between my palms, and then press it over my face. When this cream is used generously—my preferred method of application—it is definitely sticky on the skin. And I can’t stand the feel of sticky products. Greasy, I don’t mind. Sticky, I mind. If you use the product sparingly, it isn’t as sticky; however, because it has such a rich texture, it isn’t the easiest to blend over the skin, so you want to use more so you feel like you’re covering your face adequately. Its sticky finish is problematic when layering, because even though this cream claims to be breathable, when you put a sticky layer over the other 5-6 products in your routine, your skin will feel suffocated. When I was testing this cream, I would not use it over other products (serums, oils…), I would use a very small amount, and I would add a sleeping pack over top. Because I had to use this product in minute quantities, it was not enough for my skin (hence the addition of the sleeping pack). For it to become enough for my skin, I would have to suffer through the stickiness that comes with using a lot of it. And that ain’t happenin’. Unfortunately, this one will likely be relegated to a hand or foot cream. If you have normal-oily skin and you can get away with using very small amounts of moisturizer, you will love this. Believe me, I can see why other people love it. It’s just not right for my skin. Something worth noting is that the jar contains 65 mL, which is half of an ounce larger than your typical face cream! So if you’re using it sparingly, it should last you quite a while!
I saved the best for last! Unlike the Kicho cream above, I wasn’t expecting any kind of magic from this product, but was pleasantly surprised! This is my own ignorance and naïveté talking, but I have no idea how a sleeping pack/mask differs from a run-of-the-mill night cream ingredients-wise. I don’t know what’s different about this sleeping mask in particular, but it’s bloody good. It’s filled to the brim with lotus extract, which is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antioxidant properties. The rest of its INCI is a who’s-who of plant extracts and oils. Actually, now I’m starting to see why I love it so much. A thick layer of this light lotion as the final step in your routine and you’re setting yourself up for a good skin day. Every time I’ve used this product I’ve woken up to smooth, bright, hydrated skin. I’m trying to be dear with it to keep it around longer, but this one is definitely a winner. Solid product, highly recommend.
* DISCLAIMER: Peach & Lily very kindly provided the products discussed above to me at no charge, as they wanted to gift me my first K-beauty experience. They never requested this write-up, and I am in no way being compensated for it. All opinions are 100% my own, as you have come to expect from my blog posts!