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I've heard about Skinfood's Black Sesame Hot Mask and read about it in a few blogs years ago, and wanted to see if this mask would work out for me. Bloggers, friends, and their mothers seemed to love this.

So, did it live up to the hype?

Product Information
Skinfood's Black Sesame Hot Mask claims to be a "highly moisturizing heating mask" that deep cleans the skin. It has sesame seeds, roasted salt, and sugar to exfoliate the skin and leave your face soft an smooth. Yes, it does claim that it heats up. In fact, the tub has a warning that says, "Use in environment with moderate temperature; if used in a hot environment such as a bathroom or sauna, mask can overheat.

Appearance and Texture
The product is a grayish, slimy substance that smells just like roasted sesame seeds. Some people who have used this stated that they don't like the scent. I personally didn't mind it, though I can see how it may turn people off if they're not used to smelling/eating foods with black sesame.

The way I use it
I used this once a week for over one month. After I double cleanse, I apply a generous amount of the mask, gently rub the granules around my face, wait 5 minutes, and then rinse it off.  I use this while the shower is running hot water.

1. Let's talk about the heating. One of the things that past reviewers have said was that they didn't feel that this heated up enough. From my experience, the only way it heats up is when I use it in the bathroom while the hot water is running in the shower. The heat effect actually does last quite a long time, as long as that hot water is running.

2.I'll be straight up and say that the exfoliating effects are laughable. Sure, it made my skin feel somewhat softer, but the difference wasn't that remarkable. This is definitely not a great exfoliator for someone who wants to clean out blackheads. When I had rough patches on my skin, this did nothing to minimize them at all. I've even tried to leave this on for 10 minutes. Still, I wasn't impressed at all.

3. The claims of providing "deep cleansing to the skin" are ridiculous. I don't see any ingredients in this that would help to clean the skin at all. My skin didn't feel any cleaner.

Verdict: 2 out of 5
This mask made my skin feel soft, but its effects did not seem to last very long. The only thing I enjoyed was its heating effects, but I don't even think these effects were that beneficial to my skin. Overall, I think this is a gimmicky product that does little to exfoliate, deep clean, or soften the skin. There are plenty of other masks from Korea and Japan that are much more effective. I'll finish up this tub, but will only use it as a massage emollient for days when my face feels very cold.  I will not be repurchasing this.

Maybe some of you who have used this had a better experience. Do share: Have you tried this mask? 

Till later,


FTC statement: This is not a sponsored post. The links provided above are not affiliate links.  I purchased all the products mentioned above with my own money.

I picked up Clinique's Cheek Pop because I wanted a blush that would bring life back into my cheeks while my face is still dull from the winter cold. Clinique and I have a love-hate relationship, so I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this product. I'm happy to say that so far, I've been enjoying this blush!

Product Description
Clinique's website describes their Cheek Pop as a "vibrant yet natural-looking cheek colour that looks virtually powderless. In a silky smooth, stay-true formula with shades for every skin tone. That just-pinched look, simply effortless." So far, I really think the blush stays true to this description.

As you can see here, 01 Ginger is a warm, coraly red color. I'm assuming that Clinique named it as a nod to the shade of pickled gingers, but I actually think it's closer to the color of maguro (the raw tuna you tend to see on sashimi). But I suppose naming the shade "Tuna" or "Raw Fish" would not be very appealing, would it?

01 Ginger  comes is almost the exact color of my natural flushed cheeks right after I exercise, making it very flattering on my NC20-NC25 skin. I think it would be too warm for people with pink undertones, but it's great for anyone with neutral and warm undertones. As far as pigmentation goes, the color intensity is fairly strong, but not to the point where it's difficult to control when applying on the cheeks. To me, this pigmentation is perfect.

Though it is a powder blush, the texture seems powderless. It's so finely milled that I can't detect any powder flecks when I apply it. On the cheeks, it looks like it has a somewhat creamy-yet-satiny finish. It's so easy to blend! As a result, the blush color gives a perfect, "glow-from-within" kind of look. The only problem that people might have with this is that you need a synthetic brush to pick up the powder; using a brush with real hair can't pick up the pigment very well.

This lasts a long time--about 7 hours. Of course, it's the winter, and my blushes tend to last a while when it's cold. I'll give an update during the summer to report whether or not the longevity changes.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
I think it seems obvious that I am in love with this blush. I've been using this almost every day and I've been pretty much ignoring my other blushes. If you plan to purchase this, just make sure you are using a synthetic brush; otherwise, you won't be able to pick up the pigment very well.

I purchased my blush at Sephora. You can also purchase it at any Clinique counter.

Have you tried any of Clinique's Cheek Pops? 

FTC statement: This is not a sponsored post. The links provided above are not affiliate links.  I purchased this product with my own money.

When you walk into Sephora or any other beauty store,  you've probably sees tons of foundations, BB creams, and other makeup products that come with an SPF number. Perhaps these types of products have made you wonder, do they actually protect your skin from the sun? Should we bother wearing makeup with SPF?

I've been really curious about makeup products that promise to offer some sun protection. So I ventured out and read a few articles here and there to answer my own questions.

Is Foundation with SPF Enough to Protect Your Skin from the Sun?
Many people who are knowledgeable about skincare and sun protection know that the answer to this question is a resounding, "NO." Dermatologist Dr. Baumann (interviewed by Susan Clark from WebMD) stated that the amount of foundation that we typically apply to our face is not nearly as much as we need to get adequate sun protection; in fact, you would need to apply "7 times as much foundation" to get the SPF that your makeup promises to deliver. And hell no, I am not caking my face in that much base makeup! No thanks. This is exactly why I always apply a separate sunscreen underneath my foundation.

So then what's the point of having makeup with SPF?
You need at least a quarter-size amount of sunscreen on your face (yep, that's a lot). Even though I try my best to apply as much sunscreen as possible, there may be some areas on my face that I don't apply enough sunscreen to. This is where makeup comes in; by applying base makeup with SPF, I can try to cover up the areas I inadvertently missed. As stated, "The truth is that most people do not get the most out of their sunscreen because either they do not apply enough of it, or they apply it unevenly.  Two applications of cosmetics that contain a sunscreen will increase your chances of getting good protection." The way I see it, it's kind of like how I try to get my daily dose of vitamins through my diet by eating healthy, but I still take vitamin supplements, just in case.

Of course, one of the most annoying things with some makeup products that have SPF is that they can "flash back" in photos, creating the embarrassing ghost face. Luckily, I've found some base makeup products that don't create a white cast, even with flash photography:
1. Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation (SPF 15)
2. Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (SPF 15)
3. Skin79 VIP Gold BB Cream (SPF 30) - as long as you don't apply too much
4. Laneige BB Cushion Compact

If my sun lotion has an SPF of 30 and my foundation has an SPF of 15, that means I get a sun protection factor of 45, right?
No. It just doesn't work like that. Also, we shouldn't focus so much on number; an SPF of 100 doesn't give you twice the protection of an SPF 50. After 30, there really isn't much of a difference in terms of protection power. In fact, according to this WebMD article, no sunscreen can give 100% protection. Picking a sunscreen lotion with an SPF 30-45 is good enough for me for everyday wear, and the most important thing to do is to reapply. Which brings me to my next point... 

Do I need to reapply?
If you are going to be outside for a long period of time, then YES, no matter how high your SPF number is. I get it: this is such an inconvenience for anyone who wears makeup. After all, who wants to put on some goopy sunscreen on top of your perfectly made up face? My solution to this is to use a BB cushion compact or a mineral powder foundation with SPF when you need to reapply.

How Do I Protect My Lips?
You can use lip products with SPF, but one of the most interesting things I've learned from these readings is that you can use opaque lipstick as a way to give your lips some protection (both WebMD and have said this). I guess I'll be rocking the bold lip when I go to work from now on!

Bottom line is, makeup alone can't protect you, but it can help if you've already applied your sunscreen.  Now, I'd like to open this up for discussion: What are your thoughts about makeup with SPF? Please feel free to share and add anything anything to this topic!

Till later,

FTC statement: This is not a sponsored post. The links provided above are not affiliate links.  I purchased all the products mentioned above with my own money.

And now for the fun part....FACE MASKS! In the winter, I look for masks that hydrate my skin or brighten my complexion. As you can see here, I tend to gravitate towards Korean masks; I've been consistently using The Face Shop, Innisfree, and Tony Moly masks for several years now. Though there are plenty of great masks from other countries and other brands, I've stuck to these brands because they are fairly affordable and highly effective.

As a reminder, I have combination skin, though my skin gets very dehydrated in the winter. As far as when and how often I use these masks, I use sheet masks 1-2 times a week, depending on how my skin is looking. I love using them before a night on the town, though I also use them right before bed when I want to pamper myself. I use my clay mask less often and only for "emergencies."

The Face Shop's Mango Seed and Chia Seed Masks: These two masks perform similarly in terms of the results. They're great for extremely dehydrated skin. After using these, my skin is hydrated and feels plumper. These sheets are packed with so much essence and I find that I don't need to use as much of my moisturizing cream when I use these masks. I'll probably repurchase the mango one and not the chia seed mask, only because the scent of the chia seed mask is unpleasant to my nose. I purchased mine directly from the brand's store in California. Unfortunately, I can't find these masks on an online site that I've purchased from. But if you want another hydrating mask from The Face Shop, I highly recommend their Avocado mask (which was not featured here, only because I used them all up).

Tony Moly I'm Real Mask Sheet (Tomatoes): My skin tends to look dull in the winter, so I turn to this mask to make my skin appear more radiant and bright. Though Tony Moly's masks aren't filled with as much essence as The Face Shop's, I still find them to be highly effective. This mask, in particular, makes my skin glow immediately after use, and the effect seems to linger well into the next day. This is also great at minimizing redness. Despite its brightening properties, the mask does not dry out my skin and actually hydrates it. You can purchase this from iMomoko or Peach and Lily.

Tony Moly Pureness 100 Mask Sheet (Caviar): Sometimes when I eat junk food, take long flights, or get stressed out, my skin starts to look a little crappy; my face gets more sensitive, dry, splotchy, and tired-looking. When that happens, I always turn to a nourishing mask. My favorite this season is this caviar mask, which makes my skin look much more awake and plumper. As with the other masks I've mentioned, this works immediately after I use it. I got mine from Peach and Lily.

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask: I recently wrote a review on this mask (read it here), indicating how much I like it. While it is a little drying, I still use this to clean out my pores when I need to. In the winter, I only apply this on my T-zone and use it no more than once a week (sometimes only two times a month).

Tips that Work for Me

1. Do not leave sheet masks on your face for more than the recommended time, especially if it's made out of cotton. Doing so potentially can dry out your skin, because the cloth will absorb the moisture from your face. I leave my sheet masks on my face for no more than 15 minutes.

2. For best results, use sheet masks after you exfoliate. By removing the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, the essence from your masks will penetrate into your skin much more effectively.

3. I personally like to use sheet masks after my toner and booster for better absorption. In addition, I always pat and press the mask essence onto my skin after I take off the sheet. Again, this helps it absorb better.

4. There is always a little bit of essence left in the packet after you take out the mask. To avoid waste, I apply the excess essence onto my neck, chest, and hands.

5. Most sheet masks' benefits are temporary, which is why I prefer using one right before I go out for an event or a fun night out. From my personal experience, makeup application goes on much more smoothly after using a sheet mask.  I also find that I use a lot less foundation because the masks make my skin appear healthier and more even-toned than usual.

6. If you don't have easy access to sheet masks, you can soak cotton pads in your favorite hydrating toner and place the pads on your face for three minutes. Avoid using an astringent toner, as it can dry out the skin.

If you haven't read the other parts of my Winter skincare, hop on over to my previous posts!
Part 1: Cleansing
Part 2: Toner and Serums
Part 3: Moisturizers and Eye Creams

Lastly, I've been looking for a good sleeping pack. So far, I've tried Laneige's Water Sleeping Pack and The Face Shop's sleeping mask, but I haven't been satisfied with them. Let me know if you have any recommendations for sleeping masks!

So I'm sure lots of you use masks. If you do, please share: What are your all-time favorite face masks?

Till later,


FTC statement: This is not a sponsored post. The links provided above are not affiliate links.  I purchased all the products mentioned above with my own money.

Okay okay, I know I use lots of Shiseido products. I swear that I am not sponsored by or affiliated with Shiseido. I also have never worked for them in my life. Shiseido, however, is a brand that my grandmother and mother have been using for years, and their products have been working incredibly well for them. I picked up Shiseido skincare products when I was in college, loved the results they gave me, and always went back to them when I was dissatisfied with other brands. Not all their skincare and makeup items are great and they might not always work for everyone, but the ones that I mention here (and my other skincare posts) are products that I've repurchased over and over again.

Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Cream [DAY & NIGHT]: I've used this night cream for a very long time now, and it's my go-to moisturizer for colder months. This is meant to be a night cream for extremely dry skin; however, I use this both in the night and day time because the winter here in Minnesota and our indoor heaters make my skin brutally dry. Without a good moisturizer, my skin gets flaky. Luckily for me, this moisturizer seals all the serums I applied so that my skin does not feel dry or dehydrated at all by the time I come home from a long day. As a result, my skin has been flake-free and healthy-looking. Because of how emollient this is, I only suggest it to people with very dry skin and those living in cold (like below freezing) and dry climates; someone with normal skin living in a humid climate might find this product too overwhelming. Another reason why I like this moisturizer is because it has vitamin C and a few other ingredients to help with cell-turnover. You can easily find this at almost any Shiseido counter, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

Shiseido Ibuki Eye Correcting Cream [DAY ONLY]: I recently wrote a review on this, expressing praise for this. You can head over to my post here. Long story short, this does a brilliant job de-puffing and brightening my eye area and it wears so well under my concealer.

Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Resist24 Eye Contour Cream [NIGHT ONLY]: At night, I need a much more emollient eye cream. This has worked incredibly well for me; it has hyaluronic acid to keep my eye area hydrated. It has also helped to minimize puffiness and dehydration lines by the time I wake up. Luckily for me, I haven't had any clogged pores from this, though I can see how this can be too heavy for some people. The reason why I only use this at night is because it wears terribly under concealer and it leaves a somewhat greasy film. Thus, I only use this during the winter when the environment is incredibly dry. You can purchase this at almost any Shiseido counter, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream in SPF 40 [DAY ONLY]: Sun care is a must for me, even during the winter, because I walk and take the bus to work almost every day. I use this daily over my moisturizer. This cream is non-drying and feels slightly thick, which I think actually helps to protect my skin from the harsh winds. Despite its thickness, it works great as a primer for my BB cream/light foundations and is non-sticky and non-greasy. The only downside to this is that it does leave a light cast, so I only recommend it if you have light or fair skin, or wear a tinted moisturizer or foundation on top of it. You can buy this at pretty much any Shiseido counter, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

Tips that Work for Me
1. When applying moisturizer, I always warm it up with the palm of my hands and gently pat it into my skin to avoid dragging my face down and causing redness. When applying on my neck, I gently apply it in an upward motion.

2. As for eye creams, I apply it with my ring fingers with a tapping motion. I also gently press onto the pressure points around my eye to help me relax. In terms of when I apply my eye cream in my routine, I use it in between my serums while I'm waiting for the serums to absorb into my skin.

3. You've probably heard this time and time again, but people with oily skin should still consider using moisturizers. Overproduction of sebum occurs because the skin is compensating for the lack of hydration beneath the top layer of skin. I used to have oily skin, but the oiliness has been minimized ever since I started using thicker moisturizers (and hydrating serums).

4. Although we barely get any sun in the winter here, I always wear sunscreen, especially when I am using any brightening products (particularly if they contain Vitamin C); such products can your skin photo sensitive.

5. To avoid vitamin D deficiency when wearing your sunscreen, take a supplement and or make sure to eat enough food with vitamin D (e.g., fish and dark leafy greens).

If you haven't seen the other parts of my Winter Skincare Routine Series, head over to Part 1 (cleansing) and Part 2 (toners, essences, and serums). The last part will be coming up very soon, where I will be talking about my favorite face masks for the winter!

In the meantime, please share: What are your favorite moisturizers and eye creams for the winter?

Till later,


FTC statement: This is NOT a sponsored post. There are no affiliate links. The reviewed products were purchased by me, with my own money.

As the title suggests, this is Part 2 of my winter skincare routine series. If you haven't seen Part 1 yet, head over HERE. As you may notice, my skincare regimen consists of many steps. But as the cosmetician Helena Rubinstein famously said, "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones." Having an extensive skincare routine may not be for everyone, and I'm sure many people can have good skin with a simple 3-step skincare regimen; unfortunately for me, I have to do a little more than others to maintain my skin's condition, especially in the winter.

Shiseido Ibuki Softening Concentrate [DAY & NIGHT]: This isn't the best toner that I've tried, but I picked this up because it's much more accessible and cheaper than my favorite one (Albion's Essential Skin Conditioner). This makes my skin feel very soft and it does feel like it's preparing my skin for subsequent products. Other than that, I don't see any other benefits, which is why I'll probably switch back to Albion when I finish this bottle. If you are interested in getting your hands on this, you can purchase this at any Shiseido counter, Sephora, and Nordstrom.

Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate [DAY & NIGHT]: This product is probably my favorite skincare purchase of 2014. I use this as a booster, as it is meant to be applied before essences and serums to facilitate their absorption. One pump is all I need for my entire face and neck and it sinks into my skin immediately with no sticky residue. Since using this twice each day, my face has been looking so much more radiant and feels plumper. I'll be posting a more detailed review of Ultimune in the near future explaining how exactly this works. You can purchase this at any Shiseido counter, Sephora, and Nordstrom.

Mizon Mela Defense White Capsule Essence [NIGHT ONLY]: I've mentioned this in my post about hyperpigmentation. I still use this religiously every single night to prevent dark spots from forming and to lighten existing spots on my face. Though it takes awhile to see results, I have concluded that this gentle essence is effective on my skin. I highly recommend this to anyone with sensitive skin who is looking for ways to brighten and prevent hyperpigmentation. I purchased mine from Peach and Lily's website.

Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 serum [DAY & NIGHT]:
 I recently posted a review on this, which you can find here. I always include a hydrating serum in my regimen, and this serum does not disappoint. I think this is great for any skin type (including sensitive skin) and is effective at keeping my skin moist from deep within. I purchased mine from Peach and Lily's website.

Be the Skin Pore Botanical Serum [DAY & NIGHT, when needed]: I always use this right after I exfoliate or use a deep-cleansing mask to help minimize the appearance of my pores. It doesn't make the look of pores disappear completely, but I think it does help a little. I only use this when my pores look larger than usual. I appreciate that this isn't astringent at all and is very gentle on the skin. Unlike other pore serums, this isn't drying, and it is actually quite moisturizing (without clogging pores, of course). I purchased mine from Peach and Lily's website.

Now, on to some tips that I swear by.

Tips that Work for Me:
1. I generally follow this order when applying these products: Cleansing-> toner/softener --> booster --> essence --> serum(s). Then, I follow up with my moisturizer. If you're still not sure of which order to apply your skincare products, always start with the thinnest substance (which is usually more liquidy) and end with the thickest, most viscous product.

2. I avoid using astringent toners; instead, I look for one that is intended to soften the skin. Astringents tend to be way too harsh for my sensitive skin, whereas moisturizing/softening toners are better at preparing the skin for subsequent products.

3.  I tend to invest more money in my essences and serums because they are meant to be the most effective in maintaining your skin's health, compared to cleansers and moisturizers. Thus, I always try to get samples before purchasing serums and essences before forking over the money.

4.  If you are still young and would like to try a serum, I suggest investing in products that hydrate your skin. Keeping your skin hydrated can help to prevent early signs of aging, as having dry, dehydrated skin creates a terrible environment for collagen growth. I look for hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and argan oil.

So there you have it: Part 2 of my skincare routine. Stay tuned for Part 3, where I will talk about my go-to moisturizer, eye creams, and sun screen for the winter!

So please share: Do you use any toners, essences, or serums? What are some of your favorites?

Till later,


FTC statement: This is NOT a sponsored post. There are no affiliate links. The reviewed products were purchased by me, with my own money.
My name is Eva and I'm a skincare addict.

Yes, I'm obsessed with skincare, which is why I decided to post my skincare routine in four parts. This is part 1 of my winter skincare routine series. Here, I will discuss what I do to cleanse my skin. I have sensitive, dehydrated skin. I generally have combination skin; in the winter, however, my cheeks tend to get very dry. My skin concerns include large pores, hyperpigmentation, dehydration, and redness.

Now, on to the products:

1. Almay Longwear and Waterproof Gentle Eye Makeup Remover [NIGHT ONLY]: I wear waterproof mascara, so a highly effective eye makeup remover is a must. This is the first step to my skincare routine at night.  I soak up two cotton pads with this product (I use cheap cotton pads from Daiso which work really well), gently place the cotton pads on my closed eyelids for about 1 minute, and wait for this makeup remover to dissolve my eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. You can purchase this from pretty much any drugstore in the U.S., Ulta, and Amazon [affiliate link].

2. Mizon No. 1 King's Berry Cleansing Oil [NIGHT ONLY]: I've written a review of this, which you can find here. This is my favorite cleansing oil at the moment because it is gentle on the skin yet highly effective at removing all my base makeup. This is rich with antioxidants, too! I got my bottle from Peach & Lily.

3. Shiseido Ibuki Gentle Cleanser [NIGHT & DAY]: I use this foam cleanser every morning and night. I only need a pea sized amount to make it foam and it leaves my skin feeling clean yet not stripped of its moisture. I usually purchase mine from local Shiseido counters. You can purchase this from Shiseido's online website and Sephora.

4. Japanese Konjac Sponge in Green Tea [NIGHT ONLY]: Normally, I wouldn't recommend to exfoliate your skin more than once a week; however, because of my keratosis pilaris, I need to use a gentle exfoliator three times a week; otherwise, my rough patches of "chicken skin" get out of control. My Japanese Konjac Sponge does such a great job at keeping my skin condition at bay. This is extremely soft and gentle on the skin. I personally like the Green Tea sponge because it is much softer than the charcoal one, and is more effective than their pink one. I use apply a small amount of my Shiseido cleanser on this sponge, and gentle rub it all over my face in small circles, focusing around the nose area. You can get this from their official website.

Tips that Work for Me:
1. I double-cleanse every single night, even when I don't wear makeup. I don't like relying on only one cleanser to take everything off because I've found such products to be way too harsh for my skin. In addition, using an oil cleanser and a foaming cleanser will help to clean out both the water-and oil-based gunk that accumulate on my face throughout the day. I've been double-cleansing for almost 10 years now, and I've found this cleansing method to be the most gentle and most effective at keeping my acne at bay.

2. I much prefer using a gentle exfoliation tool like my konjac sponge to exfoliate my skin regularly, rather than using a granulated scrubs. Granualated scrubs are way too abrasive for my skin, and I don't think they're very effective at cleaning out my pores. I also don't like chemical exfoliators that contain hydroxy acids; even at the lowest concentration, these tend to irritate my skin and leave my face red.

3. I avoid using cleansing foams with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is a very harsh detergent that is often used in many cleansers. This ingredient can dry and irritate the skin.

4. When I'm using my foaming cleanser by itself, I use the pads of my pinky fingers to gently wash hard-to-reach areas (e.g., around the nose) in circular motions.

5. When rinsing off my cleanser, I splash my face with water and avoid any rubbing. I do this to avoid any redness and irritation.

Want more information about my skincare? Click HERE for Part 2, where I talk about my toner and serums!

Please share! What products do you use to cleanse your skin?

Till later,


FTC statement: This is not a sponsored post. With the exception of the Amazon link, the links provided above are not affiliate links.  I purchased all the products mentioned above with my own money.