I'm almost literally swimming in Korean skincare at the moment and I'm not even the slightest bit unhappy about it.
Today's haul comes about after UK based online store Buttermilk Skincare reached out to me asking if I'd like to sample a few of their Korean skincare items. Having rifled through their website, I was happy to see they stock a few brands that seem easy to find in the US (Aromatica, Klairs, Benton etc), but unfortunately not for us poor saplings here in the UK. Their site has a really nice aesthetic, and everything arrives presented thoughtfully and with a quietly modern style (they also actually offer international shipping for those who have already asked!) I'm really picky with what goes onto my face, so I'm grateful that Buttermilk were kind enough to let me select the items myself - so let's get into the nitty gritty!
I don't use a 10 step routine myself, as I feel it's really unnecessary for my skin (it's a bit of a Kbeauty myth tbh, but that's opening a whole can of worms that this post doesn't need - read more from Fiddy if you want to delve into the drama!) but if it's something you want to pursue or try, Buttermilk include a nice infographic on one of the ways you could go about it - it would great for the first time buyer/user who finds the world of Kskincare a little overwhelming - and I actually really like the little graphics.
Aromatica Sea Daffodil Aqua Gel Cream £30
I think it's hard to find a good moisturiser. For my skin at least, I want something that's not too rich, not oily nor greasy, lightweight yet occlusive, made up of predominantly skin benefitting ingredients and as hydrating as possible. Getting the right mix of all criteria is a challenge. Aromatica is a brand I've wanted to try for a little while, pretty much ever since I heard about their Rose gel, although it's not all that popular a brand in Korea/Seoul if I'm honest. Gel creams are my favourite type of moisturiser so finding out that Aromatica produce one, and that Buttermilk stock it, I immediately knew what my first item was going to be. From one of Korea's 'non-toxic' brands, the Aromatica gel cream is really lightweight but still has a plumpness and volume to it that means it doesn't melt completely away like a softener or thin serum. A translucent gel that turns completely clear, it has a zesty herbal scent (like lemon verbena) that I find really 'appetizing'. The formulation seems to have changed over the last couple of years (if you were thinking about running the ingredients through Cosdna for example) and it no longer contains skin brightening wonder, arbutin (sob!). It is however made of 84% aloe vera leaf extract, which we all know is soothing and hydrating. With only 16% of the formulation left for other ingredients, most of which is taken up with glycerin, hyaluronic acid and babassu seed oil, I'm not too worried about the rest of them, as they'll be in such tiny proportions, although this cream is not completely free of alcohols, in case that bothers you. The top four ingredients are really indicative of a majorly hydrating product, which is the biggest priority in my stage of life, so I'm excited to give this a good run. A quick note on packaging too, the frosted glass bottle and pump dispenser both get a big thumbs from me.
Klairs Illuminating Supple Blemish Cream SPF 40 PA++ £17
This next item is an interesting one, claiming to be a BB for all skin tones and most skin types? Frankly I think it can only mean all Korean skin tones.. and I'm immediately dubious of a one-kind-fits-all ethos, which is why I wanted to investigate, try it myself and let you know. The BB arrives in a slim, plastic tube, not dissimilar to toothpaste and the nozzle is actually very user friendly - the packaging makes it a perfect option for travel. On first impressions, the colour immediately seems quite fair, and the texture very moisturising - definitely more of a tinted moisturiser than a moisturising foundation, although the scent starts off like something between Sudocrem and hair removal cream?! It dissapates almost immediately, but slightly odd. The best way I've found so far is to apply and blend with fingers, and having done so, the finish is incredibly beautiful and natural - Klairs claim both men and women could wear this and I can see how. What concerns me slightly are the ingredients in this. I'm definitely not nearly as stringent on ingredients in makeup as I am in skincare but the inclusion of silicones and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate high up the ingredients list doesn't fill me with joy - with the potential to cause skin congestion and cell damage. I generally create a good base with my skincare layers anyway, so this may well not be an issue but I'll be reporting back with any adverse effects!
Benton Snail Bee High Content Sheet Masks £2.50 per sheet
Of all the sheet masks on Buttermilk, it was these from Benton that caught my attention, for the best ingredients list. I am most definitely a snail believer - my Mizon snail gel and Cosrx snail essence for example are products I have and will be repurchasing. Another product I really enjoy is the Neulii Snail Bee serum, with it's really limited but concentrated ingredients list, so to find a similar idea in a sheet mask is exciting! The water free formula contains 20% snail secretion filtrate as well as a base of green tea leaf water, and a host of other extracts in small concentrations. With these masks you should experience brightening, skin repair and fortification, soothing and hydrating. As it's the ingredients in these masks that I'm interested in, let's do my usual highlighting session and show you what I mean by 'a good ingredients list':
Camellia Sinensis Leaf Water, Snail Secretion Filtrate, Glycerin, Arbutin, Pentylene Glycol, Bee Venom, Sodium Hyaluronate, rh-Oligopeptide-1, Plantago Asiatica Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Diospyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Salix Alba Bark Extract, Ulmus Campestris Extract, Bacillus Ferment, Azelaic Acid, Althaea Rosea Flower Extract, Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Beta-Glucan, Betaine, Xanthan Gum, Adenosine, Panthenol, Allantoin, Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Usnea Barbata Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract.
Botanical extracts (and snail and bee) we have in purple, other skin benefitting goodies we have in bold. After them, there's not a lot left. It'll be hard/nigh on impossible to give you much info after just the one use but I can see myself purchasing more.
Lindsay Vitamin Rubber Mask £5
I've so far steered clear of rubber masks because, well, I'm lazy. I like my face masks to be as simple as they come, with no residue or washing off to do! It was actually Jenna of Buttermilk that urged me to try these and it may well turn into one of those things you love, but had to be pushed into trying for the first time. The appeal of the rubber mask is that really provides an inescapable, occlusive film over the skin that traps in nutrients and prevents evaporation of the mask, forcing your skin to absorb any beneficial ingredients. You get the powder (mostly diatomaceous earth - which incidentally you can eat/drink as a supplement) in a little plastic pot, to which you add water until it forms a paste. The Vitamin version contains ascorbic acid and niacinamide for brightening and anti inflammatory Portulaca Oleracea extract. Each pot holds enough product for a single use, which is nice as once you've opened and use it, you can throw the whole lot away. If all goes well, I'd like to try the Tea Tree version.
I got a few little samples to try too, very in line with Korean retail custom, except updates on Instagram!
Have you tried any of these products? And those of you in the US/elsewhere, I'd love you to share your thoughts on other Aromatica products!
And if you're into Kbeauty, here are a few other posts that might interest you:
Don't forget to follow on Bloglovin!