Throughout the rest of December, I’ll do some roundups of my favorite products of 2015. These aren’t necessarily products that came out this year, just ones that I’ve fallen in love with in the last 12 months. For this third post, I’m covering toners, essences, serums, oils – everything that comes in between cleansing and creams.
If I’m dramatically oversimplifying things, the fundamental concept that distinguishes Asian from Western skincare is that while Western products try to do everything at once, Asian products tend to only tackle one goal at a time. Where a Western moisturizer might try to hydrate, plump, heal, brighten, and lock in moisture, you’d use a different Asian product for each of those effects. (And, in my opinion, each singularly-focused Asian product would probably be drastically more effective.)
Because of that, there’s a whole range of products that exist almost exclusively in Asian skincare products: thin, watery, easily-layered types like essences, serums, ampoules, and facial oils. These are applied after cleansing and pH-dependent actives, and before creams.
I LOVE these products. I love how fast they absorb, I love how powerful their effects can be, I love how easy they are to layer and get all their wonderful effects on top of each other. There were three in particular that stood out this year.
Scinic Honey All-In-One Ampoule
First of all: check out the SIZE of that thing. In a cabinet full of 30ml dropper bottles, this 250ml behemoth stands alone.
This honey-colored ampoule smells sweet and rich, like fresh honey with a touch of floral essence. It’s a little sticky, so I make sure to give it a couple extra minutes to soak in before moving on to my next step. It’s worth it, though, because:
THIS. STUFF. IS. MAGIC.
This is easily my favorite serum/ampoule I’ve ever used. With the combined powers of honey, royal jelly, AND propolis extracts, this is like the Captain Planet of bee-based skincare. It’s intensely hydrating, even for my super-dry skin; it calms and sooths the redness I get on my chin and around my nose; and it just feels luxurious and pampering.
I bought this thing in JUNE, I’ve used it just about every day since then, and I’m less than halfway through this massive bottle. It’s great value for money, it works, and it smells good. There is literally nothing more I want in life.
Banila Co Miss Flower and Mr. Honey Essence Oil
LIGHT UP MY LIIIIIIIFE
YOU GIVE ME oh right, I have to write an actual review.
Much like Jude over at Fifty Shades of Snail, I am in deep, committed love with this product. I’ll save you from a Debbie Boone-esque serenade by summing it up in a few bullet points.
- For an oil, it soaks in quickly and completely
- Just a drop gives my skin this ethereal, lit-from-within glow
- It’s a moisture holy grail for my dry skin, especially in winter
- It smells like baked apples with honey. Did you hear me? BAKED APPLES WITH HONEY
Morning and night, I spread a drop between my fingertips, lightly tap it all over my face, and then smooth it out. I use it immediately before my first cream. I’m nearing the end of my current bottle, and even though I have a full backup literally in the same drawer, I STILL freak out every time I open the bottle and see how little is left. In an apocalypse, this is the first thing I’d grab. Sorry, Lacy.
Listen, Lacy, you’re cute and all, but do YOU smell like baked apples with honey?
Sana Soy Milk Astaxanthin Lifting Jelly
I gave a full review of this product last month, so I’ll try to keep from repeating myself. I’ve used it almost every day since then, and it was the only serum-type product I took on vacation this month. (This solid, plastic jar is PERFECT for travel.)
It’s even more moisturizing than the Scinic Honey, although it’s not soothing at all. It soaks in quickly and does seem to have a slight firming and plumping effect. But most of all, it’s just so much FUN TO USE. Jell-O skincare? SIGN ME THE FUCK UP.
You can grab this from Sasa for $11.