Mini Review – How to make your own Sheet Mask!

Monkey Mask Black and White(2)(source)

No??  Oh, OK then.

Quite a while ago now I bought some plain sheet masks from Muji. I really love Muji – every time I go in there I come out with a big brown bag full of lovely and practical items.  it smells AMAZING (due to the many Aroma diffusers puffing out their gorgeous citrus-y smoke) and is really good value for money.

Muji is where I stock up on acrylic storage for my makeup, on wipes for my glasses and on blotting paper for my lovely oily face!  Last visit I also bought a couple of empty spray bottles for an upcoming post / experiment on Patting Water and Mists.

Muji graphic 2(source)

MUJI was founded in Japan in 1980 as an antithesis to the habits of consumer society at that time…..The concept was born of the intersection of two distinct stances: no brand (Mujirushi) and the value of good items (ryohin).

MUJI’s concept of emphasizing the intrinsic appeal of an object through rationalization and meticulous elimination of excess is closely connected to the traditionally Japanese aesthetic of “su” –– meaning plain or unadorned –– the idea that simplicity is not merely modest or frugal, but could possibly be more appealing than luxury.

The Sheet Mask

The items in question are known as Compressed Face Masks and they are available at £3.95 for 20 or £1.50 for 5. I believe that you can buy similar items on Ebay in bulk as well.

They are made of non woven 100% cotton pulp in Japan. Using a compressed facial mask sheet can allow flexibility with ingredients and is also a great idea to use up some products that have been lying around unused in the vast Meme hoard or are soon to expire, as well as true DIY recipes using everyday ingredients.

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They also do an under eye version (£1.50 for 20) that I haven’t tried yet.

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Back view:

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The instructions are obviously not in English, luckily they provide an English instruction pdf on their website.

How to use:

1. Pour face lotion into the cap or something else and soak one sheet with it.

2. After the sheet swells enough with lotion, spread it from the eyes to other parts of your whole face.

3. Stay still to pack the area for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove the sheet.

Obviously the ‘face lotion’ is up to you (that is the whole point of the endeavour after all) and I would say that the timing is a general guideline and probably (definitely!) is erring on the side of caution there.
NB. Common sense should be liberally applied.

The Essence

I decided to soak mine in the Seatree Syn-ake Essence that I received from Memebox at the end of last year, which had a very short expiry date (Feb 2015).  Got to use it up somehow!

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Product Description:
Seatree Syn-ake Essence contains youth preserving ingredients, such as Syn-ake peptides, similar in composition to snake venom, and hyaluronic acid to help deliver targeted repair – as needed, where needed. Recommended for all skin types, ages and ethnicities, it visibly addresses uneven skin tone, lines and wrinkles for visibly firmer, more radiant and more supple skin.

What is Syn-ake?
Syn-ake is a topical anti-aging treatment….(that) is marketed as an alternative to Botox injections and other types of synthetic treatments that are formulated to get rid of wrinkles, crow’s feet, and other signs of aging. This ingredient, which is used in several different products that are designed to fight aging, is a synthetic form of snake venom. Syn-ake replicates the effects of a peptide that is known as Waglerin 1, which is a component of the venom found in the Temple Viper, a poisonous snake native to southeast Asia.

Syn-ake is designed to work much like Botox, which reduces muscular contractions in the face and reduces cell movement; thereby keeping the skin smooth. The concept behind Syn-ake is that since snake venom causes muscular paralysis, a synthetic derivative of the venom would work to temporarily deaden the muscles in the face to prevent the formation or deepening of wrinkles.’  (source)

BUT

‘experts wonder whether the topical formulations penetrate deeply enough to effectively inhibit muscle contraction. After all, Botox is injected for a reason — to deliver the compound directly into muscle tissue.

“Is the active ingredient really absorbed into the skin like Botox?” asks dermatologist Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell. “The action may just be as a good moisturizer, which does soften wrinkles.”

“Skin is programmed to keep proteins out,” adds Dr. Leslie Baumann, author of “The Skin Type Solution.” And the chemical must travel through several layers of skin and subcutaneous fat to reach and penetrate the muscle.’  (source)

hmmmm…..

I have been using this as my night essence since I received it and it was just ok. No obvious results (I didn’t really notice any improved firmness, suppleness or radiance) but I had no nasty reactions. It did have a bit of a strong perfume smell though, which put me off somewhat, luckily it did not last long.

I spent some time trying to track down the product for price / ingredients but it looks like it has been discontinued. The Seatree website seems to be concentrating on more natural plant based ingredients and some rather funky new packaging artwork. They do still have the Syn-ake hydrogel mask but that looks like it for the range.

‘(a) Natural brand, which was born in the Mangrove forest, gives you beautiful and intact skin from Mother Nature. Seatree embodies Sea and Forest, made of natural and pure ingredients, makes women’s skin healthy and full of vitality, providing skin support’

seatree(source)

Making the Mask!

I had actually done this once before and so decided to try it again and attempt to take pictures of the process. The mask pellets are incredibly hard, densely packed little white discs. They are a little like a tiny Draught piece (Checkers for the Americans).

One thing I must point out is that it takes a LOT of essence to get this to swell and work properly.  No wonder masks can be so expensive .. although I very much doubt that they are made by trying to unfurl tightly compressed little pellets from hell 🙂

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Either I am too impatient or I didn’t use enough essence either time but this little nugget was extremely difficult to unravel.  I placed it in a dish and liberally spewed it with essence.

Warning: this picture could look a little dodgy but I promise, that IS the Syn-ake Essence … ahem.

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I hate waiting, so I started trying to unpick it pretty much straight away.

This is the beginning of the unfurling (i.e. after I had been picking at it for a few minutes and sighing a lot)

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It looks like a little flower! I’m thinking this type of course:

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This went on for a while – me cursing and trying to unravel it without ripping (unsuccessfully – both times) and this is the end result, which is not as bad as it could have been imo. This is obviously after it had been on my face 🙂

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I think you can sense the look of frustration that imprinted onto it. This is what it is meant to look like:

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Conclusion

Once on the face the mask feels like any other, albeit a little less snug and well fitting.  It’s a good way to get more intensive benefits from your product because the mask sheet allows it to stay moist and have direct contact with the skin for a longer period of time, like any sheet mask. Again, I didn’t note any particular effects from this essence apart from a bit of hydration but it was a useful one to experiment with and to utilise for this post!

Obviously, the whole DIY thing could be just too much hassle especially since you can get decent sheet masks at pretty good prices but if you like to experiment with DIY skin care, this might appeal to you.

Some notes:

1. It may have been easier with a more liquid substance rather than one that is thicker in texture like this.

2. Or with some of the thicker substances it may be advisable to put it on your face first, then cover with a slightly damp mask (soaked in toner or galactomyces essence perhaps).

3. It would be a good idea to chill the essence or whatever you are using in the fridge before hand for that extra refreshing sensation.

I will have to experiment further (with the 18 I have left!) and report back. I have an old book with DIY Skin care recipes somewhere that I will have to root out but some of the ideas I think look good are:

FOR DRY SKIN: 
Mix coconut water with five drops of coconut oil and half a teaspoon of honey (manuka preferably). Coconut is hydrating and honey helps lock in the moisture.

FOR SENSITIVE SKIN: 
Mix a tablespoon of aloe vera gel with a couple drops of olive oil and a chilled cup of organic green tea. The aloe vera and olive oil are good for dryness, while the green tea soothes the skin and calms redness.

FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN:
Mix ¼ cup of witch hazel, ¾ cups of water, and a teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Witch hazel removes excess oil from the skin and minimizes pores and the aloe vera soothes irritation and redness.

It might also be nice to add a couple drops of skin friendly essential oils such as Tea Tree (great for oily and acne prone skin), Lavender (soothing), Neem (anti bacterial and good for acne prone skin) and Lemon (brightening and pigmentation).

Some other kitchen friendly ingredients that would be fun to try out:

– yogurt
– green tea powder (made up)
– pureed banana and milk
– milk and honey
– camomile tea
– peppermint tea (etc)
– egg
– lemon juice
– avocado
– apple cider vinegar

Maybe not ham though….

see blog saves(source)

This whole post has gone a bit creepy again …..first suspicious looking white substances and the death rose (rosa calvaria) and now ham face!

To end on a much more pleasant note, I present some bunny babies from a very wonderful rescue that is close to my heart – Save a Bunny (based in the San Francisco Bay Area, California).  These dinky little munchkins will be available to adopt in the upcoming months for those in the area.  For everyone else, there are many wonderful rescues all over the world who would love to hear from you.  (The bun at the back is demonstrating what I should be doing right at this moment!)

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Save a bunny babies(source)

Let me know what you think (of the post not the bunnies, although that is brilliant too!), any ideas you have for some recipes / products that might work? I am hoping to do a giveaway of some fun stuff soon and may get a packet of these to include, let me know if you would like that?

Cheers, C xx

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Memebox – Elizavecca Skincare Set Season 2

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As well as mystery, naked and theme boxes (is it just me or does that sound like the beginnings of a spectacular party??),  Memebox more recently began to curate ‘Value’ sets. These sets were based around one brand (a bit like the old Brand boxes) and were ‘naked’, that is to say that the contents were exposed at the very start, as in the screen grab above. This lot of goodies would set you back $43 (£28 approx) with free shipping (although that had been reduced and otherwise changed at times so you needed to keep your eye on it). That is 4 items for a Memevalue of $118 (£76.80 approx).

I ordered this along with some other ‘Value’ sets and the Detox & Renew box at the end of January just before the closure announcement was made. I have only managed to try one product so far but I am extremely happy with this box and honestly wish I had got more than one. Let’s see why:

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4 lovely items! As you may have guessed they are all from the brand ELIZAVECCA.  I really, really like this brand. I have been using their Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask for a good few months now and have purchased quite a few (ahem ….4) backups from the Meme Shop and also from complete fools who have allowed me to swap or buy one from them on Facebook (not really, everyone likes different things!)

The Brand

I can’t find out too much about the brand and it’s general philosophy as unfortunately I don’t read Korean but the first thing that struck me about Elizavecca was the wonderful packaging and general sense of whimsy in the graphics on said packaging. Their trademarks are an incredibly cute pig and a wonderfully cool rabbit (never would have guessed I’d like that, eh?). Whilst the bunny stays effortlessly hip and the same on all the packaging, the little piggy changes his/her dress and circumstances dependent on what the product he is advertising is. This is the header from their website showing the bun and the plain pig, about to go do his thing with all their wonderful products:

web(Source)

There have been a number of the products in boxes over the last year, as well as the Bubble pack, I also have the Green Piggy Collagen Jella Pack pig mask to try (of which I got a very similar mask in the Winter Essentials Mask box but by a different brand). They seem to have been one of Memebox’s stronger brand partnerships and if the Korean warehouse had continued I’m sure we would have continued to see more of their products popping up in boxes.

Even though the website above is in Korean, you can see that there is a vast range that would be fascinating to try. I particularly like the look of the Milky Wear Salicyl Cream (an exfoliating salicylic acid cream), which looks like it would work wonders on all those icky blackheads and open pores; the Vitamin C 21% Ample Mask (a high concentration Vit C cream mask), this looks so sunny, juicy and healthy – the bunny sunglasses are needed with this one; the Milky Piggy Glutinous Mask (a snail 80% ampoule mask), anything snail is good by me and this has anti wrinkle and whitening functions; and many more (there is a Mayu horse oil cream, hydrogel and fancy sheet masks (my absolute favorites),  pore masks and various serums and essences. I want to try the whole range! I foresee some Tester Korea requests in my future! There are various websites that already stock some of these items and I will list those at the end of the post.

The box

Let’s start with the absolute winner. (Retail prices given are from the Elizavecca website as Meme did not provide a Memevalue for the individual products).

1. Water Coating Aqua Brightening Mask
Full Size Product: 100ml (38,000 Won / £22.40 approx)
Known as the “flight attendant” mask , this facial treatment is perfect for those that are experiencing dull, weather skin due to constant switching between central heating and harsh winds. This treatment uses the extreme hydration and anti-ageing active technologies as it moisturises, restores, replenishes and brightens the skin. Active collagen boosts and locks in moisture for a dewy and youthful result while baobab water and bamboo water brightens the complexion and leaves skin with an instant silky, soft and supple feel. This miracle facial treatment energises the skin, giving you a healthy looking, glowing complexion.

How to use: On cleansed skin, evenly apply the treatment all over the skin. Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse.

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Ingredients: in Korean

My Thoughts

Although this product was well sealed when it arrived I think that the changes in temperatures or pressure made the cream expand as when I took off the cellophane wrapping on the pot it was very oily inside and all around the top of the jar and opening, as if it had separated a bit and some product had squeezed out under the wrap. This wasn’t a problem and probably hardly any was lost – just a heads up if you are ordering one that ships from Korea internationally. I just wiped it down and rubbed the excess on my hands.

This particular piggy graphic is a deep sea scuba diver with his helmet filled with water (presumably to represent the protective coating layer of hydration that this product provides).
He is standing next to some buried treasure ……and since there are bubbles coming out of it I going to presume that he has found a wondrous stash of the bubble clay mask! This mask itself smells lightly floral (but not too much for me and I am fairly sensitive to strong floral scents …as in I detest them!) and is a watery gel cream, that is marvellously cooling and refreshing on the skin. It comes with a little spatula in the protective lid.

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I have used it twice so far both times after using the Bubble Clay Mask to take off my make up (having already removed my eye make up).  I have then put a generous layer of this all over and enjoyed. The first time I fell asleep (a common occurrence and it did no harm) but both times I left it on much much than the allotted 15-20 minutes. It hasn’t even really started to absorb by then to be honest.  It could even be used as a sleep pack but I think that the consistency is such that it would not penetrate a moisturising cream beneath it very well.

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When I finally washed it off (after it had totally absorbed)  my skin felt so soft and silky, almost like satin, velvety …. an entire haberdashery in fact!
I followed it up with my usual night time routine from serum onwards and that seemed to work fine. The next day my skin looked rested, glowing, bright and even in tone. I look forward to further uses and will definitely replace this when I have used a bit more (I need back ups to match my bubble mask stash!!). It would be interesting to try the other masks / creams in the range and compare the effects.

2. 100% Galactomyces Essence
Full Size Product: 50ml (19,000 Won / £11.10 approx)

This 100% Galactomyces infused ampoule instantly revives dull skin and provides intense hydrating and skin repairing benefits to the skin. One use softens and evens the skin texture to give a natural glow and youthful radiance.

How to use: Using the spoid, apply to clean skin and massage. Use as a substitute for serums and essences. Mix with moisturisers and creams for maximum effects of both the ampoule and moisturisers / cream.

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Ingredients: in Korean ….presumably 100% Galactomyces 🙂

My Thoughts

I had never really considered the word ‘spoid’ before discovering Korean skincare.  I have no idea whether it is used in the West for the same purpose. In fact it isn’t actually a word, at least not one that any dictionary (including the urban one which has altogether another meaning for it) would recognise. It seems to be solely used in the skincare and medical fields.

I still prefer ‘sucky thing’, or maybe ‘pipette’ if I have to be serious (which is never…).

So, What are Galactomyces?

glactonew100sg(Source)

And in plain English (not being too cheeky – I can’t read Korean at all so they are doing far better than me!),  Galactomyces ferment filtrate is a kind of fungi or yeast (also sometimes known as Leaven) and is an offshoot of the fermentation process when making alcoholic beverages (yum!).
The people making the alcohol discovered that they had very smooth, young looking hands after working with the product.  It was then discovered to be very rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids under further study.

It is classified as a humectant (which is a hygroscopic substance used to keep things moist; it is the opposite of a desiccant. Thanks wiki).

The effects and benefits include:

  • Increased moisture and hydration to skin for a long period of time
  • Absorbs deeply and quickly into skin
  • Helps control our skin’s PH balance
  • Brightens skin
  • Creates clear and vibrant skin
  • Effective for ageing skin; makes skin elastic
  • Naturally remove dead skin cells, resulting in softer, smoother, glossier skin
  • Relieves and calms skin irritation and stress
  • Prevent and improve skin damage
  • Provides vitality to fatigued skin
  • It has been proven in studies that that ‘GFF-containing moisturizers help protect the skin against damage…. such as due to dryness or environmental stress …..and also having antioxidant effects.’

(Partial Source: 574. EFFECTS OF GALACTOMYCES FERMENT FILTRATE ON EPIDERMAL BARRIER MARKER CASPASE-14 IN HUMAN SKIN CELLS. Hattori, K., Date, A., Nakajima, A., Ishida, K., Yan, X., Yoshii, T., Tamura, H. Department of Hygienic Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. P&G Beauty & Grooming, Kobe, Japan. 68th Annual Meeting of Amer. Acad. of Derm., Miami, FL, March 2010.)

It also does not contain any nasties:

glactonew2(Source)

So if anyone knows any non-irritating and available children …………nope, that even sounds wrong in my head!

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This is 100% Galactomyces, as is the one by the brand Purebess that I have been using since before Christmas.
I believe that some other well known brands contain much less – even very well known and expensive ones.  I did see one that claimed ‘even more than 100%’!! but I think that may have been a fib.  I also have a version by Secret Key to try (that came in another value set) and I will maybe get some more as well to do a thorough comparison.

The blurb says to ‘Use as a substitute for serums and essences’, but I must admit that I use the Purebess version as one in a multitude of steps (the K Beauty routine, to be posted about soon).
I have been using it as a second toner of sorts.  I cleanse (sometimes twice), apply a more stringent toner on a cotton pad and then pat this into my skin until absorbed and then continue on with my essence, serum and moisturiser.  I have oily skin ….this has not been too much for it.  Probably best to play around and see what works best for you.

Since starting using a Galactomyces product my skin has vastly improved, mainly in tone and clarity. I look more alive and vibrant, refined.  Whether it is this, another product that I have been using or (most likely) a combination of factors, I don’t know, but it will be very interesting to experiment with different brands to see if I notice a difference …..watch this space!

3. Hyaluronic Acid Serum 100%
Full Size Product: 150ml (38,000 Won / £22.10 approx)
This hyaluronic serum rapidly rescues skin from the visible signs of ageing and replenished youthful volume from the inside out and stimulates the skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid for lasting results, and protects the skin from environmental damage. Use to smooth away facial wrinkles and lines, correct ageing skin, restore skin suppleness, and prevent the formation of new lines and wrinkles.

How to use: Apply to clean dry face after cleansing. Take a dime sized amount and massage into the skin. Pat gently until fully absorbed.

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Ingredients:
also in Korean, again presumably 100% Hyaluronic Acid

My Thoughts

This is one damn huge bottle!! It is really heavy, brushed glass with a shiny silver lid and no sign of the piggy! Bunny makes a small appearance on the logo. I don’t think I have ever seen a serum at this size before, this will take a while to use up! As I have other serums open at the moment I will not be opening this but the consistency seems fairly watery as far as I can tell, which is perfect to use after my essence and before a thicker consistency ampoule, lotion or cream.

So, What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a gel-like water holding molecule that is the space filler and cushioning agent in all mammals.  HA cushions joints, nerves, hydrates skin and hair, and fills the eye.  Although originally discovered in 1934 by Karl Meyer, HA gained momentum only after a visit by a reporter to a Japanese village of Yuzuri Hara to find out why both men and women in their 80’s and 90’s had smooth wrinkle free skin, flexible joints, full heads of hair and activity levels that defied their age.  This was eventually found to be related to oestrogen-like molecules in their diet from soya and tofu, which sent signals to the cells to make more hyaluronic acid.

Our bodies roughly contain 15 grams of HA and it is found in virtually every part of the body.  With such a widespread occurrence, it is logical that HA also has multiple functions.   Scientific studies have shown that HA improves skin hydration, stimulates production of collagen in skin, works as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger, maintains skin elasticity, cushions joints and nerve tissues, has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity and maintains the fluid in the eye tissues, which may help to protect against numerous possible eye concerns.

Decreasing levels of hyaluronic acid are known to accompany the ageing process and it is estimated that by the time we reach our mid-40’s, the synthesis of HA is roughly half that required by the body.

The benefits specifically for the skin are:

  • Hyaluronic acid helps to retain over a 1000 times its weight in water within the cells of skin, making it an excellent moisturiser
  • Boosts skins moisture content and prevents moisture loss
  • This results in increased smoothness, softening and decreased wrinkles
  • It also has an ability to remove waste matter from cells including those where there is little blood circulation
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Hyaluronic acid is considered equally important, if not more important, than Collagen for the skin
  • Anti ageing, elimination of skin imperfections and wrinkles

(Sources: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, July 2014, pages 177–184; The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, March 2014, pages 18–26 and May 2014, pages 150–180 and Victoria Health).

I can’t wait to have a go with this and hopefully will write about it then.

4. Blackhead Solution 3 Step
Full Size Product: Sachet (3,500 Won / £2 approx)
This powerful, yet gentle, 3 step nose clearing kit provides the A-Z in achieving a spick and span nose. Step 1 instantly removes blackheads and unclogs pores, Step 2 extracts all pore cloggers and Step 3 tightens, soothes and cleanses the pores. Complete with a dry patch and wet patch for anytime, anywhere use, this 3 step system features optimal pore purifying benefits for clear, healthy looking skin.

How to use: On clean skin, apply Step 1 to the nose. Then apply Step 2.  Use Step 3 last.

Those instructions are brought to you by the Kitty Chinchilla School of Technical Writing……

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Ingredients:
in Korean but main ones are Green Tea Extract, Lavender Extract, Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Apple Extract, Lemon Extract, Lime Extract, Camomile Extract, Peppermint Extract, Grapefruit Extract.

My Thoughts

Well, that has made me a bit peckish! Those obviously aren’t the ingredients that are going to extract the nasties from your nose but in my experience all nose pore packs are much of a muchness anyway. The ones that I have usually used are 1 step – they stick to your nose, you pull them off and nasty stuff goes with it. I am under the impression with these that the first step softens the nasties, the second extracts them and the third tightens everything back up and soothes any redness.

I must comment on the graphics again – just look at that little evil piggy!! Torturing the poor little blackheads and making them cry! I love his wings and puffs of hellfire smoke (??)

I do have blackheads. Always have done as far as I can remember. I think I am much more aware of them than other people would be, as is always the case when it comes to your own imperfections (rightly perceived or otherwise). They do not, however, look as bad (or as even) as this:

blackhead 1(source)

I have tried many things over the years to rid myself of the buggers for once and for all but to no avail. I have promised a post on this very subject some time in the not too distant future after I have tried a few more things out in the world of K Beauty (where they are very very keen on blackhead extraction products). One final observation is this: the blurb says that ‘Complete with a dry patch and wet patch for anytime, anywhere use‘ …….so walking round the supermarket it is then!

Conclusion

I really love this box! (I think I’ve said that already). I will use every item in it, which is rare with Memeboxes. Everything that I have tried from Elizavecca, I really enjoy. They are good quality and great value for money. They do what they claim to do and that is everything in skincare … well, the whimsical graphics don’t hurt at all as well. I want to get my little mitts on more of their products and luckily they are more widely available than some other Korean brands that we have seen in Memeboxes.

Some places I have seen them are as follows:

Korea Depart – A few products. I haven’t used this store myself yet and apparently their shipping and packaging fees can be confusing but they have very good prices and I haven’t heard any bad reviews yet. I will try them soon and report back.

Tester Korea – Just the Jella Pack at the moment but TK has a great service where you can request any product and they get back to you super quick and let you know whether they can source it. The prices are usually full retail price if they do that though, which should be taken into account. I have ordered from them before with no problems.

Yes Style – Another one I haven’t used yet but they do have a few products at ok prices. Again I have heard of no major problems with skincare purchases on here.

Rose Rose Shop – They have quite a selection on here, as well as the opportunity to order in bulk. Do I need 10 Water Coating Masks?? They also have the Hydrogels that look epic! Again, I have not ordered from here before but have heard good things. They are also on ebay for those who prefer to shop there as Bring Bring Shop and Ruby Ruby Shop, both of which carried Elizavecca at time of posting.

Also on ebay:

Blueprint 21 – .has a selection of Elizavecca at time of posting.

Another shop called Honest Skin was selling Elizavecca at cut throat prices recently but I cannot in all good faith recommend them as there were some issues and some very very poor customer service. If that situation changes I will update this.

Any questions or requests, please let me know

Until the next one, Charlotte x