From the underestimated acid I love to cult-favorite sunscreen to the ultra-soothing product everyone with sensitive skin should own, keep reading to find out why May product empties have a place in my heart.

Today’s post will be featuring 4 products (a sunscreen, toner, exfoliator, and one other molecule *wink*). Just like we did in April empties, I’ll be sharing a mini-review, pros & cons, and whether or not I’ll be repurchasing.

Etude House SoonJung pH 5.5 Toner

How beautiful is this packaging?

A lightweight toner formulated at pH 5.5 with panthenol, green tea extract, madecassoside and other beneficial ingredients to hydrate, soothe & calm the skin. A little bit about the key ingredients. You’ve probably heard of the all-star ingredient, niacinamide (vitamin B3 derivative) but there’s another cool B-vitamin derivative you should meet, panthenol aka pro-vitamin B5. Panthenol is used as a humectant in skincare formulation and serves as an effective hydrator.

Another bad boy on the ingredient list is madecassoside. It is one of the principal bio-active components found in the medicinal plant extract, Centella Asiatica.  It has been proven to soothe, heal and revitalize the skin (to mention a few). Got sensitive skin? Went overboard with exfoliation? Painful breakouts? Need an antioxidant? Madecassoside is the guy you should look out for in the ingredient list.

Other hydrating ingredients are glycerin, polyglycerin-3, and betaine. Yup! No hyaluronic acid today, the chick needs to rest. If you don’t fancy hyaluronic acid, this is another reason to choose this toner. Oh, and for those sensitive to niacinamide, she’s also not present today.

Texture & Application: It is super lightweight, literally feels (and looks) like water but upon application, it gives the lightest hydration to prep your skin for other products. You can feel the enhanced absorption of other products layered on this toner. This is not your go-to toner if you have dry skin or are looking for some extra nourishment. The oily girls and boys will love it more!


Content, Price & Packaging:
180 ml at N8600 ($22.05). Purchased from EVEbeautique. The most beautiful, transparent, ‘non-glass’ packaging ever (yup, you don’t have to worry about it breaking). It lasted for about 2 months upon a generous, twice daily application. March 10th – May 20th.

Pros: Lightweight; perfect for the summer or humid conditions.  Soothing; on days where my skin was in an override from retinoid (Differin-adapalene 0.1%; review coming soon), this toner did help keep it in check. Free from fragrances (yeah not even essential oils). Free from sulfates & drying alcohols (we don’t like those in leave-on products). Serves as a great addition to the Korean 7/10-step routine (no exfoliating acids or any kind of treatment, just nourishing stuff).

Cons: NONE from this side.
Verdict: I love this toner, and YES I will repurchase it.

Dr. G. Brightening Peeling Gel

A cellulose-based peeling gel that serves as a manual (physical) exfoliator to gently remove dead, flaky skin while nourishing with moisture-locking ingredients such as hollyhock and trehalose. Wait! Don’t scroll past just yet. I know physical exfoliation methods (on the face) have been condemned lately but this one is different, trust me. It claims to be a gentle (that I can attest to) peeling gel that brightens your complexion while sweeping away dead skin cells.

Texture & Application: It comes out of the tube as a white, creamy texture. Weird for a physical exfoliator, right? I told you this was different. I apply it after I’ve thoroughly washed and dried my face, using a gentle rubbing method for about 2 – 3 minutes. The creamy texture soon balls up into white particles; often regarded as dead skin cells ‘peeling off’ but this is a myth. The cellulose base is what gives this effect.

Curious to know how this works? check out this skincare video of me using it in my routine.

Content, Price & Packaging: 120g; N9700 ($24.99) at the time I purchased it from EVEbeautique. One thing I appreciate the most about the packaging is the space provided to fill in the date it was opened. Aww, Dr G cares. Funny how I still forgot to use it lol. This is a good way of keeping track of how long a product will last you and the shelf-life (e.g. if a product expires 12 months after it has been opened).

For the most part, I used this twice in a week, sometimes once in a week application. It lasted for about 5-6 months. Quite a long time for 120g, right? Truth is I didn’t reach for this often. I don’t do well with anything rinse-off except it’s a face wash.

Pros: Gentle exfoliator; good for even sensitive skin types, doesn’t cause micro tears on the skin. Alcohol-free. Non-drying. It contains a blend of skin-loving ingredients such as trehalose, honey extract, licorice root extract, allantoin.

Cons: Due to the solid packaging, it’s difficult to tell when you’re running out.  Can’t serve as a stand-alone exfoliator for tough skin conditions such as acne; a chemical exfoliator with AHAs/BHAs will also be needed.

Verdict: I’m quite surprised how this is highly raved about because to me it is a basic product, or maybe it’s Korean beauty culture and peeling gels. I can’t comment on the brightening claims as I didn’t see a notable difference. It was a good buy but I will not be repurchasing it.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

This is the special molecule I mentioned in the intro. A little bit about azelaic acid. It is a dicarboxylic acid naturally found in wheat, barley, and rye but can be manufactured synthetically in the lab. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, skin brightening, and exfoliating properties. No wonder, The Ordinary describes it as a ‘multifunctional brightening formula’. Azelaic acid has been proven to be effective in rosacea and acne in 15-20% concentration. Its effectiveness in melasma and hyperpigmentation has also been demonstrated. For as low as 5%, you can still reap these multiple benefits from azelaic acid.

Texture & Application: A thick, white pasty suspension that leaves the skin MATTE after application. If you’re trying to visualize what this feels like and you wear makeup, just think of those silicone-y primers that make your skin feel so smooth once you’ve applied it.

I apply this after washing and toning my face. Most times, I like to keep it one active per routine, so I usually don’t combine AHAs/BHAs with it.  If i’m using a hydrating or any water-based serum alongside, the azelaic acid goes on after. Then, finally my moisturizer to lock it all in (sometimes I apply the azelaic acid after to avoid product peeling, it depends on the moisturizer i’m using). This is what works for me, you can refer to The Ordinary regimen guide for a personalized guide.

Content, Price & Packaging: 30ml for N5000 ($13) at the time I purchased it from EVEbeautique. The content is the major turn off I have for this product. Before I snap my fingers, I’ve gone through 30 ml and looking for N5000 to buy another tube. The frequency of usage determines how long it will last you; a twice-daily application should last for 30 days or less. You can either use it to spot-treat or apply it all over the face.

Pros: Known amount of active; i’m sure i’m not the only one who hates it when brands don’t disclose the concentration of active ingredients. Good for tackling acne and hyperpigmentation in one step. The first time I started using this, I noticed that in 2 weeks, my skin was visibly brighter. Gentle and effective; azelaic acid is good at exfoliating but unlike your typical glycolic acid or salicylic acid, it’s gentle on the skin (well, for the concentration I tried). The anti-inflammatory property also makes it great for soothing the skin.

Cons: It’s quite small, I wish it’d come in a larger size. The formulation isn’t elegant at all (but I guess, with The Ordinary, you get what you pay for).  It stings a bit upon application but the feeling goes away soon after. Sensitive skin beware! Due to the silicone, it doesn’t do well with layering products; it peels if you’re not careful.

Verdict: With all that has been said about this product & ingredient, I guess you should know where I stand. Oh, did I also mention that this is the third tube I’ve gone through? Whenever my skin is acting up (blemishes and co), and I don’t want to try anything new, this is the product I reach for. The benefits outweigh the cons for me and of course, I will keep repurchasing until I can afford Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid booster or access Garden of Wisdom Azelaic Acid 10% serum.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++

The cult-favorite Japanese sunscreen! I feel like almost everyone has heard of this sunscreen (even if they haven’t tried it). It’s no surprise as it provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays without feeling greasy or leaving behind any white-cast, all at a decent price point.

Welcome to 2020, the years of unappealing sunscreens are long gone. If at this point, you still don’t know the importance of wearing sunscreen, then I’ll advise you to read this post. The organic UV filters used in the formulation are octinoxate (UVB), Uvinul T150 (UVB), Uvinul A Plus (UVA), and Tinosorb S (UVA &UVB).

Texture & Application: It is a lightweight moisturizing formulation that leaves the skin kinda dewy after application. No wonder it’s described as an essence. Does not leave a white cast or feel greasy on the skin. To be applied as the last step during the day (before makeup tho). As someone with oily/combination skin, I don’t use a moisturizer prior to this, i just get away with hydrating serums/ampoules. However, if your skin is on the dry side, you might need to moisturize properly before wearing this sunscreen.

Content, Price & Packaging: 50g for N7000 ($18) from…….. you already know…. EVEbeautique lol. It lasted for about a month and some days, I didn’t keep track accurately. Also, I was alternating it with a sun stick which I reviewed in April empties. Sunscreen should be applied liberally and religiously, so a 50g won’t get you as far as 2 months except you have more than one or you’re not applying correctly (check yourself if you’re on this table).

Pros: Broad-spectrum UV protection, doesn’t leave a white-cast, moisturizing, non-greasy formulation, good for daily wear. Water/sweat-resistant (80 minutes). This sunscreen also features a unique micro defense technology which allows the UV filters to provide an even, seamless protection down to the micro crevices (tiniest opening on the skin). Another reason to love it , if you were still searching for one.

Cons: Not strong enough for sports and hardcore sun exposure (preferable for day to day activities)

Verdict: This is the third tube I’m going through. This was also the first sunscreen I fell in love with after going through the white-cast series with Sebamed, Avene, La Roche-Posay, and the somewhat greasy Altruist, Neutrogena Hydroboost & Etude House sunprise (this was way too shiny for my oily/combination skin). This says a lot about this sunscreen’s place in my heart. However, the more I discover, learn, and unlearn about skincare; I tend to evaluate my skincare stash and move on to greener pastures, when necessary.

I will not be repurchasing this sunscreen for now as I’m currently trying to explore more sunscreen formulations especially those with known UVA-PF (UVA-protection factor) ratings. FYI, SPF (sun protection factor) number only measures the UVB protection a sunscreen provides. You can read more about the difference between UVA & UVB here. Of course, I will keep you guys posted on this, so stay tuned!

Have you tried any of these products? What was your experience like? Will you be trying these out? What skincare products are you in love with at the moment? We’ll like to know in the comment section.

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2 Comments

  1. Udegbunam Chukwudi Reply

    A boy has entered your DM oh. I want that toner. I was just researching how to get it yesterday sef. Lol. The ones on Amazon UK have complaints like it’s not the authentic version etc.

    • Hawwa Reply

      Yeah, there are unauthentic versions of K-beauty online. One has to be careful. Eve Beautique got you tho 😉

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