I reviewed the very first 3B (Beauty Beyond Borders) box back in December and found it to be filled with things I actually wanted to try or use. In the months since, I’ve used the makeup wipes a lot as I do blog photos and the K-palette eyeliner totally changed my outlook on liquid liner and wings–it literally made me a wing addict and changed my daily look. That’s quite a tall order for a $12 beauty box.
I’ve not reviewed the boxes in between because I’ve been so busy with work (some of them are are still in their organza bags on my makeup table, that’s how exhausted and busy I’ve been), but I took some time to dig into this one for my first review in some time because I think that this box deserves lots of love for consistently curating fantastic collections of Asian beauty products.
3B, Beauty Beyond Borders, is a subscription box that contains four or five deluxe samples of [East] Asian Beauty beauty products ranging from drugstore-level brands like Etude House to luxe giants like Sulwhasoo. The service is currently limited to those with US mailing addresses and it does have a waitlist.
What I like about 3B is that the company seems to be run by people who actually know Asian beauty products; I actually want these people to surprise me with products (and that’s not often the case in the wild world of beauty start-ups). The value of the products in the boxes tends to be great, and I find that even though the cost of the box is low, my beauty routine moves significantly as a result of the products I’ve found through these boxes as opposed to costlier yet less impactful collections of products.
I’m reaching product saturation level (refer to the photo of my disastrous makeup table above and recall that I recently tossed tons of stuff I wasn’t using–that pile is just the stuff that I kept), but I don’t see myself breaking up with 3B anytime soon because it consistently proves that I still have a lot to learn about Asian beauty–to me, that’s worth a whole lot more than $12 per month.
The April 2015 box
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner (pH: 5.5) and Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel (pH: 5-5.5)
I’m grouping Benton together because I’ve used both of these products and I am not a particular fan of the brand. Don’t get me wrong, when Benton products work they’re really good–the ingredient lists are minimalist and loaded with only good things. The problem is that I–me, myself, I–had a horrific breakout over a year ago while using the Benton Aloe Toner. As in, I had a thing on my face that wasn’t just a blemish, but a lesion. Without patches to help it slowly and regularly drain I’d probably have ended up with a worm-shaped scar on my jaw.
This happened as I was working all the time at my regular job and filming a screen test/interview for a reality show I was helping to prepare for a cable channel pitch. Needless to say, terrible timing. Other bloggers reported skin meltdowns out of nowhere from the same batch of aloe toner. Since my skin was already troubled and my testing process was haphazard I didn’t (and still don’t) feel comfortable 100% conclusively blaming the issue on the Benton aloe toner. Benton did acknowledge a contaminated batch of their snail bee essence made about one year ago, but they did not acknowledge contamination of the batch of the aloe toner I used–and an attempt to test it in a proper lab was not successful. But that doesn’t mean I want to use Benton products, haha no. While attempting to clear up my skin I discovered LJH (Leejiham) products that are developed by dermatologists doing scholarly research and haven’t had the quality issues that Benton has had. The favored brand spot has been more than adequately filled, thank you very much.
My feeling is that if I think I need to dip test a brand’s products for mold and fungal contamination before putting them on my skin, I probably need to just use products made by another brand. I can see people trying and liking these products a lot. And I’m not here to discourage that–I think it’s important to lay out the information that I have and then back away, trusting that you know what’s best for your skin.
But yeah, no, not using these.
TonyMoly Intense Care Snail Foam Cleanser (pH: 9.5)
At a pH of 9.0-9.5, this is a no-go for me. High pH cleansers like this damage one’s moisture barrier. The moisture barrier is important for discouraging the growth of bad stuff, among other things.
For more about the moisture barrier check out this post from Skin & Tonics. I’ll think about using this as hand soap? Sorry, not a lot to say here, this isn’t going on my face either.
Skinfood Silicon Cleansing Pad
I wrote this before using the pad:
This cleansing pad is really interesting and it’s cool to receive a tool in this bag! I try not to use cleansing tools on my face for sanitary reasons and because chemical exfoliation is supposed to be better and less damaging to one’s moisture barrier. I tried a rubber-tipped Rire blackhead cleanser and it really irritated my nose skin. I’m thinking that this could be great for my poor legs, which could use some exfoliation help.
After trying the pad:
Ok this is actually really awesome. It’s nowhere near as abrasive as I thought it would be and it actually helped my Su:m37 cleansing stick lather like CRAZY. This did a great job of taking off dead skin that had been zapped by acids and prescription meds, but hadn’t moved on. The dead skin was really unpleasant and this pad got my skin super smooth without overexfoliating. I’m a fan and I’m glad I tried this.
One concern that I have with tools relates to keeping them in the bathroom. It’s convenient, but I think I remember seeing on an episode of Bones that toilets aerosolize a bit of human waste in the course of flushing, resulting in a micro coating of poo on your toothbrush unless it’s kept away from the chamber pot. So…I’m going to just keep this in my bedroom since I like it. haha
Innisfree Bija Sheet Mask
Innisfree gets something of a preferred status among skincare fans and im not always sure it deserves so much love. It’s like people see Jeju and assume that nothing bad happens in green-colored places. I mean, many of their products are very good, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop looking at ingredient lists.
For example, this mask has four pretty unexciting-to-urgh ingredients in the top four spots. I was concerned that that would translate into a crappy mask with a heavy, vaguely sticky essence. In fact, the mask essence was light, it didn’t irritate my skin, and I woke up this morning with really nicely hydrated, but not smothered skin. I also noticed that some pending blemishes decided to chill out a bit, wow.
The fit of this mask on my giant face wasn’t bad, considering. I didn’t love the thin mask fabric that quickly dries out and peels away from my skin.
I’d rate this a $.50 mask before shipping. As in, I’d have no problem paying that amount to buy it. Masks at the full dollar mark like my favorite Enesti masks have better ingredient lists, smell better, and have nicer (thicker) fabric. But this wasn’t unpleasant to wear and my skin seems to have liked it. If I ever run out of masks (ha) I may grab some.
Here’s the thing about 3B: after, what, five? months of existence (and I’ve been a subscriber since the start) I’m convinced that the people (or person) behind this really know what they’re doing and have actual good taste in Asian beauty products. Even if I don’t love every single item in every bag, I walk away convinced that someone else is going to really dig that thing I don’t and that it’s a good choice for many subscribers. This box doesn’t feel like a hodgepodge of whatever added up to the target cost on a spreadsheet. I’m actually excited to see what’s in my latest bag, which is great because, wow, I have a ton of products already.
From what I understand, 3B has a serious waiting list (praise for sane and sustainable growth, yes) and it’s limited to customers in the US at this point. If the bag is appealing to you, get on that waitlist–it does take some time (I’m talking months at this point) to make it off the list, but it’s worth the wait.
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