About one month ago I stopped in at Skylake, a Korean Oriental Medicine beauty store, on 32nd Street in NYC’s Koreatown (you can see the fanserviced map of kpop and kbeauty places to visit in NYC here). Many brands are described as “hanbang,” or traditional-ingredient, herbal medicine-focused, but Skylake takes traditional to the next level with proprietary extract formulations and smells that I don’t usually associate with skincare. For all of my shop photos check out this post. Here I’ll review my purchases after testing: a travel set with lots of samples, a sheet mask, massage powder for troubled skin, and some of the fresh, in-house mixtures and active ingredient mix-ins.
The main question I need to answer here is whether I’d actually buy these natural products. I’m not exactly sold on any claims of naturalness or particularly attracted by them; anthrax occurs naturally, but I sure don’t want it on my skin. I simply want good, safe products that make my skin happy. The Skylake products are pitted against the latest modern skincare, and they need to perform as good or better to earn a place in my routine.
I’ve arranged the micro reviews of the items I tested based on what I’d be least likely to try again to what I’ve already stocked up on and can’t live without. At the end of the list is the payoff: the killer products that I really adore and think you must try–to the point that I’ve included some of them in the first ever fanserviced-b giveaway, a Skylake Sample Pack.
Here are the things I tried:
Natural Multi Blemish Balm: 1. This bb cream feels fine but it’s too dark for me. It’s also a bit too gray for the prevailing taste these days.
Natural Eye Cream: 1. This melts super quickly, but it’s so rich and oily that I find it unpleasant to wear. I’m not really into eye cream at all, so I used it on my feet.
Natural Herb Cleansing Powder: 2. This is, uhh, really natural. I felt like my face was a roast I was trying to tenderize with herbs and spices via this mixture. My husband used it and thought it smelled like roach powder. I want to give this to people to try just to hear their reactions. It got my face clean, but it was just too natural for me.
Natural Foam Cleanser (pH: 7.5): 2. This was super foamy, but slightly irritating and it left my face squeaky. I woke up after cleansing with this at night with some dry flakes that were easily removed–possibly due to liquid exfoliant and a lack of moisturizer, but also perhaps due to this cleanser. The smell is a faint version of the cleansing powder smell plus box cake mix made with butter, for some reason. Don’t ask why. I’ve given up sugar and I think my brain is rewiring. And thinking a lot about cake batter apparently.
Oriental Herb Cream: 2. I tried this rich cream at night and half soaked into my skin, half stayed lightly oily on surface. I woke up with very calm skin though–not sure if it was due to this cream or the formation of a lake on the surface of some distant moon (I have no grasp of my skin’s logic).
Premium Hand-made Aroma Soap: 3. This seems nice, but I just can’t do bar soap, no matter the quality.
Oriental Herb Relax Toner Spray: 3. This smells delicious. I think it comes from clove? I have no idea if this toner does anything helpful because my face just doesn’t get very dry usually. My other spray, Too Cool for School’s mist from Memebox Luckybox 1, seems more obviously moisturizing. I spray this one all over myself each time I see it because I like the smell. Yum. Seriously, that clove scent is delicious.
Green Energy Essence: 3. This essence smells good (I think it’s the clove again), but it’s a bit too rich for my skin. My skin wanted no part of my moisturizing cream after I used this, and that wasn’t ideal because I really needed to get my makeup on and get out the door!
Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++: 3?. This has a good consistency and no gross smell. It absorbed nicely. I’ll test this on vacation to see how it compares to the Nuganic sunscreen I’ve saved for the occasion; I don’t get enough sun in my windowless office to test the sunblocking ability.
Herb Massage Powder (Trouble) [COSDNA ingredient analysis here]: 3. This powder, which is about as natural as natural products can get (it’s all root powders), needs to be mixed with milk, yogurt, or honey and massaged into one’s face, then left on for about 20 minutes. It has a bit of the roach bait smell that my husband identified, but the addition of honey made it a lot more pleasant. I didn’t notice any major changes in terms of my blemishes, but my skin did become more smooth and moisturized. The main issue I have with this is that I can only really wear it right before I’m about to wash my hair or else I end up smelling like honeyed roach bait simply because this stuff is strong and if you don’t get it all out, heh, wow.
Refresh Massage Cream: 4. I had no idea how to use this until I talked again to the Skylake salesperson who also makes the fresh items in the shop: she said to massage it into one’s face for about five minutes, at which point it turns into oil. I came home, put on a kpop album, and before the first song was over my fingers were sore and the cream had actually turned into a thin oil. I kept rubbing for two whole songs and my sebaceous filaments, the oxidized plugs of dead skin and oil that plague my nose and surrounding area, were coming out. They actually felt a bit like grit. This is actually pretty fantastic. WOO! I get that my sebaceous filaments will come right back, but I like the idea of keeping them moving. I don’t need heirloom sebaceous filaments. After rinsing the oil off with water my skin was gloriously moisturized and felt really nice.
Oriental Herb Lotion [COSDNA ingredient analysis here]: 5. This lotion has a light, runny consistency and amazing clove smell like the toner. It absorbs without a problem, and it’s packed with useful oils. The only snag in our love is price. This costs $38 per bottle, so I need to test it further before making a financial commitment like that.
Cool Shampoo [COSDNA ingredient analysis here]: 5.This shampoo has a definite cooling sensation, leaves hair moisturized and silky without any weight added, keeps my scalp healthy and not oily, and smells nice. The big test for my hair, which is super damaged from years of double-process bleaching, is how long it can go between washes without getting annoying. It gets a bit oily, of course, but I was looking for something that didn’t result in an outpouring of oil or itchiness. I’ve gone as many as five (or was it six?) days between washes with this without any kind of scalp anger. It’s such a winner–I have the biggest bottle in my shower now after trying the sample size.
Sheet Mask Pack (Elastic) [COSDNA ingredient analysis here]: 5. Oh. My. God. This mask was a rollercoaster. I pulled it out and immediately started freaking out because it smelled like smoke or burnt tar. It’s a sheet mask with an additional neck mask–or as I like to think of it, large face overflow strip. I was pretty convinced that as long as my face didn’t melt off from this crazy mask, I’d be happy. Except this mask turned out to be AWESOME; it calmed some really angry trouble spots right down, instantly. I’m not usually a sheet mask fan at all, but this really changed my mind. At $2 per mask, this is a recommended buy.
Mix-ins and fresh skincare (sold in the NYC shop only due to the need for refrigeration): 5+. Perhaps the most exciting products at NYC’s Skylake are the new mix-ins and fresh skincare items. Since the first time I visited, the store added a fridge with tiny 1-gram vials of powdered and liquid active ingredients like snail filtrate (currently sold out), caviar extract, aloe powder, and Vitamin C that can be mixed into items you already own to make super power skincare. I added an aloe mix-in to my homemade probiotic sleeping pack and it instantly worked to thin the cream and deliver more moisture. I grabbed a Vitamin C mix-in today to make my own spray toner at a cost of $5 plus otherwise unused stuff I had. The most shocking revelation came yesterday, when I was picking up some items for the giveaway below and I tried a hyaluronic acid collagen essence; I noticed today at work that my testing hand was still silky and glowing, about 20 hours after I’d tried the sample. The impact of the essence was so great that I ran into Skylake on my way home from work today because I want my face to feel that smooth, too! If you happen to visit NYC, check out the Skylake lab, for sure.
Since not everyone can make it to NYC to pick up Skylake goodness (and the sample kits aren’t sold on the website), the first fanserviced-b giveaway is going to be Skylake-themed! Woo!
The winner will receive a Skylake sample pack containing:
- 3 of the Sheet Mask Packs (Elastic), the smoky mask of doom-turned-skin-saving hero
- a deluxe sample of Cool Shampoo, complete with floating root chunks
- 2 vials of Natural Herb Cleansing Powder
- 1 foil sample of Refresh Massage Cream
- 1 foil sample of Natural Foam Cleanser
- 2 foil samples of Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++
- 2 foil samples of Natural Multi Blemish Balm
- 1 1g vial of the in-store-only Vitamin C mix-in so you can make your own Vitamin C serum
- 3 vials of the outstanding in-store-only Hyaluronic Acid Collagen essence that turned the skin on my hand into silk
- this giveaway is open to residents of any country that allows the importation of cosmetics
- entrants must be 18 years of age or older (or the age of majority in their own country), or must have the express permission of a parent or legal guardian to enter and receive the prize
- entries will be verified
- there will be one winner of the Skylake Sample Pack
- I will ship the Skylake Sample Pack via USPS. Fanserviced and fanserviced-b are not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes.
- Please be aware that the prize includes Hyaluronic Acid Collagen essence, which will be packaged as well as possible to avoid summer heat, but should be refrigerated upon arrival. The winner is responsible for verifying the freshness and suitability of all prize items before using them; fanserviced and fanserviced-b are not responsible for the effect of any products received as part of a giveaway on skin or general health.
- I will notify the winner within 48 hours of the contest close.
- The winner will have 48 hours to contact me at email@example.com. If the winner does not contact me within 48 hours, the winning entry is void and I will draw another winner.
Good luck, y’all!
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