May Coop Raw Sauce

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Sauce Review

Whenever there is a new hyped up product in the beauty world that I end up trying, I always hope I will love it the same way everyone else does. I can see why there is so much affection for May Coop's Raw Sauce. The essence came up a tad shy of being on my LOVE IT list.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Sauce packaging

Sephora's description:

What it is formulated to do
This essence helps effective ingredients penetrate into skin, thanks to its unique maple-tree sap base. The innovative formulation is packed with nourishing botanical complexes, along with ingredients possessing antioxidant properties, which neutralize free radicals and support natural skin cell regeneration. This luxuriously silky liquid has a smooth, non-sticky texture that quickly absorbs into the skin for an instant boost of hydration, resulting in skin that's not only healthier-looking, but better able to obtain the benefits from any product applied afterwards. It’s further enriched with unique, botanical, herbal, and floral complexes to intensely hydrate and promote a radiant complexion.

What else you need to know
Maple tree sap particles are almost the exact same size as our bodily fluids (even smaller than water) and enable the formula to easily absorb deep into the skin. The essence intensively hydrates and delivers critical nourishment to skin, creating a healthy-looking glow from within. It also helps prep skin to better absorb subsequent products, such as serums and moisturizers, so that you get the most out of both your morning and evening skin care routines. This product is cruelty-free.

After cleansing and toning, apply to face and neck in upward and outward strokes with your fingertips or a cotton pad. Pat remaining product into skin until fully absorbed.

Sephora and Peach & Lily (150ml): USD $43
Peach & Lily (40ml): USD $14

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Sauce safety seal sticker

Retailers categorize this as a 3-in-1 product: toner, essence, emulsion. I would only call the Raw Sauce an essence at most. Like I mentioned in the previous Kate Somerville toner post, I associate toners as being residual dirt cleaners and pH balancers (whatever that is supposed to mean). Essences in my books are pat-in and leave-on watery-like products that aim to at least hydrate and better prep the skin amongst other skin benefits. Essences can be a type of toner but not all toners are essences. Emulsions, technically speaking, are when two liquid components that don't normally mix well are combined together (i.e. oil + water)—which would categorize most serums, lotions, and creams as emulsions. In the skincare world, where there are a bajillion and one terms for everything, I classify emulsions as a runnier-type light lotion that tends to be milkier in color.

While I prefer to have a separate toner, essences and emulsions are interchangeable product types in my routine in the sense that I don't have to incorporate both steps at any given point unless I feel like being excessive. Whether I have an essence or emulsion on hand largely depends on the time of year or just how I feel when I go skincare shopping. If I want something lighter, essence. If I want something slightly heavier but still not that heavy, emulsion. My other exception is if I choose to forego a cream-type moisturizer, then I will use both an essence and an emulsion.

Most of the info I found on acer maple water (acer mono sap) benefits for the skin usually references to May Coop Raw Sauce. They all say the sap is small in molecular size which evidently penetrates the skin better. Some articles and blogs say the maple sap also has antioxidants and minerals for better hydration.

*I came across a May Coop Raw series leaflet on the interwebs. If anyone is interested, click here. But take it with a grain of salt since it is their marketing material.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Sauce out of packaging

Everything about the packaging is luxurious. Okay maybe except for the box and the lid, those can use some improvements. But I digress. The frosted glass bottle is wrapped in a canvas pouch straight out of the box. It is very hefty and doesn't feel cheap at all.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Sauce bottle stopper

It has a traditional screw-on plastic bottle cap. New bottles will come sealed with a plastic stopper. The spout itself also has a stopper with a small hole to help control the amount of product that comes out. Since the essence is quite runny, it flows out easy enough.

I would personally prefer something with a flip-top to shave off the time it takes to open and close the product. But I do understand why May Coop decided on what it currently has; a screw-on top looks a little fancier and users are meant to take their time to appreciate and apply the essence since it is on the pricier side.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Sauce swatchThe consistency is thicker than water but not extremely viscose. It is surprisingly not sticky for something made with maple water. The essence sinks into my skin quickly and doesn't leave any residue. This could be due to two main factors: 1) May Coop claims maple tree sap is about the size of our bodily fluids so our skin will naturally absorb it more easily. 2) Alcohol is the 2nd listed ingredient.

There is some debate on the alcohol content though. Peach & Lily says the Raw Sauce is made up of 93% maple tree sap which would imply the remaining 7% consists of everything else, therefore making the alcohol negligible. Some people say the Raw Sauce could not possibly have 93% concentration of the maple tree sap ingredient because then it would practically be pure syrup which, in turn, would be way too sticky. Who's to say for sure which is true but from actual use, the alcohol doesn't seem to be doing harm to my skin (as of now). It doesn't dry me out or make me feel more sensitive.

I don't think the essence has a strong scent. I read many reviews and there are people who say the alcohol is very intense. I have to sniff really long and hard to pick it up. It is there, but I think I apply the essence so quickly and the product soaks in long before my nose is even irritated by it.

Typically I will use around 5 drops (quarter sized amount) per layer that I apply. I prefer to pat in at least a blob of product on my face and do a separate round of patting for my neck. Raw Sauce is a great product for layering (i.e. 7 Skin Method) for those who don't find the alcohol too irritating. My skin seems way more hydrated and bouncier after applying even just an additional layer versus only one—it feels almost as if I have applied nothing when I only apply it once. I would not recommend using this with a cotton pad because it seems like a waste of product. Raw Sauce isn't meant to clean up the skin like traditional toners do.

I used this exclusively when I was recovering from the facial allergic reaction and loved how lightweight and fast absorbing (or evaporating) this was. Because of the itching, I needed moisture but without the feeling of having anything on my face, which this delivered. It didn't provide the deepest hydration though—if there are flakes, continuous use will gradually soften it but it won't magically make it seem less apparent after applying, which is what I was hoping for.

I cannot tell if it really does help with the "better absorption of subsequent products." Sure, the Raw Sauce is so lightweight that it doesn't seem like it is creating an extra barrier between my skin and the next step in my skincare routine. However, whether or not my skin takes in the next product better is debatable.

In my opinion, May Coop's Raw Sauce is great for normal, combination, and oily skin types. It just doesn't seem enough for drier & dehydrated skin—people with those skin types would probably have to use way too much product to achieve similar results and most likely wouldn't like the alcohol in it. Considering how much I have to use to get good results and the cost of a bottle, I probably won't buy it again. It was a nice reintroduction to the essence step in the skincare routine for me though. I may look into other pat-in essences with more skin benefits besides just hydration and better absorption and something that is truly formulated without alcohol.

Smorgasburg | Tastes, Craves, and Wishes

It's mid-week and I cannot stop thinking about sunny food-filled weekends. Even though Smorgasburg at any location is usually unbelievably crowded, there is nothing else like it where a group of friends can disperse and buy a bunch of treats to share picnic style at the park. It is hard to pick a wrong spot when each of the 20 something odd vendors are handpicked by the organizers. Some are brand-spanking new Smorgasburg-exclusive food ventures and quite a good bunch are long-time Smorgasburg favorites.

Call it a tourist trap if you'd like. Crowded and expensive it definitely is. But then again so is a majority of the eateries in the rest of New York City. To each their own! The best I can recommend is to pick a good time to visit either their Williamsburg or Prospect Park location. The earlier it is, the less packed it will be. Most people are probably still asleep at 11 AM on a Saturday or Sunday. If an Instagram trendy vendor is a must-try, pre-noon is a wonderful time to avoid lines. They only get busier and busier as the day progresses. The only other times when crowds are small and lines short is when the forecast is dreary. While most vendors do end up showing up, the number of visitors who turn out pales in comparison. Downpours aren't fun for anyone; drizzles are perfect.


lavlilacs Smorgasburg Raindrop Cake

Raindrop Cake. The hype for this water jelly last year was unreal. I get it, the perfectly smooth round blob looks beautiful in person and in photos. The taste is refreshing and light—a stark contrast to typical Western delights that are carby and creamy. But if you really think about it, this is just congealed water with syrup and soybean powder and it costs almost $10. Make some at home with honey and peanut powder.

If experimenting in the kitchen isn't your thing but you "gots to have", split one amongst 2+ friends. Otherwise it isn't worth it even for a photo.

lavlilacs Smorgasburg Carnal Beef Short Rib and Bone Marrow

Carnal. There is something so primitive yet so satisfying about being served meat on the bone. Short rib is one of my favorite types of beef, but I have only ever had it braised and grilled. Smoked and slow-cooked is something completely new to me. Having such a large slab of short rib is even more uncommon.

Don't be fooled by their sign; even though it is described as Beef Short Rib with Bone Marrow, the meat part is the star. Don't even think about being civil. Going hands in and gnawing is the best option. The ligament that holds the meat to the bone is not quite cooked down enough in this fashion to eat with a fork and knife. Pack a toothpick or flosser, be prepared to stand on a long line, and get ready to munch on some good meat.

lavlilacs Smorgasburg Mofon•GO Fried Pork Mofongo

Mofon•GO. My favorite part about Smorgasburg is discovering new foods. I tend to gravitate more towards Asian flavors whenever I search Yelp, especially if dining in Manhattan. Even though I would love to try other cuisines, the number of options and unfamiliarity to the menu is intimidating. Vendors at Smorgasburg, however, are specialized. Many have 1-3 item menus and the variety comes in the form of toppings and sides.

Mofongo refers to the Puerto Rican dish of fried mashed plantains and stuffed with meats. The one we tried was filled with fried pork and served with sriracha mayo. I think they currently offer it with shredded pork. I am not sure if I am not a fan of mashed plantains or if this could have used something juicier/saucier. I remember it being on the drier side. Is this normal for mofongo?


lavlilacs Smorgasburg Lumpia Shack Sampler

Lumpia Shack. Hands down favorite at Smorgasburg that my friends and I get at least once every year we visit. Skinny lumpia is pure love and joy. If frying foods at home wasn't so messy, I would gladly make and stock my freezer with these babies.

Although Lumpia Shack is must-have in general, it isn't a must at Smorgasburg if you'll ever be around the West Village and Washington Square Park as they have a Lumpia Shack Snackbar nearby.

A post shared by goa taco (@goa_taco) on

Goa Taco. I wish I knew about the deliciousness that was paratha tacos earlier even after taking just one bite. Even though I have eaten scallion pancakes before, it was just a dish on its own. Wrapping it around meats and veggies is ingenious, might I daresay even better than standard corn tortilla tacos! The flatbread is crispy but still has flaky chewy layers.

Like Lumpia Shack, Goa Taco has 2 storefronts in the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village. If the crowds at Smorgasburg are unrelenting and there are other vendors to try, take a walk across the Williamsburg Bridge afterward and grab Goa Taco on the other side.

lavlilacs Smorgasburg Big Mozz Mozzerella Sticks

Big Mozz. How can anyone not like fried cheese sticks? Lactose-intolerant excluded. These are giant and heavy in all respects. The mozzarella core is the chewiest and stretchiest. Yet it is worth all the calories.


Since I haven't gone to Smorgasburg yet this year, here's a list of a few new vendors I want to try.

Burrito Juárez. I just love food wrapped with anything carby. They supposedly make their tortillas fresh and don't stuff with rice (which is usually what a majority of burritos are filled with).

Kreung Cambodia It is still Asian eats but Cambodian food is definitely something new even in New York. I think I read somewhere that said profits made go back to helping the owner's farm in Cambodia.

A post shared by Ube Kitchen (@ubekitchen) on

Ube Kitchen They had me at ube. I won't deny my bias towards anything purple. While halo halo seems easy enough to put together at home, the hardest part is having just enough toppings on hand to not be eating the mixed dessert all week long.

Rutte's Dutch Waffles Stroopwafels are the perfect combination of everything I like: sugary, gooey, and crispy but soft. I've only ever dreamed of having it fresh and hot. All my praises to the person who finally brought the made-to-order version of the Dutch treat Stateside!

Dulcinea Churros & Co. Because one ice cream snack is never enough for an ice cream monster. Although, I am sure I would regret wishing for an ice cream sandwich. My sensitive teeth and (assuming) the hot sun will not make good friends with this sweet treat. looks delicious!

Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner

For all that Kate Somerville's Clarifying Treatment Toner is described to be, I wish it was more than just an average item for me.

Toners don't quite mean the same thing it did all those years ago when I first started using it in my skincare routine. Long gone are the alcohol-based astringents that need to be poured onto cotton rounds and swiped across the face. Nowadays, alcohol-free varieties that can be patted into the skin are becoming mainstays in regimes. For the sake of my sanity and distinguishing purposes, I'll refer to the pattable toners as essences.

Maybe because I made that distinction or maybe because I am stuck on old habits, I don't feel like it is an either or situation with the two types of products. I like the extra step of wiping my face after cleansing to really ensure all traces of makeup and dirt are gone. Despite double cleansing, there have been occasions where I miss spots on my face (typically around the outer edges).  I also enjoy the lightweight hydration essences provide. Both product types having a place in my routine and I find myself going through them fairly quickly, which is why I would prefer to not spend a lot on either. But there are desperate times when descriptions get the better of me and I plop $20+ on a toner I spend less than a minute using daily.

lavlilacs Review Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner

Sephora's description:

What it is:
A results-focused toner that clears and balances oily skin.

What it is formulated to do:
This is not your traditional toner! Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner is indeed a treatment. Its antiseptic power fights bacteria to ward off future breakouts. Effective exfoliating properties remove dead skin that can clog your pores. Lastly, it helps lighten discoloration from acne scarring.

What else you need to know:
This skin care essential is fragrance- and alcohol-free.

Apply to cleansed skin with a cotton ball. Use twice daily, in the morning and evening.

Sephora (150ml): USD $26

lavlilacs Review Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner packaging

How I ended up purchasing the Clarifying Treatment Toner isn't all too surprising after re-reading the product description. It seemed tailored to my persistent skin concerns: prevent future breakouts, remove dead skin, unclogged pores, and lighten discoloration. Plus, Kate Somerville is a highly beloved brand and everyone can't sing enough praises for. My trust was locked, tightly.

I know...this is starting to sound like I ended up hating it or was extremely disappointed, but I wasn't; at least not extremely, just a little. It did its job as a toner fairly well: clean remaining residue. I can count on it to see dirt accumulation and a yellow cotton round after swiping. It didn't break me out any more than before and wasn't drying. I have no way to tell for sure if my pH is balanced or not, but let's just assume it does. The clarifying toner just didn't live up to its other claims. I didn't break out any less after using the toner nor were my dry flakes less apparent. My pores were still clogged and acne scarring discoloration remained. Refreshed from toning, yes; refined and renewed, not so much.

I didn't realize the toner contained lactic acid (AHA) until now. It wasn't a skincare term I paid much attention to before. I would assume that is why they say it has exfoliation and de-clogging abilities. It seems high up on the ingredients list too, perhaps the concentration wasn't high enough for me to see results? Regardless, I would recommend using sunscreen afterwards if using this toner in the mornings.

The toner also has a very prominent witch hazel scent. I'm not a fan of it but it is better than it being masked by a fragrance. Good thing the smell doesn't linger after applying.

lavlilacs Review Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner pump

The best thing about the product is its packaging, although not $26 worth. The pump bottle is handy to help control the amount of toner I use. I don't have to waste extra time twisting open bottle caps since this one has a very accessible flip-top cover. I am very likely to keep using this bottle for toners in the future.

Even after a period of not using the Clarifying Treatment Toner, I miss the act of swiping my face more than using the specific product. Perhaps I should stick to more affordable options (under $20) for my next toner? I realize now I only want my toners to do one job only and since it doesn't sit on my face for long I don't need it to have too many extra benefits.