May Coop Raw Moisturizer

12:11:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Moisturizer Review

Despite the scarce number of reviews for May Coop's Raw Moisturizer, I couldn't help but be intrigued by the rest of the Raw line since their Raw Sauce is beloved by so many people. The moisturizer is the most affordable cream in their lineup to incorporate the star ingredient: Acer Maple Water. Keeping within the same range isn't a priority. It is more likely to happen if I hear good things about any one item, adding a sister product seems like a no-brainer.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Moisturizer packaging

Peach & Lily's description:

The Raw Moisturizer is a unique formula moisturizer that contains a powerful combination of 70% maple tree sap, aloe, baobab tree and cactus extracts that easily absorb into the skin. Leaves skin feeling deeply hydrated and smooth. Perfect for all skin types.

If the Raw Sauce is the perfect prepping agent to ensure your skin will drink the following steps of moisture and nutrition, the Raw Moisturizer is the perfect seal, holding everything in with a silky non-sticky finish perfect for both morning and evening wear. Take full advantage of all the steps of your skincare routine, from start to finish.

Apply as the very last step of your skincare routine to seal your skin for maximal moisture retention.


Peach & Lily (80ml): USD $40

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Moisturizer out of packaging


Unlike the Raw Sauce, the Raw Moisturizer only has 70% maple tree sap. Peach & Lily mentions a bunch of other extracts. However, those are listed further down on the ingredients list—meaning amounts used are small and benefits typically minimal. For those with sensitive skin, the moisturizer does have silicones, mineral oil, fragrance, and parabens.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Moisturizer inner cover stopper


Nice packaging is the one thing I can confidently say I love about May Coop. Frosted glass jars are such a pleasure to look at every day. Although it doesn't matter so much for a jar per say, I generally appreciate see-through properties of glass packaging more as I can tell when the product inside is running low.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Moisturizer closeup of texture

May Coop's Raw line has a bunch of different moisturizers:
Raw Moisturizer 80ml - USD $40
Raw Concentra Day Cream 50ml - USD $48
Raw Concentra Night Cream 50ml - USD $65.

I chose the Raw Moisturizer because of it's clearly larger size and cheaper price. The biggest difference ingredient-wise between the three are their maple sap percentages (70% vs. 90% vs. 80%) and various additional extracts. The fact that May Coop decided to balance out the lower percentage of maple sap with more product is very much appreciated.

After having gone through a majority of my tub of Raw Moisturizer, I am curious of just how much more moisturizing the extra percentages of acer mono sap really is in cream form. Would it really be worth the extra money and less product for a higher concentration?

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Moisturizer swatch

Color & Scent

There is a scent to the cream. I can't place my finger on precisely what it is. It definitely isn't mapley as one would expect nor is it overpowering. Regardless, the fragrance doesn't linger once applied.

lavlilacs May Coop Raw Moisturizer swatch applied to hand

How I Apply & Finish

The moisturizer is very lightweight - it is heavier than a gel but far lighter than most creams. My skin takes it in really well. I can easily apply a generous glob of product (2-3x shown above) and my skin would drink it right up without leaving any stickiness. It might not be heavy enough for those with drier skin though. The moisturizing-ness doesn't last all day for my driest and flakiest parts. Raw Moisturizer would be just right for normal, combination, and oily skin.

Even when I wake up, my face, for the most part, feels moisturized without being oily. It is normal for me to feel some kind of leftover tackiness in the mornings but I didn't have that with this moisturizer.

I have also used this very generously (heaping dollop) and moderately (stingy scoop) on various occasions. Like with Raw Sauce, this cream shows better results when a liberal amount is applied. I would recommend using more than "just enough" to cover the face.

Peach & Lily accurately describes the finish as "silky non-sticky finish". I assume this is a result of all the silicones it is formulated with in addition to the maple sap being able to sink into the skin more easily. The moisturizer even spreads like a typical silicone-based primer would. There is definitely a visible lack of the moist look minus the pore-smoothing effect.

Thoughts & Recommendations

For comparison's sake, I have applied the Raw Moisturizer on half my face and neck before. It was weird because the moisturizing difference didn't look drastic. The side with moisturizer did feel softer and smoother but it could very well be all the silicones.

My skin looks less oily of late. I cannot tell whether or not this moisturizer is the reason for it or if my skin is still in cold & dry weather mode. There are tons of reviews that claim this cream is mattifying and keeps their oilies at bay. I won't argue with that because it does have a satiny finish after applying. What I can say from my experience is the Raw Moisturizer is slightly lacking in the deep moisture department for my combo-dry skin. My face looks just right in the oily spots throughout the day but for the drier and flakier sections, it just isn't enough—very similar to the Raw Sauce in this respect.

Maybe I just used this moisturizer during the wrong seasons? Maybe I need to find a way to better exfoliate those darn dry flakes from my face? I wonder if my opinions towards May Coop's Raw Moisturizer would have been any different under different circumstances. It is a great product in the areas that aren't overly troubled and I have never tried a moisturizer of all things to have such a satin finish. Chances of me repurchasing are kind of low right now; perhaps if my skin gets oilier in the summer I might consider Raw Moisturizer as a tried-and-trusted option.


May Coop Raw Sauce

12:16:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

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 swatch

Color, Texture, Finish, & Scent

The 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.

How I Apply

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.

Thoughts & Recommendations

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

8:10:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

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

12:13:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

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 skincare 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.


tria Hair Removal Laser 4X & SmoothStart Calming Gel - 5 Months

9:03:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

5 months have gone by on this experiment with the tria Hair Removal Laser 4X and surprisingly some of the disappointment I felt in the previous 4 months have been reversed. I hope it isn't just my imagination. Instead, I want it to have been just my lack of closer observation.

tria Hair Removal Laser Facial Hair 20 Weeks

tria Hair Removal Laser Facial Hair 22 Weeks, 5 months

Even though I tossed around the idea of treating other areas of my body, I haven't actually gotten around to it yet. It is on my list but I want to focus on this last month of lasering on the current areas.

Recharging of the device is also a big deterrent. It takes around 2 hours to fully charge the machine and it only lasts for about ~300 zaps at Level 5 (just barely enough for a generous session targeting the upper lip + chin + knuckle hairs + both underarms).

While the Laser 4X is plugged in, it gets very loud, as what I am assuming is the fan, whirls to cool the gadget down. For heavy sleepers, recharging the laser overnight shouldn't be a problem. For light sleepers like me, it does get a little annoying. I can't even imagine how many times I would need to recharge if I want to tackle other body parts. It will probably be a multi-day affair considering how small the laser window is compared how large an area leg hairs cover.

tria Hair Removal Laser Facial Hair 20 Weeks Closeup

tria Hair Removal Laser Facial Hair 22 Weeks, 5 months Closeup

Upper lips.

I am tempted to say that I am finally noticing some progress here. In previous updates, I based my comments on the regrowth at the corner of my lips alone since the wisps there are longer and most noticeable. This month I noticed how much less fuzz my eyebrow razor collected after I grazed over my uppers lips. It is a nice motivation to get through another month of laser treatment.

tria Hair Removal Laser Armpits Hair 20 Weeks

tria Hair Removal Laser Armpits Hair 22 Weeks, 5 months


Stubborn patches of hairs, be gone! Since the armpits have shown the best results over this 5 months period, I am getting a little impatient to see the last bits of hair still stick around. I wonder if one more month of lasering will do much difference at this point. If not then how many more months would it take? Or should I just leave it be and just shave off the rest for a while and see if it will eventually fall off by itself?

tria Hair Removal Laser Knuckle Hair 20 Weeks

tria Hair Removal Laser Knuckle Hair 22 Weeks, 5 months

Knuckle hairs.

I wish it was easier to see in the photos. In reality, it seems as if all my knuckles hairs have regrown. I can confidently say at this point this area has proved to be the least responsive to the lasering. It could be that the hairs were too thin or that the laser had a difficult time reaching the follicles since the area is so small and not flat. It always took a few attempts to get the right placement for the laser to zap.


April Haul - Sasa

12:25:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Sasa

The OG Asian beauty shopping temptation. Whether it is a physical store or their online site, Sasa is comparable to the Western beauty mecca, Sephora, in terms of variety and store numbers. What makes Sasa more dangerous than the other S brand is the prices. It takes much willpower to browse the store and leave empty-handed. Everything looks nice, sounds promising, and is cheaper than most other (e-)retailers.

My method to avoid temptation? Not visit period. If I don't look I won't be lured. But you know...when the opportunity comes to order with a friend to share the order total load...for free shipping purposes, it gets infinitely more difficult to resist. Oh, I'll just get an item or two. 1 hour, 4 items, and almost $50 later I finally stop myself from browsing anymore.

Let's just say, for comfort's sake, I limited myself well. Of the 4 items I got, half are to satisfy my curiosity and the other half are products I have used before—at least all of them were under USD $15. 23 Years Old's Black Paint Rubar's promise to tackle whiteheads and blackheads earned a place in my cart quickly. I enjoyed using a stick cleansing before and was excited to find another brand at a more affordable price. Papa Recipe's Bombee Honey Pudding Set was the pure impulse purchase. It also claims to help with congestion but I have yet to meet a peel off mask that I could handle. Biore's UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA+++ is a favorite for using on my neck and chest when the warmer humid weather kicks in. Crabtree & Evelyn's Hand Therapy lotions are the only ones I have tried that sink into my skin without leaving a residue behind.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Sasa Shopping Cart page

Price & Stock

If you can find a particular Asian brand you want on Sasa, it is safe to assume it'll be the cheapest option available on the internet. The only catch is the product availability and price fluctuates a lot. Items go out of stock fairly quickly. If you don't purchase it immediately, the item could get cheaper but more likely than not pricier.

They seem to have a "Price Guarantee" option where customers could submit information to Sasa if a lower price for an item is found elsewhere online. I have never used this feature before nor know of anyone who has so I can't attest to how smoothly that process goes.


Signing up is required to complete the checkout process. I believe shopping on the site will accrue "Bonus Points" which can be then redeemed for various freebies. These points also expire every year end of March.

If the purchase is big enough, USD $155 within 3 months, Sasa may send a "VIP member" invitation. Their site says VIP's get 5% off throughout the year, 2x Bonus Points, birthday surprises, and free gifts.

Shipping Options

Shipping options to the USA and Canada are simple—it is either Free Shipping for orders $70+ or Standard Shipping is $15 for orders below $70. The requirements for other countries are slightly different. Do remember to double check before buying. Since the minimum requirement for free shipping is quite high, I recommend ordering with friends.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Sasa payment page


The site accepts a bunch of different payments: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal Diners Club International, JCB, Unionpay, Tenpay and Alipay.

It seems pain-free enough and practically every popular option is offered. Bestie did have troubles before when using credit cards in particular. Her issuing bank blocked her payment to Sasa once and on another occasion Sasa declined her payment. We're not really sure what the reasons were. Sometimes Sasa will e-mail to request for credit card confirmation information and other times trying a different credit card fixed the issue.

Maybe next time PayPal is the way to go?

Check Out Process

Other than possible payment hiccups, the rest of the check out process is simple. Shipping and payment information are input into in-screen pop-up windows. Then you accept the Terms and Conditions and press the "Confirm Payment" button to acknowledge the order.

I find the side "Notice" panels really intimidating. It looks like it has so much information even though most of it aren't pertinent to my order. Some "Notices" date back to 2013!


Sasa estimates a delivery time of 8-12 business days. In reality, it took a little over 3 weeks for our purchase. The both of us weren't all too surprised. We don't order from Sasa often but every time we have the delivery time typically takes around 1 month.

We placed the order 4/3. Bestie said they sent a packing notification on 4/5 and dispatched it for delivery on 4/6. Even though she received a tracking number, it was a non-working one. The package arrived 4/26, and on the same day, Sasa sent an email to Bestie saying the order was canceled. What's up with that?

This was also our second attempt at ordering from Sasa. We had tried a month earlier and had similar communication mishaps. Sasa requested credit card confirmation information 2 weeks after placing our initial order. After waiting another 2 weeks for our package to arrive, Sasa sent an email one day saying the order had been cancelled altogether. Bestie suspected it was because one of the items on our list was out of stock. It would have been nice if they could have sent the other items and refunded the unavailable one, waited until everything was in stock again, or at the very least notified us of the cancellation earlier.


Sasa will accept returns within 30 days after receiving the package, but the items have to be completely unopened. This basically means you can have a change of heart on the actual act of purchasing but not because you didn't like the item after trying it.


April Haul - Global Lotte & JUNGSAEMMOOL

8:37:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Global Lotte Jungsaemmool makeup order

Jung Saem Mool and her namesake beauty products were probably one of the first K-Beauty items I lusted over and could not get my hands on. I loved how natural her makeup style was, good skin and base rank supreme. But the trouble was her first beauty line MULE and her current line JSM are both relatively small indie brands and specific to her salon.

(I believe) Her current beauty range is only available at her physical shops in Gangnam and Myeongdong, via (for those in Korea), and a select few official global e-commerce sites (Lotte, Hyundai, and Galleria). Of course, there are eBay sellers and other unofficial e-sellers scattered across the web; I still don't fully trust those since they aren't verified and their prices are usually quite hiked.

There were two big assumptions I had which kept me from purchasing JUNGSAEMMOOL products via the interwebs. 1) Buying anything from Korea directly would equal pricey, pricey shipping and usually not worth. 2) The promotions shared on Jung Saem Mool's Instagram were for her Korean-based customers only.

It never occurred to me to check Lotte, Hyundai, and Galleria. Curiosity crept up on me last month and I was surprised to find decent deals—they weren't the same deals, but good enough to catch my attention. Not only were all her products sold at their Korean retail value, but there were also 1+1 sets for many of her best sellers.

Despite wanting to order everything available, I narrowed down my choices and picked the one item I did not have anything similar to in my current collection: JUNGSAEMMOOL Artist Concealer Palette in Blend (a.k.a her color correcting palette). It retails for ₩40,000, which equates to around USD $38-40. Considering the price of even a single-shade color corrector at Sephora can be USD $20, JSM's version is pretty affordable. I liked that the colors in this palette looked more muted and creamier in JSM's photos and videos, versus the typical vibrant and drier formulations found in Western brands. It seems easier for color correcting newbies, like myself, to use.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Jungsaemmool global shopping comparison

I only purchased from 1 of the 3 sites but I gave a thorough enough browse through all of them to be able to make a good recommendation for fellow international Jung Saem Mool followers.

Hmall - Hyundai has the best selection of products. They offer most of her makeup line and skincare line. A majority, if not all, are global shipping approved. Some of her products have a "Benefit Price" that is slightly lower than the retail "Item Price." Hyundai also seems to offer a service called EMS Onepack where multiple items in orders could be bundled up into one. Hmall has their own form of coupons. Generally speaking, it seems like it would be more cost effective, shipping-wise, to purchase from Hmart if ordering multiple items.

Lotte holds the middle ground in terms of product selection. The makeup products available are limited to mainly her bestsellers and only a few items from her skincare line are listed. The only things unique to Lotte are her makeup brushes, which are sold individually and in a set. The prices on Lotte also seem to be consistently full priced, but it seemed like there are more 1+1 and multi-product sets to choose from to balance. The site charges shipping per item's weight. I think Lotte had more potential coupons to use when compared to the other 2 at the time I was browsing. For a single-item order with coupons or those wanting just the JSM brushes, Lotte has an advantage.

Galleria has the weakest selection of products. If Lotte has makeup bestsellers + some skincare + brushes, Galleria offers only the first two. There are also more items excluded from International Shipping at Galleria than what Hyundai and Lotte had. I didn't browse around the site long enough to figure out whether they offered digital coupons. This site calculates shipping via total order's shipping weight. Of the 3, I would gravitate towards and recommend this site the least for JSM Beauty.

*I saw that Peach & Lily made an announcement recently saying they will carry JUNGSAEMMOOL products soon. I am both excited and uncertain. Hopefully, the price difference isn't too drastic.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Global Lotte Shopping Cart page

Account & Coupons

A big reason why I chose Lotte, in the end, was because registered users had access to "downloadable" coupons. These are Lotte-issued coupons which go straight to member's account and applicable during the checkout process. As with any other coupons, these have a digital expiration of 1-month and are only good for 1 item in the shopping cart.

I wasn't 100% sure if the coupons I downloaded would be usable towards my order but I tried anyways. Luckily enough both coupons I had worked; I was able to stack a 10% and a 7% discount towards my single item purchase.

Shipping Options

Global Lotte offers a few different choices: EMS, DHL, and sometimes Lotte Express. All are express and expensive, EMS is typically the cheapest.

Since I limited myself to only buying one item, the Order Total estimate at Lotte ended up winning out between the 3 official e-commerce sites. The particular product I wanted had 50% off international shipping and it came with a +1 (freebie) concealer brush from her line.

It seems like each brand that sells on Global Lotte could choose to have their own combination of promotions for products, domestic shipping, and international shipping. Sometimes certain items may have a "Domestic Shipping Fee," which is for the transport of the goods from warehouse to the distribution center or to the airport in Korea.

I also noticed that the shipping price at Lotte is calculated per item versus the overall order weight. Example: Item 1 is 390g. Item 2 is 340g. The shipping price will be ₩40,848 for the 2 items (₩20,424 per item under 500g) instead of ₩24,124 for both items being under 750g.

Tip: Be careful when shopping on the site! Shipping costs could add up quickly, especially if purchasing multiple items or from different brands. It is very possible for shipping to cost more than the actual item itself. Otherwise, I think Global Lotte does a pretty good job at breaking down the fees in the Shopping Cart table.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Global Lotte payment page


The site accepts a bunch of different payments: credit card, Alipay, PayPal, Tenpay, UnionPay, and WeChatPay.

At first, I chose to pay through credit card and had some trouble. Global Lotte or Eximbay wouldn't process because they detected I had Adblocker enabled on Safari. Even after I paused Adblocker, the site still registered it as on.

Even after I moved to Chrome, which does not have Adblocker in Incognito mode, the website showed the same message. This time, though, I could see the option to press "Allow pop-ups specifically for Eximbay" and was able to finally proceed.

Despite all the fuss, my credit card ended up being declined for an unspecified reason. Global Lotte and Eximbay told me to contact Eximbay's customer service, but who knows how long that could have taken.

Eventually, I ended up using Paypal. It was quick, easy, and headache free.

Check Out Process

It was a little confusing at the end. The checkout process involved a lot of pop-up windows; American e-commerce sites typically have no pop-ups unless it involves 3rd party payment i.e. PayPal.

Even though the end message on the pop-up payment window said "Payment Processing/Order Successful", the main shopping cart page was still on the "Payment" page instead of a new "Complete Order" page.

I eventually decided to check my "Order History" before panicking. Luckily the order did indeed go through. If I panicked, I could have ended up ordering the same thing twice.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Global Lotte EMS packaging


The entire order went through surprisingly quick for an international order: 4 business days! I chose EMS and therefore wasn't expecting it to take very long to get from the Korean airport to Stateside; it isn't called Express Mail Service for nothing, those are typically very efficient and expedited.

I was just shocked by how quickly Global Lotte processed my order and how short a time their domestic distribution took. My order was placed on 4/11 EST. The website showed my order was in the domestic shipping stage on 4/12 (maybe even 4/11 since I ordered during Korea's morning time). I received an email saying it was shipped (internationally) on 4/14. The package arrived at my door 4/17. It probably could have arrived even earlier if 4/15-16 wasn't a weekend and a major holiday.


The box I received was humongous for the palette and brush I bought. It was much appreciated, after the fact, because the roominess does allow for more padding. Everything came wrapped in an excessively large sheet of bubble wrap, in addition to a bundle of kraft paper. I don't think any amount of smashing would get to the goodies with the amount of stuffing it had.


"Within 7 days after the arrival of the product" is what Global Lotte says. Return shipping fee is waived if the product is damaged; the fee is non-refundable if the buyer has a change of heart.


April Haul - Deciem & The Ordinary

12:02:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Deciem The Ordinary Serums

I must be one of the few remaining self-proclaimed beauty junkies to have only recently found out about the Canadian beauty brand Deciem's The Ordinary line. My Instagram and YouTube feed has been filled with posts dedicated to the brand lately. It is touted as a no-frills, targeted, and super affordable skincare line for those who know exactly what skin troubles need fixing and what ingredient is best at fixing it.

A skincare expert, I am definitely not. But the prices of their serums and oils had me researching niacinamides, AHA & BHA's, azelaic acids, and tons of other highly scientific names their products are made of. Even though I felt like everything The Ordinary offers could target something on my face, I chose to tread carefully and not be too impulsive with my first purchase.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%, and 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil were the final 3 that made my list. I mainly wanted to target acne, acne scarring, exfoliation, flakes, and dry skin. The best part was each bottle of 30ml fluid cost under USD $10!

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Deciem Shopping Cart page

Shopping Cart

My order only consisted of The Ordinary's products but Deciem more than welcomes "cherry picking" from all their brands. It makes shopping for multiple skin concerns and across price points extremely easy. It would have been more helpful to see the Free Shipping minimum requirement on the Shopping Cart page first rather than on following Check Out page, but it is neither here nor therea quick Googling can usually give the same information.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Deciem Check Out page

Check Out Process

Everything is very straightforward. Like their products, the site and check out procedure is fairly barebone yet effective at doing what it needs to do. There aren't any unnecessary distracting texts or photos. Each text box has a purpose and the areas that need attention are appropriately called out. Design-love! Although, I do wish the text was a tad larger by default.

Shipping Options

There isn't much of an option, it is either Free after spending $25 or Standard shipping for an extra $4.99. Considering how affordable everything by The Ordinary is, filling the cart shouldn't be difficult at all.

I assumed they would choose USPS since their free shipping minimum is so low and the specific carrier is never mentioned. It was a nice surprise to see UPS as their delivery choice.

I believe Deciem ships to most cities internationally. But don't quote me on that.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Deciem Payment page


The US site accepts only Credit Cards issued by Visa and Mastercard and PayPal. This is standard enough, but I could see it might be problematic for other credit card holders.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Deciem Check Out page


Orders could be placed via accounts or anonymously. I chose to create an account for orderly sake and in case I end up repurchasing from Deciem in the future. I love how detailed their Order History page is; there is information breakdown for everything! The company also sends e-mails with the same information as the order progresses.


Scaringly fast. I placed my order on 4/3 and received the package in my hands 4/6. The website had a note which said they were supposedly experiencing a high volume of orders so the speedy delivery was 100% a surprising. I guess since their USA, or at least East coast, distribution center is in New Jersey, it makes sense for the transport time to be relatively fast. I just didn't expect the whole process to be so quick.

lavlilacs April 2017 haul - Deciem packaging


The padding inside the packaging is very minimal. Don't let the simplicity fool anyone. Even though the boxes of serums are placed in a single layer bubble pouch, the cardboard box which encases everything is extremely sturdy. It, of course, won't be able to handle all my body weight if I really pushed down; thrashes and throws won't stand a chance though. Deciem and The Ordinary definitely does the whole minimalism thing well.


I probably won't be making any returns. But...I thought it would be interesting to share since Bestie pointed out to me recently that Deciem offers returns up to 1 year after purchase. They definitely keep true to their abnormalness.