I got my July bag from 3b Box and everything in this month’s bag was from the popular food-based theme brand, Skinfood. Their company motto is “good food for health is also good for the skin” so they incorporate the ingredients from antioxidant-rich and nutritious foods like broccoli, tomatoes and caviar into skincare and makeup. I think I heard the majority of Instagrammers groan when they saw that this month featured one brand, and a ubiquitous brand in K-Beauty at that. But I’ll dive more into this in the review.
If you’re not familiar with Beauty Beyond Borders, 3b is a new Asian Beauty subscription service – kind of like an Asian version of Birchbox since all skincare and cosmetic samples are from Asia. The service to try 4 – 5 deluxe size samples and costs only $12 a month! At this moment I believe they are only shipping to the USA and there still seems to be a wait list that they are trying to make a dent into. So if you’re interested in trying this out for a cool $12 go to The 3b Box for more info.
When I first started discovering Korean beauty brands 3 years ago, Skinfood was one of the first stores I gravitated towards in Korea’s Myeongdong. Their superior branding, company philosophy and cute packaging made it hard to resist but the prices turned me off as the brand price points were quite high compared to all the other stores that had 30% off everything across the K-Beauty-filled street! So I never got to take any of these pretties home. Their cult products are on my soft” wishlist since I have a 3 year stash to go through!
Well, since then I was able to look up various Skinfood lines that interested me and here’s what I noticed: although they brand themselves as wholesome, natural, food-based and effective, their products actually use a lot of silicones, parabens, alcohol and other preservatives. Their ingredient lists… are only “okay” to me. Nothing stellar. Only a few products are an exception (I think their Tomato line is packed with a lot of nice antioxidants and whitening/brightening ingredients but still has alcohol at the top of their list if that matters to you).
After much research and sampling, I just didn’t come out with many must-haves to add to my wish list. I was able to try some samples and even those did not wow me. With Skinfood, I’d only stick to buying their CULT products if you can’t keep away from having some of their foodie cuteness in your life.
1. Skinfood Rice Mask Wash Off Pack, 100g
This is a full size tub of Skinfood’s famous Rice Wash Off Pack. They have an entire series of these little tubs including other cult faves such as the Egg White Pore Mask, Black Sesame Hot Mask, Black Sugar Strawberry Wash Off Mask and Black Sugar Wash Off Mask. The rice version is a more gentler exfoliator than the black sugar ones where some users have said that it can be too harsh (but you can wet your hands a little more to make it a little milder).
I actually don’t have this yet so I was happy that it’s not a repeated product for me. A tub this size goes for $14 – $16 in NYC but it’s worth under $8 if you were to buy it in Korea. So taking into consideration USA prices, the rice pack alone already paid for this month’s bag.
Description: A Korean cult favorite, this rice wash-off pack (a mild exfoliant) contains rice extracts that moisturizes skin and brighten its tone. This mask removes excess oil and dirt fro the skin’s surface to keep your complexion clear and soft. Apply on cleansed face with a gentle massaging motion avoiding the eye and lip area.Leave on for 10 – 15 minutes then rinse off. For best results, use one a week.
I’m personally not too concerned with the ingredient list for this one but there are a few acne triggers you can check here on CosDNA. It has jojoba oil for moisturization and tocopheryl acetate which is a superstar antioxidant. Physical exfoliators will scrub off that layer of dead skin cells that you don’t see or feel so this is a great time to use a sheet mask right after you’re out of the shower so your skin can really eat up the essence from the mask of your choosing.
2. & 3. Skinfood Fresh Apple Sparkling Pore Toner and Emulsion Samples
So the Fresh Apple Sparkling Pore Toner and Emulsion sample set was what made 3b subscribers a little miffed this month. 3b decided to count the toner and emulsion as separate samples and not as a set so it felt like we got jipped by one item since these samples are so small. I can probably finish the set in four days. I’m not too upset because the Rice Wash Off Pack was full size and there was also a full size eye liner that I’ll get to below.
The Fresh Apple Sparkling Pore line is meant for all skin types but best for oily skin. The product is best at minimizing pores because the apple extracts have tannins (that bitter taste in apples) that control sebum and oil-production. This line is called “sparkling” because it also uses 48,000 mg of Cho Jung carbonated water. This water has a lot of minerals to provide nutrients back to your face. Seriously though, the label boasts 8,000 mg of apple extracts which is GREAT but denatured alcohol is also listed as the second ingredient on CosDNA. Other reviews have said that it smells full of alcohol and evaporates so fast that they had trouble taking swatch photos.
With the emulsion, it’s not opaque like a white lotion (which is how most emulsions typically look like). It’s just as clear as the toner but thicker. Since it’s more viscose than toner, it uses less of the carbonated water at 16,000 mg but still has 8,000 mg of the apple extract. The only other good-for-you ingredient is Tocopherol which is an antioxidant and Sorbital which is a skin-conditioning agent. Alcohol for this one is listed as fourth. There’s also Dimethicone if that matters to you.
Toner: This carbonated toner contains fresh apple extracts that removes soap and cleanser residue, clears skim impurities and tightens your pores. The apple extract helps control sebum production (great for those with oily skin) while Cho Jung sparkling water refreshes and tones the skin. Apply on cleansed hands or a cotton pad.
Emulsion: The emulsion contains fresh apple extract to manage sebum production while tightening enlarged pores. The gel-like consistency is light and does not feel heavy on the skin- perfect for the summer days! Apply after Skinfood Fresh Apple Sparkling Toner using hands in a gentle massaging motion for a dewy glow.
4. Skinfood Black Bean Eyeliner Pencil – 01 Black
Just a standard, retractable black eyeliner with a smudger at the other end. Supposedly these are made from Black Soy Bean extract that helps give a moisturized application. It’s not waterproof so I think this might smudge or fade if you have oily lids. This doesn’t seem like it’s anything special to me. Eyeliners retail really cheaply in Korea, I can’t imagine that this costs any more than $4 USD but of course it’s worth probably $9 here in Flushing, New York. I rather buy a waterproof Maybelline eyeliner that runs cheaper than that!
Description: A great pencil eyeliner for everyday, the Skinfood Black Bean Eyeliner Pencil gives natural but noticeable definition to your eyes. It’s creamy, easy to apply, and stays on during the day. Start from the inner corner and draw outwards. Layer eyeliner to achieve desired look.
Conclusion – Why I Canceled my Subscription
I personally didn’t mind too much that 3b counted the toner and emulsion samples separately as two items instead of one set. What I minded a little more was that it was themed around familiar brand this month. I’m really looking for variety and brand discovery at this time in my K-Beauty journey. I like Indie brands that haven’t made its way into the USA or popularized in Korea yet. Is that too much to ask from K-Beauty gods? (This makes me miss the old Memebox where every box had new brands to jive your curiosity).
What drew me to 3b in the beginning was seeing samples from SK-II and Sulwhasoo – brands I haven’t tried yet. Granted these are higher-end and well-known in the industry, they were mixed in with a lot of other brands that made the bag more fun. This month didn’t have variety and I also felt the “curation” wasn’t really there. I don’t think the eyeliner will be great and I don’t think the toner/emulsion set will break any ground for me. The rice mask, sure, I’d keep it.
Ultimately I canceled my subscription after 3 months because their brands tend to be TOO mixed with high and low-end brands (and lean heavier on the low/mid-end brands like Skinfood). I decided that I can’t do these Asian Beauty subscriptions anymore because they’re not delivering what an advanced K-Beauty user needs. This bag may be perfect for a beginner but I’ve amassed such a large collection already that I rather use my $12/month to buy something off my wishlist, or should I say Ceci’s “Curated List” to make this bad spending sound fancy?
This sub may not have worked out for me (for my own good) but it can be a dream for someone else. I’ll end this post with a handy list to see if 3b (Beauty Beyond Borders) subscription is right for you.:
I think subscribing to 3b is great for someone who:
– Wants to start sampling Asian Beauty (Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese beauty) in an affordable way
– Wants to slowly build up a skincare routine that will work for them
– Wants to try out new makeup looks and products
– Wants experts to curate the best that Asia is offering and have it delivered to your door
– Doesn’t have time to sift through tons of online reviews and feels overwhelmed with too many options.
I DON’T think this is good for someone who:
– Is past the age of 35 (arbitrary number but someone who is in the older demographic who’s skincare needs lean towards anti-aging)
– Already has a buttload of Korean Beauty products
– Doesn’t like surprises
– Doesn’t want to try anything new or too picky with products
– Is NOT a beginner in the Asian Beauty world
– Has ultra sensitive skin (too much risk in getting a lot of products that will flair up a reaction)