Sephora Spring Series: Cleansing & Toning

If you ask any skincare enthusiast, I can bet you that they would say cleansing is probably one of the MOST important steps in your skincare regime. Why you ask? Well, if you don’t have a clean canvas to work with, it makes it more difficult to achieve your desired results. In skincare terms, it means that the products you subsequently use after may be less effective if you’ve still got residue and gunk left on your face. I think what’s important is developing a cleansing routine that works for you which means the double, triple, quadruple-whatever cleanse may not work for you. Toners are also important because they help to rebalance your skin after you’ve cleansed which can sometimes leave your face feeling stripped of it’s natural moisture… which, of course, is not ideal. Anyhow, in this series I will go over some new products I got in my most recent Sephora haul(s) as well as some old favourites … read on!

music credits : LAKEY INSPIRED

  • Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil – Coming from the famous Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil which I religiously used for years, I have been pleasantly surprised with this product. Shu carries quite a few variations of the oil cleanser with my first experience using the Original formula (now claimed for sensitive skin, I think), second was the Anti-Oxidant formula, and lastly the Ultime8 formula. All three formulas seemed to work with my skin, but I don’t believe it was this product per se that made the difference to my skincare routine. Rather, the introduction of oil cleansing itself really enhanced my routine. To be honest, in the beginning the thought of oil cleansing didn’t sit well with me considering I have combination/oily skin. However, once I tried oil cleansing I felt the cleanser dissolved the makeup, sunscreen and everything else much better. I use this product as part of my double-cleansing method and my face feels squeaky clean! I’m on my second bottle of the cleansing oil and I can say I’m quite pleased. The real reason I decided to switch from Shu was primarily due to the fact that Tatcha’s ingredients list seemed less complex and more simple. Over the years I’ve become a little more conscious of product ingredients, though still have much to learn before I can confidently say I know what is “good” vs “bad,” instead, I am more aware of how my skin reacts to certain ingredients. In comparison to the Shu cleansers, this oil feels a little thicker. It doesn’t contain mineral oil so it emulsifies when rinsed with water and surprisingly leaves no oily residue. Overall, I think this is a great oil cleanser and I will continue to buy it. If you’ve already used oil cleansers and are thinking of switching things up, I’d give this one a try. I have also heard feedback from some folks that this cleanser can be too thick for the skin so if you’re new to oil cleansing perhaps you can try a lighter oil cleanser first.

music credits : LAKEY INSPIRED

  • Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash – I’ve used this cleanser for at least 4 years and although I like to change my products, I still find myself coming back to this one. Honestly, I don’t think it’s anything special, but it is a safe choice for me. Personally, what I’m looking for in a cleanser is not to brighten,moisturize or treat any major skin concerns; I think that’s the purpose of serums and creams. Instead, I think a good cleanser is one that can clean my skin without stripping my face completely. This happens to be one of those products that just work well as a cleanser without all other bells and whistles. Depending on your skin concern(s), there are some products that can feel harsh, abrasive or make your skin feel tight (not in a good way) and overly dry. This is usually the case for me with products that have salicylic acid or anything that is supposed to treat acne. If you ask me, I prefer to stay away from cleansers that treat concerns and instead use spot treatment for those targeted areas. This product also claims to balance both dry and oily skin, but reading through some comments folks with dry skin sometimes find this cleanser drying. Again, you won’t know until you try so I would close off by saying if you’re looking for a cleanser that functions well as just a cleanser then I would suggest giving this one a try.

photo from

  • Origins United State Balancing Tonic – I realize I totally forgot to take a video of this product, but I’ve pretty much finished the toner so there wouldn’t be much left to show in videos or pictures. Moving on… I used this toner a few years ago as part of my daytime routine along with the Origins A perfect World Age-Defense Treatment Lotion with White Tea for the nightly routine. I recall it worked really well for me back then, but coming back to it now I didn’t feel like it was truly special. I have a special place in my vanity for Origins products simply because their formulas claim to be free of plenty of different types of ingredients. However, to my earlier point I don’t know how beneficial it is to have these ingredients removed so, just by observation, this toner is free from parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs and Triclosan… to me that means it should be great for sensitive skin? Similar to the cleanser above, this toner is supposed to help rebalance moisture levels without stripping or stinging. Does it work in this regard? Absolutely. But if your primary concerns is brightening and evening the skintone, then perhaps this isn’t the toner for you. I felt that this product worked really well when my skin was oilier a few years back, however as the years have gone by my skin has changed which naturally means my preference have too. This product isn’t specifically for oily/combination skin but personally I feel that it is most suited for those skin types. Overall, Origins products are pretty affordable and work pretty well so I would absolutely recommend their products to friends and family!

Before I continue, I’d like to give a little background on Amore Pacific and my experience. I’ve been loyal to Laneige, Sulwahsoo and Iope which are brands under the same company as Amore Pacific. Coming from these three brands I was a little skeptical about how I would feel about Amore Pacific. But, I can come back and say I have tried a few of their products and I am quite happy with all of them. How does this compare with Laneige, Sulwahsoo and Iope? Well, what I can say is that the formula in Amore Pacific products feel luxurious and rich. Not to say that the other three brands aren’t luxurious, but I can most definitely feel a difference. Of course, I’m also a sucker for packaging… and can we not all agree that Amore Pacific product packaging is so clean and beautiful?! Anyway, I digress… moving on… Now, I’m not knowledgeable when it comes to knowing what ingredients are better than others, however, I have consistently had a great experience with their products in terms of maintaining my skin and keeping the texture soft. There are products out there that sometimes feel great to touch and apply, but are actually loaded with fillers and ingredients that don’t provide any real benefit for your skin.

music credits : LAKEY INSPIRED

  • Amore Pacific (AP) Treatment Toner – This toner in particular contains Red ginseng root extract and other botanicals which leaves a soft, pleasant smell unlike some other toners that have a strong alcohol or perfume scent. The product claims to have a soothing effect on the skin… and it really does! I use this straight after cleansing and it keeps my skin feeling incredibly soft. I use this product as part of my day and night routine. Until I find another contender, I will continue to use this toner or I might choose to experiment between the other brands. Highly recommend this product!

music credits : LAKEY INSPIRED

  • Amore Pacific (AP) Vintage Single Extract Essence – Okay, so this is definitely a product I would consider a “splurge.” It retails for $200 CAD for 120 mL, which over nightly use has lasted me 5 months and will probably survive another month. From a price standpoint that’s like more than $1 per mL! I can’t say I’ve seen significant improvement in my skin since I started using it so I’m not sure if I will repurchase as it’s quite a pricey product. I decided to try this product after I finished the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (see below for my thoughts/review), both of which I cannot say I’ve seen drastic improvement. I think this product has helped me maintain my skin which is great, but for $200 I think you might be able to find a more affordable substitute. The product itself claims to help with clarity, tone and texture – all of which I can say I’m happy with my skin’s current condition. Could I attribute it entirely to this product? It’s hard to say since I use a variety of products day-to-day; perhaps with continued use I might see more obvious results. If you’ve got disposable income or are willing to splurge on skincare products, you could give this a try but it wouldn’t be something I would strongly recommend.

photo from SK-II .com

  • SK-II Facial Treatment Essence – So, I actually tried the SK-II essence before I tried the AMOREPACIFIC one and I can’t say I’m disappointed with either but I also can’t say I’ve found my holy grail. The major ingredient in the SK-II product is Pitera which is “a clear liquid rich in vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids” that is derived from a strictly controlled natural fermentation process, ultimately these ingredients work together to help with skin cell renewal. The product itself is raved about among beauty gurus especially in the Asian markets which was primarily my motivation to give this product a try. I bought the largest size bottle (330 mL) which lasted me approximately 7 months with daily and generous usage. After cleansing and toning, I would pump 1-2 drops of the product onto my palms and press/pat it onto my face. I think the product helped my skin create a barrier or coating on my skin that made it easier to absorb the subsequent products such as serums and moisturizers. Honestly, I think the hype and rave had set my expectations much higher and as a result it left more room for disappointment as I hadn’t seen any drastic results. Perhaps the combination of products I was using at the time wasn’t a great compliment to this product or vice versa. Overall, I think the product is good, but considering the price tag I can’t confidently say I saw any major changes to the tone and clarity of my skin. I think I may consider trying this product again in the future but at the moment I will be looking for a different alternative.

TLDR version: Out of these four products, I would highly recommend the Amore Pacific Treatment Toner and the Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash. These are both my safe choices and don’t break the bank. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products!

Stay tuned for the rest of this series 🙂





One of six in the Sephora Spring Series, check out my honest thoughts on products ranging from cleansing & toning, moisturizing, exfoliants, treatment & toners, eye and sun care, and face masks!  Read the original post here and follow me on the rest of this series!

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