1 Jan 2018

Carolyn's Best of Beauty Award: 2017 Best and Worst Skincare Products Part 1

Time flies fast and now it is time to do my 2017 Best of Beauty Award again! 2017 is a rather stable year for me. I have moved on from being adventurous and started practicing brand loyalty. I also found my skincare niches and knew what I wanted before buying anything so I bumped into less gimmicky products this year. I also learned to avoid "stocking up" on things, even for my holy grails because the world just moves too fast and there will be newer and more economic ones coming up. I have tried most of the cosmetic brands out there (that I am interested in), and was also sent a few new ones to try out from generous brand owners.

These are skincare/makeup products, either full size or miniatures, that I have been using quite deliberately in 2017. For this year, I'm gonna put both best and worst skincare awards in one post to make things easier for you guys:

  • Cushion Foundation
  • Cleansing Oil / Cleansing Wipes / Makeup Remover
  • Cleansing Water
  • Foam Cleanser
  • First Serum
  • First Essence
  • Toner
  • Mist
  • Eye Cream / Eye Mask
  • Moisturizing Serum / Treatment
  • Brightening Serum / Spot Treatment
  • Anti-Aging Serum / Treatment
  • Acne Treatment
  • Lotion

Cushion Foundation

Belif Moisture Bomb Cushion SPF42 PA+++ ★★★★☆
Belif Moisture Bomb Cushion SPF50 PA+++ ★★★★
Dr. Young Silky Primer ★★★☆
Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher EX ★★★☆
W-lab Water Hole Cushion #23 ★

I don’t really use cushion foundation or any other base makeup items in 2017. Sunscreen is usually the last step of my morning routine. I only use them once in a while so I only so much to share for this year. Out of all these cushion foundations or base makeup, my favourite is Belif Moisture Bomb Cushion SPF42 PA+++ which feels really cooling and moisturizing on the skin. It also comes with two mirror for better application! My least favourite would be W-lab Water Hole Cushion which feels a little bit cakey and “greyish” on the skin when you keep it for longer. It also clogs my pores and makes me more prone to breakout. 

Cleansing Oil / Cleansing Wipes / Makeup Remover

A'pieu Mineral Lip & Eye Remover ★★★☆
A'pieu Perfect Tint Remover ★★★☆
Belif Cleansing Gel Oil Enriched ★★★☆
Heimish All Clean Balm ★★★★☆
Lirikos Marine Deep Cleansing Tissue ★★★★
Nature Republic Jeju Sparkling Cleansing Tissue ★★★★☆
Primera Moisture Cleansing Tissue ★★★
Primera Seed Energy Cleansing Oil ★★★☆
Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Oil ★★★☆

The best cleansing oil, makeup remover and cleansing tissues in 2017 is Heimish All Clean Balm and Nature Republic Jeju Sparkling Cleansing Tissue. Heimish offers convenient and effective one-step makeup removing benefits with its sherbet-like oil balm texture. It is also perfect for travelling since it will not leak or spill. You can just scoop a little bit into an empty container and carry it around you while travelling. It doesn’t contain mineral oil and is cheaper than the famous Banila Co All Clean Zero (the pink one) which contains mineral oil, hence would be a cheaper alternative for anyone who doesn’t like having mineral oil on their face.

The worst cleansing oil, makeup remover and cleansing tissues in 2018 is Primera Moisture Cleansing Tissue. Actually this isn’t really worst, more like my least favourite makeup removing products. It is quite oily and will leave an oily residue on your skin. Unless you have dry skin, and won’t mind having cleansing oil residues (with surfactant and other chemicals) on your skin, I wouldn’t recommend you to check this one out. You might as well just put coconut oil on your face if you were to go for this.

Cleansing Water

Belif Cleansing Herb Water ★★★★
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water ★★★★
Illi Cleansing Water ★★★★
Laneige Oil-Free Cleansing Liquid ★★★☆
Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water ★★★☆
Neogen Real Flower Cleansing Water #Rose ★★★
Nature Republic Jeju Sparkling Cleansing Water ★★★★☆
Son & Park Beauty Water ★★★★★

My favourite cleansing water for 2017 is Son & Park Beauty Water. Instead of calling this a cleansing water, it feels more like a cleansing toner. It contains a lot of botanical ingredients and essential oils to gently exfoliate, hydrate and freshen. It can remove most impurities and dust, including light makeup and sunscreen. I love using it to retouch-up my skin after lunch. It also doesn’t feel irritating at all when left on the skin, unlike most other cleansing waters, so there is no need for rinsing after using. Definitely a repurchase!

I don’t really have a worst cleansing water for 2017. If I were to really pick one, it would be the Neogen Real Flower Cleansing Water in Rose. It is not a cheap cleansing water, and it claims to do things that cleansing toner does so I have high expectation on it. However, except for functioning like a normal cleansing water (which the Garnier Cleansing Water at less than half its price can do), there is nothing in here that actually deserves the price (and hype). It is not very effective at removing makeup, not particularly hydrating or refreshing. It also feels kinda irritating when left unrinsed. The scent also feels like some kind of cheap soap you can buy in dollar store. Not something I expect from a good brand like Neogen.

Foam Cleanser

Acwell Bubble-Free pH Balancing Cleanser ★★★★☆
Belif The True Tincture Cleansing Stick - Chamomile ★★★☆
Biotherm Biosource Hydra-Toning Cleanser ★★★☆
Biotherm Biosource Smooth Foam Cleanser ★
Celeb Face Sparkling Cleanser ★★★★★
Earth's Recipe Steamwater Cleanser ★★★★
Hanyul Pure Artemisia Cleansing Foam ☆
Innisfree 20% Sea Salt Jelly Cleanser ★★★★☆
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser ★★★★
Laneige White Dew Milky Cleanser ★★★☆
Neogen Real Fresh Foam Cleanser #Cereal ★★☆
Primera Water Cress Brightening Foam ☆
Su:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick ★★★☆
The Saem Max Perfection Firming Multi Cleanser ★
The Saem Urban Eco Harakeke Foam Cleanser ★★★
Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash ★★★

My favourite cleanser for 2017 would be the Celeb Face Sparkling Cleanser I received from Charis several months ago. I like how this feels really gentle and “sparkling” on the skin. I basically just wet my face a little, smooth 2-3 pumps across my face, and left it to do all the cleansing while doing my routine shampooing. It is effective, convenient, and time-saving. I like it better than Belif Bubble Mask because this one only takes less than a minute whereas the Belif one requires at least 5 minutes on your face. I also really enjoy Acwell low pH cleanser but I can only use that one in the morning as it would be too gentle for the evening. I also adore Earth’s Recipe Steamwater Cleanser and Innisfree 20% Sea Salt Jelly Cleanser that I’m using recently which are both effective yet gentle enough for daily uses.

The worst foam cleansers for 2017 that I have used is Hanyul Pure Artemisia Cleansing Foam and Primera Water Cress Brightening Foam, both of which are too drying for my skin. Cleanser uses to be really gentle nowadays so I am quite surprised that both of these brands still produce something so drying and harsh on the skin. Be gentle to the skin pals!

First Serum

Belif Numero 10 Essence ★★★★★
Belif The True Decoction - Anti Aging Shaking Water ★★★★☆
Belif The True Tincture Of Chamomile ★★★★
Holika Holika 3 Seconds Booster Vita Complex ☆
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum ★★★★☆
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum_EX ★★★★☆
The Plant Base Natural Solution Skin Essence ★☆
The History of Whoo Soon Hwan Essence ★★★☆

It is very hard to choose between these first serums because many of them are just excellent. If I were to pick, my favourite first serum of the year would be the Belif Numero 10 Essence. This is a lightweight essence with watery-gel texture that will turn into water once you blend it out. It has a nice herbal lemon scent that will soothe your body and soul. I rely on it to restore moisture and nutrients back to my skin after cleansing and it never disappoints. My next favourite would be the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum_EX that deeply nourish and treat my skin with its hanbang ingredients. Definitely a greater starter for anyone who is into preventing signs of premature aging on their face!

The worst first serum of the year award goes to Holika Holika 3 Seconds Booster Vita Complex. This is a booster that feels like a lightweight toner with a lot of alcohol content. It is a bit drying and does pretty much nothing for my skin and something about its weird alcohol-citrusy scent really turns me off. 

First Essence

Biotherm Life Plankton Essence ★★★☆
Blithe 5 Energy Roots Essence ★★★☆
Estee Lauder Micro Essence ★★★☆
Hera Cell Essence ★★★★
Innisfree Soybean Energy Essence ★★★
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning ★★★★★
Kiehl's Iris Treatment Essence ★★★☆
Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector ★★
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence ★★★★
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ★★★★★
Tony Moly Intense Care 94.5% Essence ☆

I have two favourites for the first essence / treatment essence category in 2017, and they are IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning and SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. They are both great at toning, refining, hydrating, and regenerating the skin. My skin is smoother, pores become smaller, and less prone to acnes and whiteheads after incorporating them into my routine. Initially I want to put IOPE as my favourite due to the price factory (IOPE is at least twice cheaper than SK-II - 168ml vs. 75ml for approximately RM 220 of your money) but since IOPE reformulates its essence I am not sure does the newer version works as well as the older one. Besides, I don’t like first essence with viscous or slimy consistency (the reformulated version is thicker in consistency) which is why I didn’t go grab one for myself yet. As such, I still include SK-II as my indisputable favourite for the first essence category despite the high price tag.

The worst first essence for 2017 would be the Tony Moly Intense Care 94.5% Essence. It feels quite slippery, even oily when applied. There is also nothing outstanding about its performance, nothing comparable to the rest. I feel the same too for Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector which does basically nothing for my skin but I think Tony Moly one is worst because of the unpleasant texture.


Belif Bergamot Herbal Extract Toner ★★★☆
Belif Eucalyptus Herbal Extract Toner ★★★★
Belif The True - Whitening Clear Toning Water ★★★☆
Belif Witch Hazel Extract Toner ★★★★
Biotherm Aquasource Toning Lotion ★★★★
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 ★★☆
Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner ★★
Dear By Enprani Moistfull Booskin ★★★☆
Dear By Enprani Tone Up Booskin ★★★★
Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner ★★★☆
Half Moon Eyes Milky Jelly Toning Essence ☆
Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softener ★★★★
Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin ★★★★☆
Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Skin ★★★★☆
Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Clarity-Activating Toner ★★
Kose Sekkisei Enriched Lotion ★★★★☆
Kose Sekkisei Lotion ★★★★☆
Laneige Fresh Calming Toner ★★★★
Laneige White Dew Skin Refiner ★★★★
Make P:Rem Hydrate Me Micro Essence Toner ★★★☆
Melvita Damask Rose Floral Water ★★★★
Pixi Glow Tonic ★★★☆
Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner ★★★★
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion ★★★★
Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water Ex ★★★★☆
Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Water ★★★★☆
Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening Water EX ★★★★☆
SUM37 Water-Full Radiant Hydrating Glow Toner ★★★★
Tomaru Pure White Blossom Toner ★★★☆
Whamisa Organic Flowers Original Toner ★★☆

I have many favourite toners for 2017. Basically anything with 4-stars and above are good enough to warrant my repurchase. It really depends on your skin type when it comes to which to buy. If I were to repurchase, my favourite toner is Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Skin, which reminds me of freshly harvested seawater from the pristine Jeju Island. Next I also love Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX and Kose Sekkisei Lotion. Sulwhasoo offers lightweight nourishment with its hanbang goodies wheres Kose is effective at brightening and hydrating my skin. A good toner should be hydrating, lightweight with skin prepping benefits thus my favourite toner is biased towards those with these properties. So weight your skincare preferences when it comes to choosing the best toner.

The worst toner for 2017 is Half Moon Eyes Milky Jelly Toning Essence. I don't like its scent and I don't find it useful if compared to other toners I have had. I also dislike Whamisa Organic Flowers Original Toner and Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner. I think Whamisa is too sticky and hard to absorb whereas Cosrx feels quite indifferent on my skin, especially when I realize that you don't really need a pH correcting toner for your chemical exfoliants (AHA/BHA treatment).


Belif Glazing Water Mist Purple ★★★
Goodal Super Seed Oil Plus Skin Mist ★★★★
Hada Labo Kiwamizu Lotion ★★★☆
Laneige Water Bank Mineral Mist ★★★★★
Laneige Water Science Mist Brightening ★★★☆
Laneige Water Science Mist Time Freeze Face-Fit ★★★☆
Primary Raw Azulene Calming Water ★★★★

To be very honest with you guys, my favouite mist for 2017 remains Laneige Water Bank Mineral Mist. Other Laneige Water Science Mists are nuts compared to the Water Bank Mineral Mist. They are not moisturizing and refreshing enough for my skin. My next favourite would be Primary Raw Azulene Calming Water. This is a waterless mist with moisturizing and soothing benefits, made of my favourite food soy bean! But if I were to repurchase, I will still go back to Laneige.

The worst mist I used in 2017 is Belif Glazing Water Mist Purple. This is supposed to brighten up my skin, give it a subtle glow and hydrate my skin. But somehow it itches my skin out everytime I'm using it. As such, I didn't even finish using it even though there is just 100ml of product inside. A bit disappointed, given how much I love the brand "Belif".

Eye Cream / Eye Mask

A.H.C The Pure Real Eye Cream For Face (Season 5) ★★★★☆
Belif Anti-Dark Circle Eye Serum ★★★☆
Belif Moisturizing And Firming Eye Cream ★★★★
Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Eye Cream ★★★★☆
Clinique All About Eyes ★★
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye ★★☆
Goodal Moisture Barrier Eye Cream ★★★☆
Laneige Eye Sleeping Mask ★★★☆
Petitfee Premium Gold & EGF Eye Patch ★★★☆
SK-II RNA Power Eye Cream Radical New Age ★★★★☆
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream ★★★★☆
Whoo Jinyul Eye Cream ★★★★
Yuripibu Cucu Maronza Eye Cream ★★★

I have many eye cream favourites for 2017, but none really stands up among the rest. I love A.H.C eye cream (season 5), Blossom Jeju pink camellia eye cream, SK-II RNA eye cream, and Sulwhasoo ginseng eye cream, but each of them have their pros and cons so it is hard for me to just pick one. Among these, I use Blossom Jeju the most due to its lightweight but nourishing texture and enticing scent. I also love A.H.C eye cream which is super affordable with lovely texture at its price. Next I have two other high-end favourites from SK-II and Sulwhasoo. They are super nourishing without being heavy or overwhelming. They are both miniatures so it is hard to tell their efficacy yet, but so far so good I must say.

The worst eye cream that I had for 2017 is Clinique All About Eyes. I got a mini size of it (5ml if not mistaken) from my other Clinique purchases and I am super disappointed about its texture. This stuff can never be well absorbed by the skin around my eyes. And since it never absorbs, I also don’t see any improvement after using the entire jar. Estee Lauder one is easier to absorb but the efficacy is also really unpromising given its retail price. It does literally NOTHING for the delicate skin around my eyes. A bit disappointed and would not repurchase those.

Moisturizing Serum / Treatment

Belif Hungarian Water Essence ★★★☆
Belif Hungarian Water Essence - Moisture Binder ★★★☆
Biotherm Aquasource Deep Serum ★
Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ★★★☆
Huxley Secret Of Sahara Essence #Grab Water ★★★★
Huxley Secret Of Sahara Oil Essence ★★★★☆
Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Deep Essence ★★
Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence ★★★★☆
Innisfree Jeju Sparkling Mineral Essence ★★★★☆
Laneige Fresh Calming Morning Mask ★★★★
Laneige Water Bank Essence_EX ★★★★☆
Lirikos Marine Hydro Ampoule EX ★★★★☆
Loveisderma Hydramax Serum ★★★
Make P:rem Hydrate Me Micro Ampoule Essence ★★★☆
Manyo Factory Ultra Moist Rebirth Ampoule ★★★☆
Scinic Aqua All In One Ampoule ★★☆
SUM37 Water-Full Radiant Hydrating Glow Serum ★★★★

I have two favourite moisturizing serums for 2017, and they are Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence and Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence. Innisfree is my early-2017 favourite whereas Huxley one accompanies throughout the end of 2017. Innisfree is a lightweight and super hydrating essence with a breath of ocean. It can quench your skin of thirst immediately with its mineral seawater content. Huxley is more concentrated with its oil-in-essence texture but equally lightweight and nourishing for your thirsty skin. My skin always feel so plump and baby soft every time after using it!

The worst moisturizing serum that I used in 2017 is Biotherm Aquasource Deep Serum. I received a mini size of it (5ml) from my other Biotherm haul but is quite glad that I didn't commit into a full size. It feels really drying (yes, drying!) on my skin with its rich alcohol content. And the strong fragrance in it never fails to give me migraine everytime I'm using it! I've no idea why the hypes around it!

Brightening Serum / Spot Treatment

Belif The True Whitening Essence ★★★
Belif The White Decoction Ultimate Brightening Essence ★★★
Earth's Recipe Gigawhite Radiance Serum ★★★☆
Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution ★★★★
Laneige White Dew Original Ampoule Essence ★★★★
Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence ★★★★☆
LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule ★★★★
Melvita Nectar Bright Brightening Duo ☆
Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Serum ★★★☆
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA ★★★★
Tomaru Pure White Blossom Essence ★★☆

My favourite brightening serum for 2017 is Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence. I have seen good results with this essence on my skin tone and freckles. It also smells really good and feels super lightweight on the skin. I think it works a bit better than Kiehl's and is more cost-effective (slightly cheaper). I haven't used Laneige White Dew enough to tell a difference so I will swear by Laneige White Plus first. I also love LJH propolis ampoule that helps to brighten up my skin and give me a subtle glow that no other serum has ever given.

The worst brightening serum that I used in 2017 is Melvita Nectar Bright Brightening Duo is a oil-essence with skin exfoliating benefits. I am super turned off by its scent. It smells like some kind of funky died insects. It also feels quite irritating on the skin which I dislike. A product that I regretted purchasing!

Anti-Aging Serum / Treatment

Belif Peat Miracle Revital Serum Concentrate ★★★☆
Belif The True Anti - Aging Essence ★★★☆
Belif The True Cream - Anti Aging Soft Bomb ★★★☆
Belif The True Decoction - Firming Essence ★★★☆
Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Essence Serum ★★★☆
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair ★★★☆
Innisfree Orchid Enriched Essence ☆
IOPE Bio Retinol ★★★
Karatica I'm Fill Patch ☆
Lirikos Marine Collagen V Ampoule ★★★☆
Lirikos Marine Expert Restoring Serum ★★★
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Borabit Ampoule ★★★☆
Primera Super Sprout Serum ★★★☆
Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum ★★★★
The Ordinary Buffet ★★★☆
Whoo Hwa Hyun Essence ★★★
Whoo Ja Saeng Essence ★★★★★
Yuripibu Artichoke Power Essence ★★★★

It is very hard to judge whether or not an anti-aging serum works. Most anti-aging serum uses anti-oxidizing and nourishing ingredients to prevent premature aging and diminish the appearance of wrinkles, which are not visibly noticeable. As such, my judgement is merely based on the results (visible improvement to my skin health and texture) I get from using these products, which may differ from time to time, depending on my skin conditions and environment. Anything with a score of ★★★☆ means "nice to use but not much of an anti-aging results seen". Anything higher than that means "some results seen". My favourite anti-aging serum for 2017 is The History of Whoo Ja Saeng Essence. This stuff works great to repair any dryness and flakiness, restore suppleness to the skin, as well as nourish and soften the skin. It does diminish the appearance of wrinkles, dryness and sagginess. And it contains many herbal ingredients with scientifically proven anti-aging benefits too!

Innisfree Orchid Enriched Essence is the worst anti-aging serum for 2017, in my opinion. This is nothing more than a fragrance syrup that feels nothing at all on the skin. My skin is not more hydrated, plump, and soft after using. And the fragrance is so strong that it always gives me headache whenever I am using it.

Acne Treatment

Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch ★★★★☆
Cosrx Centella Blemish Cream ★★
Innisfree Truecare Cica Intensive Balm ★★★★
LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence ★★★★☆

The best acne treatment that I’ve used in 2017 is Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch. It can effectively calm, heal and reduce the severity and size of breakout. It comes 24 patches with different sizes at approximately RM 0.50 each. Although it claims to be waterproof but I can only keep it until showering time as the edges will be wet and soaked with water and unfit for use anymore. But I do notice that my breakout is much calmer and smaller every time after taking the patches off. I don’t like its counterpart Cosrx Centella Blemish Cream as much. I don’t think there is any practicality in using this cream. It cannot really heal and calm breakouts, nor do I notice any major improvement after applying it to my bf’s blemish area for several weeks. It just doesn’t work for the both of us.


Belif Creamy Moisturizer Deep Moist ★
Belif Milky Moisturizer Hydra Balancing ★★★☆
Belif Oil Control Moisturizer Fresh ★★★☆
Biotherm Aquasource Rebalancing Milky Lotion ★★★☆
Goodal Moisture Barrier Liquid ★★★★☆
Hanyul Rice Balancing Skin Emulsion ★★★
Laneige White Dew Emulsion ★★★★☆
Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Emulsion ★★★
Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Emulsion EX ★★★☆
Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Whitening Fluid ★★★
Sum37 Water-Full Radiant Hydrating Glow Emulsion ★★★★
Whamisa Organic Flowers Original Lotion ★★★

Lotion or emulsion is a very subjective thing. I don’t really have a favourite lotion, because except for Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Lotion, none of the lotion I use are good enough to warrant a repurchase. Out of all these lotion/emulsion I have tried in 2017, my favourite would be Laneige White Dew Emulsion. It feels like milky essence and is not greasy or sticky at all. It is a true essence-in-emulsion for skin brightening benefits. I don’t like Belif Deep Moist Creamy Moisturizer. It is too rich and overwhelming for my normal-to-dry skin type, and I couldn’t bring myself to finish up the entire bottle.

Read my part 2 review here.
[Disclaimer] Product is purchased with my own money. All copyright of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.


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