Christmas gift from Choc Choc!! <3

Lately, my skin has been in need of some SERIOUS healing. With the weather dropping down to -2; some over-zealous chemical exfoliation of late (because more is better, right…?!); my body, i suspect, suddenly going perimenipausal on me; and a weather-induced flare-up of my autoimmune illness, it all adds up to my poor special-snowflake flesh being extra dry and tender of late – complete with a breakout of hives, and subsequent moritorium on all glycolic acid and retinol products for the forseeable future.

What’s a woman heading to the far side of her 40’s trying to maintain a youthful complexion to do?

She makes a trip to Chicago’s own K-Beauty hidden treasure, Choc Choc Cosmetics – that’s what!  Unlike the last time i went in, this time i knew exactly what i wanted; i had been doing some research on the now fairly well-known snail mucin phenomenon. Leah Kim, the owner of Choc Choc, had filled me in on it a bit the last time i had been in her wonderful shop. Traditionally, snail mucin has been used in Korea for wound-healing, as it has powerful regenerative properties. As such, it was only a matter of time until the cosmetics industry there picked up on it – seeing as how they’re about 7 years ahead of the curve than the plodding USA in terms of beauty innovation (and clearly less squeamish).


96% Snail Goo packs a punch for serious hydration! Thanks, snails!

One company who clearly has the right idea is CosRX – who assures us that no harm comes to the snails when they harvest the good stuff. In fact, the little guys need to have a relaxing, stress-free environment in order to “goo” effectively, so they’re given some mesh to chill out on, and are basically left alone to do their thing.  I like the idea of a bunch of snails hanging out in a dimly lit, warm room – possibly listening to Chopin or Four Tet or something, maybe with some edibles, sipping dandelion wine…

  • CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence: When i grabbed the bottle and held it up to Leah and told her i’d been reading about it, she nodded and told me that if my skin had been giving me trouble, this was the way to go. “It’s 96% snail mucin, so there’s really not much else in there – and it really feels like, well, snail mucous. It’s a little tacky on the skin, but it will soak it in. It will really add hydration and calm your skin down. It’s very good!” Well, it sounded exactly like what i needed.


Can’t see anything? That’s because it’s totally clear – and has a gel-like texture. It’s a bit tacky until it sinks in

Once i got home and put it on my face – after a double-cleanse and putting on my Time Revolution Toner/essence, i was prepared for the tacky feeling on my skin – it definitely was something i could feel was there – but my skin also felt super hydrated, like THIS is what it had been missing all this time! And what it does, ultimately, is super-simple. It’s not an active, it doesn’t exfoliate or add vitamins, or antioxidants. No. But what it does, it does incredibly well. It adds super-moisture and heals dry, screwed-up, stressed-out skin. Period. Oh, snail goo, where have you been all my life?!  When i smoothed on my beauty serum after a couple of minutes, it sunk right in, much better than it had previously, and when i put on my eye-cream and face cream, my skin was absolutely glowing. Now that i’ve had the chance to use it for a few days, i am positively hooked.  I will never be without my snail goo. I want to knit them little sweaters and send them Christmas presents. It’s just that good.


And they make it for eyes, too! Mizon Eye Repair Cream

Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Eye Cream: Next on my list was an eye cream that doesn’t cause me to break out in hives – a challenge these days. Hives, or milia, or just plain pimples. I figured since snail goo is used for wound healing, it would most likely not make me break out in hives, and may help heal me when i do have a break out (which will sometimes just randomly happen – joy!). This eye cream contains 80% of the good snail goo, plus meadowfoam seed oil, olive oil, hyaluronic acid, and birch tree sap to help hydrate that ever-so-touchy skin.  When i put it on, it had the same, ever-so slightly tacky feel at first (but less so since it is in cream form), and is fairly light in texture. The jar itself is HUGE for an eye cream so it will last an age. It’s a little unclear just how hydrating it will be, seeing as how i’m used to a more creamy, greasy texture in my eye creams – but i like the way this feels – it doesn’t feel like it’s going to break me out in anything disgusting. And after several days, i find it doesn’t! Halleluja! I find that with whatever eye cream i use, on super cold days in Chicago, i have to re-apply in a few hours because i feel dry, and this is no different. I think that’s just the nature of the climate here, and my skin. Possibly i need an oil-stick or something for that specific purpose, like i see from Neogen. Ultimately, i feel like this eye cream is a good treatment for my skin – although for extra hydration i do apply a serum underneath, like my Shaba Complex by Drunk Elephant.  For my skin right now, i find it’s all about layering in order to stay hydrated enough.


My surprise gift! Thank you, Leah <3
  • Merbliss Nurse Healing Gauze Mask: When i was ringing out my snaily-goodness at the register, Leah surprised me with this new mask she’s carrying – it’s not even up on the website yet!  I was so excited to try it, but i had to wait a couple days, just because of Holiday madness, and the suspense nearly killed me.  Turns out, i got to try it on the day i needed it the most, so i can now give you a really good, honest review of this really exceptional mask.   Christmas Day, i was feeling pretty gross. It was cold, i had a bad night’s sleep, and my apartment was super dry. I ended up just sleeping most of the day, until it was time for me to get up to go to Christmas dinner down the street with friends. I set my alarm so i’d have enough time to get ready in a leisurely fashion.  When i looked in the mirror, i was a fright. My skin, in particular, was SO dry and dehydrated from my not feeling well (i had woken up drenched in sweat), and the parched air-quality from the radiator heat. The mask was sitting out on my sink, just calling to me. So, i figured i’d do it after a hot shower. I had time. And i am SO glad i did!


The gauze texture was SO soft and comfortable!


Calvin liked it, too…


This mask was the best one i’ve tried so far – it smelled lovely, was just packed with essence, was comfortable on the skin, and so, so soft! I really liked the gauze material they used, which i haven’t experienced before. It stayed moist for the full 20 minutes i kept it on, and when i peeled it off, my skin looked AMAZING! I mean it, Kumquats – it was as if i hadn’t spent the entire day moaning in bed like a tubercular Irish Wastrel, calling out for my smelling salts – pallid and jaundiced-looking. My skin was moist and fresh, and absolutely glowing. I immediately patted the remaining essence into my skin, then put on some lipstick and snapped the below photograph:


No more tubercular Irish Wastrel! (Lipstick – Beauty Junkie by Pat McGrath)

Pretty impressive.  I will, believe you me, be going back and buying Leah out of these masks. I thought the snail mask was good? Pfft. Mere child’s play compared to the Merbliss Nurse Healing Mask if you are in serious need of skin Rx and real hydration.

So what makes this mask so good?  It contains Bamboo water, for one thing – a new trend we’re all about to see in K-Beauty. Bamboo water is something that you’ll see starting to replace plain water in a lot of new K-Beauty products, for its anti-aging properties, hydrating abilities, and because its chock full of amino acids and minerals.  The Nurse Healing Mask also contains pine leaves for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties; cedarwood extract for its ability to calm inflammation (it’s been known to help with eczema); and finally, peach kernel oil for smooth, silky skin. I ‘d definitely recommend this mask for mature, sensitive, and seriously dehydrated skin.  I plan to always have a few of these on hand. Thank you, Leah, for such a lovely, much needed and appreciated gift! <3

And now for some very cool news from Leah, the owner of Choc Choc! She’ll be making a trip back to Korea so she can curate the latest and greatest in K-Beauty for us lucky beasts here in Chicago (and those of you who visit the website, too)!  I’m so excited to see what she brings back with her, i can hardly stand it!

“There are so many new technologies, new products coming out right now, it’s a great time to go back and see what’s out there – it will be a really exciting trip, and i can bring back what i learn – and all the best new skincare products for you guys!” she said, as i bounced on my toes at the news.

We can’t wait!