Discover beauty through professional reviews

NOW READING Holy Grail or Holy Fail? Why One Girl’s Treasure Is Another’s Rose Cleansing Stick
January 23, 2018

Holy Grail or Holy Fail? Why One Girl’s Treasure Is Another’s Rose Cleansing Stick

Don’t feel left out just because that seemingly universally loved beauty product left you itchy, spotty, or just meh. It happens to the best of us, and by best of us, I mean K-beauty pros like Jude Chao, Sheryll Donerson, and Coco Park. Read on to see them (and other K-beauty lovers) duke it out over their holy grail or holy fail products.



It’s got tons of positive, unbiased reviews online, the gurus love it, the shops sometimes can’t even keep it in stock, you finally get your hands on it and — womp womp.


You don’t have to pretend that my holy grail wasn’t your holy fail. Don’t worry about following the crowd — it happens to all of us!


I reached out to Beautytap’s K-Beauty Squad and my Facebook crew and asked them what popular product just didn’t work for them, and they didn’t hold back. I got some surprising answers!


Right out of the gate my fellow squad member Jude hit me with a bomb:


“Unfortunately. My face HAAAAAATTTESSSSS Su:m37 with a passion. I’ve had multiple incidents now where I’ve used a Su:m37 product and my entire face breaks out in this itchy, bumpy, irritation rash. It goes away after I discontinue use of the product, but sometimes it takes a week or two for the bumps to fully subside. It’s AWFUL.”


Oh. My. God. I felt like someone just insulted a family member! But then I remembered, I’ve had the same reaction to some people’s favs, so I had to check myself. But then again Su:m37 is pretty sacred to me! I wasn’t alone.


Sheryll Donerson, our other squad sister, had a similar reaction to mine:


“I am devastated. Nooooo Jude!!!!!!!!”


holy grail or holy fail


Sheryll and I pretty much built blogging careers off of the sudden success and popularity of the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick [editor’s note: which, btw, has been discontinued, according to Su:m37], with Sheryll being one of the first bloggers to ever put it on the international radar.


Jude was almost apologetic, following up with:


“I really, really want to love Su:m37. It’s luxury and it’s hanbang, so it seems right up my alley. Also, Sheryll loves some of their products, and that makes me want to love them even more, because I usually love whatever Sheryll loves.”


And that brings up an important point: We sometimes think that because our peers have rapturous experiences with certain products and ingredients that we certainly will too, and that’s just not the case. Sometimes we even swallow our dislike of a product and keep it under wraps in the hopes of not offending the ones who do love it. But c’mon guys, it’s OK to speak our truths! Our skin are as unique as our personalities, so we’re not all going to experience things the same.


I wanted to continue exposing this taboo, so I posed the question to my personal Facebook. It’s pretty telling that this was the first comment (and my response):


holy grail or holy fail


Coming for someone’s favorites can sometimes be seen as a personal attack! But it really shouldn’t. As the comments came rolling in, there ended up being a lot of commiserating and support as my friends came forward with their fails — and no product was safe!


Tiffany Gustavson: This is a broad category and I’m about to piss everybody right off but — sheet masks. I don’t *hate* them but they never seem to give me results that are worth all the trouble. They don’t feel good to me, they slide around my weirdly shaped face, and they always leave too much serum except that one time I squeezed one out too much and it was too dry


Tracy Teel: Oh, this is going to hurt someone’s feelings. The Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream was an epic fail for me. I tried to love it, but it never seemed to dry down and always stayed tacky. I didn’t even like using it on my arms or legs. Dumped 50% out and repurposed the jar.


Maggie Kim-Bunuel: The rubber masks. But does everyone love them? I just know I don’t


Aaaand bingo! Finally a product I had to chime in with in agreement. Maggie reminded me of my utter and total contempt for the famous rubber masks. They do absolutely nothing for me. But when they were making the rounds in all the blogs and publications, I was certain they would be the greatest thing, but they were a total dud. My friend Asia had a more horrifying experience:


Asia Hadeel Al-Massari: One of these f**king rubber masks ripped half my eyebrow off when I used it.


LOL omg, poor Asia! I guess I should be glad I was just left disappointed and not with a snatched brow.


And wouldn’t you know it, look what popped up again:


Dionne Ukleja: The rose petal cleansing stick that was sold out forever a few years ago. It broke my face out so bad that even [my husband] commented on how bad it was.


holy grail or holy fail


OK, OK, breathe Coco — this isn’t about you.


Cheska Black: Yes, this is the worst product I’ve ever tried. It dried my face out so badly and I could never figure out how it was supposed to be gentle.


Gina Darling: I had this. Broke me out. Shame. It was so pretty and smelled so good


Dionne Sharp Ukleja: I wanted to love it so hard and but it made my junior high breakouts look adorable in comparison. And you know I am a W2 die hard shopper. That’s where I bought the stock from lol!


I was laughing, but at the same time I wanted to go grab my precious Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick and be like:


holy grail or holy fail


But it’s not a fight that needs to be had! There are certain products and ingredients in the K-beauty world that seem to be sacred. It’s not that the hype around them isn’t warranted; it’s that humans are not a monolith. We’re all unique individuals, and we’re going to have different experiences. I thought this little exchange summed it up nicely


holy grail or holy fail


I’m glad Cinnamon’s fail found a more suitable home. I hope her trash became her friend’s treasure.


What beloved or popular K-beauty product has been a holy grail or holy FAIL for you? Don’t be afraid to speak out — there’s probably a lot of people who agree with you!



Coco Park is an author, beauty journalist, blogger, podcast host, and all around oddball living in Montreal Quebec with her family. Originally from the southern USA, she worked for several years in the makeup industry as a professional makeup artist and holds a certificate in esthetics. She is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Want to know more? Check her out on the Beauty Beyond Basics podcast, on her blog, on Instagram @thebeautywolf, and in her book "Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup."




Man, I have that Missha snail cream on the way. Hopefully my skin won't decide to be unique, but so far I haven't had any problems with snail products, knock on wood :P


I guess my holy fail is not a korean product. It is the La Roche Posay Anthelios sunscreen that is in fact a good product, but make my eyes stingy.
There's some Korean products that didn't work for me, but it was mostly inexpensive and not so famous products.


You are not alone! The Anthelios Lait burns the crap out of my eyes, especially if I sweat even the tiniest bit and it gets near my eyes.


Also, slightly more on topic but i used the Innisfree minimum facial cleanser because it was meant to be great for sensitive skin with absolutely no triggers on cosdna. My skin decided it wanted to be unique and broke out into a horrible rash over half my face after a few tries of using this. 😭


Isn't that crazy about ingredients? It's sooo subjective. People can have just as bad a reaction to aloe as they do alcohol. I'm not a fan of alcohol (in my skincare — otherwise, bring it on! 😂), but I'm kind of afraid to try Su:m37 Cleansing Stick just because people either love it or hate it. And I have to say, I don't use the Cosrx Snail Mucin Essence (another cult fave) on my T-zone because people say it breaks them out ...


Oh noo! Your poor t-zone is missing out on the goodness of cosrx Snail essence!! But I have to admit I’m exactly like you. Even if something has 99% rave reviews, I will be super wary of trying it because of the assumption I’ll fall within the 1% that hates it! I only tried the MRCS before knowing Jude Chao hated it, lol


Yeah, I mean, there are so many good products to try out there, why subject your precious skin to something that's broken out so many people? I am going to try the Swanicoco snail ampoule though and give that a chance next. I want my T-zone to experience that skin healing love, too!!!


WHAT??????! Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick is discontinued? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
OMG I'm devastated! I couldn't even finish to read this post, I had to comment to share my despair!
I'm gonna go cry in a corner for a little bit 😭😭😭
OK back to the article, now.
PS: is it really confirmed? 😭


OMG my thoughts exactly!! What will I use as a cleanser now?? The cosrx one dries me out epicly! 😭 Can we turn this article into a “what cleanser can replace the Su:m37 MRCS?”???


Have you tried the Neogen cleansing stick? If so, how does it compare?


I haven’t tried it but I did read up on it after hearing it could be a replacement a while ago. However a lot of the reviews I read found it much harsher than the MRCS because of the green tea pieces so it put me off trying it


I know, isn\'t it crazy? People in Korea don\'t like the Su:m37 cleansing stick at all because they consider it too \"scratchy\" and harsh on their skin. So I think that may be a reason ... though Su:m37 did say they\'re discontinuing it \"for now.\" So who knows. Let me ask you this bonniegarner sephiria if someone were to make a dupe of the Rose Cleansing Stick, how could they make it better, in your opinion?


Wow, rose petals are so soft though! Can’t imagine how it would be considered scratchy. For me, improving on the MRCS would be pretty tough. One thing that kind of annoys me though is that after using it when I put the lid back on, I end up getting a ring of bubbles/foam around the edge. Probably not something fixable but it grates on my OCD, lol


That\'s what the company told us! But they also \"discontinued\" it a few years back, only to bring it back again, so who knows. We\'ll definitely let you know as soon as we know! bonniegarner


Oh Gosh, I'm afraid I'm not able to be objective here lol I really love this product, it's perfect 😆
I don't find it scratchy at all, maybe at first because there are more rose petals at the top of the stick but this feeling doesn't last after a few uses.
I love the rose smell, the feeling on my skin, the result (soft, clean and not stripped skin), the ingredients list, the pH... everything about it!
I never tried a dupe, but I'm not convinced by the Neogen. I saw it while I was in Seoul and I just don't like the... Read more