Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Missha – MISA Geum Sul First Essence Booster

Packaging: It comes in a sturdy, pink glass bottle (100ml) with a cap that pulls off to reveal an airless pump to dispense the product. As with all of Missha’s MISA Geum Sul products, it features a pretty design on the cap that shimmers in the light. But the packaging for this product seems to differ depending on where you get it; on Missha’s official US website, the bottle is golden to clear at the bottom, whereas on Jolse, it is pink to clear and it also goes by the name “Gold Snow Giyun (Raise Luster) Essence.” I cross-checked ingredients just to be sure these products were the same thing (and they are).

Price: Its retail price is $50 USD from Missha US and $50 CAD from Missha CA, but I got it for the cheaper price of ~$35 USD from Jolse. Looking at the photo of the bottle turned upside down, you can see that one month’s usage hasn’t gotten me very far through the product, so I expect that it must last about three months’ worth. It is a lovely product, but it would hurt my wallet too much to buy it at retail price. Still, as a product that was heavily inspired by the expensive Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, perhaps $50 isn’t so bad.

Consistency: It feels like a watery serum that spreads and absorbs easily; a little goes a long way. It feels very hydrating and moist upon application. I use three pumps for my entire face, but could easily use less if I wanted (I just love loading this stuff on my face!).

Scent: It smells similarly to Missha’s MISA Geum Sul Vitalizing Finisher – medicinal/herbal, but this product seems to have an additional “earthy” scent that I just can’t seem to pinpoint. The scent is somewhat strong upon application, but it does dissipate soon after it has absorbed.

Ingredients: Analyzing the ingredients on CosDNA and even Skincarisma didn’t seem to reflect the actual order of ingredients, so here is the full thing here:

Saccharomyces/Panax Ginseng Root Ferment Filtrate, Butylene Glycol, Water, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Propanediol, Niacinamide, Betaine, Panax Ginseng Root Water, Arginine, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Carbomer, Glycereth-26, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Chlorphenesin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, PEG-2M, Caprylyl Glycol, Alcohol, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Bacillus/Apricot Seed/Artemisia Annua Extract/Phaseolus Angularis Seed/Soybean Seed/Wheat Bran/Xanthium Strumarium Fruit Extract Ferment Extract, Sucrose Distearate, Benzophenone-5, Cellulose Gum, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Polyglutamic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Fruit Extract, Zizyphus Jujuba Fruit Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Extract, Gold, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Extract, Velvet Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Mineral Salts, Cnidium Officinale Root Extract, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Leaf Extract, Atractyloides Lancea Root Extract, Saposhnikovia Divaricata Root Extract, Pueraria Thunbergiana Root Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract, Angelica Dahurica Root Extract, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Actaea Heracleifolia Root Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Extract, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Honey Extract, Acanthopanax Sessiliflorum Bark Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Coix Lacryma-Jobi Ma-yuen Seed Extract, Ardisia Crispa Extract, Ophiopogon Japonicus Root Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng Callus Culture Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Prunus Mume Flower Extract, Angelica Gigas Root Extract, Atractyloides Japonica Rhizome Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Seed Extract, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Cyclopentasiloxane, C30-45 Alkyldimethylsilyl Polypropylsilsesquioxane

Source: Missha US

This product has a number of interesting and novel ingredients, such as:

  • Fermented Ginseng Water – Strengthens skin’s barrier
  • “Chenjijeongwoldan” Extract – Vitalizes
  • “Cheonjong” Wild Ginseng Extract – Firms
  • Reishi Mushroom fermented with Gold Extract – Nourishes
  • Pure Gold 5,000㎍ – Purifies
  • “Yuyak Boham” Liquid – Smooths
  • “Cheongemcho” Extract – Vitalizes
  • Spiceberry Extract – Protects

A 2014 study revealed that

recent findings suggest that ginseng and its constituents might be potential candidates for novel skin whitening agents.

This is of particular interest to those of who suffer from hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, especially when we consider that ginseng shows up as many as four times in this product, with the first three being at the very top of the ingredient list. It also functions as a potent anti-inflammatory component, which is beneficial to those of us who deal with acne (!) by reducing redness and severity.

Yet another study in 2016 revealed that

the anti-inflammatory property of G. lucidum [reishi mushroom]… may be a potential treatment option for the management of skin diseases with cutaneous sarcoidosis and inflammation in the future.

As for the interesting “pure gold” ingredient (which can be seen in many of my photos above), I could only find one study in 2015 that suggested it may address skin aging. Whether it actually does something or not in this product is debatable, but it does make the product look very elegant – that much is true.

People whose skin is sensitive to alcohol may not react well to this product, unfortunately. Alcohol shows up twice, with the first type (denat. – one of the harsher kinds) is the fourth ingredient. While this does make the product absorb better, no doubt, I personally wish there was less of it.

Other notable ingredients include:

  • Niacinamide – Brightening
  • Adenosine – Anti-aging
  • Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract – Brightening
  • Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract – Anti-inflammatory

Overall Review: Despite my wanting to steer clear of products with higher alcohol contents, I can’t help but love this product. Looking at my face photos above, it is clear that even within a short span of time, it has done my skin nothing but good. (Side note: That breakout in the first photo was caused by having McDonald’s – WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?! Ah well, at least I can be assured my products are actually working…) On a day where my skin is drier, I simply mitigate the alcohol-drying issue by using more of my hydrating toners. I have used this product for a month as of now and I can only see the quality of my skin improving more and more with each use. 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Oil Cleansing, Double Cleansing Method, and Review: TheFaceShop – Deep Firming Oil Cleanser

On Using an Oil Cleanser

First off, this post is technically a two-in-one because it was originally meant to demonstrate and teach you how to double cleanse using an oil cleanser, but I decided I’d do a review on my favorite oil cleanser while I was at it, too!

Secondly, take a moment to look at the photos – particularly of the close-up one of my hand. Do you see those things? Those are referred to as grits, which are small “plugs” of accumulated dried sebum (facial oil) and dead skin. I personally differentiate between grits and solitary flakes of dead/dry skin because grits are generally hard while the flakes alone are usually soft and can break apart. The grits are what’s plugged in your pores while the flakes are on the surface of your skin. As you can probably imagine, removing these things makes me feel disgusted, and yet, oddly satisfied at the same time. Routinely using an oil cleanser prevents those plugs from becoming infected and leading to breakouts, making it a useful tool for those of us who suffer from oily-combo, acne-prone skin. But dry skin types can also benefit from using a cleansing oil in their routine by removing the flakes of dead/dry skin, keeping the surface of the skin smooth and ready for makeup application.

Last but not least, oil cleansing is the key component to removing makeup and sunscreen (particularly physical sunscreens, like those that include zinc). The cleansing oil melts the makeup and sunscreen so they can easily be washed off the surface of your skin (see the close-up photo of the back of my hand above where I applied foundation to demonstrate this). In other words, oil cleansing may easily remove grits, flakes, makeup, and sunscreen without you having to resort to rubbing it down sore with a washcloth trying to get it all off; this method does not lead to angry, aggravated skin the way traditionally washing everything off does, making it effective even for those with sensitive skin types.

The “Double Cleansing Method” Explained

Doubling cleansing? Sounds like it might dry your skin out, huh? Well, I’ll be the first to tell you: NO, it doesn’t! Assuming you have a good cleansing oil (luckily for you, I reviewed one so you don’t have to fret!), the double cleansing method is one of the best ways to wash  e v e r y t h i n g  off without abusing your skin. As mentioned above, oil cleansing will wash off a good portion of what’s on your skin. But following it up with a gel- or foaming-cleanser will remove any leftover traces of dirt accumulated on your skin throughout the day as well as the possible film of cleansing oil and makeup left over from the “first cleanse.” As long as your oil cleanser and gel/foaming cleanser do not incorporate any harsh drying or stripping components to them, your face should feel clean at the end of your double cleanse – but not squeaky clean or tight-feeling. I personally have great success with TheFaceShop – Deep Firming Cleansing Oil and CosRX – Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser when used together.


First Cleanse

  1. Pump out the appropriate amount of oil you need to cover your entire face into a dry hand (for me, that’s usually 2-3 pumps).
  2. Rub the oil onto your dry face, lightly massaging the skin in circular motions and focusing on trouble areas.
  3. Introduce small amounts of water as you continue to rub your face in light, circular motions until the oil emulsifies/turns milky.
  4. Once your entire face is covered in this now milky-looking oil, wash your face as you would normally with water using your hands, a konjac sponge, or microfiber cloth (these are very soft and great for sensitive skin!) – not a rough washcloth.

Second Cleanse

  1. While your skin is still wet, spread your gel- or foaming-cleanser onto your face and wash it gently with water in the same manner as the oil cleanser.
  2. Pat-dry your face gently with a towel to a damp finish and follow up with a toner.

Review: TheFaceShop – Deep Firming Cleansing Oil

Packaging: It comes in a purple plastic bottle (200ml) with an airless pump. For travel purposes, it also comes with a little clip that prevents the product from leaking (tested and true – it works!).

Price: About $17 USD on Jolse (though it’s usually always on sale and much cheaper – I tend to get it for $13 USD). In stores, it seems to hover around the same price in CAD, but not all of TheFaceShop stores seem to carry it, which is sliiiiightly inconvenient for me, but I put up with it anyway because it’s my favorite cleansing oil.

Consistency: This cleansing oil is thicker compared to TheFaceShop’s ironically better-selling oil, the Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil (which I strongly dislike and I’ll explain why in a moment). I use 2-3 pumps to cover my entire face.

Scent: It smells floral and is not overwhelming in a perfume scent kind of way.

Ingredients: A CosDNA analysis revealed that the only potential trigger is butylene glycol (solvent + moisturizer) for acne, which only scored a 1 and is lower down on the ingredient list. (Warning: If your face is sensitive to mineral oil, look elsewhere, because this is the first ingredient on the list.) A quick google search reveals that diligent use of mineral oil will remove the grits from one’s face – it certainly did for me.

Aside from its simple ingredient list, I enjoy that it also incorporates Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, or, more commonly referred to as green tea extract. A 2013 study by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto, University of Sao Paulo revealed that not only did it function as a strong antioxidant when applied topically, but also that it:

increased skin moisture in the long-term study.

And further:

After 15-30 days, skin microrelief was significantly improved due to a reduction in skin roughness.

This product also features acai berry extract which is another antioxidant. Admittedly, this ingredient isn’t very exciting for me only because there are not enough studies with definitive proof that acai berries are as great as some say they are. Still, with green tea extract in the mix, I just can’t frown upon this oil cleanser.

What amazes me is that this product doesn’t receive the attention it obviously deserves. Instead, TheFaceShop’s best seller is a harsh, highly perfumed product with loads of high-potential acne triggers and irritants! (See CosDNA analysis here.) I can’t believe I actually tried out this product due to the hype around it. Had I done my homework, I would have never even tried it! (Spoiler: it sucked.)

Overall Review: Simple ingredient list aside, I’ve repurchased this product as many as four times because it works. It doesn’t leave my face feeling tight or dried out the way TheFaceShop’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil did (nor does it smell overwhelmingly of perfume the way that other cleansing oil does either). This cleansing oil effectively washes away all of the makeup I’ve worn for the day and also rids grits! Obviously, I highly recommend this oil cleanser! 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Hada Labo – Gokujyun Lotion (Clear)

Packaging: It comes in a clear, plastic bottle (170ml) with a label stuck right on it along with a cap that pulls open. I like that the spout dispenses the product in the exact amount I need when I simply tip the bottle upside down over my hand for a moment. What I don’t like is that its design is so similar to their other products that sometimes we may confuse it for something else. A quick Google search shows that it also appears to go by the name “Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion (Moist),” making matters worse. (And remember, Japan refers to toners as “lotions.”)

Price: Because I bought this at a T&T store in Canada, the price was marked up to about $25-30 CAD, but you can get this product off of Amazon for about $16 USD. So far, it has lasted me over five months and I generally use it 2x a day (although, admittedly, I haven’t been using it as often this month since I’m testing out another hydrating toner).

Consistency: The consistency is very watery, but there is still this slightly viscous feel to it. Because of this, I don’t use a cotton ball/pad to apply it since so much of the product can get trapped inside and get wasted; instead, I simply use the palms of my hands to pat it onto my face. Its finish feels dewy (or as the name implies, “moist”), making it the perfect hydrating toner.

Scent: Absolutely no scent! Great for people who are sensitive to fragrances.

Ingredients: A CosDNA analysis showed that the only flagged item was butylene glycol (solvent + moisturizer) for acne, which only scored a 1. But let us dive right in and analyze the star ingredient, hyaluronic acid. It only sounds scary, but it isn’t – I promise! When we think of “acids,” we generally think of exfoliation and skin peeling, but this ingredient does the exact opposite: it moisturizes, plumps your skin, and sucks moisture out of the air and into your skin. This product includes two forms of hyaluronic acid for increased efficiency due to their differently sized molecules: hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate. They are naturally found within the skin and even between connective tissues.

Its “plumping” effect on the fine lines of my forehead shows that it actually works instantly; the photos above were taken only minutes apart. And take a look at that short ingredient list! I love it! Unless you have a sensitivity to hyaluronic acid, this product may be just what you’re looking for if your fine lines need some plumping.

Important note: If you find that hyaluronic acid actually dries out your skin, this is because there is no moisture in the air for it to draw into the skin, so it sucks the moisture out of your face instead. This issue can easily be mitigated by using a moisturizer on top (which you absolutely should be using anyway!).

Overall Review: This product is ideal for all skin types due to its simple ingredient list and lack of fragrances. I will note that it does contain parabens to keep the other ingredients from breaking down or spoiling, so if that bothers you, then you may not like this product. But if this doesn’t bother you, then you will absolutely love this product for its efficiency just as I do. 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: TheFaceShop – Chia Seed Soothing Mist Toner

Packaging: It comes in a green plastic bottle (170ml) with a clear cap that pulls off to reveal a spray nozzle. I absolutely love how fine of a mist this spray produces. I had originally planned on including a photo of it sprayed onto my hand, but even with my Nikon D5000, it looked like there wasn’t anything there – that’s just how fine it is! Side note: The packaging was recently updated, so this is why you see two different types of the bottle in my photos (the recent one being the clear bottle), but the formulation is still the same!

Price: It goes for $27 CAD on TheFaceShop’s Canadian website. As much as I love this mist toner, I do think the price could be cheaper. I can go through it in a single month if I use it consistently in my routine (which would normally be 2x a day, multiple spritzes), but as you can probably tell from my empty bottles in the photos above, the price doesn’t hold me back from buying more!

Consistency: This product is for very, very light layers of hydration. If you’re looking for something of a powerhouse, then this product might feel underwhelming for you. However, the extremely lightness is part of why I love this product so much. It goes well under or over anything (including makeup) and gives me just the right amount of light hydration that my combo skin needs. Even after spraying multiple layers on, it never feels heavy.

Scent: I fell in love with this scent from the very first moment I spritzed it onto my face. It’s light, fresh, and doesn’t linger at all. I couldn’t get enough of the scent, so I’ve bought many products from TheFaceShop’s Chia Seed line*.

Ingredients: According to CosDNA, there are only a few flagged ingredients that might cause acne (all of which scored a measly 1), but they are present in most skincare products and are of little concern: dimethicone (emollient), butylene glycol (solvent + moisturizer), and castor oil (fragrance + moisturizer + emollient). The star ingredient of this product, which is the very first ingredient present in the list, is “Salvia Hispanica Seed Extract” – commonly known as chia seed. It is an emollient and skin conditioner, making it the perfect hydrating element. And even more, chia seeds have been shown to relieve dry, itchy, and irritated skin when applied topically!

In a study by the Annals of Dermatology, researchers found that:

[C]hia seed oil is the richest botanical source of 18:3 n-3 fatty acid currently known. In addition, chia seed oil also contains natural α-linolenic acid and flavonol, which can act as lipid antioxidants… the flavonol has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic and anti-cancer effects.

This is significant because omega-3s also make this product useful to those with troubled (read: acne-infected) skin.

Overall Review: This product is ideal for all skin types, and especially so for those with finicky, sensitive skin. As the name suggests, this chia seed toner will “soothe” your skin even when it is at its worst. Throughout my crazy skin journey, this product has been something I’ve used consistently because it delivers exactly as it promises, and I can’t see myself ever being without it. 5/5.

* Look forward to my future reviews on more of TheFaceShop’s Chia Seed line!

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Missha – MISA Cho Gong Jin (Miniature Set)

Before I begin my review, I just want to mention that photographing these products was hopelessly impossible. They have this shine to them that would cause blind spots if taken in the direct sunlight, and if I took them in a darker setting, then some of them just came out too dark! You can probably tell from the photos above that there are variants of red. That contributed to my difficulties, too, so I had to do a lot of photoshopping to try and capture the actual colors of each product.

Another noteworthy mention is that this highly anticipated review was written for my mother as she absolutely loves this set. (Hi, mommie!! I hope you enjoy the thorough review!)

* * *


  1. Toner: It comes in a red plastic bottle (30ml) with a twist-off gold cap.
  2. Essence: It comes in a much smaller red plastic bottle (7ml) with a gold cap that pulls off to reveal an air pump to dispense the product.
  3. Emulsion: It comes in a red plastic bottle (30ml) with a twist-off gold cap.
  4. Cream: It comes in a small, red plastic jar (10ml) with a twist-off gold cap.

Price: The value of this miniature set is $40 USD, and it cannot be bought on any of the Missha websites because it is a VIP freebie gift. However, the average prices for the full-sized products are as follows:

  1. Toner: $43 USD (Missha US) | $42 CAD (Missha CA)
  2. Essence: $45 USD (Missha US) | $47 CAD (Missha CA)
  3. Emulsion: $46 USD (Missha US) | $47 CAD (Missha CA)
  4. Cream: $46 USD (Missha US) | $45 CAD (Missha CA)

The prices may vary on other websites, such as Jolse, Cosmetic-Love, and w2beauty.


  1. Toner: As you can probably tell from the photo, the consistency of this toner is quite watery. It sinks in quickly and a little seems to go a long way. The finish is not sticky.
  2. Essence: The consistency of the essence is semi-thick. I tend to use three pumps for my whole face. The finish is a little sticky, but my face feels well hydrated.
  3. Emulsion: Due to the nature of the bottle and the consistency of the emulsion, it’s difficult as hell to get this stuff out! I have to use a q-tip for ease of access. That being said, it is easy to actually spread on your face once you get it there, and the finish feels quite nice and smooth. In my case with combo skin, I do find that this emulsion feels a bit rich and prefer to use it in the PM rather than in the AM.
  4. Cream: I use a spatula to get to this product, but you could just as easily use your finger because the jar is wide, thankfully. This cream feels very thick and rich, but even with my skin, I am in love with it! Of course, I do only use it in the PM as well, but I realized that this cream effectively seals in the moisture from all of the products I used beforehand, and it does not simply dissipate from my skin come morning like some creams and sleeping pacts tend to do. I love this as a night cream. The finish felt velvety-smooth.

Scent: All four of these products smell exactly the same: herbal and medicinal. The scent is on the stronger side and does linger a bit, but I enjoy it. If you are the kind of person that is sensitive to stronger fragrances, this may not be the product line for you.

Ingredients: All four products contain the star ingredients as shown in the helpful picture below.

Image Source: Missha US

In addition, these products are also advertised as containing the following helpful ingredients:

  • Black Ginseng and Rehmannia Root – Intensive skin nourishing benefit
  • Ginseng Glycan – Protects hypersensitive skin
  • Phellinus Linteus – Firms skin
  • Nelumbo Nucifera – Removes impurities

When I took a look at the ingredient lists for each product, one thing I noticed was that alcohol was present in the toner (6th ingredient), essence (5th ingredient), and emulsion (16th ingredient), but not in the cream. This did not surprise me because as I used these products for a month, I already knew that the toner and essence in particular would be products better suited for spring/summer due to their somewhat drying nature. I experienced mild peeling from the toner and essence; when I used the emulsion or cream alone, the peeling issue resolved.

All four products contain niacinamide which can be found in the beginning of each of the ingredient lists. Using these products consistently helped fade some of my acne scars and I’m not surprised due to the high niacinamide content!

One thing that did disappoint me a little was that the ginseng included in all four products were listed near the bottom of each ingredient list. Some of the most effective anti-aging creams contain ginseng in much higher concentrations and are always found at the top of their ingredient lists. (I’m thinking of you, expensive Sulwhasoo-branded products!) But this doesn’t mean that the MISA Cho Gong Jin line is totally ineffective in light of its anti-aging features; it just means that people using them should expect results after more prolonged and consistent use – not immediate, like most would hope for.

Still, the ingredient lists are quite impressive and contain a lot of nice extracts for your skin. I think they’re well worth trying.

Overall Review: The MISA Cho Gong Jin line was formulated for those with more mature skin (+40) so these products are meant to feel richer (and they definitely do) than Missha’s others, though I do believe anybody of any age might benefit from some of these. As mentioned earlier, I loved the cream despite its heavier nature and despite the fact that my skin is the combo type. I think these products work really well together, but would probably best suit drier types of skin as long as they go light with the toner and essence. I can’t speak for the anti-aging claim unfortunately, but I can definitely say that these products have helped fade some of my acne scars and made my skin feel nourished. 4/5.