Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Kikumasamune – High Moist Lotion

Packaging: The product comes in a large pink bottle (500ml) with a pump. This pump is notorious for its ability to shoot the product across the goddamned room. SO. I find it easiest to cup my hand and pump the product directly into it, but others have gone so far as to use different bottles altogether (but I like to live on the wild side, so it is still in its original bottle for me).

Price: I personally bought this in Canada for a hefty price of $30 CAD, but looking online on Amazon, it goes for $15 USD which is a great deal considering how much product you get out of it and how long it lasts (I have had mine for about five months now and as you can see from the photos above, it is nowhere near being finished).

Consistency: It is slightly more viscous than water, but is still very watery in general. When applied, it feels immediately hydrating upon the skin and is only slightly tacky. This product is perfect for when you want multiple light layers of hydration as it plays nicely with everything you put on top of it. (And remember, since this is a Japanese product, the word “lotion” actually means “toner” in this context, so be sure to use it before any serums, ampoules, etc.)

Scent: If you have ever gotten drunk off of sake, then this may be exactly what you smell when you put it on. Some people cannot stand this scent because it can be strange applying something that once made you sick when ingested (ha), but for those of us who have not had such an experience, the scent seems to vary between bubble gum to bananas (or in my case, a little of both). At any rate, you can expect the scent to be very different than your average toner. I happen to love it, but my husband says it smells like farty putty to him, so every opportunity I get, I chase him down with it all over my hands. 🙂

Ingredients: When this product first blew up all over the internet, people were in love. It is easily one of the best hydrating toners I have ever used; it is damn effective and amazingly priced. But once people started looking into its ingredients, it became highly controversial. But why? Take a look at the ingredient list:

Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, rice ferment filtrate (sake), glutamate, arginine, leucine, ceramide 3ceramide 6 IIplacenta extractarbutinglycyrrhizic acid, soy protein, maltitol, methyl gluceth-10, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, hydroxyethyl cellulose, alkyl styrene/acrylic acid copolymer, citric acid, sodium citrate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, fragrance

(CosDNA Analysis)

If the bolded words were obvious enough, you should have come across the ingredient listed as “placenta extract.” Not only did this irk the vegans of the skincare world, but it also bothered everybody else, as you can probably imagine. Placenta? How in the hell was that sourced? Was it cruelty-free? Is it really even necessary? I bought this product before being aware of this ingredient because my eyes zoned in on the ceramides so high up on the list… and my point is, I am guilty for not taking a closer look at the ingredient list.

After doing some research, it turns out that the placenta extract is, in fact, a matter of ethical debate because it is derived from horses. In Japan, horse racing is big, hence the reason they have a high market for horse breeding which even cosmetic industries such as Kikumasamune partake in. One of the companies that sources the placenta extract adds that the expected functions of horse placenta may be one or more of the following:

– Internal use: strength liver & body, anti-fatigue, adjusting autonomic nerves, adjusting endocrine, and immunopotentiative action.
– External use: whitening effect, activating skin metabolism and etc.

(Source)

A redditor that took part in the discussion of Kikumasamune’s placenta ingredient was able to shed more light on the situation by mentioning:

Regardless, the thing is: we eat horse meat here. It’s not a staple meat, but you can find raw horse meat sushi in some restaurants and other horse meat products as delicacies. It sounds weird, but many Japanese feel the same about Americans eating deer, elk, bison, even goat and lamb meat. So these products could be byproducts of the horse meat industry, and the animals aren’t being slaughtered solely for the sake of their placentas!

(Full reddit post here, for those of you who are interested.)

Despite its controversial nature, I do wish to include the other beneficial ingredients of this product because had that one ingredient not been involved, I would easily call this a holy grail product due to how effective it is. I mentioned earlier that the product was the most hydrating toner I had ever used, but it also noticeably brightens the skin and fades any post-acne scars. Rice ferment filtrate (sake) contains kojic acid which is responsible for skin-lightening and is also a great source of antioxidants. Arbutin and glycyrrhizic acid (a derivative of licorice root) are another set of powerful skin-lightening agents. Arginine has healing and anti-aging effects, and the ceramides are responsible for repairing the moisture barrier and enhancing the overall health of your skin.

In my opinion, if you find a product with ceramides, especially if they are higher up on the ingredient list, it is definitely worth trying. When I get out of the shower, at times the skin on my face begins to flake because I basically boiled myself in there (I love hot showers, okay?), and once I use this product, all of the flakes seem to disappear and my skin no longer feels tight. That is the power of ceramides.

Overall Review: Sooo… truthfully speaking, I do intend to finish the product I bought, but still feel somewhat uncomfortable with the placenta ingredient. I looked for similar products (but without the horse placenta extract, obviously) and was able to find an almost-dupe that looks as though it should perform just as well as the Kikumasamune one: Cezanne – Ceramide Skin Conditioner High Moist (ingredient analysis here). However, I must say that Kikumasamune’s High Moist Lotion is a great product in itself. It lightens post-acne scars, deeply moisturizes and hydrates the skin, and in as little as a week, the quality of my skin never looked better. Ignoring the placenta ingredient, this is, without a doubt, a 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

BeautyBoxKorea Haul and Review

Okay, first of all… I have been waiting so long to write this post (I’ll get back to this in a moment) because I have finally completed my set of Missha’s MISA Geumsul line (pictured above) and look forward to using all of the products together. Secondly, I have been looking at the luxury brand Sum:37 for quite some time now. I got to try a sample packet of the Secret Programming Essence (one of their best-sellers of all time) and I just wanted more! So now I have the miniature gift set to play with and get a feel for more of their Secret Repair products.
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BeautyBoxKorea Review

Products Purchased:

1.) Su:m37 – Secret Repair Special Gift Set

  • Secret Repair Toner 20ml
  • Secret Repair Emulsion 20ml
  • Secret Repair Concentrated Cream 10ml
  • Secret Programming Essence 12ml
  • Secret Repair Concentrated Serum 8ml

2.) Missha – MISA Geumsul Special Set (II)

  • Geumsul Skin Toner 145ml
  • Geumsul Milky Emulsion 100ml
  • Geumsul Rejuvenating Cream 50ml
  • Geumsul Rejuvenating Essence 7ml (Miniature)
  • Geumsul Skin Toner 30ml (Miniature)
  • Geumsul Milky Emulsion 30ml (Miniature)
  • Geumsul Rejuvenating Cream 10ml (Miniature)

3.) Missha – MISA Geumsul Vitalizing Eye Cream ® 30ml

Thoughts on Pricing:

1.)  Su:m37 – Secret Repair Special Gift Set –  $23.65 USD

I bought this long before I decided to hop on Ebay and see how the prices might differ. Painfully gypped. I could have bought this same little set for a much lower price on Ebay.

2.)  Missha – MISA Geumsul Special Set (II)  – $59.53 USD

I personally think this was a great deal. It happened to be on sale during a 30% discount, but even without the discount it would have still been cheaper than buying straight off of MisshaUS for the pretty penny price of $110 USD.

3.)  Missha – MISA Geumsul Vitalizing Eye Cream ® 30ml – $31.14 USD

The original price for this on MisshaUS is $45 USD so while this was a decent price drop, it was still nothing compared to the discount I got on the MISA Geumsul Special Set (II).

Total amount USD 151.24 + Shipping USD 25.91 – Discount USD 44.92 = Order total USD 132.23

That shipping price… ouch 😦

Condition of Products Upon Arrival:

Everything was securely placed in an adequately sized box and wrapped with bubble wrap. No complaints here. There was a small dent in the small box of my Su:m37 Gift Set, but with the way the products were wrapped, I am led to believe it must have happened before it was even shipped. All of the products themselves were in mint condition upon arrival.

Arrival Time:

I made this order on June 20, 2017 and it arrived on July 27, 2017. It appeared to actually arrive in Canada a few days after it was shipped, but Canada Post sucks, so what can you do? My mom also ordered from BeautyBoxKorea and received it fairly quick (~two weeks) in the US.

Samples Received with Order:

I was disappointed by how few free samples (not pictured) I received with my order. Jolse tends to send more if you spend more, so imagine my shock when I only received a measly three samples from BeautyBoxKorea after having spent over a hundred dollars on their site!

Will I Purchase from BeautyBoxKorea Again?

I can easily imagine myself buying from BeautyBoxKorea again ONLY IF they have a product I am desperate for and cannot be found on any other site. But honestly? I do not plan on it.

Side note: Remember that I bought these products to have them sent to Canada, so shipping prices and arrival times may differ depending on where you live.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Mamonde – Rose Water Toner


Packaging
: The product comes in a plastic pink bottle (250ml) with a white cap that comes up. While the cap itself is fine as it is, I prefer switching it out with a misting spray so I can easily mist it onto my face without using too much of the product.

Price: This will depend on what size you would like to get it in; the one pictured above (150ml) goes for about $15 USD on Jolse, whereas the bigger version (500ml) goes for about $25 USD on Jolse. Considering the availability of sizes you can buy, I would say that these prices are rather reasonable, especially since it can last a long time if you choose to switch the cap with a misting spray one instead. I have personally had mine since December 2016 (approx. seven months now) using it once or twice a day.

Consistency: It feels a lot like water as it can be really runny if you choose to apply this product with your hands rather than a cotton ball/pad or misting spray. It feels really refreshing on my skin.

Scent: As one might expect from the name of this product alone, it smells like straight up roses. If you are a fan of roses, you will be extremely pleased with the scent since it smells strongly of real roses instead of perfumed. It smells like absolute heaven. (Note that I did say “strong,” so people who dislike strong fragrances in their products should approach with caution.)

IngredientsCosDNA shows that its ingredient list is, simply put, quite lovely. The only trigger for acne is butylene glycol (solvent + moisturizer) while the only possible irritant is carbomer (viscosity control), both of which scored a 1 and are commonly used in skincare products.

The beauty of this product is that it contains a whopping 90.89% of damask rose (also known as R. damascena) water straight from Bulgaria. To those who love the scent of roses, you may be surprised to know that it does a lot in terms of its neuropharmacology effects. In fact, a 2011 study revealed that:

The effects of this plant on CNS (Central Nervous System) are extensive… R. damascena has been shown to possess a potent depressant activity on CNS in mice. Some of these effects evaluated are hypnotic, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, analgesic effects, and nerve growth.

These are some significant effects! So much so, I felt the need to devolve exactly what this study meant by including more detailed quotes involving sleep, pain, brain function, seizures, the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and so forth. Feel free to skip this section and go straight to the topical effects of rose water.

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Clinically Significant Effects of R. Damascena Not Involved in Topical Application:

The ethanolic and aqueous extracts [from R. damascena] in doses of 500 and 1000 mg/kg significantly increased the pentobarbital induced sleeping time in mice which was comparable to diazepam [a type of benzodiazepine which treats anxiety and is used short term for insomnia].

Hydroalcoholic extract [from R. damascena] has a potent analgesic effect in acetic acid and formalin tests.

R. damascena has beneficial effects on the brain function such as treatment of dementia. Awale et al (2009)… found that the chloroformic extract of the R. damascena significantly induced the neurite outgrowth activity and inhibited the amyloid β (Aβ). Aβ is thought to be a major pathological cause of Alzheimer.

The essential oil of R. damascena… delays the start of epileptic seizuresand decrease the duration of tonic-clonic seizures (stage 4) […]  The effects of the essential oil of R. damascena as an adjunct in treatment of children with refractory seizures were also studied and showed a significant reduction in the mean frequency of seizures in patients using essential oil of the plant. Therefore, the essential oil of R. damascena has beneficial antiepileptic effect in children with refractory seizures.

[R]esults showed a potent relaxant effect of extract and essential oil that was comparable to that of theophylline [which treats asthma and bronchospasm].

It has been shown that R. damascena has wide spectrum antimicrobial activities.

The R. damascena similar to many aromatic and medicinal plants exhibits antioxidant properties. Sources of natural antioxidant are primarily phenolics compound that are found in all parts of plants such as the fruits, vegetables, seeds, leaves, roots and barks… The results showed a potent antioxidant and lipid peroxidation inhibitory effects comparable to -tocopherol and suggest that the plant can be considered as a medical source for the treatment and prevention of many free radical diseases.

Side note: This is not an exhaustive list of the full beneficial effects of R. damascena. I highly recommend reading the full study if you are curious to know what else it does.
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Clinically Significant Effects of R. Damascena in Topical Application:

If the overwhelming amount of effects that R. damascena did not already convince you of its many benefits, it turns out that:

R. damascena contains vitamin C which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

This is important to note because as we discussed in an earlier post, vitamin C is a well known ingredient in skincare that fades post-acne scars, controls sebum (oil) production, smooths the skin, reduces the redness and severity of acne, and fades fine lines. Due to its antioxidant effects, it also helps with oxidative damage from the sun, such as sunspots. But we must remember that since vitamin C is also a mild exfoliant, you must still wear sunscreen during the day!

On the subject of it being a mild exfoliant, by the way, do not be mislead into believing that this toner will necessarily moisturize or hydrate the skin, as the Jolse site seems to imply; when I first bought this product, I spent one day spritzing it all over my face like I would with my holy grail Chia Seed Soothing Mist Toner by TheFaceShop and it turned my face into an oily and tight-feeling mess at the same time. When you over-exfoliate the skin, you strip it from its natural oils, causing the skin to feel tight and produce an excess amount of oil to account for the lack of natural oils.

Overall Review: If used correctly, one will find that this toner is a very mild astringent and exfoliating toner that does not lead to any skin irritation, only the benefits: it makes your skin feel smooth, helps fade sunspots and acne, and dissolves the gunk in your pores. And of course, it smells amazing. It is ideal for daily usage just after washing one’s face (before any hydrating toners, serums, etc.) provided that the user remembers to wear sunscreen. And since it is so mild, it can be the perfect product to use for those who are sensitive to other daily formulations with lower percentage AHA/BHA toners. The scent is on the stronger side, but I love it. 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Missha – The Style Fitting Wear Sebum-Cut Pressed Powder No.1 (Clear Mint)

Packaging: This product is very similar to the packaging of a BB cushion. As such, it is housed in a compact case (11g) with a clear, plastic tray that holds the accompanying puff.

Price: I bought this from MisshaCA for about $20 CAD, and for a long while it was also available on MisshaUS for about $15 USD, but it appears to have been taken down, unfortunately.

Consistency: This product feels very light and almost silky-smooth when pressed onto your skin with the accompanying puff. It never feels heavy nor does it make my makeup cake up at all, even after multiple applications. As you can see from the photos above, it effectively makes my skin appear matte and removes any shine I may have. I chose #1 (clear mint) because I wanted to worry a little less about my redness peeking through my BB cream, and thankfully it does this quite well, although in person it looks more white than it does “mint.” And when applied, it does not appear to accentuate dry skin patches very much (unless severe, I imagine). Last but not least, there is no ugly flashback when worn during flash photography!

Scent: Absolutely no scent!

Ingredients: According to CosDNA, there are only three ingredients that may be acne-triggering (which all scored a 1): talc, dimethicone (emollient), and squalane (moisturizer + antioxidant + emollient). The ingredients that stand out the most to me are:

  • Squalane, which helps seal in moisture and provides a barrier between your skin and environmental detriments like pollution.
  • Honey Extract, which heals the skin and provides anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties (which makes this product great for those with acne issues).
  • Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, which heals and brightens the skin, but also keeps your makeup from becoming dark/oxidizing.

Now, I know what you must be thinking: “Isn’t coconut notorious for clogging pores?!” I am thankful to report that it has never, ever clogged my pores, nor has it caused any breakouts even though my skin is rather oily most of the time and acne-prone. I think the very small amount of coconut extract that is present would not be enough to actually contribute to clogged pores, especially since this product does so well at absorbing the sebum on the skin. Of course, if you have a sensitivity or allergy to coconut or coconut-derived extracts, you may want to practice caution and avoid this product.

Squalane, on the other hand, is well-tolerated by most and I do not think it should be any cause for concern unless, again, if you have a sensitivity or allergy to it. Something important to note is that this ingredient is “squalane,” not to be confused with squalene, which is different. According to The Dermatology Review:

[Squalane] oil, which occurs naturally in the body, is also found in olive oil and in the livers of certain sharks. Squalane is not to be confused with squalene, which is the non-hydrogenated form of shark liver oil and which tends to quickly oxidize when exposed to the air.

Thankfully, Missha is a brand known for being against the testing of products on animals. The squalane present in this product comes from olive oil! And furthermore, The Dermatology Review also mentions that:

Many skin care experts and other medical professionals assert that squalane has a number of positive effects on uneven skin pigmentation, scars, and age spots. Much like retinol, this oil is believed to fight free radicals in the skin that are caused by the sun’s UV rays. This is an important consideration, because dark spots on face and hands are often caused by the skin’s reaction to long-term exposure to the sun, which creates more melanin in those areas to protect it.

Overall Review: I do not think this product receives as much love as it should. In the Asian beauty world, people are quick to point us shiny-faced sufferers to the Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Pact, but when I used that powder, it personally did not seem to last quite as long as this one does. In actuality, this product also seemed a lot more smooth and less grainy than the Innisfree one. And oddly enough, I seem to breakout a lot less when I wear this product daily, probably due to its amazing ingredients and ability to absorb excess oil. It is, without a doubt, one of my holy grail items that I hope will never become discontinued. 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Missha – Super Aqua Ultra Waterful Active Toner

Packaging: The product comes in a sturdy, glass bottle (150ml) with a plastic twist-off cap. The deep blue color reminds me of the ocean.

Price: It goes for $20 USD on MisshaUS, but I got it for sale off of Jolse for $18 USD. This thing will last you many months. I have had mine for about two months now, and as you can see, I am only about a quarter through. In my opinion, it is a bit expensive for what it is, but I will get back to this point in a moment.

Consistency: It resembles a watery essence or serum in that it is too thick to be described as water-like, but too runny to be called anything else. It kind of reminds me of the viscosity of my Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion (Clear) that I reviewed in an earlier post. Upon application this product gives your skin a cooling sensation which I believe would make it a great product for the summer. It spreads easily and after it has absorbed, its finish is smooth and, thankfully, not at all tacky.

Scent: Because the bottle description adds that it has Australia Blue Mountain cave water in it, the scent immediately reminds me of mountains in the way that it seems so nice and fresh. It does not come off as strong to me like the majority of Missha products seem to, and it also does not linger at all.

Ingredients: A CosDNA analysis revealed that the only possible acne-triggering ingredients are the usual suspects: dimethicone (emollient) and butylene glycol (solvent + moisturizer), which are around the middle of the list. I know some people may want to avoid this product anyway because dimethicone is related to silicone, an ingredient known to cause clogged pores and acne in people with silicone-sensitive skin. Another possible culprit is mineral oil, which is the sixth ingredient on the list. As for me personally, this product has not broken me out at all.

Some ingredients stuck out to me when I first considered buying this product as they were high up on the list:

– Glycerin (second ingredient)
– Niacinamide (third ingredient)
– Seawater (seventh ingredient)

Glycerin, a glycerol-based emollient, attracts moisture from the air (i.e., a humectant), makes your skin feel smoother, and even promotes faster healing. Another interesting fact is that it makes other ingredients absorb more effectively than what you see with plain water or alcohol. A 2008 study mentioned that glycerol

is known to increase stratum corneum (SC) hydration, improve epidermal barrier function and decrease clinical signs of inflammation.

And as we already know, niacinamide promotes whiter, brighter-looking skin and helps fade post-acne scars.

Seawater, on the other hand, is something I have not seen before in any of my products. When I looked this up, there were numerous articles describing how seawater was beneficial in skin care, that it provided the skin with essential vitamins and minerals. It makes sense, I thought to myself, as to why this might be a rather good ingredient to include. But as I continued to research and look for actual studies involving topical usage of seawater, I found one study that took place in 2007 which painted a much different picture:

SW [seawater] immersion can cause time-dependent apoptosis [death of cells] and proliferation in the epidermis [skin], and the overall effect of SW immersion is injury to the epidermis.

I felt disheartened at first, but then I found a more recent study from 2013 that seemed conflicting when placed against the first study I mentioned:

Marine algae have gained much importance in cosmeceutical product development due to their rich bioactive compounds. […] The marine environment is enriched with a variety of organisms that harbor a wide range of biologically important compounds that are useful for the cosmeceutical benefit of humans.

From what I currently understand, algae is present in seawater; most of which come from seaweeds. So, this more recent study seems to trump the older one, in my opinion, only because the information provided as a whole was a lot more telling than the other, which involved hairless mice immersed in seawater for ridiculous amounts of time (3 hours, 6 hours, and 12 hours) – in other words, did not seem like the most reliable source to turn to in understanding how seawater might work in skin care products. The seawater is likely much less concentrated than pure seawater, and, being “immersed” for hours in it is a lot different than applying a small amount to the skin that absorbs in under a minute.

Overall Review: Despite the promising ingredients it contains, I found that the actual outcome of using this product for about two months was rather disappointing. As a hydrating toner, it only felt hydrating on my skin as I applied it, but would not have any long-lasting effects or make any crazy changes to the quality of my skin like other hydrating toners I have tried. But still, this toner is a simple one that would likely work well for all skin types and be a great starting point for those who are new to using hydrating toners. I find it basic in that it does help following products absorb better (like most toners are expected to do) and maintains the quality of my skin. 3.5/5.