Asian Beauty, Review

Empties & Mini Reviews [July 2017 – December 2017]

Brands Included: COSRX | Missha | TheFaceShop | the CREME shop | Hada Labo | SCINIC | Kikumasamune | Mamonde

1. COSRX

  • COSRX – AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
    • As somebody with oily, acne-prone skin, I found this product to work fine, but it did not seem to do quite as much as I would have hoped it would. It could be because the formulation is so gentle and I need a higher percentage of AHA/BHA, but this product would be ideal to those with sensitive skin. Will not repurchase. 4/5.
  • COSRX – Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
    • When my skin was doing particularly bad, this was my absolute go-to product. It hydrates, heals, and soothes the skin very effectively. I think everybody should try a snail product at least once in their lifetime. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • COSRX – Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask
    • While COSRX tends to impress me more than disappoint, I was sad to find that this product did next to nothing for my skin. As an overnight mask, I expected it to act as an occlusive to seal in all of the hydration and moisture from the products I used underneath, but it felt like it would simply dissipate from my skin. I did love the texture of the actual product though. Will not repurchase. 2/5.

2. Missha

  • Missha – Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule
    • This is a holy grail item for me. With its long list of extracts I can always expect this product to hydrate my skin and make it look more radiant. And because it has a very small percentage of retinol, I can comfortably use it every night without irritating my skin but still see the benefits that retinol brings — lightening of acne scars, smoother skin texture, a more even skin tone, and less acne in general. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • Missha – Near Skin Smart All-In-One Cream
    • I wanted to love this product so much. Its ingredient list might suggest that it could easily become a product loved by many, but for whatever reason this product did very little for me. I do not think that it truly functions as an all-in-one product, but rather, a slightly heavier gel-cream. That being said, it must be one of the very few products by Missha that had absolutely no fragrance. While it did not make my skin worse, it did seem to make it more oily and did not wear well under makeup. Will not repurchase. 2/5.

3. TheFaceShop

  • TheFaceShop – Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Mud Pack
    • Simply put, I found this product to be very drying (and ultimately damaging to my skin more than anything else). My skin is not particularly sensitive, but this product made it feel as though it was. Will not repurchase. 1/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed Moisture Recharge Cream
    • After discovering that my holy grail Chia Seed Moisturizing Cream had been discontinued, I decided to give this newer formulation a try. I was pleasantly surprised. Just as the original cream, it soothed my skin, thoroughly moisturized my skin without turning it greasy, and worked well under my makeup. The only thing that gets me about this product is that its scent seems more artificial (more “perfume-like”) than natural. Their first formulation will always be superior, but this is an acceptable replacement. Will repurchase. 4.5/5.

4. the CREME shop

  • the CREME shop – Chia Seed Calming Spritz Toner
    • I thought I had stumbled onto an amazing dupe for my beloved Chia Seed Soothing Mist Toner by TheFaceShop, but unfortunately, I was very disappointed by this product. It burned my skin instead of soothing it, smelled strongly of perfume, and was drying rather than hydrating. I managed to finish the bottle by using it on my body. After only a few uses, I was reluctant to use this on my face. Will not repurchase. 0/5.

5. Hada Labo

  • Hada Labo – Gokujyun Lotion (Clear)
    • This is a perfectly light toner that effectively plumped up my skin, reducing the look of the fine lines on my forehead and under my eyes. I found that it was perfect for layering when I wanted that extra bit of hydration. Will not repurchase only because its main ingredient, hyaluronic acid, can be found in many Asian beauty products that provide additional benefits. 5/5.

6. SCINIC

  • SCINIC – Honey All In One Ampoule
    • Smells amazing, feels amazing, and simply is amazing. I loved how thick this product was while at the same time it felt light on the skin because of how well it absorbed. (Note that it will feel sticky until it does fully absorb.) It soothed my skin, improved my skin’s texture, was healing, and helped fade some post-acne scars. Will repurchase. 5/5.

7. Kikumasamune

  • Kikumasamune – High Moist Lotion
    • The most hydrating toner I have ever used to date. It delivers immediate hydration upon application due to the many ceramides it contains and improves the skin with its star ingredient, fermented sake. Perfect for layering. Smells of bananas and bubble gum. Will not repurchase only because of its controversial ingredient (horse placenta) and there is a dupe of this product. Still, I cannot deny that this is an amazing product. 5/5.

8. Mamonde

  • Mamonde – Rose Water Toner
    • The highest rose-containing product that I currently know of (90.98%) that smells of natural roses and not artificially perfumed. I love that I could use it effectively as an astringent toner to remove any makeup I might have missed with my cleanser and to prepare my skin for the following products I used on top of it. It made my skin smooth and helped reduce my acne. Will repurchase. 5/5.
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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

Review: Missha – MISA Geum Sul Overnight Cream

 

Packaging: This product comes in a fairly large, light pink glass tub (80ml) accompanied with a spatula for ease of use and a twist-off top. It feels like a very sturdy jar that would likely not break if you dropped it (although I advise against doing so). The cap is decorated with the signature Misa Geum Sul flower, and although it did come with an inner seal, I ended up throwing it out because the cap twists for what seems like forever, keeping the contents fresh enough on its own.

Price: It goes for over $50 for the retail price, but I managed to snag it off of Jolse for only $23 USD while it was on sale. What a steal, am I right? Admittedly, I have only had this product for one month and have already made it through a quarter of its contents, so I expect this to last me about two more months’ worth. That being said, I could imagine this lasting much longer for somebody who applies with a less liberal hand than I do.

Consistency: I just want to start by saying this: I usually stray from products that feel thick and rich. The thought is scary to those of us with oily skin because, more likely than not, we have already had the unfortunate experience of clogging our pores by putting something too heavy on. I know. I get it. When I first felt the consistency of this product, I was worried. Yes, it is thick and it seems like it could easily be too rich for my oily skin. But to my surprise, it is amazing. It spreads nicely – almost feels like a soft butter upon application – and get this: I apply this liberally every night and have not experienced any clogged pores or an excessively oily face by time morning comes around. It has easily become my favorite step in my skincare routine because it feels so nice to put on my face. And if it is not evident by the photos I provided above, I have every reason to believe that adding this product to my nightly routine has made a real difference in the quality of my skin.

Scent: To the people who dislike strong fragrances or herbal ones: you will not like this product. The first time I got a whiff of this product, I scrunched my nose and was not convinced I would ever enjoy it. It smells similarly to the other Misa Geum Sul products I have already reviewed, but in a much stronger fashion. It is particularly earthy and I have no idea if that is just how ginseng smells, but after using it for a month, it has grown on me. Perhaps it is because I just love how effective it is and associate it with the joy that brings me. Who knows.

Ingredients: Taking a look at this product’s CosDNA analysis, the ingredient list looks similar to the Misa Geum Sul First Essence Booster that I reviewed in an earlier post. It has an amazingly large concoction of extracts, which I became a fan of after the positive results I saw from Missha’s Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule. And, since this is another product from the Misa Geum Sul line, we see the familiar ginseng ingredient at the very top of the list (first ingredient) which has been found to effectively whiten the skin. It also features the following:

  • Cordyceps Sinesis Extract – Revitalizes tired skin
  • Deer Antler Extract – Firms dull, sagging skin
  • 7,100 µg of Pure Gold – Detoxifies skin

But an ingredient that surprised me was the Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Fruit Extract, because I had recently read an article that suggested that pumpkin extract contained many vitamins, one of the more important ones being vitamin A. This interested me because vitamin A is part of the retinoid family (source). Retinoid.. sounds familiar, does it not? When we think of retinoids, we think of the magical ingredient “retinol,” which a 2016 study confirmed

increased epidermal thickness… [and] showed a significant reduction in facial wrinkles following 12 weeks of retinol application.

And, another promising study in 2016 revealed that the oil from pumpkin seeds in particular

is an important source of many healthy components such as antioxidant and antimicrobial agents. Furthermore, the presence of tocopherols, sterols and polyunsaturated fatty acids in pumpkin oil make it an excellent drug in pharmaceutics and cosmetics which would provide potential protection against skin problem, e.g. dermatological wound.

Having considered the ingredient from this angle, it would make sense as to why my face has been clearing up since I started using this product, but we also have to remember that the ingredient is likely not very concentrated; it is unlikely that this ingredient made a significant change on its own with it being somewhere closer to the middle of the ingredient list than the top… But still, as it stands, I find the formulation of this product to be effective in its claim to whiten, brighten, and moisturize my skin.

Overall Review: It feels like it does exactly what an overnight cream should do, which is to seal everything in and make your skin radiant come morning time. It does not cause any acne/clogged pores despite its seemingly rich consistency and formulation. I love this product so much that it has actually convinced me to purchase the remaining products from this very line: the toner, emulsion, cream, and eye cream. With the great results I have seen so far, I can only imagine what I might see with the addition of the other Misa Geum Sul products. 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Cosrx – Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask

 

Packaging: This product comes in a rather small plastic tub (50g) accompanied by an inner seal and a twist-off black cap.

Price: I got this for sale on Jolse for about $14 USD. This has lasted me well over six months because such a little amount can go a long way (however, full disclosure: I did not use this every day – more on this in a moment).

Consistency: If I had been reviewing this on the first day that I tried it, I may have given it a 5/5 rating simply because it feels so nice on my skin. The consistency is what some may refer to as “chewy” or jello-like because it has sort of bounce to it. When applying it to the skin, it spreads easily like a watery serum. Once it is all rubbed in, it feels lightly moisturizing and minimally tacky to the touch. This product does not feel rich at all, so oily skin types would likely be the best candidates for it.

Scent: No scent! Great for sensitive skin types and those who dislike fragrances in their cosmetics.

Ingredients: A CosDNA analysis revealed that there were a couple of things that could either be irritating or acne-causing, such as butylene glycol (solvent + moisturizer), dimethicone (emollient), carbomer (viscosity control), and beeswax (viscosity control + emollient + emulsifier). Personally, I experienced no irritation or acne from this product but I can imagine the beeswax possibly being an issue for others.

What I found interesting about this product is that it actually contained no real honey at all – what a misleading name! It does, however, have bee by-products such as propolis (85%) and, of course, the beeswax. Topical usage of propolis has been gaining more attention in the beauty world due to its propensity to help heal wounds and fight off infections. It is a mixture of bee saliva and beeswax gathered from budding flowers, sap, and so forth. Bees use this mixture on their beehives to keep intruders out but also to “sterilize” themselves as they move in and out of the hive. One study in 2003 found that:

Topical propolis is a well-tolerated therapy for wound healing and […]  it may enhance wound closure.

Another study in 2013:

Due to its antimicrobial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties, it is widely used in human and veterinary medicine, pharmacology, and cosmetics.

In the same study, the researchers investigate all of these claims and find that they are true, albeit not being some kind of “miracle” ingredient as I am sure many might hope for.

Beeswax is a substance made out of honey and pollen which makes up the “combs” of the beehive. I only found one study from 2003 that found beeswax to be beneficial to those with skin issues such as dermatitis and psoriasis vulgaris when applied topically, but their sample size was considerably small, making it hard to really back up these claims. More studies are definitely needed (considering how often beeswax makes its way into our cosmetics). So this is probably where Cosrx decided they would name their product a “honey” one, but in my opinion, this is not honey in and of itself, and they would have been better off calling this product a “propolis” one – especially since that is the main ingredient, making up 85% of the formulation.

After months of usage, I can honestly say this did little to nothing for my acne or any flaking I experienced at the time. In fact, as an “overnight mask,” intended to be the last step of your skincare routine to seal everything in, it did not perform at all to my expectations. It did not appear to seal very much moisture in, and in the end, I found out I was better off using this product on its own as a light moisturizer at night. If I used it during the day, it made my face appear shiny and my makeup felt like it would just slide off.

Overall Review: I bought this product due to the hype surrounding it and the brand, but truly, I was disappointed. I felt that the name was misleading and it did not work well as an overnight mask. It definitely made no difference in how quickly my acne healed, either. In fact, it really felt like it simply did nothing at all; nothing good nor bad came of this product. But still, just because it did not work out well for me, there must be a good reason as to why so many others are in love with it. It is fragrant-free, has a simple ingredient list, and a little goes a long way. But perhaps I was disappointed because I realized there were better overnight masks out there that also provided me with more benefits. At any rate, I do not foresee myself buying this particular product again, though I do still love Cosrx and intend to try out more of their products. 2/5.

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.

Directions:

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.