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: Clio – Kill Cover Highest Wear Pact SPF30/PA++ No.2-BP (”Lingerie,” Blooming Powder)

Packaging: The product comes in a black plastic compact (12g) with a little divider to house the puff. The packaging surprised me a lot in that it felt extremely cheap. And by looking at the photo of the puff you can see that my nails cause indentations just by holding it to apply the product. They do disappear after some time has passed, but either way, I would recommend to use a large fluffy brush to apply the product instead. While it is possible to blend out the circular rings left behind from the puff when you use it on your face, a fluffy brush applies much better (and evenly) without causing any stimulation to the face.

Price: I bought this on sale for about $22 USD on Jolse. With daily usage, this product should last three months at the very least. And considering that this product does not clog my pores, I think the price is right for what it is (but not as far as the case goes; the case still sucks).

Consistency: It feels so beautifully smooth. It surprised me, actually, because it felt a lot like a light translucent powder. I was expecting it to feel heavy on my skin because of its coverage, but it really feels like nothing is there. That is not to say there are not some downsides, however. As with most powders, I find that the powder will go on patchy if your skin is damp. It seems that the best time to use this is when your face is completely dry. You are able to build this product, but if you have oily skin, it is not advisable to layer the product later on in the day when your shine starts coming through because it is going to look patchy and cakey (even though it is so light). And if your skin is dry, or you have dry patches, it is going to cling – but not overwhelmingly so. As long as you have moisturized well and let your skin absorb everything first, it should go on just fine. It also looks great when applied over a BB cream because it does not darken your skin, but instead it adds to your coverage while at the same time removing any shine.

Scent: It has a somewhat light scent that is reminiscent of a kind of floral perfume. It also does seem to linger a bit, but it is not overwhelming.

Ingredients: A CosDNA analysis revealed that the only two ingredients to look out for is talc and dimethicone (emollient) – both of which only scored a 1 as acne triggers. Admittedly, as far as the ingredients go, there does not appear to be anything really special in this product aside from the fact that it is more pigmented than regular powders (and that was why I bought it). So, I do not have a lot to say in terms of the ingredients when it comes to this particular product, but I did decide to look into talc and silica, which appear in many powders.

According to the FDA:

Talc is an ingredient used in many cosmetics, from baby powder to blush…  [Its function is] to absorb moisture, to prevent caking, to make facial makeup opaque, or to improve the feel of a product.

Who knew? Talc tends to be portrayed as some kind of evil ingredient that should be avoided at all costs, but in actuality it is so helpful when you have oily skin like I do.

Silica (or silicon dioxide) is an ingredient that also seems to show up often in powders (this one included). I had no idea what use it had until I found a 2016 paper published by Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia (the Brazilian Society of Dermatology), which established that

silicon is important for optimal synthesis of collagen and for activating the hydroxylation enzymes, important in the formation of collagen network, improving skin strength and elasticity.

Overall Review: As you can see from my face photo above, this product is not full coverage by any means, but it effectively lessened the severity of my redness/pimples, made my tone appear even, effectively hid my pores, and removed all shine on my face. If I am to judge the actual product on its own, I would say that it is a great formula that provides ample coverage without clogging my pores/causing breakouts, but I do think it is a “high maintenance” sort of product. What I mean by this is that it seems as though it takes a lot of work to apply it perfectly. I would not want to use this on the go in fear that it might appear patchy if I used the puff. Even BB cushions require less work than this! The packaging is cheap and the puff it comes with is just useless, but still, I do like the powder itself. Will I be rushing to repurchase this product when it runs out though? Probably not. From my experience, it is better to use a BB cream/cushion for coverage, and then apply a translucent powder on top to control shine without getting cakey. 3/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Laneige – Skin Veil Base Cushion SPF22/PA++ No.60 (Light Green)

Packaging: This product comes in your basic BB cushion case (15g) with a mirror, puff, and tray to store the puff. This case is larger than the sleek ones we see more often now, but I see this as a good thing because it just means it holds more product! The accompanying puff is small but it does the job just fine. It also seems less stiff compared to other ones.

Price: I bought this for about $25 USD on Jolse which is amazing considering that it even comes with a refill (!). I was putting off on buying this product because there were no real reviews about it anywhere, but thankfully, I folded. My only regret was that I did not buy it sooner.

Consistency: Honestly, I was so impressed with how amazing this product felt that it made me look into buying another cushion from Laneige. It spreads and blends out nicely, and you can easily apply a lot without getting a cakey feel. And that pigment? Well, let’s just say this product works so well at covering redness that I would feel perfectly comfortable going without my BB cream/cushions. I focused a lot in the mid section of my face since the pores were noticeable and the redness was most prominent there. On the bottom right of every face photo, you can see the pimple on my chin that could have stood to have another layer on it. But as it is, the bottom half of my face was one layer while the top half had multiple layers.

Scent: My first thought upon smelling this product was that it reminded me of a soap bar. Like, maybe a Dove soap bar? Maybe Suave?.. Something of that nature. The scent is fairly strong and does tend to linger a little bit, but I really enjoy it.

Ingredients: According to a CosDNA analysis, the only things to look out for were dimethicone (emollient) and tocopherol (antioxidant). But the thing about dimethicone is that it is a silicon-based polymer, and while some people can tolerate this ingredient (such as yours truly), other people may not be so lucky. This is because silicons can clog pores and cause acne, or simply because a person might have a sensitivity/allergy to them. If you do not believe your skin can tolerate even this derivative, then I would suggest looking into another primer because dimethicone and its other forms show up many, many times in the ingredient list. But I do not want to cause any unnecessary panic in those who are not too sure about this ingredient because if you took a look at the ingredient lists of many of your lotions, creams, and makeup products, you would see that it is very commonly used. Its function as an emollient is to create a smooth texture and hold in your skin’s moisture, so this is a good thing because many primers are actually way too drying (particularly because they tend to market to those with oily skin), but this one is very moisturizing, creamy, and fresh. Despite having all kinds of dimethicones, it does not feels very silicon-like, which some may enjoy (I personally cannot stand the feeling of something silicon-like sitting on my face).

I find that its moisture is a double-edged sword, because while this does mean I can wear the product without worrying about dry patches being accentuated, it also means that its “oil function control” claim is just plain wrong, especially so for those with oily skin. (Although I could see somebody with dry skin getting away with it though.) I suspect it must be because there are no real “oil control” ingredients actually present in the product; I imagine the company’s theory was “if we provide the skin with an ample amount of moisture, then the pores will stop over-producing oil as result.” I am not saying this is wrong, but perhaps all the silicons prevent this from becoming a reality? Or maybe my skin is just fickle.

But you know what this product does have? Glycerin (solvent + moisturizer). And in a 2007 study, it was confirmed that

Glycerol-based emollients have a positive influence on the skin of patients with AD (atopic dermatitis).

and further,

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

So not only does this cushion act as a primer, but it also benefits your skin as you wear it! And we could all certainly use an extra boost of hydration in our lives.

Overall Review: This product effectively covers up redness and pores, and makes a wonderfully smooth makeup base. But it is so effective at what it does that one could easily wear this as a stand-alone product. It brightens up my skin without giving it a ghostly look. While it does not really control sebum, it does provide the skin with hydration and moisture, and even repairs the skin. I can easily see myself buying this again when I run out. 5/5.

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: 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.

_______________________________

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.