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.

Advertisements
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: 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

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!)

* * *

Packaging:

  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.

Consistency:

  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.