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.


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

Empties & Mini Reviews [Oct. 2016 – June 2017]

Brands Included: Missha | TheFaceShop

1. Missha Products

  • Missha – Time Revolution Clear Toner
    • A very mild AHA and BHA formulation with fermented ingredients. It has never caused any irritation and it helps with my acne a lot. My skin is also noticeably smoother after using this product. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • Missha – Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence (Moist)
    • Features fermented ingredients, but despite its claim of being moist and hydrating, this product simply felt like an expensive water I was putting on my face with absolutely no change in the quality of my skin. Will not repurchase. 1.5/5.
  • Missha – Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule
    • One of my holy grail products. It effectively makes my acne marks fade quicker and is even hydrating. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • Missha – Time Revolution Night Repair Vital Intensive Lotion
    • I love this product for nighttime usage because it is effective, but I dislike the shine that comes along with this product. As with all of the “Night Repair” products in this line, it features a small amount of retinol which I rather prefer since it does not dry out my skin as harshly as higher concentrated retinol products do. That being said, I did have a mishap with this product when I didn’t have an effective hydrating routine. I mistakenly used it day and night. But still, changing up my skincare routine, I found that it fades my acne scars promptly and gives me a smooth complexion. Will likely repurchase if it becomes available again. 4/5.
  • Missha – M B.B Boomer
    • My first real primer, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I enjoy the baby powder-like scent and how moisturizing it feels when I put it on my face. I had a backup for when this ran out (or expired, in my case), but I don’t use it as much these days since many of my creams double up as a primer. Will likely not repurchase for the time being. 3/5.
  • Missha – Signature Essence Cushion SPF50+/PA+++ (No.21)
    • For quite some time, this was one of my favorite cushions. I love how it improves the quality of my skin in that it becomes brighter and seems to glow from within if used daily. To this day, this is still one of the only BB cushions I know of that can go over dry patches and not accentuate them. That being said, it doesn’t have the greatest coverage. Perfect for the natural, “no makeup” look, however. My only qualm with it right now is that its currently lightest shade (no.21) doesn’t seem to match my skintone anymore. Not sure if it oxidized or my skin just became more pale. Will likely not repurchase unless my skin tans up a bit or if they come out with a lighter shade. 4/5.
  • Missha – Signature Essence Cushion Intensive Cover SPF50+/PA+++ (No.21)
    • After trying the cushion described above, I had high hopes for this product because it was supposed to have the same formulation but provide more coverage. It sounded perfect for my acne situation. However, like all “high coverage” products, this turned out to not feel hydrating at all. In fact, it only make my skin appear shiny and feel greasy. Coverage was great, but it accentuated my flaky patches like nobody’s business. Will not repurchase. 1/5.
  • Missha – The Style Fitting Wear Sebum-Cut Pressed Powder (No.1 Clear Mint)
    • One of the best pressed powders I’ve ever used. Its very miniscule mint color gets rid of redness (albeit not in severe cases), and mattifies my skin very well when it becomes oily and shiny. Even on dry patches, it doesn’t seem to accentuate them very much as one might expect. I just hate how often I have to wash the puff that comes with it. Will repurchase. 5/5.

2. TheFaceShop Products

  • TheFaceShop – Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil
    • Hated this product due to its drying nature and strong perfume scent. Has a high pH and many possible acne-triggering ingredients. Will not repurchase. 1/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Deep Firming Cleansing Oil
    • One of my favorites. Non-drying and has a light scent. Gets rid of grits and flaking. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed Fresh Cleansing Water
    • Not one of the best cleansing waters out there, but works decently. Has a light scent that I’m in love with. Even with its huge amount of product, I don’t think it’s worth the price. Will not repurchase. 3.5/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed No Shine Hydrating Water
    • First off, I didn’t know what “hydrating water” even was, like was it supposed to be a variation of the Fresh Cleansing Water? Was it a toner? Secondly, contrary to belief, this is not hydrating. Smells wonderful but didn’t make any difference to the quality of my skin. Better off using this as a toner. I liked the big size though. Will not repurchase. 3.5/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Blemish Zero Clarifying Toner
    • An effective, somewhat mild AHA/BHA toner. I didn’t like how strong the scent was, even though I do like lemon among other fruity scents.  Will not repurchase. 3/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed Soothing Mist Toner
    • One of my holy grails. Scent is light and fresh. Gets rid of redness, inflammation, and irritation of the skin in cases of acne breakouts or drying, stripped skin. I just wish it came in a bigger bottle. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed Moisture-Holding Seed Essence
    • Features little “beads” that explode with moisture as you rub it into your skin. I didn’t care for this product as it did not change the quality of my skin. It also tended to make my face look shiny and feel greasy, which I personally can’t stand. Smelled great, though.  Will not repurchase. 1/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Calming Seed SOS Care Essence
    • Although this product didn’t hydrate nor moisturize my skin very much, it was effective in that it could be used when my skin was stripped, irritated, or red and inflamed. It is appropriately named. Will not repurchase (because there are better, more effective products out there). 3.5/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed Moisturizing Cream
    • Another one of my holy grails. This product manages to moisturize and hydrate my skin. Rids me of skin woes like redness, irritation, and inflammation. Smells light and fresh and does not feel heavy on the skin, nor does it make my face shiny. Doubles up as an amazing primer before makeup application, too. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed No Shine Intense Hydrating Cream
    • I had high hopes for this product because it’s a newer variation of my holy grail, the Chia Seed Moisturizing Cream. Contrary to my high expectations, I found that this product didn’t soak in and just kind of sat on top of my skin. It also smelled more perfume-like than the original variant. Oh, and the best part? Despite its claim of “no shine,” it did make my face shiny and it felt greasy. Will not repurchase. 1/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Arsainte Eco-Therapy Aqua Radiance Cream
    • Had an amazing scent that I can’t begin to describe, and even though I wanted to love it so badly, it also seemed a lot like the product described above. Will not repurchase. 1.5/5.
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: IOPE – AIR CUSHION® (2017) Natural SPF50+/PA+++ No.13 (Ivory)

I have been wanting to write this review for some time now because this product is by the brand called IOPE, which is known for their “air cushions” as they are said to be among the best of the best. Evidently, one cushion is sold every four seconds.

Before I decided that I wanted to try something that was majorly hyped, I kept thinking that if I had tried one cushion, I had tried them all. What made me change my mind was taking a look at their brand history. This is a brand that seemed like it really knew its science, and that intrigued me. It is also apparently Korea’s very first air cushion. So naturally, I did my research and finally decided to make the plunge.

Packaging: It comes in a beautiful case that shines like the rainbow when the sunlight catches it just right. The accompanying puff applicator is seemingly much smaller than other cushions I am more accustomed to; I attempted to demonstrate this in the photo above of the Iope puff next to the Missha one since I was unable to find any real measurements anywhere online. This is the one thing I dislike about the packaging because it feels like it takes longer to apply the product and blend it in. Somehow it just feels too tiny and awkward to hold in my hand. The cushion inside the case has unique 3D prism shapes to it that allows you to pick up more product without worrying about most of it sinking to the bottom. So far, I have not yet had to turn the cushion over, but only time will tell if this makes any real difference. They are also meant to make your skin appear dewy from any angle.

Price: I purchased this product for about $40 USD off of Jolse. It may seem expensive, but actually, it came with a refill so that really makes it only about $20 per cushion. Looking at it in this light, I would say this is a great price for an even better product. I expect this to last me about three months of daily usage.

Consistency: The new 2017 Iope cushions came out with multiple formulations: cover, intense cover, matte longwear, and natural. I purchased the “natural” one because I wanted a formulation that felt light but not too drying (like you might see with “matte longwear”) nor become too cakey (possibly with “cover” and the “intense cover” ones). I also chose the color #13 in ivory because lately my other cushions in #21 have been looking unnaturally dark and yellow on my skin – and I’m not sure if this is an oxidation issue… or perhaps my retinol products are working that well? At any rate, #13 turned out to match my skin color perfectly.

Scent: It smells faintly of something floral, which I really enjoy. It does linger but is not by any means overwhelming.

Ingredients: Taking a look at this product’s CosDNA analysis, the ingredient list appeared like any other BB cushion. But I am stumped, honestly, because there is just something about this product – it has taken my heart and replaced my old beloved holy grail BB cushion, Missha’s Essence Cushion.

High up on the list, there is zinc oxide, for one, which functions as a form of sunscreen, is an astringent, and works out very well for those of us who have acne. Niacinamide is also high up on this ingredient list, which is very effective for lightening and brightening up the skin.

But then, the thing that makes this product stand out to me, more than any other cushion I have ever tried, is that I do not have to worry about having an oily face hours after having applied this product. I usually follow up my BB cushions/creams with a finishing powder out of habit, but I found that with this product, I actually do not need it unless I want that extremely matte look. This is huge! Apparently this is due to their unique addition of “bio water” in this formulation, a water retention capability that allows your skin to stay moisturized even after long hours of being on your skin. Although I was unable to find any current studies on bio water at this time, I did find a review by The Dermatology Review that revealed this interesting information regarding it:

As a homeopathic water concentrate that is mainly alkaline in nature, bio water in its purest form is highly concentrated with both oxygen and electrolytes.

In the meantime, I will continue to search for actual studies that support this claim, but as it stands, I did feel that this made sense in light of this Iope cushion. My skin did not feel dried out nor oily with this cushion. And I have said this before, but I will say it again: proper hydration and moisturization (a perfectly balanced oil-water content of the skin, if you will) does make a difference in your skin.

Overall Review: If it is not already obvious, my conclusion is that this brand is definitely onto something. This is the best cushion I have ever tried, and I do believe that the hype surrounding their best-selling air cushions are not unfounded. If you have not yet tried one of these cushions, I would highly recommend that you give them a try. 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Missha – MISA Geum Sul Tension Pact SPF30/PA++ No.01 (Bright Light)

Packaging: This is the most beautiful BB cushion I think I’ve ever seen. When the image first appeared on Missha’s Instagram, I knew I had to have it. It features the signature flower as seen on all of the Misa Geum Sul products, and the packaging sparkles of small pink glitter particles when the sun hits it the right way. When the compact (17g) is clicked open, there is a mirror and an accompanying tray that holds the applicator puff. Because this is a “tension pact” and not your usual BB cushion, it features a flexible net (with the shape of a rose on it!) that you press with your puff to gather as much or little product as you like. The idea is that these tension nets can allow for a more even application as you never have to worry about the product seeping too far down like with usual BB cushions.

Price: I purchased this product for about $25 USD from Jolse. I think this price is neither too expensive nor too cheap as it can last you quite some time (because a little seems to go a long way).

Consistency: The first time I used this product, I applied way too much because I didn’t realize how little pressure I needed to apply my puff to the tension net. But when applied correctly, it goes on light and rather moist, making it an ideal product to those with dry skin. As you can see in the photos above, it also looks quite nice on oily-combo skin, too. (A word of warning: If you have oily skin, it will make your skin appear very shiny after some time – and not in a cute, dewy way. I mitigate this issue by using a translucent powder on top.) Its coverage is medium to high as it is very buildable, so it covers my acne very well. I chose to take a photo of my skin in its worst condition despite feeling very self-conscious sharing it here because I wanted to show just how much of a difference using this tension pact makes. And since my skin is more oily here, you can see how it has seeped into the fine lines of my eyes (which, honestly speaking, happens with all BB creams, cushions, etc.), but it seems very minimal in comparison to others that I’ve tried.

Scent: As predicted, it smells exactly the same as all other products from the Misa Geum Sul line, which is a rather strong herbal scent. In my opinion, the scent does linger for some time, so if you don’t like herbal scents, you may not enjoy using this product very much. I find that it’s grown on me though.

Ingredients: Truthfully speaking, I was unable to find a full ingredient list anywhere, but based on the information that I was able to gather about it, I can tell you that it features a number of plant extracts geared toward fighting aging issues (as it was designed for more mature-like skin types). In particular, it includes as much as 36% of wild ginseng water though it doesn’t specify the actual type of ginseng used. However, a study in 2013 did demonstrate that panax ginseng root extract

can induce the synthesis of type I collagen

which is great news considering that:

There are at least 16 types of collagen, but 80 – 90 percent of the collagen in the body consists of types I, II, and III.

(Source: Molecular Biology. 4th Edition.)

Collagen are fibrous proteins in the skin that are responsible for basically holding everything together. For instance, if you have a cut, collagen is what heals that wound. And because our ability to produce collagen slows down as we age, using an ingredient like ginseng would be to our advantage since it promotes collagen revival. So I would expect mature and acne-prone skin types alike would benefit from the use of this product due to its ginseng component. (The Geum Sul Tension Pact is also said to brighten and whiten the skin, which leads me to believe it may include the popular niacinamide ingredient as well. That being said, with normal usage I haven’t noticed any real changes in the darkness of my acne scars from this product.)

Overall Review: For me personally, it works well on my acne-prone skin because it doesn’t clog my pores or cause any additional acne despite its highly pigmented color. The color itself is a perfect match for my skin, too, as it contains a slightly pink undertone rather than yellow. It is moisturizing and I have no issues with shine because I always have my pressed powder on hand to combat this problem. I also love that it’s moisturizing because normally with higher coverage products I experience dry patches, but with this product, I don’t. Since this is my first tension pact, I currently have nothing else to compare it to, but it is definitely a lovely product that is worth trying out. 4/5.