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.