Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Mamonde – Rose Water Toner

: 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.

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.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Missha – MISA Geum Sul Overnight Cream


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Cosrx – Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another study in 2013:

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

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

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

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

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

Asian Beauty, Review

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.