PRODUCT: Liptone Get It Tint #5 All-Night Red
COMPANY: TONY MOLY
COST: ~7,000 WON ($7)
DESCRIPTION: This is one red in a series of color options in Tony Moly's immensely popular long-lasting lip tints.
EXPERIENCE: This product has really opened my eyes to the potential of a good lip tint! This lip product doesn't feel like anything and absorbs really rapidly. whatever it touches it will stain red, with little spreading power, so I had to take more time to make sure it covered every spot of lip, as any space missed would create a noticeable contrast. This is a very different tactic for me, as I typically apply a smudge of lip product to the inner portions of upper and lower lips and then gently smear and smooch to get a subtle, natural look that, most importantly, only takes a few seconds to apply. However, with this one I had to apply carefully to the outer lip edges and take time to not miss a spot.
I wore this out to dinner and a movie, where I was constantly eating, drinking and rubbing my lips with napkins. But behold--the color remained! After about 5 hours it lost a bit of its brightness but this stuff does not come off! it's really quite amazing. Because it is so bright and long-lasting this is probably one I'll save for special occasions. (Also I find it a tad bit alarming how effective it is, feeling like its seems and permanently binds to my lip cells!)
SMELL: Very lightly fragrant
TEXTURE: The tiniest bit drying
YAY OR NAY: Yay, for being an incredibly effective long-lasting lip color. There are additional colors you can see here and another "HD" line you can read about here.
PRODUCT: Tomato Cool Jelly Tint
COST: ~6,000 WON ($6)
DESCRIPTION: South Korean beauty shops offer a LOT of lip products, many claiming to be supremely long-lasting. This supposedly tomato-based product is one such item.
EXPERIENCE: This is shaping up to be one of my favorite lip products from South Korea. Not quite a moisturizer, not quite a gloss and not quite a lipstick either, strangely enough. It is more of a water-based stain that sinks into the lip tissue to give a nice natural bit of long-lasting color. Intriguing indeed.
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: I could not find an ingredient list unfortunately.
YAY OR NAY: Yay, for being a nice, casual lip color that is easy to apply, looks natural and doesn't feel heavy or caked.
LINK: Amazon (pricier than in Korea)
PRODUCT: it's real squeeze mask - bija
COST: <1,000 WON ($1)
DESCRIPTION: This is one of many ingredients in Innisfree's It's Real Squeeze masks. This one claims the "bija" benefit, a fruit/nut from the torreya tree (a type of conifer with scant online information) which the packaging claims is a "precious" ingredient. Additionally the mask has a Jeju green complex: green tea, tangerine, cactus, camellia leaves, and orchids, all of which have varying anti-inflammatory and soothing properties presumably, aside from smelling delightful. The mask goes on after toner for 10-20 minutes before bed.
EXPERIENCE: A lot of "essence" (liquid) was in the package and seemed to drip while waring the mask, more than other sheet masks I've experienced. I felt a slight tinging, probably from the alcohol ingredient. (Side note: I always read the ingredient list after I try a one-off product as a "blind-test" study.) I did not notice any particularly enhanced moisturizing effect.
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: This should be called a "grapefruit" mask as that's the primary fruit/plant ingredient, followed by aloe. Bija oil appears pretty low on the list along with some other nice ingredients on here (green tea, tangerine) though not in any significant proportions.
SMELL: I sniffed and sniffed but no noticeable smell. However, 50 Shades of Snail noticed a distinct initial alcohol and baby powder smell.
YAY OR NAY: Nay
INGREDIENTS: Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Ethanol, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Betaine, Xanthan Gum, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Bija Oil(1mg), Sodium Hyaluronate, Tangerine Peel Extract, Orchid Extract, The green Tea Extract, Camellia Leaf Extract, Prickly Pear Extract, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance
PRODUCT: Green tea seed cream and green tea seed eye cream
DESCRIPTION: Both moisturizing lotions are made from green tea from Jeju island (a volcanic island off the Korean coastline), reveled for its volcanic water and natural beauty. From the box: "an antioxidant mositure cream formulated with freshly squeezed Jeju green tea and green tea seeds to create a clear and dewy skin from deep within."
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: Let's take a look at the ingredients, shall we? Camellia sinensis (the tree plant whose leaves produce a variety of teas) is the lead ingredient (56%), a good sign. Rice bran wax, tea seed oil and a variety of fruit extracts (citrus, orange, tangerine) suggest that this will be a pleasantly scented and smooth experience.
EXPERIENCE: I found the green tea seed cream to be an incredibly light moisturizer. Though I only had the sample pack, I was limited in quantity but just the sample was enough to leave my skin noticeably smooth in the morning and not greasy or prone to breaking out like some of the thicker face creams. I am definitely planning to order more of this in the future.
SMELL: Very lightly fragrant
TEXTURE: Smooth, whitish cream that rubs on comfortably
YAY OR NAY: Yay, a thousand times yay!
LINK: Innis Free World
CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT (55.86%), GLYCERIN, HYDROGENATED POLY (C6-14 OLEFIN), PROPANEDIOL, ORYZA SATIVA (RICE) BRAN WAX, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, CAMELLIA SINENSIS SEED OIL, BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA) BUTTER, GLYCERYL STEARATE, POLYGLYCERYL-3 METHYLGLUCOSEDISTEARATE, CYCLOHEXASILOXANE, POTASSIUM CETYL PHOSPHATE, HYDROXYPROPYL STARCH PHOSPHATE, CITRUS UNSHIU PEEL EXTRACT, OPUNTIA COCCINELLIFERA FRUIT EXTRACT, ORCHID EXTRACT, CAMELLIA JAPONICA LEAF EXTRACT, CITRUS AURANTIUM DULCIS (ORANGE) FRUIT EXTRACT, CITRUS PARADISI (GRAPEFRUIT) FRUIT EXTRACT, CITRUS AURANTIUM BERGAMIA (BERGAMOT) FRUIT EXTRACT, CITRUS TANGERINA (TANGERINE) EXTRACT, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, WATER, KAOLIN, TOCOPHERSOLAN, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, POLOXAMER 235, POLOXAMER 338, ACRYLATES/C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, EPIGALLOCATECHIN GALLATE, PEG-100 STEARATE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, ETHOXYDIGLYCOL, 1,2-HEXANEDIOL, POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE, DISODIUM EDTA, FRAGRANCE
PRODUCT: Banana Lip Balm
COMPANY: Tony Moly
COST: ~4,000 WON ($4)
DESCRIPTION: A sweet fruit-flavored lip balm containing banana extract, coconut oil and milk protein extract with a small keychain attached.
EXPERIENCE: I have never been one for sweet/strong fruit flavor smells, so if this wasn't a K product I probably would have skipped it. That said, this cute little balm makes lip care on-the-go more fun and gives me a burst of entertainment and nourishment for the suckers. The banana scent and flavor is distinct but not overpowering. While adorable and moisturizing, it is not incredibly long-lasting.
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: Banana extract is far down on the list, with the other 'good' ingredients, coconut oil and milk protein extract. However, cheap ol' petroleum is the lead ingredient.
SMELL: As expected, banana. If you don't care for the flavor, skip it.
TEXTURE: smooth, probably from the mix of petroleum and coconut oil
YAY OR NAY: Nay, unless you find it cheap.
LINK: Ulta (Several times the price)
Petrolatum, Polybutene, Silica Silylate, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Diisostearyl Malate,Tocopheryl Acetate,Titanium Dioxide (CI77891), Fragrance (Parfum), Polyethylene, Dehydroacetic Acid, Polyglyceryl-2Triisostearate, Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Extract, Ceramide 3, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Milk Protein Extract, Water, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol
PRODUCT: Ferment Snail Hand Cream Timeless
COMPANY: Tony Moly
COST: ~12,000 WON ($12)
DESCRIPTION: This hand lotion boasts the much-coveted snail secretion ingredient. This is called snail secretion filtrate (SFF) and is literal "snail slime," the mucus that snails leave behind as they move around. This is a HOT ingredient in Asian skin products and has been used for centuries. The be-all-end-all of cosmetic ingredients, SFF is proclaimed to solve every skin blemish and banish every wrinkle. In reality, there is no such magical ingredient but SFF has been shown to have a deeply moisturizing and healing effect. The box claims an "anti-wrinkle & whitening & moisturizing" in line with typical snail product advertising.
EXPERIENCE: This was not nearly as moisturizing as I had hoped, and I needed to use a lot to get a moisturizing effect. Snail secretion is super popular in k beauty products. This particular product, however, was disappointing compared to others I've used. Also you have to use a lot to get a moisturizing effect, which is not ideal given the cost/size.
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: This product has dozens of ingredients, with snail secretion filtrate and shea butter appearing several down, which may explain the less-than-awesome results. There are also traces of aloe, lemon peel/orange/lime oil, bergamot and eucalyptus.
SMELL: None noticeable
TEXTURE: Slightly sticky
YAY OR NAY: Nay. There are better snail products out there I'm sure.
INGREDIENTS: Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Niacinamide, Palmitic Acid, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearic Acid, Snail Secretion Filtrate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter...[and more]
PRODUCT: Nutrition Daily Sheet Mask
COMPANY: IT'S SKIN
COST: ~5,000 WON ($5)
DESCRIPTION: Seven sheets are made of organic cotton containing honey, rice ferment extract, olive oil and hydrolyzed collagen to "wake up the skin's own potential energy," according to the package. Tap the bag to distribute the "essence" (liquid) among the masks before applying one to a clean and dry face. Leave for 20 minutes for a one-time use after facial cleansing and toning.
EXPERIENCE: This delightful mask left my skin super soft the next morning. Bonus tip: the bag can go in the fridge for an extra cooling effect during hot weather.
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: Water, glycerin and butylene glycol lead the ingredients list, before getting to the good stuff: mineral oil, honey extract, apple fruit extract, blueberry, rice ferment extract, olive fruit oil and more.
SMELL: Lightly honey
TEXTURE: cool and moisturizing
YAY OR NAY: Yay, for consistent moisturizing with a lovely smell and decent price point.
COST: ~4,000 WON ($4)
DESCRIPTION: A straightforward lip moisturizer/color in the "rose" color.
EXPERIENCE: Great, bright blast of color, smooth on and with decent lasting power. I bought a few of these to throw into my purse/leave at work for an easy way to freshen up.
YAY OR NAY? Yay!
PRODUCT: Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base
COMPANY: TONY MOLY
COST: ~10,000 WON ($10)
DESCRIPTION: "Brightening" skin is a popular k-osmetic feature. This eye stick rubs on with a clear sheen and claims to freshen up dark or dull circles around the eyes and hydrate skin.
EXPERIENCE: This one wins stars for the design alone. Applying it felt like rubbing a bit of faint white cover-up under my eyes; once rubbed in I did not see a noticeable difference. For make-up effectiveness, it seemed too translucent and temporary to do much good to cover up my under-eye circles.
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: Really, nothing special (see below).
SMELL: none noticeable
TEXTURE: fairly smooth
YAY OR NAY: Nah...
INGREDIENTS: Purified water, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Stearate, Ethanol, Xylitol, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Glycerin, PEG-8, BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Niacinamide, Sodium Citrate, Dimethicone, Adenosine, Actinidia Extract, Seawater, Bambusa Vulgaris Shoot Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris Sap Extract, Glacial water, Potassium Alginate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Xanthan Gum, Citric acid, Steareth-20, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Potassium Sorbate, Chrysin, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Tropolone, Perfume, FD&C Blue 1(E133), Phenoxyethanol, Complex Component Holoxyl
PRODUCT: Clean it zero
COMPANY: Banila co
COST: ~20,000 WON ($20)
DESCRIPTION: This cleansing "sherbert" balm is super-popular and touted as a gentle make-up remover that moisturizes and tones the skin while removing dirt and build-up. It is an "oil-based" cleaner, meant to be used as a first step in the evening cleaning process, followed by a foam cleanser, exfoliator and moisturizer. Use the included spatula to scoop a small amount into hands and work into a gentle lather over face. Rinse off.
EXPERIENCE: I was excited to grab this one after reading so many rave reviews online. With a pleasing, silky texture and no tingling sensation afterwards, this cleanser is one of the more comfortable and mild ones I've tried, yet incredibly effective at taking off make-up.
INGREDIENT ANALYSIS: Mineral oil is the lead ingredient, an excellent ingredient for removing make-up and blackheads. There are also some interesting plant products in there (mistletoe, papaya, raspberry), purportedly with antioxidant properties.
SMELL: mild and pleasant, almost fruity
TEXTURE: "Sherbert" is a good description - white and a little creamy, drip-free and smooth to apply.
YAY OR NAY: Yay if you wear a lot of daily make-up, this is a great step before a face wash. Plus, a little bit of this cleaner goes a long way.
LINK: banila co
INGREDIENTS: Mineral Oil, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG -10Isostearate, Polyethylene, Butylene Glycol, Water, Rubus Suavissimus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Extract, Aspalathus Linearis Leaf Extract, Viscum Album, (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, Carica Papaya, (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Malpighia Glabra (Acerola) Fruit Extract, Epilobium, Angustifolium Leaf Extract, BHT, Butylparaben, CI 16255, CI 15985, Fragrance
With a background in molecular biology, I worked for decades as a scientist and science journalist. I use my background to look into the science of affordable and high-quality Korean skincare products. Then, I share my findings with you!