I decided to start my journey into Korean skincare with a sample collection from Etude House. I first saw the collection on http://www.sokoglam.com, but you could only buy the full sizes, and I thought that I should try sample sizes first. With a little bit of research, I found the sample set super cheap on http://www.amazon.com sold by TOKTOK (an American seller – so the item arrives super fast!).
This set includes: toner/freshener, essence, emulsion, and cream. The key ingredients in the Collagen Moistfull Collection is baobab tree extract for hydration and collagen. This is a great intro set into Korean skincare, especially for those with normal skin in their 20’s.
I used this immediately after washing my face and immediately I could tell the difference between Korean and American toners. American toners are astringents, used to temporarily tighten the pores, and unfortunately are laden with irritating chemicals like alcohols and witch hazel. Korean toners are the first step to hydrating your face, and this one certainly did that! I was happily surprised with the hydrating and refreshing feeling after I used the toner.
I don’t know what the pH level is of this product (could not find it anywhere online) but based on the total non-reaction of my skin, it must be pretty close to a 5. I waited around 20 minutes after using this product to see how red/oily my face got, but it didn’t at all! (My face usually reacts pretty quickly to products that are too alkaline by producing sebum, resulting in an oily face really quickly.) So I think this product did do a good job of returning my skin to a normal-skin pH level after cleansing.
BUT – I have a major problem with the fragrance of this toner. I really don’t like fragrance in any of my skincare products, but for some reason I really hate it in a toner. I guess it’s the feeling of putting something on a completely bare face – I want it as pure as possible, and I hate the idea of synthetic fragrances added for no reason! The fragrance itself wasn’t bad – it smelled flowery/fruity. Other than the fragrance, I thought this toner wasn’t too bad.
Ingredients: Water, Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract, Natto Gum, Alcohol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Betaine, Butylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Behenyl Alcohol, BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Caprylic/Apric Triglyceride, Caprylic/Apric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Poly-Glyceryl-10 Pentastearate, Propylene Glycol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Fragrance
My first time using an essence! It’s pretty much a serum: this one had the consistency between a liquid and a light gel. Essences are supposed to have more concentration of the key ingredients, and I’m assuming that this one does too.
This essence is supposed to be ultra hydrating, but that feeling didn’t really last for me. Soon after using this my skin needed moisture right away. Again, the smell annoyed me, but at least I didn’t hate it like I did the toner. The ingredients didn’t wow me either:
Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Collagen Alcohol, Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Butylene Glycol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Benzophenone-5, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxethanol, CI 19140, CI 17200, Fragrance
In Korean-lingo, emulsions are basically light lotions and meant to be used alone during the day (with sunscreen) or before a heavier cream for night. I haven’t really found an emulsion that is hydrating enough to use alone during the day, so I usually stick with just creams. This emulsion I felt was pretty weak as far as hydration, and I felt the need for a heavier moisturizer right away. This was my least favorite of this collection:
Ingredients: Water, Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract, Propanediol, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Poly (C6-14 Olefin), Dimethicone, Polysorbate 60, Caprylic/Caprictriglyceride, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Behenyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sorbitan Stearate, Ethylhexyglycerin, Carbomer, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyglyceryl-10 Pentastearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance
I was impressed with this cream – it was hydrating, non-oily, and absorbed quickly into my skin. But, like most moisturizers for me, the hydration didn’t last long enough and my skin felt tight and quenched within a couple hours. So on subsequent days I just lathered it up really heavily on my skin and then the hydration felt like it lasted longer.
Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Collagen, Water, Butylene Glycol, Cylopentasiloxane, Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Adandonia Digitata Extract, Betaine, Kaolin, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PCA Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Cyclomethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, Ammonium Acryloldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Silica, Stearic Acid, Dimethicone, Polyethylene, Sodium Polyacrylate, Polyglycerl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone, Phenyl Methicone, Ethylhexyglycerin, PPG-5, Laureth-5, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxethanol, Fragrance
This was a decent introduction into Korean skincare for me. But this collection is definitely designed more for people with normal skin, in their 20s, who don’t require much help regarding wrinkle-prevention. It definitely soothed my skin (compared to my other American products I was using) and I could see my redness slowly getting better using these products. The products themselves don’t really have any anti-redness ingredients in them, but was mild and soothing enough that my skin started to calm down a bit. And bonus – it didn’t make me break out (but neither did it really stop the breakouts, either).
Pros: soothing, some hydration, no major irritating products
Cons: fragrance, no deep level of hydration, not enough *star* ingredients
Total score: 7/10
Ingredients: 7/10 (a couple acne irritants rated 1/2 on cosdna, no major beneficial ingredients – what I like to call *star* ingredients)
Quality: 7/10 (not bad for the price – a high concentration of baobab extract is a plus, but no idea what type of collagen is used and how effective it actually is. But doesn’t really hydrate like it promises to.)
Wear: 8/10 (felt soothing and absorbed well into the skin, no major problems with oiliness.)
Price: 9/10 (really good value for a basic simple collection of skincare products)
Other: 5/10 (I had to deduct a little for the fragrance – especially in the toner!)