Now that I have finally settled in to my new home for the next 6-8 months, I finally have time to be excited about my upcoming trip to Seoul, South Korea. As mentioned a few weeks ago in my Korean Skincare for Beginners blog post, Korean Skincare or K-Beauty is relatively a very new area of skincare for myself. I wasn't entirely sure where to really start with but after a little bit of research and some guidance from fellow bloggers and Instagrammers I have managed to compile a little wish list of items in which I hope to purchase when I travel to Seoul in the middle of this month! Whilst this list does seem relatively small and short, please be aware I am just really scraping the surface of what I *think* I want in South Korea. I know there are many other products out there but I thought I would share with you my favourites so far!
SU:M37 Secret Programming Essence
SU:M37 is a Korean brand that has been on my radar for quite sometime now for its use of botanical extracts and its unique fermentation process. The name SU:M37 is derived from the Korean word 'breathe' (su) and 37 refers to 37 degrees - the optimal temperature for fermentation in an oak barrel. SU:M37 is all about the process of fermentation and adopts a process of natural fermentation which takes place in a special lab in a more remote area of South Korea. Each of the 86 different types of botanical plants that are used in the SU:M37 formulations are all fermented individually using various different tanks made from wood like cedar or oak and pottery tanks. All ingredients are then left to over a certain amount of time to develop and ferment and are then later filtered and infused into each SU:M37 product.
The Secret Programming Essence (renamed to Secret Essence) is SU:M37's signature product and it is on top of my Seoul wishlist as it is a brightening and hydrating essence that is often referred to as SKII's slightly more affordable dupe. The essence is to be used after the cleansing stage and is supposed to the be the beginning of the moisturising stage of the Korean skincare routine. I have read that this essence is incredibly hydrating and that it does leave the skin soft, supple, incredibly bouncy and smooth. It also prepares the skin well for the next stages of the skincare routine and that other products should really just 'glide effortlessly' on. I have always been curious in trying these 'essences' which are quite common in Korea or Asian skincare in general and the 86 different types of fermented botanical extracts in the SU:M37's Secret Essence has me curious to see what the hype is all about.
Please note that it was incredibly hard to find an updated ingredients listing for this (it's hard to find a general ingredients listing for this product full stop). This has been taken from Style Korean.
Water, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyce, Citrus Unshiu Fruit Powder, Citrus Junos Fruit Powder, Apple Fruit, Banana Fruit, Papaya, Prunus Serotina Fruit Extract, Diospyros Kaki Fruit Extract, Watermelon Fruit Extract, Peach Fruit, Prunus Mume Fruit, Fig Fruit, Chaenomeles sinensis, Eriobotrya Japonica Fruit/, leaf Extract, Apricot Fruit, Zizyphus jujuba, Cucurbita maxima, Grape, Raspberry Fruit, Momordica Grosvenorii Fruit Extract, Lycium chinense, Glycine max, Phaseolus Angularis Seed, Canavalia Ensiformis Leaf Extract, Rice, Hordeum vulgare, Job's Tears, Millet, Hemerocallis Fulva Flower Extract, Cabbage powder, Morus bombycis, Perilla Frutescens Flower Oil, Ipomoea Batatas, Sunflower, Colocasia antiquorum, Dioscorea Batatas Extract, Laminaria japonica, Undaria Pinnatifida Root Powder, Radish, Turnip Seed Extract, Carrot Root, Arctium lappa, Nelumbo nucifera, Onion Root Extract, Lilium maculatum, Licorice Root, Sesame Seed, Ginkgo Biloba, Panax Ginseng Root, Actinidia polygama, Grifola Frondosa Extract, Prunus Salicina Fruit Extract, Akebia quinata, Crataegus cuneata, Cornus Officinalis Fruit Extract, Nephelium Longana Seed Extract, Houttuynia cordata, Artemisia princeps, Hydrolyzed Sasa Veitchii Extract, Glechoma Hederacea Extract, Matricaria Flower, Horsetail, Cassia obtusifolia, Taraxacum officinale, Isodonis japonicus, Safflower Flower, Plantago asiatica, Smallanthus Sonchifolius Leaf Extract, Garlic, Pinus Koraiensis Seed Extract, Lentinus edodes, Dipropylene glycol, Glycereth-26, Glycerin, Spiraea Ulmaria Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Betaine, Methyl Gluceth-20, Ceramide 3, Glycosphingolipids, Phospholipids, Cholesterol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cichorium Intybus Root Extract, Vanilla Tahitensis Seed, Niacinamide, Polyquaternium-51, Lauryl Dimethicone/, polyglycerin-3 Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Acrylates/, C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Triethanol amine
+ aspergillus, pediococcus, zygosaccharomyces, fortunella crassifolia, castanea crenata, vitis coignetiae, echinochloa crus-galli seed, sataria italica seed, iridea laminarioides, nemacystus decipiens, sagittaria trifolia root, juglans subcordiformis, hydnum erinaceum, ginger rhizome, beet rhizome, polygonum odoratum rhizome, turmeric rhizome, acanthopanax siebodianus root, auricularia auricula ferment filtrate
SUM:37 Skin Saver Melting Cleansing Balm
Yes, another SU:M37 product and again this cleansing balm does incorporate fermented botanical extracts such as apricot kernel extract and as well as ingredients such as moringa extract and orange peel. I absolutely love cleansers and when I came across this cleanser online, I immediately fell in love with its gorgeous packaging. If there is one thing that SUM:37 do well, its their packaging - I mean look at it. Isn't it beautiful? Its also quite ingenius with the spatula magnetised to the lid. It not only is practical (I sometimes loose my spatulas) but it also does add a point of interest to the way the product looks.
What also attracted me to this balm was the use of SUM:37's unique fermented botanicals in the product which I think will aid in nourishing the skin at the cleansing stage. I also love the fact that this is also one of the few cleansing balms that I have come across that does not contain mineral oil in the ingredients list. It has also had all round great reviews from bloggers which doesn't really help with my bank account hahaha.
This ingredients listing has been taken from popular Korean Beauty Blogger - Fan-Serviced B.
Hydrogenated Polydecene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Triethylhexanoin, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Polyethylene, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PEG-30 Sorbitan Tetraoleate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Kluyveromyces/Lactobacillus/Apricot Kernel Oil Ferment Filtrate, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Citral, Citronellol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool.
Huxley Light and More Oil
I stumbled upon Huxley by accident on Instagram and was quite interested in the brand's use of the Prickly Pear Seed (a type of cactus) in it's formulations. Prickly Pear Seed is a recent type of extract that has recently caught my attention as studies have shown that the oils are rich in fatty acids, Vitamin E and stimulates healthy cell regeneration and production. Prickly pear seed also is high in beta carotene (a form of Vitamin A) which also helps to brighten the skin.
Huxley is a relatively new brand in the Korean skincare scene (from what I have read and understood but please correct me if I am wrong) and the brand's offerings are quite standard (ie. gel cleanser, toner, cleansing water, serum and moisturiser). However what Huxley do offer which I find is quite unique for a Korean skincare brand is a facial oil. Whilst the oil isn't as 'pure' like Western facial oils (it does contain synthetic fillers) it would be interesting to see the feel of this facial oil (I would imagine it to be quite lightweight) and how potent prickly pear seed can be for the skin. I also think it would be an interesting take to see how the Korean version does compare to a western version of a facial oil as well.
Whamisa Organic Sea Kelp Facial Sheet Mask
I love the idea of sheet masks but in the past the sheet masks I have used just haven't agreed with my skin. It wasn't until recently when I tried the 5YINA sheet masks that I decided to look into sheet masks again and the Whamisa Kelp sheet masks immediately caught my attention. The reason why? The actual mask is made out of sea kelp (see video here) which I think is amazing in itself. It also helps that the mask also has glowing reviews from other K-Beauty bloggers who have noticed that their skin looks brighter, radiant and has that beautiful dewy complexion after removing this mask. Looking at before and after photos, the difference is noticeable.
The Whamisa Organic Sea Kelp Facial Sheet Mask is indeed a bit more expensive in comparison to other Korean sheet masks available in stores, but keep in mind that the actual mask is made of 100% kelp (yes, its made of seaweed) and its ingredient listing contains over 90% organic ingredients. The labour costs and ingredients of this alone is most definitely worth more than your typical sheet mask. It's unique ingredients, use of kelp and the fact it doesn't contain any ingredients that cause any alarm bells for me is the reason why the Whamisa Kelp Sheet Mask is on my Korean wishlist!
The ingredient listing is taken from Glow Recipe
Extract, Natto Gum, Leonurus Sibiricus Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Dioscorea Opposita (Wild Yam) Root Extract, *Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, *Centella Asiatica Extract, *Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Anemarrhena Asphodeloides Root Extract, *Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Chlorella Ferment, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Angelica Keiskei Leaf/Stem Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Royal Jelly 0.05, **Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Xanthan Gum, **Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Plantago Asiatica Extract, **Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, ☆Adenosine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil
*Certified Organically Grown **Natural Preservative ☆Ecocert
Blithe Crystal Ice Plant Pressed Serum
One of the biggest things that fascinates me most about Korean skincare and beauty is their fascinating use of textures and Blithe is no stranger to this at all. Famous for their 'splash' masks (these masks are literally a water based mask which you splash on and go - perfect for those who are time poor), Blithe clearly like to push boundaries when it comes to textures and the Blithe Pressed Serum range is no exception. So what is a pressed serum exactly? According to Blithe it is a serum and moisturiser in one and from what I have read it has quite a unique texture due to this combination and is considered to be quite bouncy and as Just Ask Arjun refers to in his review of one of these, is custard like in feel and texture.
There are three different pressed serums in the Blithe range but the one that has caught my eye is the Ice Plant Pressed Serum which offers the skin a boost of hydration and giving the skin a refreshed look and feel. Again, the Ice Plant Pressed Serum uses a blend of fermented oils (argan and olive oil) and also 63% ice plant extract which is known to soothe the skin and is an anti-inflammatory. Fascinated by interesting textures, this product has caught my attention and I can't wait to have a play with this in stores in Seoul.
Primera Milky Essence Cleanser
Primera is Korean skincare giant Amore Pacific's answer to a more natural and eco conscious brand. The brand uses naturally derived ingredients but I am more interested in the fact that the majority of the Primera skincare range passes my no drying alcohols and no mineral oil stance on skincare (a lot of Korean brands tend to use drying alcohols in their ingredient listing). Whilst there are many products in the Primera range that I am quite interested in (the Alpine Berry Moisturiser), the Milky Essence Cleanser is something that captures my attention due to the fact it's well a cleanser that is milky and essence like - again grabbing my interest in terms of the unique texture that Korean skincare is so famous for.
From what I have read, this is quite a lightweight cleanser (a milky essence) and I think it would be perfect for the upcoming Australian summer. It contains a really interesting combination of ingredients such as witch hazel which is a known antibacterial and also other botanical extracts such as camellia (an antioxidant), strawberries and broccoli extract. I just think both the texture and the strange combination of ingredients make this potential purchase a gimmicky one - but anyways - when in Korea! Why not?!
The ingredients for this have been taken from the Primera Korea website.
WATER, DIPROPYLENE GLYCOL, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, ISOPROPYL PALMITATE, CYCLOHEXASILOXANE, GLYCERIN, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, HYDROGENATED POLY(C6-14 OLEFIN), DICAPRYLYL CARBONATE, OCTYLDODECANOL, GLYCERYL STEARATE, BRASSICA OLERACEA ITALICA (BROCCOLI) EXTRACT, HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA (WITCH HAZEL) LEAF EXTRACT, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT, MYOSOTIS SYLVATICA FLOWER/LEAF/STEM EXTRACT, TRITICUM VULGARE (WHEAT) SPROUT EXTRACT, BRASSICA OLERACEA GEMMIFERA (BRUSSELS SPROUTS) EXTRACT, BORAGO OFFICINALIS EXTRACT, FRAGARIA VESCA (STRAWBERRY) LEAF EXTRACT, PHYLLANTHUS EMBLICA EXTRACT, HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) EXTRACT, NATTO GUM, BETA-GLUCAN, DISODIUM EDTA, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, ACRYLATES/C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, CARBOMER, TROMETHAMINE, POLOXAMER 184, PROPANEDIOL, PEG-100 STEARATE, PHENOXYETHANOL, CITRUS MEDICA LIMONUM (LEMON) PEEL OIL, CITRUS AURANTIUM BERGAMIA (BERGAMOT) FRUIT OIL, LAVENDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA (LAVENDER) OIL
R:EP Nutrinature All in One Multi-Item
Sometimes, as much as I do love incorporating many steps into my skincare routines, its just nice to simplify it and the RE:P Nutrinature All in One Multi-Item does just that. RE:P stands for Real Elemental Practice and is again another new Korean skincare brand that has an eco friendly/natural feel to it. By no way is this brand 'clean' or all natural (and it doesn't claim to be) but instead the focus is on being more eco conscious and not using ingredients such as mineral oils or parabens. The label is famous for their toning pads, however those pads might not be great for me as alcohol denatured is the third ingredient listed in its formulation.
This all in one product by RE:P aims to be a toner, essence and lightweight moisturiser all at the same time and is perfect for those lazy days, travel or when you are in a hurry. Looking at the product, what greatly interested me was actually the use of niancinamide (a common ingredient used in K-Beauty and great for helping the skin's barrier function) and the combination of botanical extracts such as calendula (to calm and soothe the skin), avocado oil (fantastic for nourishing the skin) and tea tree oil (a great antibacterial and also a popular ingredient for those who are prone to blemishes). I am curious see what a multifunction product like this will be like in the Korean skincare scene as this product goes against the traditional Korean skincare routine that require about 10-15 steps. I am also quite interested to see how this product will feel due to the fact that is is a multi function product and how it will perform.
The following listing has been taken from SokoGlam.
Water, Glycerine, Buthylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Ethylhexyl Ethylhexanoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Nelumbo Nucifera Seed Extract, 1,2-Hexanedio, Persea Gratissima (AVOCADO) Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Artemisia Annua Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Helichrysum Arenarium Extract, Azadirachta Indica Leaf Extract, Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Melissa Officinalis Flower/Leaf/Stem Water, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water, Calendula Officinalis Flower Water, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Triticum Spelta Seed Water, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Gardenia Red, Safflower Yellow, Fragrance
Please note that this list is basically just skimming the surface of my shopping list for South Korea! I am still looking into Korean skincare brands as well as other products to add to my wishlist as there is just so many brands out there. Whilst I might not necessarily buy everything, it will be really interesting to look, see and feel some of the products and just expereince what Korean skincare and cosmetics shopping is like in Seoul. I can't wait to hit the shops (and of course eat everything in sight) and see what the above products (and many others I am sure) are like in real life and of course be overwhelmed with the choices available in stores. Seoul will be quite an experience for me, it will test my will power and most importantly I think I will have the best time over there.
Do you have any Korean skincare favourites? What are your must haves in terms of Korean skincare? Have you used anything in my above list and what were your thoughts? I would love to hear what you have to say and of course please feel free to add any other skincare suggestions in the comments section below!