Category Archives: Serums

More Chifure! Their Fantastic Ingredients Lists & Essence W

Fantastic discovery made today! I have had trouble finding the ingredients list for my new Chifure Essence W and Chifure Essence VC, lugged from Japan courtesy of friend on work trip.

As I explored the Chifure Official website, I realised even the official website does not have the full ingredients list in the traditional sense, with ingredients arranged in order of concentration. The folks arranged the ingredients in a neat table by function (e.g. active ingredient > humectant > pH adjusting > solvent etc), and they listed the exact percentage for most ingredients! That’s even better than a regularly arranged ingredients list!

Ingredients list for Chifure Essence W, I ran it through Google Translate quite well Source: http://www.chifure.co.jp/products/essence/2478.html

Chifure Essence VC (JPY 800 30g)

Active ingredients: Ascorbyl Glucoside (2%)

Hydrating ingredients: Glycerin (8%), Butylene glycol (2.72%), Trehalose solution (0.03%), Sodium hyaluronate (0.05%)

The first star ingredient is ascorbyl glucoside, an ester of ascorbic acid. This the the first time I’ve come across this ingredient since I’ve started properly researching ingredients. It is definitely one of those derivatives that are less well researched than the standard ascorbic acid, and I cannot find a resource which looks at the effective concentration as well as its penetrative ability relative to other vitamin C derivatives.

I have not yet started using this, because I was drawn by its more expensive sister below.

Chifure Essence W (JPY 1,100 30g)

The Science Part

Active ingredients: Arbutin (3%), Ascorbyl glucoside (2%)

Hydrating ingredients: Glycerin (8%), Butylene glycol (2.02%), Sodium hyaluronate (0.05%), Trehalose solution (0.03%)

Chifure Essence W is the most expensive of all Chifure Essence formulations, and the major differences arises from the addition of 3% arbutin, an effective and less toxic derivative of hydroquinone (Source). Arbutin is definitely more familiar to me and it is found in many Taiwanese and Japanese skincare products. Think the entire Naruko Apple Seed & Tranexamic Acid Black Spots Line, which is built around alpha arbutin, tranexamic acid, niacinimide and vitamin C derivatives.

The Chifure website did not state the type of arbutin (alpha / beta), but it does seem to be formulated with the effective concentration. In fact, “SCCS decided in 2016 that this ingredient is not safe to use in finished products at a use rate greater than 3%.” (Source) The 3.0% concentration above is spot on.

I haven’t found studies about the penetration of arbutin, but if it is a cousin of hydroquinone, it should have wayy better penetration ability than vitamin C derivatives, which is known to fare poorly in terms of penetration.

How it Fared

Did the Chifure Essence W do anything for my skin? Kick the sunspots in the butt? Nah… In the month that I’ve been using this, didn’t make my skin look great, but its not significantly worse than than the time when I was using Melano CC (read review), which I do consider my gold standard.

I can’t be certain because I did not take a scientific approach to my use of products. No objective, no control and hurhur squinting at my sun spots in the mirror daily is a poor way of determining if the product is working.

Another factor in my lack of proper conclusion or thoughts for this product, is that I got through the bottle shockingly quickly. I don’t even think 30ml lasts me 1.5 months. Its just a blink of the eye and I’m down to the last 1/3 of the bottle.

I can say though, that in terms of texture, it is slightly tackier than the original Chifure Essence. For the nighttime, there is absolutely no problem with layering. For day time I’d have to be more careful. There were one day i piled on a little too much in the morning, and my sunscreen (Biore UV Perfect Milk) pilled, though granted it happened for many other products, like the COSRX Snaily Serum (read review) as well.

Another complaint is how difficult it is to get hold of Chifure products in the international market / online. All of the Chifure items I own, I bought (or my lovely friends / colleagues did) at the physical MatsuKiyo stores in Japan. Amazon Jp does carry it but it is not on Prime or eligible for international shipping. When I realised how quickly I’m using the serum up, I tried really hard to find viable shopping / shipping options, but there’re none. Darn you Japanese drugstores!!

All in all, this product is worth a try. Or two or three tries. I have another friend heading to Japan for vacation in September this year, so I think I’ll be able to get a few more refills to do a proper review.

 

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules

This serum claims to enhance the skins’ barrier repair function, increasing moisture and minimise the appearance of aging signs. Sounds exciting? Wait till you hear the name:

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum (ノ-_-)ノ~ ┻━┻

What a mouthful. Lets just call them Ceramide Capsules shall we. I’ve gone through 3 months worth of these capsules so it is time for a review.

The tiny transparent ones are for the eyes which I’m not reviewing because I’m lazy 🙂

The Fuss About Ceramides

The key ingredient is ceramide. The cosmetic scientists over at The Beauty Brains have a super informative episode on ceramides which everyone should go listen to, but if you’re short of time, here’s what the fuss is about:

  • Ceramides are fats which that are major components of skin’s outer layers, and acts as a moisture barrier.
  • Ceramide are shown to be able to penetrate the skin layers.
  • Ceramides do penetrate the skin, but it needs to be combined with other ingredients in a specific ratio for optimal effect: around 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids
  • The mechanism of ceramide as an ingredient is not really well understood, but based on available evidence, they help to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture

So, after understanding the mechanics of ceramides, things start to get less certain. The specific ratio of ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids are the most daunting. In addition, it is impossible to identify the ratio of ingredients based on the ingredient list alone. Therefore, honestly, even if a product ticked all the right boxes, you have to put faith in them that they are in the right ratios.

Ingredients

I will direct you to the trusty CosDNA for the full list, but here are the star ingredients:

  • Ceramides: Ceramide 1, Ceramide 6 II, Phytosphingosine
  • Fatty acids: Isostearic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid
  • Squalene is the less saturated sister of squalane, and chemically less stable. But the capsule packaging should allow the contents to remain fresh for each use.
  • Retinyl linoleate and retinyl palmitate are both very far down in the ingredients list, which means that they are present in trace amounts and not likely to be in high enough concentrations to do much for your skin, which is a bummer. A combination of linoleic acid and palmitic acid with vitamin A sounds really promising. I’m very surprised that both score a high 9 on safety (i.e. hazardous in the CosDNA rating system). Both ingredients have been linked to cancer and tumour growth by a study some years ago. But do read up more on this study and decide for yourself if it is worth the risk. I’ll link you up to Paula’s cosmetics directory here where you can read more.

It ticked all the boxes except for cholesterol, meaning that the ingredients will not be found in the golden ratio of 50:25:15. Does this mean it is not formulated for optimal skin absorption? Yeah, probably. Does this mean this product is totally ineffective? Nah. Just because something isn’t formulated in the optimal ratio does not mean that it is totally ineffective, but definitely it does plant a seed of doubt whether it is worth splurging on.

How i incorporate this in my routine

Exfoliating toner > Fermented Essence > Serum 1 > Serum 2 > Moisturiser

This is a little different from the regular routine steps which generally follows a serum with a hydration serum or sheet mask. Because it is an oil based product, I like to layer it behind another serum and follow up with moisturiser immediately. No hydration step involved.

The serum goes on with the texture of a thin face oil, but absorbs quickly without a hint of greasiness. Within minutes you see an improvement in dehydration lines and rough patches. A huge contributor of that smooth feel is the diamethicone, which is the base for the products i.e. The first ingredient. After a while you can recognize the silicone feel, and the feeling isn’t that great.

Chemistry isn’t my suit here, but I wonder if it is even necessary for the serum to be packaged in individual capsules. Is there any ingredient that easily degrades, oxidises or breaks down?

Verdict

I am less likely to recommend high-end products because I feel the pain when I buy something expensive and it doesn’t work. Testing out an affordable product is simple enough. If I hate a Mizon products, it is just $10 flushed down the drain. I cannot say the same for a $100 product though. Think about how many Mizons and COSRX I can buy with that money.

I’m hoping for more genuine reviews for high end beauty products. You know, just honest and objective thoughts about products, (as long as it is not paraphrased from the brand’s media kit).

All things considered, I can say the Ceramide Capsules is decent for normal to dry skin types. The possible drawbacks, aside from the prohibitive price, are:

  • Diamethicones as the first ingredient
  • Lack of cholesterol in formula

Where to Buy

You can find this in your local mall, but hey, I don’t buy stuff at my local mall because they’re so expensive. T.T I bought mine off strawberrynet when it was on sale, with 60 Face Capsule + 60 Eye Capsules coming to a total of US$58), which is not too bad. I would repurchase, but only with discounts.

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

So, snail goo. Don’t go yuck! The snail mucin as a cosmetic ingredient is only going to grow from here. While there aren’t much research into the effectiveness of snail mucin as a cosmetics ingredient, my advice is to dive into it. There must be a reason why so many are vouching for its effectiveness.

The product claims to replenish nutrients to the skin to prevent and repair damages and fill the skin with elasticity for a healthier, younger looking skin. My filter sieved out most of it 6((((≧▽≦))))9 what went into my head is just: hydration, hydration, hydration.

Ingredients

I will direct you to CosDNA for the full ingredients list. It is very basic and efficient, with the main ingredient being snail secretion extract (it is supposed to be 96% snail mucin hence the name). No fragrance at all so yay.

How I incorporate this into my routine

Despite all the claims of promoting a glow and fading lines, I’d firmly call it a simple hydrating serum, like my favorite Chifure Essence. In my long-ass routine, it belongs here:

Exfoliating Toner > Fermented Essence > Eye Cream / Serum > Hydrating Serum / Sheet Mask > Moisturiser > Sleeping Pack

There is definitely a glow after you use this, but it is the type of glow that comes with good hydration. I mean, just try to wash your face with nothing but water, I swear your face will look better immediately with the introduction of water, as well as the cooling effect the water has on your skin. Zilch effect on lines and pigmentation, but don’t expect any and you will not be disappointed.

A quick comparison with Chifure Essence

Chifure Essence has been my go-to hydrating serum for years (actually, only 3. But thats like 10 in skincare years).

The difference is mainly in the texture, packaging as well as the key ingredients. Chifure has a runny texture which is just slightly more viscous than water. COSRX is slippery, goopy and stringy. It does absorb after a while (longer than Chifure) but make sure you spread them evenly because it will settle down into a shiny film where it hasn’t been spread out properly.

The Chifure Essence comes in a small and handy 45ml tube with a small dispenser. They also have 40ml refills so I’m still using the very first bottle that I bought in 2014. The COSRX Essence comes in a hardy 100ml pump bottle and no refills are available if you’re into the environment stuff, but the pump is very convenient.

The COSRX Essence relies on snail secretion filtrate, betaine and butylene glycol for to provide hydration. In comparison, Chifure Essence relies on butylene glycol, glycerin and 2 variants of hyaluronic acid in its formulation. I’d have to say both are equally effective in providing a shot of hydration.

Verdict

It is a good hydrating serum, and to be honest I don’t think there is much difference between all hydrators. Just go for your favorite one. For me, I still have stacks of Chifure re-fills to use up, so I will not be repurchasing the COSRX soon.

(Update 11/06/17) I repurchased this! Its meant for the face, I know, but I’ve been enjoying it on the dry patches on my legs and hands and elbows ♪(゚▽^*)ノ⌒☆

Where You Can Buy This

PM Skincare Routines (Part I): All Out Spa Night

The last time I wrote about my skincare routine was back in 2014!!! D: Going back to read it makes to rotfl because I used Cetaphil!!! Sorry, I’ve let this blog rot for far too long, an update is due.

Thing is, I don’t have a single routine. I have an entire range of products and I mix and match everyday. The routine can range from 10 products to 3 products, all depending on how much time I have and how vain I feel. So here’s a selection of some of the night time routines:

  1. The all out spa night routine (below)
  2. The lazy night routine (I’ll write later!)
  3. The zombie night routine (I’ll write later!)
  4. The sensitive emergency routine (I’ll write later!)

I’m only sticking to night time routines here, because they are more exciting. More time and do weird things to your face, and you can get away with layering more products. I might get around to write my morning routine eventually.

(Take note that the steps matter more than the featured products, because the products can easily change).

1. The All Out Spa Night Routine

Spa Routine Part 1

Steps: Oil Cleanser > Foaming Cleanser

  • Oil Cleanser: Can I confess that I have never tried cleansing balms before? I have nothing against them but I find that oil cleansers work well enough for me, and they come with pumps so I find them extra convenient. I’ve been sticking to the Senka Perfect Watery Oil because I have a few refills, but there are many other Japanese oil cleansers that work well. An oil cleanser is a must because I wear sunscreen daily
  • Foaming Cleanser: I still haven’t found a cleanser that I truly love. I am currently using up the Kose Softymo Washing Foam but I’m looking for other alternatives.

Steps: Exfoliating Toner > Fermented Essence > Eye Cream > Serum > Face Mask > Moisturiser > Sleeping Pack / Facial Oil > Lip Balm

Spa Routine Part 2

  • Exfoliating Toner: This step used to be an AHA mask or AHA treatment, but ever since Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner came along it has become AHA/BHA toner. I am currently feeling infinite affection for Mizon because the toner has treated me sooo well, and I have this urge to try more products from this brand. (But then again, I remember the mediocrity that was Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream…) I might try for an AHA/BHA treatment in this step in the future, but the toner is working splendidly right now.
  • Fermented Essence: Estée Lauder Micro Essence, a Western variation of SK-II FTE. Many cheaper alternatives are also available from many Korean brands, including Secret Key FTE (review), IOPE Bio Essence (review). I am unlikely to repurchase both the ME and FTE unless they are heavily discounted because I really want to try a hand at the numerous cheaper alternatives from Korean brands.
  • Eye Cream: SK-II RNA Power Eye Cream. I am still not very convinced on the formulation of eye creams. While we know that the skin around the eyes are thinner and that there are no sebum glands in the under-eyes, there is no consensus on how eye creams should be formulated to accommodate for the differences.
    For the past 3 years, I have not been using eye creams. My last one was actually Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye (review) back in 2014. Subsequently I have used my regular face cream on my under-eyes as well. A recent addition is Elizabeth Arden Eye Capsules (featured here), which is essentially too light to be a serum. I have been using SK-II for 2 weeks, and currently withhold my opinion.

Spa Routine Part 3

  • Serum: Varies, I have a number of serums in rotation and I’ll choose based on my concerns. Right now, I’m working on my second tube of Melano CC Serum (review).
  • Face Mask: Varies with what I have on hand. Been loving the Kracie Hadabisei 3D Face Mask (featured here), which fits GREAT.

  • Moisturiser: I am currently finishing up the Kose Moisture Repair Cream YAY! I do like the moisturiser but I’m really looking forward to trying other alternatives.
  • Sleeping Pack: COSRX Rice Mask is the lightest of the sleeping packs that I own, so it fits best in a routine as long as this.
  • Lip Balm: A tub of Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe. You can tell I’m not excited about lip balms.

That is all!

One last thing, if you wear eye make up, you should stick a separate eye makeup remover to the very beginning of the routine before oil cleanser. I haven’t been wearing eye make up for ages so I totally forgot about that step.

Holy G: Chifure Essence!

Chifure Essence 01.jpg

The Chifure Essence is my favorite hydrating serum, but I can’t seem to find a review or product information in English, so I’m here to rectify that (*´∇`)ノ

The Essence was first purchased blind in Japan back in 2015. After just one nights use, I proceeded to buy 3 more refills at the Matsu Kiyo near my hotel. After countless more refills and brief flings with other products, I think I’m ready to declare this as my HG.

The Essence is a very simple hydrating serum. Do not expect it to do anything else, aside from giving your skin a shot of hydration, plumpness and help your skin absorb other products.

Ingredients

The Essence has a short ingredient list. Head to the CosDNA site for the full list. Standard cosmetic ingredients are marked with *. The first 7 ingredients by weight are as follows:

  • Butylene glycol *
  • Glycerin *
  • Sodium hyaluronate *
  • Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate *
  • Hyaluronic acid *
  • Saccharomyces Cerevisiae is new to me. It comes from baker’s yeast, but I’m not sure what it is supposed to do here.
  • Morus Bombycis Root aka white mulberry root extract, a whitening ingredient which is also present many other beauty products, such as Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream.

How I incorporate it in my routine

PM Steps: Exfoliating Toner > Fermented Essene > Serum > Hydrating Serum OR Sheet Mask> Moisturiser OR Sleeping Pack

I understand that for some, a plain hyaluronic acid serum is superfluous, because why not use products which provide whitening and anti-aging benefits on top of hydration? Well, to each her own, I suppose.

Products tend to be touted as all-in-one or multi-functional, like those ridiculous 5-in-1 gel creams from Japan that claim that one product is all you need. It’s a bit like McDonalds servings sizes are bigger than 50 years ago, and how our homes are bigger than ever. We want more, bigger and better every single time, which is not a bad thing. But I do still find value in products simple products like Chifure Essence and the HABA Squalane (review). They do only one thing but do it really really well. For the antioxidants as well as whitening ingredients, I trust that my serums will do their jobs.

In any case, if you want your skincare steps to pack extra punch, Chifure does have other essences:

  • Chifure Whitening Essence VC: with ascorbic acid
  • Chifure Whitening Essence W: with arbutin and ascorbic acid.

I haven’t tried those. I may, in the future, but they aren’t that high up in my test list.

Other Hydrating Serums

There are loads of other hydrating serums out there, such as Indeed Labs Hydraluron, Hada Labo Moist Essence (not the Hada Labo SHA Lotion). The COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence (review coming) is also another good hydrating serums which is very affordable, plus it comes in a 100ml pump bottle.

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There you have it! What is your favorite hydrating serum? Or maybe you like more of the multi-functional skincare, I’d love to hear your thoughts 😉

New on the Hit List: Rohto Melano CC

Warning! This is a new entry to my potential HG list: Rohto Melano CC Medicated Intensive Spot Correcting Serum (¥1,058 for 20ml). Potential HG is when I love the product like a litter of newborn kittens, but as a rational woman I have to exercise restraint and see if this love can withstand the test of time.

And can you believe it, my Holy Grails tag currently features 1 product which has been discontinued, which is why potential HGs are so exciting.

rhoto-melano-cc-01

HAHA FOR A VITAMIN C SERUM OF COURSE I HAD TO USE A LEMON AS A PROP

The product claims to suppress melanin production and prevent spots, freckles, acne and breakouts, which topical application of vitamin C is proven to do. The vitamin C variety in this serum is ascorbic acid, which generally has the drawback of stinging upon application and a sometimes nasty citrus scent. Back in 2015 I had a stint with the OST C20 Serum, which features ascorbic acid as well. That baby stung (burnt) and made my skin look extremely greasy.

I can safely say that there is no stinging observed with Melano CC, but it does have the standard citrus scent. Like my dish soap. ARGH. Housework is not sexy.

The first time I used it, I applied it all over my face and man it got tingly and warm. Also, it has a rather oily texture so application to the whole face isn’t particularly appealing. BUT give it 5 mins and all the serum will be absorbed, and you can proceed to layer the rest of your skincare. I generally use it on my cheeks where I have some discolorations and freckles.

rhoto-melano-cc-03

THE TINIEST NOZZLE THAT YOU’LL SEE IN A SKINCARE PRODUCT

It comes in a silver tube with a tiny nozzle that dispenses the product in teeny drops. This is a great design for dispensing unstable compounds like ascorbic acid. Its been 3 months, and the serum still comes out clear, while OST C20 turned an ugly orange within a month of opening. While I had to keep the OST C20 in the fridge immediately after opening, I find that I don’t really have to do that with the Melano CC, though it is a good habit to practice for all vitamin C serums.

I’ve been using the serum consistently since last December and I’m almost done with the tube!

A quick comparison with other vitamin C serums

I have only used one other type of vitamin C derivative: the sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) aka HABA White Lady (review), but the Melano CC is a very good re-introduction to ascorbic acid. It trumps the OST C20 Serum in every single way. The packaging allows for more stability, it doesn’t sting and it doesn’t leave a sticky finish. Most important of all, I don’t need to have this mad scramble to finish the product before it oxidizes. Oh and the price is comparable to OST C20!

On a side note, I really want to try magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), which is supposed to be more effective than SAP.

Where to buy

I bought my 2 tubes on my trips to Japan, but you can also find it here on Qoo10 Global and Rakuten Global.

Other reviews

The fantastic Ratzillacosme wrote a glowing review of this serum.

SK-II Haul!

This is the sister post to the Korean beauty haul posted earlier. I have split the gigantic haul into 2 posts because they are so different. For the Korean beauty haul, sometimes it is difficult to find any information, product introduction, brand philosophy as well as ingredients list. This is especially for the Hanyul brand which somehow doesn’t have enough presence in the Western markets and blogsphere.

For the SK-II brand, there are literally mega-tonnes of information, blogs, forums, e-zines to filter through. It is obvious that many bloggers were offered free samples or full-sized products, not having spent a single cent of their money. Sometimes the resulting “review” is just a repeat of the official marketing materials. “… After x years of research”, “amazing ingredients xxx and xxx is shown to do xxx”. I have no qualms about brands gifting products for review (give me some please (๑•̀ㅂ•́)و), and I do like SK-II, especially the defunct Stempower Cream, but it gets tiring trying to find a genuine review.

So for the haul below, some are bought with blind faith that they will work with zero research done on my part.

sk-ii-haul

Obviously, I’m terrible at flatlays hurhur

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion 160ml

This is an AHA/BHA toner with added pitera, which I will be comparing with the Mizon AHA&BHA Daily Clean Toner. Based on the ingredients list alone, FTCL looks like a winner, as it doesn’t contain alcohol. But then again, my skin is mostly hardy and I can tolerate alcohol in my skincare.

SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence & SK-II Genoptics Spot Essence

I bought SK-II’s skin brightening line after the results of the Magic Ring test showed that I ain’t doing well in that department. I since then, I have stocked up on a number of skin brightening serums. This Genoptics pair is the most expensive of the lot and I will be very disappointed if they don’t work.

I’m currently still on the Melano CC and I am scheduled to use these in mid-April if everything goes well.

SK-II RNA Power Cream & Eye Cream

Another attempt at my HG hunt. I have lofty expectations of the RNA line because the Stempower line has treated me wonderfully. I have started using the eye cream, but will not be starting on the face cream until I’m done with the Kose Moisture Skin Repair Cream.

That’s all, bye! You won’t be seeing another haul for the next half year because my wallet is seriously dented. (シ;゚Д゚)シ