I started a long term 6 ~ 8 week skincare testing routine back in November, which included the following products
Daytime: Kikumasamune Skincare Lotion –> Gu:aam Method Black Pearl Conchiolin 35 Whitening Serum –> Zymogen Houttuynia Cordata Ferment Serum (T-Zone) –> Melano CC Essence with Vitamin C & E –> Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule (T-Zone) –> Holika Holika Cheoeum Balhyo Miracle Seed Emulsion
Nighttime: Kikumasamune Skincare Lotion –> Innisfree Ginger Oil Skin –-> Gu:aam Method Black Pearl Conchiolin 35 Whitening Serum –> Melano CC Essence with Vitamin C & E –> Graymelin 100% Beta Glucan mixed with Innisfree Ginger Oil Serum
I mention 8 weeks, as some of the products were started earlier than others. I have already reviewed the following products
This blog post will focus on the three items that were used in both the daytime and nighttime routines
- Kikumasamune Skincare Lotion
- Gu:aam Method Black Pearl Conchiolin 35 Whitening Serum ~ applied to my cheeks where I have sun damage hyper-pigmentation
- Melano CC Essence with Vitamin C & E ~ applied to my T-Zone and anywhere I had acne or hyper-pigmentation from acne.
Part 2 will concentrate on Innsifree Ginger Oil Skin and Serum (nighttime) and Part 3 will be Zymogen Houttuynia Cordata Ferment Serum and Holika Holika Cheoeum Balhyo Miracle Seed Emulsion (daytime). I will cross link the reviews as they are published.
Kikumasamune Skin Care Lotion (Japan) In Japan, lotions are toners, so this sake loaded product is my first step after cleansing. It is made at an actual brewery in Japan ~ Kitu-Masamune Sake Brewing, which was founded in 1659! This is a huge bottle of toner and it can be used on your face, body and you can also make your own facial masks by saturating masks or cotton pads with the lotion and applying on your face for 5 to 10 minutes.
This is a watery, milky white toner that smells like… well, think what would happen if Willy Wonka had a Sake Factory instead of a chocolate factory! Strawberry-Sake!!
Kiku-Masamune uses their own dry sake which is rich in kojic acid, known for its moisturizing and brightening abilities. Due to the natural alcohol content, it is acidic and will balance your pH level in your skin.
- Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake) contains more than 100 amino acids, organic acids, saccharides, vitamins, nucleic acids and esters. Sake, diluted with water, has been used for centuries in Japan as part of a skin care routine, due to its moisturizing abilities from kojic acid. It also will suppress the performance of melanin so that hyper-pigmentation is reduced and your skin tone is brighter. Ferulic acids, a powerful antioxidant, are also found in Sake and it helps absorb UV light, which helps prevent skin aging. Due to its own natural alcohol content, it is an astringent and also contains antibacterial properties to help control blemishes.
- Glutamic Acid, Arginine and Leucine are all amino acids. Glutamic acid is slightly acidic and acts as an anti-bacterial ingredient. It is also a humectant, attracting moisture to the skin, keep it moist. Arginine helps stimulate the production of collagen, which is important as it supports your skin’s matrix. Collagen levels decrease as you age, causing lines and wrinkles. Leucine is an essential amino acid hich helps slow down the degradation of skin tissue and helps reduce fine lines, wrinkles and creating firmer skin by increasing elasticity.
- Placental Protein ~
I have to assume this is plant placental protein and not human/animal as plant is more common in skin care products.Placental proteins help rejuvenate amino acids, helping with collagen production and renewal. This leads to reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars, preventing blemishes, brightening and even out your skin tone ~ all while creating a smoother and finer skin texture. Update: one of my readers, shirokuroneko, gave me an update on this ingredient. Kiku-Masamune uses pig placenta (rAsianBeauty) so this product is not vegan!
- Arbutin is a natural skin lightening product which reduces the production of melanin ~ the prime culprit of hyper-pigmentation.
This is slightly more acidic than your skin pH levels, as it is registering as a 5 on my pH strip.
I really appreciate that this lotion, with just a few ingredients (17) is packed with moisturizing and brightening ingredients and I do notice a sheen on my skin when this product dries down ~ but it isn’t greasy looking. For a toner, I do find it moisturizing ~ my average skin analyzer tests registered an 28% increase in moisture and a 29% increase in lipids(oil), which for me, this mean it is a balanced oil/moisture product. I haven’t noticed that by itself it has reduce my sun damaged hyper-pigmentation, but my face does look brighter after I use this. I also like soaking my cotton pads with this product and applying it to my face as a DIY instant brightener! In the summer time, I am going to put this in the frig, as this will help cool down my skin and tighten my pore appearance. I am also using this on my neck line, as I have slightly darker neck line due to the lack of applying sun screen over the years. I hope that this will help even out that as well. I find that this original lotion is very well suited for oily and combo/oily skin, as it does not make my skin feel greasy or over moisturized. There is a High Moist Lotion, which I understand does not have alcohol denat and probably is more suitable for dry skin
Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, rice ferment filtrate (sake), glutamic acid, arginine, leucine, placental protein, arbutin, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, glycerin, styrene/acrylates copolymer, alcohol denat, citric acid, sodium citrate, methylparaben, propylparaben, fragrance cosDNA.com analysis
You might be wondering why I have a monkey eating a banana pic with the photo above. How I feel about this product is perfectly captured by the monkey’s expression. Meh.
Gu:aam Method Black Pearl Conchiolin 35 Whitening Serum (S.Korea) I received this product in a Memebox earlier this year and had been on the fence in trying it, as it does contain rose extract. Desperation for a product that will lighten sun damaged skin, I did a patch test and did not experience any adverse reaction, so I began using it. This serum is like water, but a bit thicker, in its consistency and has a bitter, almost chemical scent. This product was applied to my cheek area and anywhere I had sun damage hyper-pigmentation. I also used it when I applied a brightening sheet mask, to double the effects.
Gu:aam very long name Whitening Serum contains 35% pearl protein, 5% Bio-Pearl extract and niacinamide which is supposed to brighten and even out your skin tone. It also contains 3% AHA which will help exfoliate, removing dead skin cells to promote cellular turnover, olive and apricot seed oil will helps improve elasticity, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and centella asiatica will help soothe your skin. This product has a lot of great ingredients, including 48% bifida ferment lysate, which is reported to help fade sunspots/hyper-pigmentation, brighten your skin tone and smooth fine lines. This also has some other fermented ingredients, such as pumpkin, rice, and galactomyces, along with propolis, and lactic acid. It is free of parabens, silicone, artificial color, artificial fragrance.
Alas, I saw no improvement in my skin using this product over the course of testing. It didn’t cause any issues, but I did not see any improvement in lightening my hyper-pigmentation. This is a very moisturizing product as my averages with my skin analyzer was an improvement of 42% in moisture, but there isn’t anything else outstanding about this product for me. I actually started using this prior to Kikumasamune and Melano products by 3 weeks, so I finished this bottle earlier as well ~ about 2 weeks before the 8 week mark. Any improvement I saw with my skin with hyper-pigmentation was most likely not with this product as I saw improvement after I stopped.
Ingredients: bifida ferment filtrate (48%), hydrolyzed conchiolin protein (35%), pearl extract (5%), lactobacillus/pumpkin fruit ferment filtrate, niancinamide, lactic acid, rosa centifolia flower water, arginine, lactic acid, sodium hyaluronate, sclerotium gum, adenosine, olea eurpoaea (olive) fruit oil, potassium hydroxide, xanthan gum, illicium verum (anise) fruit extract,1,2-hexandiol, propanediol, caprylyl glycol, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, galactomyces ferment filtrate, ceramide 3, kyounin yu, aspergillus/rice ferment extract, oryza sativa (rice) bran extract, carbonated water, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, centella asiatica extract, propolis extract, dipotassium glycyrrhizate cosDNA.com analysis
Rohto Melano CC Medicinal Stain Essence with Vitamin C & E (Japan) I purchased this product after reading about it on /r/AsianBeauty on reddit. I already have done a mini review on the Melano CC Facial Sheet masks (read here) and I have to say, this stuff is liquid gold in my eyes!! This Japanese essence is actually a spot treatment for acne and also for hyper-pigmentation. It contains Vitamin C, which is normally very unstable and has a short shelf life. Rohto Pharmaceuticals has worked to add stability to Ascorbic acid (activated, unstable Vitamin C), so that this has a long long shelf life. Vitamin C will help reduce the production of melanin, which is what causes hyper-pigmentation. This also contains Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that will help fight free radicals and help reverse their damage to your skin.
However, this is an acne treatment, first and foremost and it is formulated for oily skin types. I am hoping this will help with my PIH ~ which for those who do not know what that is, it is hyper-pigmentation caused by skin injury ~ from infections (acne), cuts and burns. PIH stands for Post-Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation and I have always suffered from horrible skin pigmentation from cuts and acne scarring. Besides the Vitamin C and E ingredients, I found the following ingredients to be notable
- Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Honestly, nothing I write about this ingredient can do justice to what Truth In Aging has to say about this powerful Vitamin C ingredient. This is, in my option, what makes this product work so well with my skin and why this product has a long lasting shelf life. I will be looking for this ingredient more often.
A form of Vitamin C, more specifically, the tetraester of ascorbic acid and isopalmitic acid. Works as a powerful antioxidant and whitening agent, with both anti-acne and anti-aging capabilities. It’s a potent, oil soluble form of Vitamin C Ester. Like other forms of Vitamin C, it helps prevent cellular aging by inhibiting the cross-linking of collagen, oxidation of proteins, and lipid peroxidation. It also works synergistically with the antioxidant Vitamin E, and has demonstrated superior percutaneous absorption and stability. Many studies have confirmed the skin lightening, photo-protective, and hydrating effects it can have on the skin. It can be found in various skin care products such as anti-aging serums, eye treatments, skin lightening gels and lotions/creams. Unlike L-Ascorbic acid, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate will not exfoliate or irritate the skin. It is well tolerated by even the most sensitive skin types. Also unlike regular Vitamin C , it can be used in high doses, and for up to eighteen months without oxidizing. source Truth In Aging
- Alpinia Katsumadai Seed Extract (Alpinia White) is a plant extract that will help with fading hyper-pigmentation with its strong, non-toxic melanin suppressors. It helps brighten and moisturize your skin, while reducing redness and irritation.
- Isopropylphenol is also known as thymol. This is commonly extracted from thyme and it is known for its anti-septic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, despite the fact that cosDNA just calls it a “preservative”. This ingredient will help lessen infection from blemishes and reduce acne.
This product comes in a metallic tube with a very interesting ball tip applicator. I like that it doesn’t squirt all over the place as I do not need a lot of this product. It has an oily feel to it, which I was initially concerned about, but it does absorb into my skin fairly quickly without any greasy residue. Melano CC Essence has a sour-orange scent to it, which is pleasant and it does fade once you apply it.
At first, I didn’t notice any difference on my hyper-pigmentation, but I did notice a dramatic difference with my blemishes and closed comedones. I do not get a lot of acne, but I suffer all the same when I do experience them, as I know that I will be in for some nasty scarring. This product helped reduce my closed comedones to almost nothing around my chin area ~ which is where I experience them. I started to notice a difference on my PIH around the 4th week of use. I wish I had taken a photo of my chin prior to its use, but the purple-redness from the scarring that occurred earlier this year from a horrible blemish that wouldn’t die, has been reduced quite a bit. I am going to take a photo of my chin to compare down the road in a few months and post those results at that time.
My PIH doesn’t fade quickly on its own, so I know this product had a lot to do with it. This little tube should last 5 to 6 months with daily use and I am really excited about this product. I have tried a lot of Vitamin C serums in the past and whereas they were nice and moisturizing, I never saw any results in reducing my PIH. I do not think it really helps with sun-damage hyper-pigmentation, as I haven’t seen any noticeable results there, but half of my hyper-pigmentation battle seems to have been solved with this product.
Active Ingredients: Ascorbic Acid (Active Vitamin C), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Derivative), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate, Isopropylphenol
Other Ingredients: Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Ethoxydiglycol, Alpinia Katsumadai Seed Extract (Alpinia White), Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Thickeners, Fragrances
I really like Kikumasamune Lotion a lot and will continue to use it. It is so economical plus it has that fun scent, which not everyone will like, but I love it ~ this bottle should last me a few months. I like that I can use it on my body as well and not feel wasteful! Gu:aam Method Black Pearl Serum was very meh and mediocre for me. I LOVE Melano CC Essence ~ so much that I purchased another one as a backup. I really do think this product is helping my PIH and it does prevent closed comedones. I do highly recommend Melano CC Essence if you have oily skin that is prone to blemishes. Again, this is a very affordable product like Kikumasamune and they have a whole line of Melano CC products, of which I have purchased the facial sheet masks and have the lotion to try out as well.
So, what do you think? Have you tried any of the products in my review? I am really happy that I took the plunge into Japanese skincare with Kikumasamune and Melano.
Where to Purchase
- Kikumasamune Skincare Lotion (white bottle) 500 mL Amazon ~ eBay
- Gu:aam Method Black Pearl Conchiolin 35 Whitening Serum 60 mL TesterKorea
- Melano CC Essence with Vitamin C & E 20 mL Amazon ~ eBay
[ Disclaimer: all products purchased by me. this blog post contains affiliate links ]