Well, it's finally arrived; the Review That Almost Wasn't, meaning that reviewing this product caused me to abandon blogging for almost a year. As I mentioned in my "where have I been?!" post, the review for this product was the last straw in a growing frustration with how asian skincare products were being reviewed in general (read: half-assed testing before posting a review). If you want to hear more on my rant about that, feel free to click on the above link, and if you just want to hear about whitening (note: not bleaching) goodness, read on!
I actually started using this Solution in January 2013, and used 2 full bottles before I was confident enough in the results to post a review. Whitening products are usually long-term reviews because they work so slowly and they're often used in combination with other products that have a whitening effect themselves, so it can be a challenge to identify if something is actually working.
|Look at that golden pearlescence. This packaging is so gorgeous.|
Plus if you think about it, would you really want a whitening product that works quickly? Imagine what sort of chemical warfare you'd be inflicting on your face for a fast turnaround. That wouldn't be whitening in the Korean sense, that would be straight up bleaching. Repeat after me: whitening is not bleaching.
Read on for the full review!
Full product name: Skin79 White Reviving Skin Radiance Solution
Purpose: A treatment that provides the most intense whitening action out of the White Reviving lineup.
Scent: Floral but not overpowering. Milder than the White Reviving cream.
Texture: A liquid barely more vicious than water, so be careful with it or it will run/drip everywhere.
Quantity: 30ml, and it's a very tiny bottle. Do not be deceived by the zoomed-in picture.
Availability: Testerkorea, Koreadepart, prettyandcute, and ebay
Price: I bought mine off RoseRoseShop's ebay site for $17.99 with free shipping, but it looks like the price has gone up since.
The cheapest I could find was on ebay for around $20, ranging up to $28 on testerkorea, $32 on koreadepart, and $31 on prettyandcute. So between $0.67 to $1.07 per ml. It's also available in sample size from testerkorea for around $1.20 USD for 10 packets of 1ml, so 0.12 per ml. Heck, for that price, I might just sterilize my current bottle, buy some samples, and decant them in there!
PH Level: Between 5 and 5.5, so right in the butter zone.
Rating: 4/5 although I would have liked more whitening effect, it was nicely hydrating.
Repurchase: I am experimenting with AHAs and BHAs right now, and some other whitening products, but I would definitely come back to this if they did not pan out.
So first, let's revisit a controversial topic that continues to cause consternation for anyone new to asian beauty products: whitening. Many asian countries, including beauty trend juggernaut South Korea, believe fair skin is more beautiful than tan skin. This is a very old, tradition-steeped cultural preference which stems from the visual distinction between the wealthy who stayed indoors, and the peasants who worked all day under the harsh sun.
Even western beauty ideals once prized ultra fair skin (and a plumper body) especially for women:
|The Three Muses, by Rubens|
The reason was the same. It's actually the same reason almost any look is desirable, even today: it's how wealthy people look(ed). Wealthy people could afford to lounge around indoors, eating rich and plentiful foods while not exerting themselves, while poor folk were tanned and thin from working outside all day on meager diets.
Nowadays, the western ideal of beauty has shifted to being tanned and extremely thin, while being pale and fat is abhorred. Why? Wealthy people can afford to lounge around on beaches and go sailing to work on their tan, and hire personal trainers to fill their leisure hours with exercise, while poor folk are trapped indoors, sitting immobile at a desk all day, eating cheap, high-calorie, poor-nutrition food.
I do find it interesting that asian countries still maintain the fair-is-beautiful belief even after migrating to a more indoor workforce population. I wonder if this is because there is still a significant outdoor workforce in countries such as China, or more due to firmly entrenched cultural norms, such as those that generate terms like Bai Fu Mei. Or the Chinese and Japanese expressions about white skin compensating for other flaws.
So, to say that 'whitening' products are hooking buyers purely from a 'fades age spots and acne scars' perspective is a little disingenuous, but it's also important to note that these types of products are not bleaching skin. A better translation would be 'brightening' as they're meant to break up melanin deposits from sun damage, age spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) aka acne scars. Are there actual skin bleaching products used in asian countries? I have zero doubt of that. Is this cream, and other 'whitening' products, examples of bleaching products? Hell no. If you want to lighten your actual skin tone, this will not do that. Look elsewhere, this is not the product type you are looking for.
However, if you are like me and want to enhance your natural skin tone with youthful glow, and undo sun-darkened patches and fade acne scars, then 'whitening' products are just what you need.
Reviewed here) from this line as my winter moisturizer, and although the cream has a more subtle whitening effect, the two together are noticeable.
I actually stopped using the Solution for about a month after finishing my first bottle, unconvinced that it was actually doing anything. I noticed that my overall skin tone seemed to be darkening (and not the healthy tanned kind of way, I'm talking the I-just-washed-my-face-but-it-still-looks-dirty kind of way) so I purchased a second bottle just to make sure. The lifecycle of skin cells is 28 days (source) as it is, and whitening products are so gradual in their effect, you really need to be prepared to test whitening products for months to judge their effectiveness. I'd be scared of something that acted quickly, because that would be skin bleaching territory and ain't nobody got time fo dat.
The packaging is of course gorgeous, with a luminescent golden pearl effect embedded into the heavy frosted plastic of the bottle. The cream was the same.
I don't plan on testing other products from this line, but here's the details on the whole range:
- Softener (uses salicylic acid to dissolve dead skin and prep it for product absorption)
- Solution (strongest concentration of whitening)
- Emulsion (thin, hydrating lotion)
- Eye serum (standard eye cream)
- Cream (standard moisturizing cream, reviewed)
- Sunblock (SPF 40, PA++. I'm surprised it's so low)
- Sheet mask (this mask is so expensive, pass)
I'm also not a big fan of using an entire range because I prefer to mix and match my products and brands to tailor things to my skin.
|Now let's SCIENCE!
(Click on images for full size)
I am beyond thrilled that this already exists on cosdna (link) so I don't have to type all of the ingredients out by hand. Woooo!
The copy on the box mentions Flora-WH, Niacinamide, Neurocell "composed of ingredients like Salicylic Acid and Acetyl Glucosamine", Skin Renew Complex with "Fullerenes", Platinum, and "Aqua Insulation". Uh-huh.
Directions: After using softner [sic], evenly spread a moderate amount on entire face and allow to absorb.
I will never stop being entertained by made-up "science" terms, but let's look at what's actually in this thing.
The cosdna flags are:
- Alcohol Denat, which scores a Irritant 5, is simply alcohol with a denaturant added to it so people won't drink it. According to cosmeticsinfo.org, it's required that non-food/beverage/drug uses of alcohol be denatured, so it would seem it's got the same risk as alcohol normally does. If your skin is an anti-alcohol teetotaling jerk, avoid this.
- PEG/PPG-17/6 copolymer, which is a solvent. According to cosmeticsinfo PPG-17 is a form of polypropylene glycol polymer, and was originally established with a limit of 50% concentration to prevent human irritation/sensitization, but then revised their findings with an update that the correct formulation for cosmetic products can be used at higher concentrations.
- Triethanol amine, which is a PH adjuster. I get really happy when I see PH adjusters, because it means that they've adjusted the PH of the product deliberately so it's within the 'ideal' range. It's already reacted in this product, so it's taken one for the team and is no longer active.
- Salicylic Acid. Ah no, I am sure in high concentrations it's bad, but this belongs in this next category:
- Salicylic Acid. Oooo Baby, gimme dat sweet, sweet BHA action. Get on wit your magical skincare benefit self. Me and my pores welcome you. Sink into my skin and renew my collagen production! Clear my pores! Uncork the elixir of youth! GET ON MY FACE.
- Niacinamide, which is a form of Vitamin B3 and is an effective whitening ingredient: The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer, BR J Dermatol, 2002
- Sodium Hyaluronate, also known as Hyaluronic Acid, which is a humectant. HA is a very popular ingredient in asian skincare because it draws moisture into your skin and keeps it plump and smooth. You want to be careful using HAs and layer them under other moisturizers, so they're drawing moisture from outside into your skin, instead of the other way around. If you live in the rainforest, or say, Florida or Houston Texas, you're good, but if you live in an ultra dry area like me, I need moisture to travel on a one-way street into my face, not out of it.
Did it work? Yes, but it was quite subtle and took several months to really give a measurable result. Now that I am on the AHA/BHA train, I suspect that re-introducing this solution might give me a better effect this time around. I did find it to be a nicely hydrating 'first essence' type of treatment which sinks quickly into the skin and should be used before any other hydrating products.
It also has reflective particles in it (pearl and platinum powder are listed in the ingredients), which brings a nice subtle glow to the skin without making me look shiny. Not an HG, and I continue my whitening explorations elsewhere, but a solid if subtle option.
Do you have a whitening product that you swear by? Let me know in the comments!
**Disclaimer: All products reviewed/mentioned in my blog, are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 which swore me off of them forever. This blog contains both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself. Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.