I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
Understanding K-Beauty for me has mostly consisted of: reacting to cute/odd packaging, reading a product name over and over again to try and understand the what and how and why, just trying the damn thing and seeing what happens to my face.
I still hear of people who are all like, Snail cream? Have you ever heard of such a thing! My word! and I'm like Wayyy ahead of you, sister! But one thing that I haven't truly seen is a brand that leads hard on the duo of nature and science. I've seen "all-natural" K-beauty products and all-science K-beauty products, but not really an emphasis on the marriage of both worlds harmoniously.
And then I discovered E NATURE. It turns out that a friend of a friend was one of the lead cosmetic chemists in the development of these products, so — small world! Alison Cutlan (that is her name — the cosmetic chemist, I mean) is a fascinating and lovely person who taught me all sorts of things about how skin works with the stuff you put on it and that we're all bathing too frequently.
The E Nature line however, is thankfully easy to understand. There are a couple core products in each line — birch tree sap being the lead as a super antioxidant-rich hydrator, Moringa and Marshmallow extract to round out the nature-y side, and some trademarked innovations in vitamin-delivery.
If you have dry, sensitive, or heck — even "normal" — skin, you can't really go wrong with the Birch Juice line. It's meant to help with boosting hydration, calming and healing rough or dull skin. The Birch Juice Hydro Essence Skin is like a toner and essence in one — it has the consistency of a thin serum and a faint herbal fresh scent. Initial impression: it's surprisingly hydrating for how "thin" the liquid feels and a little goes a long way. It doesn't absorb super quickly but it doesn't leave that serum-face texture (you know, that slightly slick feeling) once it does — just plump bouncy skin. That's the magic of 78% Birch juice as the main active.
The Birch Juice Hydro Serum is almost redundant, since I think you get hella moisture from the essence, but hey — you can never be to moisturized... probably. It's slightly thicker in consistency than the essence and again, absorbs at a moderate pace and leaves no sticky residue behind. Just more bounce!
The Birch Juice Hydro Emulsion is basically a light moisturizer. It has 70% birch tree sap as its main active in a light creamy formula. If you have normal/combo skin, you can probably use this as a nice light daytime moisturizer alone but if you've got even a little bit drier of skin, you definitely will want to layer this up. Consider this one like the bodysuit of skincare layering — you could wear it on its own, or you could amp it up with a little something extra on top (like a facial oil and SPF in the daytime).
There are many cleansing options with E Nature. Interestingly enough, they split up their categories almost exclusively by product, not necessarily via ingredient. The Moringa line has all the cleansers.
I love a good cleansing balm — it's the easiest thing to remove all traces of makeup with minimal friction to your skin or "delicate eye area." The Moringa Cleansing Balm has a sherbet-like texture that melts into an oil, pretty much on contact with your face or between your palms. And remove makeup it does — with gusto. It doesn't leave an oily residue, but your skin isn't left squeaky clean (which isn't a bad thing), rather a velvety soft texture. Not that that matters much for me because I'm an avid double-cleanser.
For that double-double, you have to choose between a Marshmallow Cleansing Cream and a Marshmallow Cleansing Foam, similar in function but very different in practice. The cream is obviously for drier skin types. It does foam when met with water, but the consistency is a thick rich creamy foam, as opposed to the Cleansing Foam's plush but less creamy foam. The Cleansing Cream left my skin with more of a creamy residue than I generally prefer, so I like the Cleansing Foam a bit better. My skin feels thoroughly clean but not overly stripped. The Moringa Peeling Gel is one of those super gentle cellulose chemical exfoliators that feels like you're just rubbing a creamy solution over your skin and then it eventually pills into little skin rolls. It's not as dramatically acting (or grossly satisfying) as those Japanese gel exfoliators but it does the job very mildly so it barely feels like your skin is scrubbed or peeled at all, but it feels super smooth and plump afterwards.
Vita 8 Nutritive Cream sounds like something you might take to cure a hangover, but it's just a very nice face cream. It has a faint fresh citrusy scent and feels like a medium-weight moisturizer that leaves a semi-matte finish. I liked using this one at night since it's richer than the Birch Juice emulsion. To my understanding the Vita 8 business aims to 86 dullness and make your complexion all radiant and hydrated with something called Cenosome™. I'm still a bit confused about this whole "tired skin" concept. Does my skin need to sleep more than I do? What does my skin do when I'm sleeping? Either way, this line works to vitalize stressed out skin by slathering it in vitamins. Seems legit. Either way, it feels nice and the citrusy scent does make for a zesty application experience.
Plantlicious UV Sunblock is pretty unique in that it utilizes mainly physical UV protection (which isn't all that common in Korean sunscreens) AND it doesn't leave a white cast — like, at all. It doesn't even feel greasy — it just wears like a light moisturizer but protects your skin from the sun with SPF 50. I like this. I like it a lot. Bummer alert: I don't think it's available in the US just yet, but bookmark this in case you're looking for a physical UV protectant that doesn't feel goopy or leave you looking pale.
Interestingly, the price point on these ones isn't as cheap as a lot of K-beauty products out there at the mid-level but from what I know of the company, it's a smaller operation that takes the pains to consider every eco-friendly and cruelty-free angle of manufacturing — from the ingredients and formulations to the packaging elements (which are from recycled materials. Even the ink is soy). It may seem negligible on the consumer end but I appreciate when new companies stick to an ethos that respects the parts of the earth that ultimately are the resources upon which it is built.
Their availability in the US so far is a bit spotty, but you can buy from them direct (don't worry, they appear to have a US distributor according to their website so you won't have to wait forever) or through Sokoglam.
- How do you feel about science + natural beauty products?
- How do you feel about "indie" K-beauty, for that matter?