My three months of ampoule experimentation have come to an end. I’ve always been conscious of my red-tinged skin, so looked for some advice regarding reducing redness in the face. A naturally pale person, my face flares up easily – it’s not at all terrible, or anything I should be concerned about, but I do feel somewhat conscious about my overly rosy cheeks at times. This means that one of my skincare goals is to create an overall even complexion. Whitening ampoules and products are huge in Korea. Don’t be perturbed by their name – whitening actually means ‘brightening’. So many people take umbrage with the word ‘whitening’ on the packaging, but they don’t fully understand what the product does. Whitening products work to give you a more radiant complexion, evening out your skin tone and making it all more uniform. That’s what they’re all about.
I tried two ampoules to combat the redness in my skin. The first was recommended to me by the AB community – It’s Skin Power 10 LI Effector. It’s Skin’s Power 10 line is made up of ampoules with different properties relating to skin problems you may have – they contain specific ingredients at a high concentration, combatting skin issues one ampoule at a time by penetrating deep into your skin. The most popular in the range is the Vitamin C effector, which I do want to try at some point, but after my experience with the range so far, I’m not chomping at the bit. Below is a picture of the complete line and what each ampoule claims to help with.
The LI effector contains liquorice, which helps hyperpigmentation and improves dark spots, and has anti-inflammatory properties (which is why I chose it to improve redness in skin). It advertises itself as a lightening serum, so I was pretty intrigued by it. It comes in at a price of 12,000 won, which is about $10.50/€9.50/8GBP. The ingredients list is pretty minimal:
Water, Glycyrrhiza, Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin,Polyglutamic, Acid, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA.
Glychrrhiza is found in Chinese liquorice, used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is also known as liquorice root oil, and is used in skincare as a whitening agent, an anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory. A quick run on CosDNA for the ingredients shows up one red flag: triethanalomine. This acts as an emulsifier in products (it mixes products together), and is a natural compound of ammonia and ethylene oxide. It is light yellow in colour, which is likely why the LI effector itself has a yellow tint to it. It is a red flag as it can easily cause reactions, and should not be applied to the skin for prolonged periods of time. Lovely. Luckily, the product had no effect on my skin, but I’d certainly be careful if I was prone to allergic reactions or had very sensitive skin.
The product comes in a nice little bottle, which already reminds me of something medicinal, what with the dropper and simple design. It’s made of glass, and to get the product out, you squeeze the top, forcing liquid into the tube. In theory. The dropper isn’t one of the best I’ve used, and sometimes it takes several goes to get enough in for one ‘dose’. I tend to use about three droplets, and when the product was almost 2/3 gone, it became increasingly more frustrating trying to get the right amount out to administer. The liquid comes out with a slight yellow tinge, but dries clear, and quickly too. It isn’t sticky, and overall, I found it pleasant to use. It doesn’t smell of anything in particular, which also appeals – I don’t enjoy too strong a smell in my skincare products. I took some pictures of the liquid and the stages of application – below you can see what it looks like and how easily it rubs into your skin. After about 15 seconds, the product was absorbed.
Now, business time. What does the ampoule actually do? In my experience, sweet nothing. I used this product for almost three months, and saw absolutely no change to my face whatsoever. No reduction in redness, no complexion clearing, no brightening. Nada. Equally, I didn’t react badly to it, so I suppose there is at least a little silver lining. As it was so strongly recommended to me, perhaps others have had more joy with it, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest that anyone use it, especially with the presence of triethanalomine. Below are two pictures showing my face two months apart. The left is before using the ampoule, and the second is after two months’ use. As you can see, there is little difference, and if anything, the second picture shows my skin as redder.
Next up was the Nature Republic Original Power Whitening and Lineless Ampoule. Not something that rolls off the tongue. The product states that it:
“…brightens dull skin tone and reduces deep-set wrinkles.”
Now, perhaps this isn’t a product targeted at someone in my age range, as I don’t actually have any deep-set wrinkles (yet, but it’s only a matter of time when dealing with children on a daily basis), but I was interested in the product as it’s inexpensive and it comes in a very pretty looking bottle. I love some nice packaging. I wanted to see if the ampoule really could brighten my skin up. It was sold at 10,000 won, which is roughly €8/$8.80/6.60GBP.
Just like the It’s Skin Effector, the product comes in a glass bottle, which is very simplistic with gold and white decoration, and again, has a little dropper. This one is even worse regarding what it dispenses. Sometimes it doesn’t even bother taking in any product at all, and it can take a while to get the right amount (again, 3 droplets or so) out. The liquid itself is a white colour, and is on the thicker side. It rubs in easily and again, isn’t at all sticky. It dries quickly and feels pleasant on my skin.
Here are the gradual stages of application. It doesn’t take a long time at all to rub in, and dries within 15 seconds too. This ampoule does have a slightly fruity smell to it, but it isn’t very strong, and it actually smells a little synthetic, rather than naturally fruity.
Moving on to ingredients, the ampoule contains:
Some things to watch out for: alcohol, phenoxyethanol (a preservative, which in large amounts is harmful, but is proven safe under levels of 1%), and hydrogenated vegetable oil. This acts as a thickener and is not harmful in itself, but may cause those with oily skin or acne to experience some reaction or break out.
Some things to be happy about: caviar extract, which contains amino acids, hydrating and conditioning the skin. Orange water again hydrates the skin and can help soothe irritated skin, hence the product supposedly combatting redness. Niacinamide is a common ingredient in brightening products and anti-aging products, due to the fact that it improves skin elasticity.
I used this ampoule for a similar amount of time as the It’s Skin Effector, and found no change whatsoever in my skin tone. The same amount of redness was still present. My skin was not any more moisturised than it already was. My complexion stayed the same throughout the period of use. All in all, quite disappointing, but at least the product was not expensive. I think I have learned my lesson with ampoules – the more you pay, the more effective the ampoule is likely to be. This is true of most skincare, to be honest, but I have found some products to be effective even when they were on the cheaper side. See below for two pictures taken two months apart, before using the product, and after several weeks’s use.
The last product in my empties list is the Nature Republic Bee Venom Mist Essence. I worked my way through two little cans of the stuff in two months. The essence was on offer as a display product at Nature Republic when I visited Myeongdong in April, and I was intrigued by the fact that it was marketed as a product designed to reduce redness. Bee venom helps damaged skin cells to recover more quickly, and boosts collagen production. It also contains salicylic acid, which is used in many acne-reducing products, fighting breakouts and again helping damaged cells heal more quickly.
In the summer months and humid, rainy season here in South Korea, mists are an essential part of my day-to-day life, as they give a quick burst of cool for my sweaty horrific face. I find I don’t need the hydration too much, but the instant cooling effect. This mist is incredibly fine and soothes heated skin effectively – I used it rather a lot and ran out very quickly. It doesn’t particularly smell of anything and because it is a very fine mist, rather than a spray or spritz, absorbs very quickly into the skin. I used it throughout the day and immediately after cleansing, as suggested on the description.
Sadly, other than having a cooling effect, this product didn’t do anything for my redness, which I was disappointed to see. I expected more of the bee venom as I’d read so much about it. It isn’t realistic to believe that skin problems are going to be solved in a matter of days, but I had at least hoped to see a difference in my skin tone in the space of two months. It was not to be.
So there you have it – three empties, and three big duds! I expected more of Nature Republic, as I have got on so well with their sheet masks, and the LI Effector was bigged up to me various times, so it certainly was a disappointment to not see any change whatsoever to my skin. Onwards and upwards, however – now I’ve changed my routine and am now using some Banila Co. and Hada Labo products, I’m seeing very good results. Watch this space!