Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Radiance Serum

When I bought this Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Radiance Serum (I think it was on RoseRoseShop, but it might have been W2Beauty, I don't remember), I made a mistake.

You see, I used to use Hanyul White Chrysanthemum something or the other in the past, and it was lovely. But that was before I got all serious about blogging about Asian skincare products.
So earlier this year, when my dear friend from France asked about skin tone evening serums, I naturally ran to the net and purchased the first White Chrysanthemum item that caught my eye.

It turned out to be a good mistake, in several ways, actually.

But first things first.

"White chrysanthemum?" I hear you say.
"You mean, like this?" I hear you say.

image source: wikipedia

I mean, it's a chrysanthemum for sure. And it's definitely white.

Yeah, I thought so, too.
But as always with cosmetic products, the devil's in the details.

I remembered reading something about white chrysanthemum tea being a popular drink in China. But as far as I could recall, it didn't actually involve huge white flowers, of the kind usually placed on graves in a certain European country on November 1st.

I started digging. And sure enough, what they call "white chrysanthemum" in China is what we call "golden chamomile" or "Chinese chamomile" in Europe.

And yes, the "white chrysanthemum" drink I remembered drinking smelled more like chamomile tea than a cemetery on All Saints' Day (my Polish readers will understand the reference).

So you expect this:

image source: wikipedia

But in reality, you get this:

image source: wikipedia

Quite a difference, right?
Yeah, I thought so, too.

So that's the bad news. It's not white, it's golden, and it's not a chrysanthemum of the usual variety, but something more resembling a chamomile.

Luckily for us, that's the end of bad news.

And for the good news? Luckily for us, there's plenty of it.

1. Chamomile and chrysanthemums are actually related.
This one here is called Chrysanthellum indicum in Latin and "gamguk" in Korean. 
2. Chrysanthellum indicum extract happens to be quite awesome. According to multiple sources, it has:
  • - anti-aging properties
  • - anti-inflammatory properties
  • - and according to a research paper published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, is an effective and well-tolerated topical agent (used as 1% cream) for the treatment of moderate rosacea.

3. Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Radiance Serum claims to have 1000 ppm (part per million?) of this magical "gamguk" extract.

Wait a sec.
My Japanese friend has a question.


No, not Yuzuru Hanyu *). Though in all fairness, this boy is the fairest of them all and totally could have his own skincare line.


image source: Amore Pacific

Hanyul is one of the many, many brands from Amore Pacific. And Amore Pacific is the largest beauty company in South Korea. Or one of the two largest. The other being LG (yep, that LG).
Hanyul's tagline is: "Traditional natural cosmetics from the nature and folk remedies of Korea."

Pity they limit themselves to Korea, because just imagine the perfect blend of Hanyu and Hanyul. The marketing possibilities are endless.
I'd buy it. Just because.

But what were we talking about here?

Ahhhh... yes... Hanyu Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Radiance Serum.

It's a Korean skincare product that claims to even out your complexion, reduce dark spots and blemishes, improve your skin's natural radiance by preventing the formation of melanin.
It also claims to have anti-wrinkle properties.

As a serum, it goes on your skin after cleansing and applying toner.

In a typical Hanyul fashion, one side of the box is printed in English, the other - in Korean.

The bottle has the characteristic Hanyul shape. But sadly, it's plastic. It looks like nice, luxurious glass, but it's just cheap plastic. Korean skincare companies like to fool you like that.

The bottle is semi-transparent (you can see how much stuff is still inside if you hold it against the light) and holds 40 ml of product.

The serum is white, its texture is very light and deliciously delicate. It's not oily, it's not watery, it's just right.

It does smell like chrysanthemums, though. It's not a strong smell, but it's there. And it definitely likes to linger. I absolutely hate this scent!!!

The serum absorbs completely, leaves the skin feeling soft and very lightly hydrated. There is no sticky film or other residue.

The bottle is equipped with a pump. But it's not the airless type, you can unscrew it and suck every last bit of what's still left in the bottle.

The leaflet included in the box has the usual useless information in two languages. However, the Korean version is more extensive and includes the ingredient list as well.

Basically, the only thing you can read in English is this:

So yeah. That's what they say.

What do I say about Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Radiance Serum?

This is a very confusing product.
I used it once a day, in the morning. I felt like it wasn't doing much, so I stopped and put it aside for a while.
My skin reacted immediately.
Sometimes the best way to determine whether a product works or not is to stop using it.

So yes, this serum is indeed doing something. I can't tell you what it's doing, but I can definitely tell you what happened when I wasn't using it.

My skin lost its radiance and returned to its usual pinkish and I-look-like-I'm-slightly-drunk ruddy state.
Not using it made me realize how gentle and delicate and subtle this serum is.
The changes are minimal but they are there.

And the best part?
There was no adverse reaction whatsoever.
My skin was calm, smooth, less pink, radiant, bright and healthy.

I'm so in love with this Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Radiance Serum that I nearly wept when I reached the bottom of the bottle.
I wanted to run and repurchase immediately.

But I didn't.

And I won't.


The smell. The flowery scent that makes me think of All Saints' Day. I just can't stomach another bottle of this sensory abomination.

99% of people will tell you it's a pleasant, refreshing fragrance. And they are right.
But if you are sensitive to scents, you will, literally, be able to taste it.

Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Radiance Serum ingredients (courtesy of HwaHae):

So there you have it.
A delightful brightening serum that is suitable for dry, sensitive and delicate skin, and which would be perfect, if not for the annoying fragrance.

If you want to try it, most Korean online stores carry it. Pricing varies, so it pays to shop around.

So that was Hanyul.


And this is Hanyu *)

*Japanese Figure Skating God

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lalavesi Akma Cushion F.W. version in Y2

I didn't want to review this cushion. I have successfully avoided writing about it for nearly a year. I had no plans to write about this cushion.


Because people complain that there are too many negative reviews on my blog already.
I can understand that sentiment, but as I am not paid to write positive reviews, it is my right to be brutally honest.

Until  a product comes along that is loved by seemingly everybody and their dog. A product that I'm. Just. Not. Getting. At. All.

So yes, there wasn't going to be a review of Lalavesi Akma Cushion, version fall/winter in shade Y2.

And yet there is.

Because y'all wanted it!

Emails have been coming with increasing urgency from people who remembered my instagram photos from many months ago.
They knew I bought this cushion.
And I guess now, with another Lalavesi limited edition cushion case season upon us (at least I'm assuming there is another limited edition), the same people wanted to know what I thought of the product itself.

So, don't complain later on, because YOU asked for it!

As you can see, I bought the 2014 Ice Cute edition. That bitch just spoke to me.

Everybody was buying them Lalavesi cushions, and the good little lemming that I am, I wanted one too.
So I got me one.

I bought it from TwoFacedMall, and sadly, I can't recommend that seller to anyone.
It was my first and last order with them.
It took forever. For-freakin'-ever.

I don't remember how much it was. It wasn't exactly cheap, but also not earth-shatteringly expensive.

If this is the first time you are reading about cushion foundations, may I suggest you click on the "Cushion Foundation" tab in the top menu and work your way from there.

So, what's a cushion foundation anyway?

It's basically a chuck of sponge that is saturated with foundation and placed in a special compact.
Some brands will include an extra refill in the box. Lalavesi wasn't one of those brands.

The only things that were in the box were the compact and a leaflet (in Korean).

New Zealand honey, it said. Moisture and stuff, it said. I couldn't wait to try it.

But before I could try it, I had to first clean up the compact.
You see, the inner container, the one that holds the saturated-in-foundation sponge was so shoddily made that the contents leaked.
Yep, leaked. From a brand new, still sealed cushion.

And it just went downhill from there.

It leaked around the hinge part. I did try my best to wipe it off for the photos.

Them innernets were raving about this cushion, so my expectations were pretty high.

I tried it for the first time, and thought to myself "meh, this is IT?"
But them innernets were still raving, so I kept trying hoping for a miracle.

Until the bitch broke me out.

But let's begin at the beginning:

  • - moisturizing? Nope. Not for my dry skin. It was a horrid, nearly cakey, dry mess. 
  • - coverage? Minimal. 
  • - wear? Awful!!! This shit got into every wrinkle and fine line, even in those I didn't know I had. It accentuated every dry patch.
  • - dewy glow? Surely, you must be joking! It tended to turn into something resembling powdery finish, reminded me of Kate Powderless Liquid For Cover.
  • - lasting power? A couple of hours, and I am being very generous here.
  • - oxidizing? Mercifully, no.
  • - scent? Yes, a generic cosmetic smell.

I honestly thought this was the worst cushion in my quite extensive cushion collection.

I was so frustrated with it that I put it away for a few months.
Usually when I do that, the break from a product helps me see it in a different light later on.

Not in this case...
Around May the darling of the Korean beauty blogging world, Tracy from, reviewed this cushion and sang its praises.

I thought that perhaps I was doing something wrong the first time around.
And so full of fresh anticipation I dug out my Lalavesi Akma Cushion F.W and started to play with it again.

And the history repeated itself - every pore made bigger, every wrinkle made more visible and every dry patch - even drier.

Oh for craps' sakes!
I honestly lost all patience with this useless piece of kaka.
This is probably the worst cushion ever. Ever!

Dunno, maybe it works on people with normal to oily skin. It didn't work on mine.
Life is too short to fight with crappy cushion foundations.

Lalavesi Akma Cushion F.W in shade Y2. - ingredients (courtesy of Agathblog):

Honey Extract, Titanium Dioxide, Phenyl Trimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Cyclohexasiloxane, Arbutin, Dimethicone, Benzophenone-3, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol, Sodium Chloride, Octyldodecanol, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 77491, 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate/Dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Adenosine, Fragrance

Lalavesi Akma Cushion F.W in color Y2 - swatches:

And that's it.

Final thoughts:

  • - It seems to be a cushion (an entire brand, actually) targeting a young and pretty demographic. Young women with oilier skin, who want sheer coverage and are willing to pay for "trendy" stuff. I'm neither.
  • - Will I repurchase? LOL. You gotta be kidding me! Of course not.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

DHC Kakonjuka Lotion, Essence and Cream

Life happens.
Bad, bad blogger!
And that's all you're going to get in lieu of apologies for my prolonged silence.

Today's review is long overdue.
Looong overdue.
Why? I always have a hard time writing exciting things about solid products. You know what products I'm talking about. Those... you know... solid... always dependable... boring... dependable... in simple packages... not earth shattering holy grails, but just... you know... good... dependable.

DHC is such a brand for me. Solid. Dependable. Boring. Doing what it's been designed to do. But utterly unexciting.
If I can't decide what to use, I reach for DHC. I know it's not going to hurt me. I know I can't go wrong with it. I know I can... you know... depend on it.
DHC is like a pair of my favorite shoes. Comfortable, well worn, on my feet day in and day out. Yeah, I have pairs of sexy heels, and fancy sneakers, and classic pumps, but it's the trusted, boring pair of Vans that I end up wearing every day.

So when one day earlier this year I found myself in need of some emergency skincare, DHC was the default brand I went out to buy. It helped that there was a DHC sale going on, too, and I could get every product for more than 50% off. And as we all very well know, cheap is always good. And cheaper is even better.

DHC is a pretty basic brand in Japan. It's available at most drugstores, supermarkets and even some convenience stores, however, the selection of products in stock in those locations tends to be limited. For the full DHC assortment you need to visit its own brand stores, easily found in most shopping malls, or order through the company's website or direct mailing.

If you want to know a bit more about the company, here's a handy link to the "About DHC page" on their international website.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is well known and loved by beauty fans (even those unfamiliar with other Asian beauty products) all over the world. It helps that Lisa Eldridge sings its praises, too.
It's also one of my cleansing staples. I like trying new oils, but always find myself coming back to DHC. So yes, maybe it is my holy grail after all.

DHC in the West is considered to be a mid- to higher-level brand apparently. At least it seems so judging by the ridiculous prices. When I saw the products markups on the international website, I nearly wept. Holymotherofbatman! Speechless!
But as soon as I stopped weeping, I noticed that those DHC products that are no longer available in stores in Japan (for whatever reason), are still sold overseas.

Today's trio belongs to this category. I snagged it on sale, because, seemingly, it was being phased out of in-store assortment in Japan. I haven't seen it listed in the DHC direct mailing catalog either.
You can, however, still order it on the Japanese DHC website. The question is whether or not you'd want to, if you had to pay full price for it?

So, let's try to answer it. Shall we?

And with that in mind, I'd like to introduce today's contestants:

DHC Kakonjuka (or Kakon Juka) line.

Yes, as you've probably noticed, I have this unhealthy habit of buying not just one product from a particular line, but the whole damn thing. All the bits, whether I need them or not.
On one hand it's very convenient, because I can see whether the products work separately, or together, and can determine the best combination for the best results. If there are any results, that is.
On the other hand, good grief! I have too much stuff already! I don't need more skincare products!

Still,  I hate piddling piecemeal, and because they were all on sale, I just got the entire DHC Kakonjuka line:

  • - DHC Kakonjuka Lotion (80ml)
  • - DHC Kakonjuka Essence (25ml)


  • - DHC Kakonjuka Cream (30grams).

What the eff is this Kakonjuka anyway, I hear you say.

It's pronounced ka-kon-ju-ka, and means “flower, root, tree, fruit” in Japanese (花根樹果).

With a name like that you'd expect it to be full of extracts and good-for-you natural stuff? Right?
Some bloggers, like Musings of a Muse, fell for this trick and said that Kakonjuka is "all natural skincare".
Of course that's a crock of kaka, as we will shortly see.

Kakonjuka is "all natural" in about the same way that I am an innocent, blushing virgin.

Having said that, it's not a bad line. But is it as great at DHC would like us to believe? Heck no.

Let's start with the DHC Kakonjuka Lotion - 80ml.

Some bloggers were confused why it's called a "lotion".
So here you have it - it's called a "lotion", because that's what we call toners in Japan. It's not a lotion in the western sense. It's a toner. And as most toners, it goes on your face after cleansing to prep the skin for the rest of your skincare products.

Kakonjuka Lotion is supposed to plump and hydrate your face. DHC says that it contains six Asian botanicals to "prepare your complexion for your moisturizer and promote collagen for firmer skin and fewer visible fine lines."
Those botanicals are: maitake mushroom, Platycarya strobilacea, great burnet, purslane, reishi mushroom and licorice.

The lotion has a pretty thick texture. DHC calls it "rich" and "serum-like."  It absorbs completely and doesn't leave a sticky layer. It has a vague earthy smell and is alcohol-free. So that's the good stuff.

Now for the bad. The botanicals are at the very end of the ingredient list, which means they do diddly squat. I guess the only reason they are there, so the company could say they are there.

DHC Kakonjuka Lotion ingredients:
water/aqua/eau, dipropylene glycol, glycerin, propanediol, pentylene glycol, butylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, glycosyl trehalose, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, arginine, grifola frondosa fruiting body extract, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, aureobasidium pullulans ferment, hydrolyzed platycarya strobilacea fruit extract, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, polyquaternium-51, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) leaf extract, sodium hyaluronate, ziyu glycoside I, portulaca oleracea extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, ganoderma lucidum (mushroom) stem extract, ethylhexylglycerin

My opinion:

I noticed decent hydration and zero plumping. Firmer skin and fewer lines? Hahaha!!! Surely you didn't take that product blurb seriously.

So, does it do anything? Yes, it does. It's a very basic, alcohol-free toner that does what a basic toner is supposed to. It's perfectly serviceable, it doesn't make my face erupt in angry cysts, and its fragrance doesn't make my eyes water. In fact, the earthy smell is kind of refreshing.

But if you're expecting fewer wrinkles and other bells and whistles, you are looking at the wrong product.


Next up we have: DHC Kakonjuka Essence - 25ml.

We have the same six botanicals at the very end of the ingredient list. And we have the same lofty promises of firmer skin. Hahaha!
I'm not going to give you a detailed summary of what each extract is supposed to be doing, because trust me, there isn't enough of any of them to do anything. Except, just like in the case of the lotion described above, justify the product's cute name.

The bottle is tiny, it holds only 25ml of product. But at least it has a pump.

The essence is off white in color, has the same earthy smell and is alcohol-free. It provided my skin with just enough hydration to stay sane during the ridiculously hot and humid Japanese summers.

It didn't break me out, it absorbed completely. It worked with the cream from the same line, as well as with a different set of products. In short, nothing to complain about.

DHC Kakonjuka Essence ingredients:

water/aqua/eau, dipropylene glycol, glycerin, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, propanediol, ethylhexyl palmitate, pentylene glycol, dimethicone, glycosyl trehalose, glyceryl stearate, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, butylene glycol, bisabolol, behenyl alcohol, polysorbate 80, PEG-75 stearate, phenoxyethanol, carbomer, arginine, grifola frondosa fruiting body extract, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed platycarya strobilacea fruit extract, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, tocopherol, polyquaternium-51, citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, glyccyrrhiza glabra (licorice) leaf extract, ziyu glycoside I, portulaca olearacea extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, ganoderma lucidum (mushroom) stem extract

My opinion:

DHC Kakonjuka Essence is a basic, no-frills essence that gives basic, no-frills moisture. Any additional benefits are, more likely than not, purely a placebo effect.


And finally we have: DHC Kakonjuka Cream - 30 grams.

DHC Kakonjuka Cream intensive face moisturizer "features six nourishing, antioxidant-rich botanicals—used for centuries in Asia—to plump and hydrate your complexion. Promotes collagen for firmer skin and fewer visible fine lines and wrinkles." That's what DHC says.

The cream is again off white and has a "natural" smell. Again, the six trace elements extracts are all present, but highly doubtful they provide any noticeable benefits.

It turned out to be a perfect day cream. It moisturized just enough, it absorbed completely, it left the skin feeling soft and smooth.

It worked great under makeup, it didn't break me out and I didn't notice any adverse reactions.

DHC Kakonjuka Cream ingredients:
water/aqua/eau, dimethicone, ethylhexyl palmitate, propanediol, behenyl alcohol, beeswax, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, glycerin, cylcopentasiloxane, glyceryl stearate, pentylene glycol, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, octyldodecyl myristate, PEG-75 stearate, polysorbate 60, butylene glycol, bisabolol, glycosyl trehalose, phenoxyethanol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, grifola frondosa fruiting body extract, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed platycarya strobilacea fruit extract, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, tocopherol, polyquaternium-51, arginine, sodium hyaluronate, citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) leaf extract, ziyu glycoside I, portulaca oleracea extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, ganoderma lucidum (mushroom) stem extract

My opinion:

DHC Kakonjuka Cream, like the rest of this line, is a decent, basic cream that serves a decent, basic purpose.

I wanted to test the moisturizing claims, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Here you have the before and after results when using the entire set:

Not too shabby, I'd say.

And if you are interested, here's this test:

Final thoughts on DHC Kakonjuka line:

The Kakonjuka line has turned out to be exactly what DHC is famous for - a solid set of skincare products that are low key, efficient, no frills, and doing, at least partially, what they're supposed to in that unassuming DHC way.

But the packaging... Oh gods, the packaging is awful. Just awful. Looks cheap and trashy.

For all three products I paid the equivalent of US$25.00. There were cheap.
Will I repurchase?
If I have to pay the full price - no.

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