Flashback to Spring 2015. Lisha and I are in Tokyo when I suggest to meet up with my host sister Eri in Shin-Okubo, Tokyo’s Korea Town. I wasn’t planning on traveling 5,871 miles and pass up on an opportunity to -finally- check out some Korean products IRL you see. Although we didn’t find any roadshops, it did feel like we hit the jackpot when entering Skin Garden at K-plaza 2, a 2-storey high multibrand store which had some type of shop-in-shop Nature Republic. Usually I know exactly what I want but since literally everything was new and there was so much to choose from, I felt pretty overwhelmed. When I asked the sales clerk for the most popular items of the moment, this was what she recommended:
Phyto Origin Mild Peeling Gel
First up is the Phyto Origin Mild Peeling Gel which contains baobab tree fruit extract (soothes and moisturizes) and madecassoside (strengthens skin’s barrier and improves skin’s texture). The first thing I notice is how simple and natural the packaging looks: recycled cardboard box with baobab embossing and printed with soy ink. Love it. Inside is a big yet slender plastic bottle with pump and protective clip. The bottle has markings so you get a better indication how long the product will last. Simple, yet so clever and very user-friendly.
Ingredients: Water, Steartimonium Methosulfate, Carbomer, Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Madecassoside, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Isopropyl Alcohol, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum).
Finding the right exfoliant can be quite the task when you have sensitive skin. This is where the gentle formula of the Phyto Origin Mild Peeling Gel comes in. This milky-transparent gel that smells like a sweet fizzy drink is supposed to be applied after washing your face and patting it dry. Use 1-2 pumps once or twice every week and massage it around the skin for about 1 minute. The gel quickly dissolves leaving nothing but little white balls behind. These white balls contain leftover residue of the product, as well as dead skin cells. You can easily rinse them off with lukewarm water, but they do tend to cling onto peach fuzz which can be quite annoying.
So what exactly does all of this do? Once you rinse off the white balls, the skin is left feeling soft and smooth. I can’t exactly explain it, but this surpasses my expectations of what a mild peeling gel is supposed to do. I still prefer chemical exfoliants though, but on days where your skin just needs a break, this is a nice alternative. Also, if you’re looking for an affordable dupe for the Japanese Cure Natural Aqua Gel, this is it.
Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream
Good exfoliation will lead to better results from your moisturizers, which brings us to the next product: the Super Aqua Max Watery Cream. This one comes in 3 different versions catering to different skin types: ‘Moisture’ for dry skin (red jar) – ‘Combination’ (green jar) – ‘Fresh’ for oily skin (blue jar). Even today, this is one of the most popular products from Nature Republic, both in Korea and overseas.
I tried the green version for combination skin. The glass jar with swirl cap looks very luxurious and kind of reminds me of Biotherm, which I used waaaay back in the day. It kind of has the same masculine fragrance to it as well, which I personally don’t mind. It’s rather strong at first, but fades quickly. I don’t know about the other formulas, but this one has a light gel-like consistency, which I prefer for combination and oily skin types. It will give your oily spots the basic moisturizing it needs and you can just layer on more product in areas where you need more moisture.
Ingredients: Sea Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Piper Methysticum Leaf/Root/Stem Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Pueraria Thunbergiana Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Cnidium Officinale Root Extract, Sargassum Muticum Extract, Hypnea Musciformis Extract, Ulva Lactuca Extract, Ecklonia Cava Extract, Codium Tomentosum Extract, Agarum Cribosum Extract, Enteromorpha Compressa Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, Dunaliella Salina Extract, Sargassum Fulvellum Extract, Porphyra Yezoensis Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Spirulina Platensis Extract, Jania Rubens Extract, Gelidium Cartilagineum Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Algae Extract, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Codium Fragile Extract, Laminaria Cloustoni Extract, Chlorella Minutissima Extract, Hizikia Fusiform Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Pikea Robusta Extract, Hydrolyzed Algae Extract, Hydrolyzed Ulva Lactuca Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Soluble Collagen, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Squalane, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Polysorbate 20, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 60, Betaine, Water, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Lactobacillus/Algae Extract Ferment, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Protein, Algae Oligosaccharides, Chlorella Ferment, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, Yellow 5, Blue 1.
Personally I found that the Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream didn’t provide my cheeks and nose area with enough moisture on its own for me to absolutely love this product. The cream’s qualities come to life once it is layered on top of another moisturizing essence, serum or lotion (or all if you’re doing the Korean skin care steps). I don’t want to write it off as a bad product though and I really get why this is so popular. For my oily areas, this worked out great. It just makes me wonder if I should try more steps of the range or, mix the watery cream with the ‘Moisture’ one on dry areas to be really blown out of the water.
Have you tried anything from Nature Republic? What would you recommend?
Nature Republic Phyto Origin Mild Peeling Gel (150 ml) – ₩ 13,000.
Nature Republic Aqua Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream (80 ml) – ₩ 25,000.