26 Aug 2015

Review: Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence Limited Rose Edition

First essence or treatment essence whatever you call it is getting more and more popular recently, thanks to SK-II that leads the trend. The Korean beauty market has released loads of these first essences or booster at much cheaper prices. Although I personally don't think any of these SK-II dupes can beat SK-II, but considering the prices, these Korean boosters might be preferred choices by most girls. Personally, I like to take first essence as the "essence of a brand". I might not try every products in each brand, but if you ask me to at least try one, I will pick their first essence. For that reason, I now have Lirikos Marine Triple Treatment Essence, Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence and Hera Cell Essence and many more in my wardrobe waiting for reviews. I like how these first essences are watery in texture but have skin-renewing properties. Our skin metabolism reduces with ages and that's the time when pigmentation, wrinkles and pores come to knock the door. I am hoping that these first essences can play a major role in delaying them by enhancing our skin metabolism rate

The first essence I have recently finished using after my Nature Republic Saccharomyces Ferment The First Essence would be the Secret Key STE Limited Rose Edition. Officially, Secret Key STE is retailed at 32,000 KRW (or RM 108.90) but you can get it at cheaper than the stated prices if you shop smartly. I am not sure why, but I guess Secret Key lacks the originality and popularity to compete with major Korea brands so they have to push their prices lower. Also, I have seen them making their ways to the Southeast Asian markets. Many Hong Kong, Indonesian and Malaysian bloggers are sharing about the Secret Key STE. High value-for-money might be the major strategy that Secret Key uses to attract fans. 

There are two editions of the Secret Key STE. The normal edition and the limited rose edition. The one that I have tried is the limited rose edition. The rose edition has more beneficial ingredients and is not diluted with water. So do get the limited edition instead of the normal one. It's also more elegant and beautiful-looking with golden rose printed on the bottle. The sturdy glass (or semi-glass-plastic?) bottle that comes with it makes it looks even more expensive that it actually costs.

There is a small opening on top for you to control your usage, in case you pour out too much accidentally. Since the essence is very watery, I have no difficulty pouring the content out whatsoever.

The Secret Key STE smells slightly alcohol at the beginning, but becomes more and more pleasant when I am 80% down the bottle. It smells rosier now, which I find it quite pleasant and even can't get enough of.

You can see in the left picture that the essence gets absorbed almost instantly when it touches my skin. I won't say it nourishes or moisturizes my skin, but it gives a pleasant moist and refreshed feeling when you splash it over your skin with your bare hands. And definitely no stickiness whatsoever.

6-dimensional shots of the box


Normally, a first essence can't last you very long, especially if you soak it with a cotton pad and apply it as a mini facial. Even if you use it on your bare hands, it will probably last you less than 2 months if you use it twice per day. This Secret Key essence finished within 1.5 months with generous use.


> use this as the first step of your skincare routine after cleanser and before toner
> pour the essence on a cotton pad and leave it on troubled spot for 3 minutes for soothing purpose
> refrigerate the essence and pour it on a cotton pad, gently tap it on face for pore cares


Boosting essence to be used as the first step of skincare routine, this treatment essence claims to provide dual solutions for whitening and wrinkle improvement with its newly improved 94% of Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate. It also contains rose flower water for hydration synergy effect.

#skin conditioning
#wrinkle improvement
#improve skin elasticity
#sebum control
#intense hyration

FDA certification

(click here for my Cosdna profile)

Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Dipropylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Acorus Gramineus Root/Stem Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water


This essence has a short ingredients list. Most first treatment essence has short ingredients list compared to typical serum or essence. 

The main ingredient here is galactomyces, which is your fermented goods. This is the key ingredient playing out all the magic you get from this bottle of essence. It is excellent in anti-oxidizing, cell renewing, brightening and gentle exfoliating. If you get bouncy and baby-soft skin from this essence, it will mostly the work by this galactomyces. There are many types of galactomyces, depending on which products it ferments, like SK-II uses sake and Nature Republic uses rice.

This essence has quite a number of moisturizers, such as dipropylene glycol, glycerin and rose flower water. It's not very nourishing, but definitely very slippery (it can be well absorbed) and moisturizing. It is more like supplying your skin with a thin layer of moisture so that your following skincare steps can be better absorbed with the help of this thin layer of moisture. This cannot retain moisture if you apply it without any other emollients.

As for added-brightening, you get niacinamide as a well-documented and popular ingredient found to reduce hyper-pigmentation. 

No paraben and phenoxyethanol are added as preservatives. This essence uses botanical extract as natural preservative. Cosdna rates those as safe preservative, so great news for those sensitive to the two preservatives we mentioned above. 

If you have oily skin, I am not sure can this control sebum although it has claimed to do so. I personally have no sebum overproduction issue. I think the moisturizer (very light one) can replenish your skin moisture, thus balancing the oil and moisture levels of your skin, but I can't endorse that claim. Maybe I will pursue some of my oily skin friends to try it and get their reviews perhaps? LOL.

Packaging ★★★
Texture ★★★★
Application ★★★★
Scent ★★★★
Ingredients ★★★
Performance ★★★


Surprisingly, I have a somewhat high regards for this essence. It costs less than my Nature Republic First Essence yet its texture and smells have gone beyond my expectation for an essence in that price range. As for effectiveness, I have been using this for 1.5 months, quite generously, once or twice per day depending on my skincare routine. I feel that this can prep up my skin instantly in a gentle way. I enjoy splashing it over my face more than using it with a cotton pad. But I sometimes soak it in my cotton pad and treat it like a 3 minutes mask. Most importantly, you won't feel that your wallet is bleeding even if you soak it in cotton pads for that price. After 1 month of usage, I must admit that my skin has become clearer and my freckles are slightly (only slightly) lighter. It is like an overall improvement in my skin tone. I don't see any differences in my skin texture though but I have relatively good skin texture already. One thing to mention is that, I develop some bumps while I am using the Secret Key STE. I am not sure is it entirely due to this essence alone though. I have planned my repurchase and will be back for more updates in the future though. So stay tuned.

You can get this from: SecretKey Malaysia / RoseRoseShop / Koreadepart
[Disclaimer] This is NOT a sponsored review. Products are purchased with my own money. All copy right of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
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