9 Apr 2017

Comparison Review of 16 Treatment Essence / First Essence Part 2: Belif, Biotherm, Clinique, Innisfree, Kiehl's and Laneige



This is the part 2 of my comparison review of 16 treatment essences I have tried in the past few years. You can check out this link for part 1.

Normally, treatment essence or first essence is the "0" step routine you use right after cleansing, and before a toner, serum, and moisturizer. Earlier treatment essences that come out in the market are more or less the dupes for SK-II. They share a lot of similarities in term of packaging (tall glass bottle), consistency (watery, lightweight, non-viscous), ingredients (fermented, yeast), and performance (revitalizing, regenerating and brightening). But as brands start catching up with with the trend and technology, there also many deviants from "standard" treatment essence. Now we see essences with richer consistency, non-fermented ingredients, different type of packaging and also different skincare claims being produced. In this review, we are going to talk about these non-conventional treatment essences, and whether or not they are as good as the "conventional treatment essence:
  • Belif The True Decoction - Anti Aging Shaking Water
  • Belif The True Tincture of Chamomile
  • Biotherm Life Plankton Essence
  • Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion
  • Innisfree Soybean Energy Essence | Full Review
  • Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence
  • Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector | Full Review

Belif The True Decoction - Anti Aging Shaking Water


This is a skin booster with anti-aging and moisturizing benefits. Belif calls this "shaking water" because you are required to shake it prior to applying it on your skin. It is meant to be used right after cleansing, and before your toner and moisturizer. It is consisted of two layers - a layer of anti-oxidizing essence and a layer of moisturizing whipped cream.

It is difficult to categorize this product. Normally I would put this under "first serum" because it is a nutritious treatment type product with richer consistency. But, it is also a watery essence you use as your "0" step so I thought it is fine to include it here to provide some guides for those who are interested in trying out this product, or thought that this is Belif's version of treatment essence.

Belif The True Decoction - Anti-Aging Shaking Water is a product made of decoction, which is a obtained by boiling dissolved herbal roots. Doing so allows the active ingredients inside to be better released in the heating process. The product has a lightweight, easily absorbed, milky essence consistency that will leave the skin very soft and smooth.

Well, like I said, this is not a conventional treatment essence, and is more of a first serum so it definitely doesn't have the properties of normal treatment essence. It is moisturizing and nourishing to some extent, and it will make the skin super soft and smooth. Wrinkles and fine lines appear smoother after using. And it will also leave my skin dewy and radiance with its emollient content. However, this is not achieved through exfoliation or skin regeneration, more like with proper hydration. In short, this is a watery essence with moisturizing, anti-oxidizing and smoothing benefits.

Belif The True Tincture of Chamomile


This is an essence in the form of tincture. It is formulated with chamomile flower extract dissolved in alcohol. It has a watery, slightly (only slightly) viscous consistency that is meant to be used right after a hydrating toner and before any other serum or essence. Normally, I wouldn't consider this a first essence but since we are talking about unconventional treatment essence here, we might as well discuss about this tincture essence.

Belif Tincture of Chamomile claims to enhance blood circulation to your skin, and by doing so, eliminates dullness, improves skin vitality and enhances skin texture. It can also reduce blackheads, minimize sizes of pores and soothe irritated skin. I don't use this everyday because I have normal to dry skin and this is the vitamin I feed my skin once in a while. But I have done several other reviews sharing my other friends and family's thoughts on this and they all gave me positive review. This product will work great for those with oily, combination, acne-prone, sensitive and dull skin. It is also good for mature skin and those with blackhead issue.

Technically, I wouldn't consider this a first essence, but it is indeed a treatment essence. It cannot exfoliate, hydrate or prep the skin. But it can brighten up your skin, improve your skin texture and eliminate dullness. It is like an old school type SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, made with old school style herbal extracting method. It can be a first essence or first serum depending on how you use it, but it is definitely a skin booster that can keep your skin looking younger and dewy even though you have poor sleep the night before!

Biotherm Life Plankton Essence


Just like Kiehl's and Estee Lauder, Biotherm came out with this Life Plankton Essence in 2014 after watery essence made a big blown in the Asian market. It contains the active ingredient life plankton extracted from Pyrenees Mountain in France which claims to brighten up and revitalize your skin in just 8 days.

This product is a treatment essence type product with brightening and anti-aging benefits. It comes in a tall and beautiful glass bottle with slightly viscous, watery consistency. You need to shake it well before using as there will be sediment at the bottom. Once absorbed, it will leave a slightly tacky and hot feeling on my skin, especially if I don't use a lightweight hydrating toner before using this. Biotherm requires that you use this after a "lotion/toner", so this is not technically a first essence anyway. For those of you who are sensitive to fragrance, this essence has a strong, almost overpowering scent to it, which I don't think is naturally-derived. Most of Biotherm products have this scent, but Life Plankton Essence one seems to be stronger.

I haven't started to use the full size product, because I still need to finish up the miniatures first, but since I have been using it for a good 2 weeks now, I can share some of my findings on it. It is a cloudy, slightly viscous, watery essence that will leave your skin a bit tacky and hot. As such, I always need to a use a very lightweight toner before using this to minimize that unpleasant tackiness. Alternatively, you can also use this with a cotton pad. I notice that my skin is smoother and plumper after using it for 2 weeks. I also suspect that it minimized the appearance of my pores as it reflects light off my skin better, leaving a babyish soft look, but I need to use it for longer to make further judgement. I wouldn't say that it helped to regulate sebum production on my skin, or could calm and soothe breakouts. I still suffered from hormonal breakouts during when I was using it. And its effects on whiteheads and blackheads were insignificant. I also didn't notice any improvements on my laugh lines or dry lines. I think this suits individuals with rougher texture and drier skin better, but not really oily or troubled skin.

In short, a cloudy, slightly-viscous watery essence type product that can revitalize and refine your skin texture. A bit tacky, hence does not qualify as a first essence. Suits drier and maturer skin individuals better.

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion


I bought this Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion several months ago when I was hunting for treatment essence dupes. And this product looks like the closest sibling to treatment essence among all Clinique products so naturally I picked it up from the counter. I have never tried anything from Clinique before so I don't really know a lot about Clinique. All I know is that it is an American middle-to-high end cosmetic brand and is also a subsidiary of Estee Lauder. It targets younger and oilier skin. This product is under their radiance-improving line which promises to replenish, restore and renew the skin.

I cannot find a lot of information on this product, except knowing that it is a soothing, alcohol-free lotion designed to infuse the skin with energy and moisture. You use this before a toner to prep, soften, and hydrate the skin. Clinique claims that this can make your skin appears plumper, refreshed and dewy, as well as making your texture more refined in the long-run.

Honestly, I don't see anything as claimed from this product. It is a viscous, runny but weird-smelling liquid that goes onto your skin like Hada Labo Lotion, but is a bit richer than Hada Labo. It does a good job moisturizing my skin but somehow I don't notice any improvements after adding this into my routine. It just feels like a viscous liquid that you use after cleansing. My skin is not plumper, softer, brighter, dewier and other products don't really permeate better after using this. So in the end, I just have to conclude that this is skin-conditioning lotion that feels more like a Hada Labo Lotion than SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. After all, it never claims itself to be SK-II FTE dupe anyway, and it is not.

Given its lack of performance, weird scent, unpleasant texture, I wouldn't consider repurchasing even if I need a hydrating lotion. I guess I prefer Hada Labo a lot better over this at a much cheaper price.

Innisfree Soybean Energy Essence


Innisfree Soybean Energy Essence is a wrinkles-repairing, brightening and skin rejuvenating treatment essence that you use right after cleansing and before a toner. This is the unconventional "treatment essence" that I was referring to. It is housed in a plastic bottle instead of glass bottle. Its consistency is also slightly slimy instead of watery. You wouldn't link this to SK-II Facial Treatment Essence except for the tall bottle and fermented ingredients used. This essence also focuses more on lifting, nourishing and wrinkles-repairing instead of brightening or skin renewing.

The unique thing about this Soybean Energy Essence is that it is made of fermented soybean. Innisfree only uses plant extracts collected from the Jeju Island and its packaging are all printed with eco-friendly soy ink. So you will see that this Soybean Energy Essence has its own styles of packaging and ingredients without copying the look and functionality of SK-II. It is also more suitable for those with more mature and drier skin unlike SK-II which fits all skin types especially oily and troubled skin.

If you were to compare, this feels more like an essence version of Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion or Cosrx Advanced 96 Snail Mucin Power. It is a unique treatment essence that you can try if you have drier and more mature skin type, or if you are looking for something unconventional. I personally enjoy using this as a hydrating toner for the Korean 7-Skin Method. Doing so gives me noticeable lifting and firming results, and also plumper skin. However, if you only use a few drops everyday, then you won't really notice any big difference, it won't exfoliate your skin, calm your breakouts, reduce your whiteheads/blackheads, or brighten up your skin. It feels and works like a normal hydrating toner unless if you use it in a bigger volume and massage it on your face in an upward motion.

This is an unconventional treatment essence type product that can also function as a hydrating toner and lifting essence. It is more suitable for drier and mature skin.

Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence


Kiehl's comes up with their own version of treatment essence a few years after SK-II and Missha made a big hit in the Asian market. Kiehl's is pretty slow at catching up Asian beauty trend, which is why they only come up with a cleansing oil many years after double cleansing emerges as a new beauty trend and practice.

This Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence is formulated with iris flower extract, hyaluronic acid and a bunch of texture ingredients. You can check out the ingredients list and analysis here. I am not sure why they are using so many solvents, moisturizers, pH adjusters, and so on texture ingredients because treatment essence normally has very short but powerful ingredients punch. I guess Kiehl's might not have the technology or even the intention to make those kind of concentrated treatment essences given whatever reason including cost. In fact, this Kiehl's treatment essence costs lesser than its brightening serum and honey ginseng cream whereas SK-II and IOPE essences are one of their most expensive skincare items in the lines.

However, that doesn't make Kiehl's treatment essence less effective or insignificant. Having used it for about 2 months in the absence of other treatment essences, I do find that it does a very great job at moisturizing, nourishing and revitalizing my skin. I am most impressed by how soft, plump and healthy my skin feels after each use. It is like how I feel after applying a very moisturizing facial mask where my skin is quenched its thirst. And I also enjoy the subtle floral scent of this essence, which I believe is the smell of the iris flower extract inside. Despite there is alcohol inside this product, I don't feel or smell anything alcoholic. I guess they just add it to make this product lighter and even with that, this product still has a rather viscous but fast-absorbing consistency. It is not completely watery if you compare it to other treatment/first essences.

In short, this is a slightly viscous but fast-absorbing watery liquid that will quench your skin's thirst effectively. It will keep your skin soft, plump and stay hydrated over a longer period of time. I personally do not notice a lot of brightening effects but its moisturizing and softening effects are quite promising. And given its ability to soften and moisturize the skin, I believe that it also carries long-term anti-aging and anti-oxidizing benefits for the skin as well. For me, this works more like a hydrating and anti-aging essence than as a treatment essence. I might repurchase if I am looking for a hydrating and skin softening essence in the future.

Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector


Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector is a skin booster formulated with 92.5% vitamin C-enriched berry extracts to clarify and brighten the skin. It contains extracts from acerola cherry, acai berry, and other brightening ingredients with four times anti-oxidizing effects of vitamin C.

I bought this because it is the closest to treatment essence among all other Laneige products. It is lightweight, watery and ultra-refreshing and is used as the "0" step in your skincare routine. You need to dispense 2-3 pumps of this essence on your palm or cotton pad and apply it along your skin texture. I normally use my hand but using it on a cotton pad adds exfoliating benefits for those with duller skin and rougher texture.

I have been using the Clear-C Advanced Effector consistently for a few months, either as a stand alone treatment essence, or a lotion mask where I soak the product in a non-woven cotton sheet and place it on my face for 5-10 minutes. I also introduce Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence into my routine to see if using both will breed better results. I found that the Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector has done a good job prepping, hydrating and revitalizing my skin when I am using it as a lotion mask. The result is relatively slower and less noticeable if I only use 1-2 pumps on my bare hand. However, consistent use does improve and brighten up my skin tone, giving it a dewier look. I notice that the essence is better absorbed and my skin texture appears smoother if I use it with a cotton pad. However, since the complimentary Laneige cotton pad is a bit thick, it takes 2-3 times more product than I usually do and all the product is absorbed by the cotton pad instead of the skin. As such, I normally do not use its cotton pad unless if I want to smooth my skin. The brightening benefits of this Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector is enhanced when used together with the White Plus Renew Original Essence. Otherwise, it is just a refreshing, boosting, and prepping skin booster without any uniqueness.

In short, I wouldn't consider this Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector to be a treatment essence, it looks more like a vitamin C enriched skin booster to me than a treatment essence. It will do a good job at prepping and revitalizing my skin but not other things like anti-aging, hydrating, exfoliating and so on. It is rather obsolete when you use it as a stand alone essence without the White Plus Renew Original Essence. I expect that this will function like a treatment essence because vitamin C is an acid treatment and also a potent skincare ingredient used in many products, but unfortunately it has failed my expectation. Besides, it can also be quite dehydrating if you don't apply anything moisturizing later.

FINAL THOUGHT

personal favourite: Belif
moisturizing benefit: Belif Shaking Water, Kiehl's, Innisfree
brightening benefit: Belif Chamomile, Biotherm, Laneige
texture-improving: Belif Chamomile
skin regenerating benefit: Biotherm
soothing benefit: Belif Shaking Water, Belif Chamomile


[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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