22 Apr 2017

Comparison Review: Why Moisturizing Matters and Talking About 26 Moisturizing Serum, Ampoule and Essence I have Used


I always want to do a comparison review of all moisturizing essences, serums and ampoules I have used in the past three years. A lot of people might feel that this is unnecessary because you can find moisturizing treatment literally everywhere, in almost every brand. And they are just moisturizing treatment, they don't have any fancy ingredients, functions and are not actives or fermented stuffs. So, why are they important or what are their roles in our skincare routine?

Let me tell you this, moisturizing treatments are the most basic stuff you need to have in your routine. Almost every girl starts off with a moisturizing serum. Moisturizing treatment is also more soothing and skin repairing than any other treatment type products. If you are suffering from sun burn or over-exfoliating, a moisturizing serum is probably the only treatment you can use to help your skin repairs. And you will always need something moisturizing to penetrate deep into your skin to fill in all the dryness and cracks. A properly moisturized skin is also almost always a radiant and dewy looking skin. Hence, moisturizing serum is a staple among Asian skincare routine. If I go to the store with a few friends and ask them which masks they would go for, at least half of them will opt for the moisturizing one instead of brightening, anti-aging, and soothing. It is in Asian women's belief that moisturization is the key to healthy skin.

In this review, I'm gonna be talking about 26 moisturizing essences, serums or ampoules I have tried in the past three years; some I enjoyed using but some were just "meh", full list is as below:
  • A.H.C Capture Hyaluronic Ampoule
  • Belif Classic Essence Increment 
  • Belif Hungarian Water Essence
  • Belif Hungarian Watery Essence - Moisture Binder
  • Belif Numero 10 Essence
  • Biotherm Aquasource Deep Serum
  • Blithe Velvet Yam Pressed Serum
  • Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
  • Dr. G Super Aquasis Essence
  • Goodal Phytorain Murumuru Seed Hydra Serum
  • Hada Labo Hydrating Perfect Gel
  • Huxley Secret of Sahara Grab Water Essence
  • Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
  • Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Deep Essence
  • Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence
  • Innisfree Jeju Sparkling Essence
  • Its Skin Power 10 Formula GF Effector
  • Kiehl's Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate
  • Laneige Water Bank Essence_EX
  • Lirikos Marine Energy Hydrating Pulse Ampoule
  • Lirikos Marine Hydro Ampoule EX
  • Lirikos Marine Oxygenic Essence EX
  • Scinic Aqua All in One Ampoule
  • Sorabee Balancing Essence
  • The History of Whoo Ja Saeng Essence

A.H.C Capture Hyaluronic Ampoule


This is an ampoule, which means it is supposed to have lighter and faster penetrating consistency compared to essence or serum. This ampoule is quite popular among other A.H.C products. It has a light consistency that gets absorbed into your skin quickly without leaving a trace. It is so lightweight that you won't really feel any sticky residue left behind unlike a lot of hyaluronic acid products. Personally, I don't find it memorable, impressive or ultra moisturizing. But if you have dehydrated skin, this will serve you really well with its fast penetrating and lightweight properties.

Belif Classic Essence Increment 


This product has a weird name. It is called "classic essence, increment" so not many people can understand what it is trying to say. I guess it is trying to convey the message that this is designed for drier and more mature skin that will provide extra dose of nutrients and moisture to the skin. The product has a bouncy consistency that looks like most products marketized as collagen-containing. Once you spread it out, it will leave a slightly tacky finish on the skin. It also feels kinda greasy and rich on my normal/dry skin so I think this may not be suitable for those with oilier and combination skin. This product claims that it can retain moisture for up to 24 hours and improve elasticity on your skin which confirms my thought that this is designed for drier and more mature skin. I personally don't enjoy the tacky finish and rich consistency it offers so I don't enjoy it and has the tendency to rinse the product off everytime after putting it on my face.

Belif Hungarian Water Essence


This is an essence that feels just like water. You seriously won't feel like you have applied something moisturizing, you can call it hydrating but definitely not moisturizing. It is so lightweight that it will sink into your skin immediately without leaving any trace - not even a moisture film most moisturizing treatment does. I think unless if you have oily skin or dehydrated skin that you want to use this as a product for layering, otherwise you might not want to waste your money on this.

Belif Hungarian Watery Essence - Moisture Binder


This came out after the Belif Hungarian Water Essence failed to make an impression among the beauty community. It adds in jasmine extract, gotu kola and rosemary as well as some moisturizing ingredients and emollients to give this a milky consistency. I would say that this is much more moisturizing, hydrating and soothing compared to the Water Essence. Unless if you have very dry or very oily skin, you will like this. It helps to prep and moisturize the skin but is lightweight enough that you won't feel any heaviness or tackiness at all. Pretty nice, although not my favourite.

Belif Numero 10 Essence


This is a skin booster, or pre-toner essence so technically it is not your conventional essence. But, I still want to include it here because I think that it is a very great hydrator. The consistency of this product is intriguing. It is a watery gel but is extremely soothing and hydrating once you spread it out. Your skin will drink it up immediately, leaving you with a mochi-like texture. I think this will work well for all skin types, including dehydrated, dry and sensitive skin. It will offer a gentle and lightweight protective layer over your skin and preps it for better absorption of upcoming products. You can check out my full review here.

Biotherm Aquasource Deep Serum


This is a moisturizing serum infused with 35 nutrients and life plankton extract. It is one of the most popular items in Biotherm and many people were raving about its ability to keep the skin moisturized and treated for longer hours. To be honest, this feels nothing more than a perfumy liquid on my skin. It may have some fancy marketing claims but I don't really see or feel anything after using this product. It feels kinda tacky and hot when I apply it on my skin, instead of moisturizing and soothing. A few hours later, I will be appalled by how greasy and uncomfortable my skin feels, as if I don't apply anything at all on my skin after using a stripping cleanser. I was quite hesitated between this and the Laneige Water Bank Essence EX before, but now I can be sure that this was by no mean comparable to the Laneige one. See my rants on the product here.

Blithe Velvet Yam Pressed Serum


After my love affair with its close sibling the Tundra Chage Pressed Serum, I decided to give this Velvet Yam one a try. It has a velvety cream consistency that might be a little bit greasy but not at all heavy on the skin. It sinks in quite fast into the skin, leaving a velvety and moisturized sheen that I like. I think this is more suitable for those with normal to dry skin as the texture is on the "greasier" side but it is still lightweight enough for someone like me who has almost zero tolerance to greasy product so if you have oily skin and living in a colder environment, you will still do fine with it!

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence


This is a moisturizing essence made of 96% snail mucin extract. Its primarily target is dry and damaged skin but I think it will work well for all skin types including those with oilier and sensitive skin. Actually I wasn't impressed by most snail products despite their skin repairing and moisturizing benefits because snail products tend to be kinda too rich for my liking. Except for It's Skin Prestige D'escargot line, other snail products feel kinda "meh" for me. But this Cosrx one is an exception. It is still quite slimy but you will find that it sinks into your skin really fast without adding burden to your skin. My skin with oily skin likes this as well. He finds that it has helped to smooth and improve the roughness on his skin. Personally I don't think this is a ride or die product because I don't have those skin issues that this essence needs to address, but I still enjoy using it as a fast-absorbing hydrator. I can sometimes layer up to 10 thin layers of this essence on my skin just to watch how the slimy stuff are all sucked into my skin without leaving a trace. It is fun, and it doesn't cost a tonne! 

Dr. G Super Aquasis Essence


As much as I want to make this product works, it doesn't. This is a nice smelling and lightweight essence that gets absorbed into the skin completely without leaving a trace. However, it itched me out; and later broke me out in little closed comedones. I have tried it several times and kept going back to it after switching to Hada Labo but none worked. I am not sure is it just me or there are people who are facing the same problem. For those of you who are not sensitive to this essence, this is indeed a nice moisturizing essence that will lift your mood and plump your skin (plump it, and then broke it out).

Goodal Phytorain Murumuru Seed Hydra Serum


This is one of the earliest skincare line produced by Goodal, which is a part of the CLIO group. I have reviewed about this before, and commented that it feels like a dupe for Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum. This can be used either as a first serum or normal serum. It contains alcohol so you will find that it feels kinda refreshing on your skin. However, this doesn't have any long-term ability to moisturize or nourish your skin. In fact, its alcohol content will somehow dry you out further after a few hours. A failed dupe.

Hadalabo Hydrating Perfect Gel


This is probably one of the worst products I have tried from the brand Hada Labo. It claims to be a 3-in-1 gel that can be used as essence, sleeping mask or moisturizer. It comes in a bouncy gel consistency that will form a moisture wrap around your skin once you spread it out. However, its consistency is so rich that I don't think anyone with skin that is not too dry will like it. It is so rich and overwhelming on the skin that my skin feels almost suffocated. And it protested in red patches and constant itchiness whenever and no matter how thin I applied this. Read this for more in-depth review and ingredients analysis!

Huxley Secret of Sahara Grab Water Essence


This is a lightweight essence that feels like oil, which I am not surprised because it is made of cactus oil. The product looks really gorgeous and smells amazing. It has a fresh lemon grass scent (is it lemon grass?) that can calm your mood. The essence is very lightweight and spreadable. It sinks in immediately into the skin leaving a very very slight tackiness. Personally, I think this is more "oily" than the Belif Peat Miracle Serum Concentrate, but also more moisturizing than the latter. I wouldn't say that it has done amazing stuff for my skin, and probably wouldn't repurchase after I finish it but I definitely think this is great for dehydrated and oily skin who wants a grasp of moisture. Full review coming soon!

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum


This is my second bottle even though I have literally tonnes of products to finish, so it is saying something about the serum. I used to not-so-liking it at first, because I find it a bit tacky whenever I applied it on my skin. However, I realized that if I used it on a damp face, the serum will sink in very quick without leaving any tackiness so I always used this as a first serum instead of a moisturizing serum. But it actually made no big difference whether or not you are using this first or after your toner. One thing I like about this serum is its ability to quickly quench your skin of thirst. Just 2-3 pumps, your skin will immediately feel fresher, hydrated and more plump. It also enhances the absorption of other products which I really like. If you have budget concern and cannot afford the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, then this is a great choice. Also if you have younger and oilier skin, you will love this as well. But if you happen to have sensitive skin, like a lot of my friends, then this probably will break you out due to the fragrance inside.

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence


I love this. It is made of approximately 85% of seawater and a bunch of mineral as well as Jeju plant extracts. You will feel like you are swimming in the Jeju sea with this product. This product does basically one thing - to offer intense hydration. My skill will trilled in joy everytime I apply this. I like this even better than the Green Tea Seed Serum because it is extremely hydrating, lightweight and it also smells more herbal and natural. Great great product for any skin types that need some moisture punch and doesn't want heavy fragrance.

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Deep Essence


This is more suitable for individuals with dry to very dry skin. The consistency is even thicker than Belif Hungarian Water Essence Moisture Binder we discussed previously. It contains little ceramide-containing capsules that will burst when you spread it on your skin. Not the type of moisturizing essence that I like, but is a good option for those with drier skin type.

Innisfree Jeju Sparkling Essence


I love this product so much that I finish it within 1.5 months. This product came out in 2015 when Innisfree introduced the concept of sparkling water. It is said that sparkling water contains smaller molecules than normal water which allows it to penetrate the skin faster and deeper than normal water. It is also richer in mineral and symbolizes the water that lives. The texture is delightful. It is so lightweight and bubbly that you will feel as if you are feeding your skin with coke. The skin is left immediately fresher, plumper, cooler and more hydrated. This is the moisturizing essence that will give my skin the glow it needs because it is just so well fed with moisture, minerals and nutrients.

Its Skin Power 10 Formula GF Effector


This is a very cheap moisturizing ampoule from It's Skin. I remember getting it at only about RM 39 from Hermo, and Althea later sells it at RM 25 or something. It is so cheap that I actually wondered how much of it are actually going for the ingredients used in here. You know... if it is a local brand then it makes sense but most Korean skincare retails at RM 50-100 so I just a bit skeptical about this line. And then when I tried it out, I was not impressed either. I found them a waste of my time and energy. My skin still produced oil from dehydration and I wasn't getting any moisturizing sensation from this. It is just like a watery gel that does nothing functional for my skin. I did a full review on this product and realized that this stuff is made of a number of sugar deriving humectants, urea and PCA. It wasn't supposed to be that bad, but maybe those moisturizing ingredients just make up 10% or less of the entire formulation? Who knows?

Kiehl's Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate


This is probably the only moisturizing serum in Kiehl's. It is formulated with a unique liquid-to-serum technology that allows the product to turn into watery drops when you spread it across your skin. It claims to work great for dryness and dehydration issues of the skin. It also claims to be able to soothe fine lines and wrinkles. Well... I don't like it. I don't like its consistency that will turn from gel into watery serum once it touches your skin. I find that doing so will make my skin a little bit greasy. And I personally don't find any long-term hydrating effect from using. I tested it by applying it as a stand alone moisturizing product to see how long will it last without a moisturizer and I found that it was not that moisturizing if compared to other moisturizing treatments I have tried. This is kinda disappointing since it costs close to RM 250 for 50ml of products. Not impressed, shall not repurchase.

Laneige Water Bank Essence_EX


A lot of people swear by this Laneige Water Bank Essence. It is a highly popular moisturizing serum in Asia and is also one of Laneige’s best selling items across the world. You use this after toning and before heavier serum. Laneige Water Bank Essence_EX is a moisturizing serum. It is called “essence” because of its lightweight consistency that will melt on your skin like water hence the title “essence”. I like this essence, but it is not my holy grail moisturizing treatment. I find that it is very moisturizing and soothing on my skin whenever my skin is sensitive or dry. However, this has still an emollient kinda feeling when I applied it on my skin so it will not be well absorbed if I don't damp or prep my skin with something watery before. And I have found other better moisturizing treatments so this will not be The One for me. But if you are new to Korean skincare, then this is definitely a great product to start with!

Lirikos Marine Energy Hydrating Pulse Ampoule


I am so so so disappointed with this product. It was vastly marketized when it was just launched in Korea so I fell into the buying trap for this. And it also comes from one of my favourite brands Lirikos so I had a lot of faith in it. And it failed me! This is just a slightly viscous, heavily fragranced serum that is not at all moisturizing on the skin. The consistency is somewhere between serum and ampoule, which gets absorbed quickly but it will leave a layer of tackiness on the skin that I personally dislike. And I don't find my skin any more plumper or hydrated after using this. So disappointed!

Lirikos Marine Oxygenic Essence EX


This is my holy grail moisturizing treatment. I tried it a sample I got from my Gmarket purchase and quickly went to buying this. It is basically a very lightweight milky essence that you will feel oxygen going into your skin, along with loads of nutrient, moisture and minerals. It is super cooling, refreshing, hydrating and moisturizing. I can't find any other moisturizing treatment that is as nice as this one hence I have been repurchasing ever since.

Lirikos Marine Hydro Ampoule EX


This is a moisturizing ampoule from Lirikos. It is kinda pricey if you buy it in Lirikos, which comes in a set of 12 or 16. Honestly, I don't like this as much as the Lirikos Marine Oxygenic Essence. I think this ampoule works better for those with drier and dehydrated skin whereas the Oxygenic one works great for all skin types. This penetrates really quickly and deeply into the skin and filling it with heavy dose of moisture. But it lacks the kind of refreshment I want from an essence. And its hydrating power is not as strong as the Oxygenic Essence so I think I still prefer the Oxygenic one.

Scinic Aqua All in One Ampoule


This is an all-in-one moisturizing soothing gel that calls itself "ampoule". Actually I don't see this as an ampoule, more like a soothing gel. It is so all in one that you are not sure how much of it are humectant, emollient or occlusive. Ampoule is supposed to go deep into the skin to hydrate and treat, but this one is more like a moisturizing seal or protective gel that sits on top of your skin. What makes it different from other soothing gel is that this is made of better ingredients using better technology, hence it feels lighter, more penetrating and more moisturizing than normal soothing gel. I found myself using this as a moisturizer more than a treatment so I don't think I will repurchase it if I don't need a soothing gel type moisturizer in the future.

Sorabee Balancing Essence


This is a Korean brand that is only available exclusively in Malaysia. I guess the product itself is made using Korean technology but the manufacturing and marketing are all local. Anyhow, the product is quite nice. It comes in a dropper bottle but I think it will leak if I don't keep it standing, you just cannot throw it in your wardrobe when you are testing out other stuffs. It has a fast absorbing, milky consistency that feels really soothing and moisturizing on the skin. And it does give me visible more radiance glow, which shows that this is doing a good job at moisturizing and plumping up my skin. What I don't like about it is the scent. It has this hormonal scent that I only smell in my mother's skincare products. It is kinda overpowering and annoying sometimes so I won't repurchase after I finish it.

The History of Whoo Ja Saeng Essence


I bought this because my favourite Taiwanese vlogger was raving about it. I wanted to buy the full size product but I just don't have that kind of budget. If you are wondering where did I get it from, I actually got mine from Gmarket but that seller is no longer selling it so I could not provide you with the link here. The product is made of tonnes of precious Korean herbal concentrates. It has a very nice floral herbal scent that I like better than Sulwhasoo. The consistency may look rich, but is pretty fast absorbing without leaving any stickiness on the skin. I couldn't share my long-term experience with it because I only got a 8ml size of the product, but I am positive that this has a great job at nourishing and moisturizing my skin, keeping it bouncy and healthy. My skin that normally looks lifeless during sleep deprivation appears more genki after using this. Something I would consider repurchasing when I visit Korea.

FINAL THOUGHT



I notice that most of my moisturizing treatments tend to be in blue. I am not sure why, but maybe that symbolizes water and water leads one to think about moisture?

Actually, I have tried far more moisturizing treatments than what I have discussed above, but I don't want to make this a super long review so I only select a few that I have used in the recent years. Some people asked me this question whether or not moisturizing treatment was necessary, and do they have to use these treatment that does the same job as their moisturizers. My answer is yes. Normally, moisturizers are made of mostly emollient and occlusive, which forms a seal on top of your skin. You need something that will go a bit deeper like a humectant to really hydrate and moisturize your skin. And some moisturizing treatments are made of botanical extracts with additional skin benefits like anti-oxidizing, brightening and soothing.

There are also people asking me what do I mean by hydration vs. moisturization. I am sorry for causing the confusion, but hydration normally means something is lightweight and watery that will go into your skin to supply water. Moisturization, on the other hand, tends to be richer (though not necessarily thicker) that will form a moisture wrap around your skin to supply oil. I personally prefer products that hydrate my skin because I like anything watery and lightweight. Drier skin tends to prefer something moisturizing whereas oilier skin will opt for something hydrating. But these all boil down to personal preferences in term of the consistency of your skincare products.

Out of all ampoules, serums and essences I have tried, I do find that essences tend to be more hydrating whereas serums are more moisturizing. Ampoule sometimes feels like an oil for me, a lightweight oil, that they will sink in quickly into your skin without the "wateriness" essences feel. But nowadays the lines between ampoule, serum and essence are getting blurred so you don't really have to be worried about this.

A good moisturizing treatment I have tried normally costs me about RM 100-150, I normally wouldn't spend too much on a treatment that only moisturize my skin. I have tried Hada Labo Hydrating Essence some times ago and I think they feel more or less the same as the A.H.C one. Another more popular moisturizing treatment would be Laneige Water Bank Essence EX, which is really hydrating and soothing, but in my option could be a little bit greasy. I think this will work perfect for tropical countries, but for some reason they don't have that vow factor for my "already experienced skin". As for Cosrx, another hyped-up brand, I think their hyaluronic acid line feels like the Hada Labo one but is a little bit lighter.

This review only discusses products that mainly focus on hydration or moisturization hence the list might be limited. And even though they are the most basic skincare category, they are actually quite difference in term of consistency, scent, spreadability, absorbency, performance, and ingredients used. Out of all those that I have tried, my holy holy grail would be the Lirikos Marine Oxygenic Essence EX. This one feels like you have injected the entire waterfall within your skin, with all the minerals and moisture your skin needs. My next favourite would be the Belif Numero 10 Essence, which is a boosting essence that can boost your skin moisture level within 10 seconds after showering to keep your skin moisturized and plump. You gotta apply this on a wet skin though to avoid any stickiness or tackiness. I also enjoy Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence and Jeju Sparkling Mineral Essence. While the seawater one feels really refreshing and hydrating on the skin, the sparkling one brings the refreshment to another level with all the carbon dioxide and sparkling gas. And of course, the Green Tea Seed Serum which is a really nice boosting serum that will moisturize within a second without any sticky feeling.

It is interesting to see that, out of 26 moisturizing treatments I have tried, only 5-8 are within the acceptable standard and will be my repurchase. However, I wouldn't say that the rest are all rubbish, just that they are less pleasurable to use. The best thing about a moisturizing treatment is that, no matter how ineffective the product is, you will still feel at least something, from one of the moisturizing ingredients inside so the are not really "wasting" your money.


Alright, that's all for today, I hope you enjoy this review and do stay tuned for more reviews coming soon!


[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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