31 May 2017

Review: Huxley Secret of Sahara Grab Water Essence and Fresh and More Cream

I really like Huxley's brand philosophy that "great things never come from comfort zones". This is an attitude that everyone should adopt, not only in product development, but also in our daily life. In fact, Huxley is not exaggerating when it says so. It is not hesitated to bring us great ingredients from the pristine land on earth, from harsh desert, higher mountains to deep sea. We now get to enjoy all these wonderful ingredients because of Huxley initiative! How nice is that?

I have this feeling that less is more when it comes to Huxley. It has the simplest range of products with only cleansing products, toner, treatment, cream and masks. Maybe they will come out with more later, but I like how I don't have to break my bank to buy all their wonderful products! And honestly, I am not someone who will put on 10-15 layer of products on my skin. My skin cannot absorb as much normally so I always try to feed it with less but nutritious stuffs. And thanks to the emergence of innovative multitasking products, such as splash mask (exfoliating + refreshing + cleansing), in-shower mask (deep cleansing + cleansing), oil-to-foam cleanser, pressed serum (serum + cream), essence (toner + treatment), and so on, we can now enjoy less with more!

Let's see if this Huxley Hydration Duo set belongs to the "less is more" category.

I think the first thing that will come into your mind when you buy Huxley products is how gorgeous the packaging looks like. The products look really simple but something about them will make you hard to turn your eyes away from them.

There isn't any information whatsoever on the packaging. You cannot get a lot of information on the official website either. So far, only Glow Recipe and Kurator have more comprehensive English information on Huxley products, so you can refer to those websites for more detailed explanation.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Grab Water Essence

Huxley calls this essence but I think this more of a lightweight watery oil than an essence. In fact, this is made of cactus seed oil so perhaps that's why it feels like a lightweight oil. It reminds me of Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum which is made of green tea seed oil. I think you will like this if you enjoy using botanical seed oil but find the Innisfree one too light.

The packaging of this product somehow reminds me of the movie "Frozen". It looks like something that can quench your thirst within seconds.

The product comes in a dropper format. I have no issue with the dispenser.

The essence feels like an oil essence. It is a clear, slightly viscous, but lightweight liquid that spreads beautifully and gets absorbed almost instantly into the skin. It won't leave a trace on your skin but there will be some tackiness if you layer several products on top so I normally won't mix this with other more nourishing products.


Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Seed Oil, Betula Platyphylla Japonica Juice, Phyllostachis Bambusoides Juice, Ilex Paraguariensis Leaf Extract, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Myrciaria Dubia Fruit Extract, Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract, Menthapiperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide Np (Ceramide 3), Acorus Gramineus Root/Steam Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Perilla Frutescenx Leaf Extract, Malachite Extract, Methyl Gluceth-20, Water, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Carbomer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Polysorbate 80, Disodium EDTA, Tromethamine, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance


The ingredients, I must say, are sweet. It is packed full of skin loving botanical extracts, including cactus, Siberian silver birch, acai berry, camu-camu, peppermint, grass-leaf sweet flag and so on. A vast majority of the ingredients are cactus stem and seed oil, so you get a lot of the goodies out of each drop of the essence, instead of just water. Alcohol is pretty high up the ingredient list but I believe that it functions as a solvent to give the product a lighter consistency. I personally is doing fine with alcohol so I am not against having alcohol in my serum, but YMMV. Most of the ingredients, including solvents, surfactants, emulsifiers and so on are safe to use on the skin, with minimal chance of causing acne or irritation to the skin. Unless if you have really sensitive skin, or is allergic to any of the ingredient listed above, I believe this will do fine on all skin types including oily and acne-prone skin.

Let's look at the respective functions of the major ingredients used. Cactus and its seed oil are both antioxidants that are also rich in amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Cactus is also rich in linoleic acid which can unclog pores and reduce sebum production of the skin. Cactus is also used as an alternative to botox because of its firming properties and its ability to smooth and plump up the skin. Cactus also functions as a humectant in skincare to keep the skin soft and hydrated. Cactus seed oil is also a key ingredient used by Berber women to keep their skin glowy and hydrated in the harsh Sahara of North Africa. It is said to be the moisture trove of the desert!

Fruit extracts such as acai berry, camu-camu and grapefruit are all antioxidants. Among which, acai berry is a potent anti-aging ingredient whereas camu-camu can lighten pigmentation on the skin while providing loads of soothing benefits. Other ingredients such as peppermint, sweet flag and silver birch are mainly anti-inflammatory as well.

I will say that most benefits you get from this product are the cactus extract and seed oil. And the cactus used here are said to be many times more moisturizing and quenching than normal cactus as it is collected from cactus from the Sahara Desert. I am not sure about people who only rely on only scientifically-proven ingredients, but for me, I am an Asian whose drink chicken essence and bird's nest as tonics, so I am sold on the idea of using cactus grew in the harsh Sahara Desert as a moisturizing ingredient. I mean, if it can survive the harsh Sahara, sure it will be stronger and has some "magic moisturizing power" that other home-grown cactus doesn't have, right? Right?


A little bit of disclosure here. I have been using the essence a few times a week for the past 6 months, and is almost done with the entire bottle, so I am ready to share my thoughts on it with you guys here.

I think this is a really well-made serum, but not for all skin types. I find it too light for normal to dry skin to really make a difference. It is not moisturizing, soothing or nourishing enough for drier skin, although it feels like an oil. Dehydrated and dry, or combination to oily skins will benefit the most from this product. It is lightweight enough to offer a lot of hydration and moisture to your skin, but my skin which normally relies on more "water-based" essence doesn't appreciate this "oil-based" essence as much as I want to. It still turns greasy (due to dehydration) several hours later so this product is not moisturizing enough for me. But YMMV, everyone's skin is different so you might enjoy it if you have dry-dehydrated, oily, and combination skin.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Fresh and More Cream

I was attracted to using this cream after seeing someone posted on his Instagram that this works better than my beloved Belif Aqua Bomb. You know, when people challenged your holy grail, you are prompted to try it even just once to see if this is really as good. So... I ended up with one.

The product is really pretty too. It comes in a nice lid to keep the product fresh.

The cream is very velvety and soft. It feels like a balm instead of a cream and will leave your skin hydrated, plump and matte. I think it will work wonder for oily, combination and dehydrated skin, but not for normal to dry skin. I don't find it that moisturizing on my normal skin. Definitely not as good as my beloved Aqua Bomb in boosting and sealing my skin with moisture. It smells nice though, like grass or something.


Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Water, Glycerin, Glycereth-26, Cyclohexasiloxane, Trisiloxane, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Seed Oil, Ceramide Np (Ceramide 3), Phyllostachys Babusoides Juice, Betula Platyphylla Japonica Juice, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Acorus Gramineus Root/Stem Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Perilla Frutescens Leaf Extract, Beta-Glucan, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Dimethiconol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 60, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Carbomer, Propanediol, PEG-40 Stearate, Palmitic Acid, Ethylhexyglycerin, Stearic Acid, Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polysorbate 80, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance


I am not gonna repeat the benefits of cactus extract and its seed oil here. This cream is again made primarily of cactus goodies. Just like most other creams, this has butylene glycol, dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, water, and so on added to give it the texture of a cream. Most of them are silicone-based stuffs though so if you are anti-silicone, you should take note on that.

In term of skincare ingredients, we have ceramide, Japanese timber bamboo extract, silver birch, green purslane, sweet flag, grapefruit, perilla, beta glucan, sodium hyaluronate, and so on. Not that many of a difference if you compared it to the essence we talk about earlier. Green purslane is a wrinkles improving, anti-inflammatory, and skin brightening herbal ingredient. It is found in many skincare products including Belif ones. Beta glucan is a pleasant one, found in the popular Klairs toner as a skin soothing, antioxidizing and excellent hydrating ingredient. It can calm any redness on the skin surface, revitalize and maintain youthful appearance on the skin. And these, with the 56% cactus seed oil derived from Sahara cactus, can quench the skin of any thirst it has inside out. The fact that it dries down matte also makes it a great ingredient for dehydrated and oily skin.


Here comes the most important question: is the cream good? Yes, it is, but not as good as Belif Aqua Bomb. Belif can hydrate and moisturize your skin at the same time, whereas Huxley only hydrates. It doesn't do a particular great job locking moisture on the skin, so my skin still feel dry and dehydrated 1-2 hours later. But I think it is not fair to say that this is not moisturizing enough, since this designed for combination and oily skin. I think if you have normal to dry skin, this will not vow you. However, if you have combination, oily and dehydrated skin, you will like how this hydrates your skin while at the same time doesn't appear oily or greasy. The finish is quite matte and velvety which I think many oily skin people will like.


I think I am getting pickier nowadays. I guess it is a human nature to expect more from something when you already see the good ones. I guess I will be impressed if I met these Hydration Duo 1-2 years ago but not now. I expect something more having tried out Blithe, Primary Raw, Belif, and many more really moisturizing products. I thought this will impress me after hearing all the raves about them but I am seriously unimpressed. I guess it is because I chose the wrong set for myself, as I should go for the Antioxidant Duo which is more suitable for normal to dry skin, but my experience with Whamisa Deep Rich Toner prompts me to go for lighter product when it comes to Korean skincare because they tend to be on the heavier side. You know, the weather in Korea is totally different from Malaysia so it is safe to choose their lighter products but playing safe is not the best choice every time I guess.

Anyhow, I have bought the Antioxidant Duo so I will share with you guys my thoughts again once I have tried it. Hopefully it will really come to vow me like it does to everybody else's.

Huxley Grab Water Essence
packaging: ★★★★
scent: ★★★★★
ingredients: ★★★★☆
performance - hydrating: ★★★★★ (yes if your skin is dehydrated and dry)
performance - moisturizing: ★★★★ (you must use a cream afterward)
general impression: ★★★★ (more suitable for dehydrated and combination skin)

Huxley Fresh and More Cream
packaging: ★★★★
scent: ★★★★★
ingredients: ★★★★☆
performance - hydrating: ★★★★☆ (with oil)
performance - moisturizing: ★★★☆ (cannot lock moisture for long hours)
performance - sebum-controlling: ★★ (not for my skin type which gets oily if it doesn't stay hydrated or moisturized)
general impression: ★★★★ (this is more suitable for combination, oily and dehydrated skin)

You can get this from: StyleKorean | Kurator Malaysia | Glow Recipe | Vexicot
[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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