It’s natural to be sad when the last drops of a favorite product have been dispensed and the bottle (or tub, or tube, or jar) is empty. A fresh, unopened skincare product is a thing of pristine beauty and endless promise. An empty one sometimes seems haunted by the ghosts of promises unfulfilled. But empties are a part of the natural cycle of life. So are reviews of the empties and decisions about whether to repurchase them.
In the last month or so, I’ve emptied quite a few products, including Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator “Longer Name” Borabit Ampoule, a couple of Leejiham Vita Propolis Ampoules, a Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil, and a jar of COSRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream. Which ones did I like enough to repurchase? How much retinol is actually in the Missha Longer Name Ampoule, and how does it compare to the original Missha Long Name Ampoule? We’ll find out as I bid goodbye to my depleted friends and wish them luck on their journey to reincarnation.
(They begin their journey to reincarnation in the recycling bin. My Asian Mom Container Repurposing Disorder isn’t advanced enough yet for me to know how to repurpose a serum bottle.)
Crazy Disclosure Lady Note: One of the products discussed in this blog post was originally given to me for review by a retailer. To learn more about my standards for accepting press samples, check out my full sponsorship policy.
Before we get started, I want to take a minute to discuss some changes to my review format. As you’ll see below, moving forward, I’ll be spending a little less time on product ingredients and formulations. This is due to Fanserviced’s recent exploration of Korean and American ingredient listing regulations. In a nutshell, Korean and US regulations don’t require that all ingredients be listed in descending order according to their concentration in the product, except for ingredients present at concentrations of 1% or higher. Instead, flavorings (think fragrance), coloring agents, and ingredients at concentrations of 1% or less can be listed in any order after ingredients that make up 1% or more of the product. Additionally, in Korea, compounds consisting of more than one ingredient must be broken down with individual components listed separately.
What this means is that it’s not possible to tell for sure that a given product has more of X ingredient than it does of Y. Because of that uncertainty, I’ll be spending less time and space on individual ingredients. Instead, we’ll focus more on the formulation as a whole. What matters is performance, after all. If it works, it works, whatever the actual recipe may be, and if it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t matter how impressive the ingredients list reads.
I will, of course, still point out particularly notable (or troubling) ingredients as they come up.
Now let’s check out my empties! Easiest one first.
COSRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream: Repurchase or pass?
Many of you already know how much I like COSRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream. I’m a pretty big fan of COSRX, and this rich but non-greasy moisturizer lives up to the high standard that COSRX’s chemical exfoliators taught me to expect. When my skin gets irritated by overenthusiastic exfoliation, nothing heals up my barrier faster than COSRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream. On top of that, this product sinks in quickly and fully, its lack of residue after application making it perfect for use during the daytime, when I need to make sure that nothing compromises the sunscreen I wear over it.
Will I repurchase this? HA! I already did. I’ve got a fresh new jar all ready to go, purchased from my bae Jolse.
A 50ml jar of COSRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream can be purchased for decent prices at the following Fifty Shades of Snail-approved retailers:
I’ve got no shortage of other creams to test, including the Guerrison 9 Complex Horse Oil Cream that’s slated to touch my face once my Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Cream testing period ends, but I plan to keep a jar of COSRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream around at all times.
Review: Leejiham (LJH) Vita Propolis Ampoule
Confession time: this isn’t my first empty bottle of LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule. It’s actually my second. Glow Recipe sent me my first bottle when they discovered how much I like propolis in my skincare. When I discovered how quickly I was going through the bottle, instead of dialing back my consumption, I jumped onto their website and ordered two more.
LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule ingredients: Propolis extract (50%), portulaca oleracea extract, hippophae rhamnoides fruit extract, panthenol, rosa centifolia flower water, niacinamide, 1,2-hexanediol, ethyl ascorbyl ether, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) bark/twig extract, centella asiatica extract, carbomer, arginine, spirodela polyrrhiza extract, hydroxyethylcellulose, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, sodium hyaluronate, adenosine.
Overall, the focus here is on hydration, brightening, and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant extracts. The CosDNA analysis is very clean.
LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule is a highly concentrated serum-type skincare product that claims to brighten and even out skin tone, restore smoothness, and impart the famous dewy Korean glow. When she sent me my first bottle, Christine suggested using a drop of it in my moisturizer or BB cream. “A little goes a long way!” Glow Recipe insists, cheerily. If you only use a drop or so a day, the tiny bottle will last you quite a while.
BAHAHAHA. Glow Recipe does not understand the extent of my portion control problems. At first I just mixed a drop or two into my moisturizer (I already have a liquid illuminator, Too Cool For School’s Dinoplatz Pearl Bay Invasion, that I use with my Missha M Signature Real Complete BB Cream). Then I started mixing it into my Hada Labo lotion, which I found makes a great carrier for this stuff.
By the time I’d gotten down to the halfway point of my first bottle, I was putting a drop (or two) of Vita Propolis Ampoule into pretty much every step of my skincare routine that doesn’t already contain propolis or niacinamide. Essentially, I use Vita Propolis Ampoule as a skincare super booster.
As a skincare super booster, LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule excels. The light golden liquid mixes easily into everything from hyaluronic acid toner to heavy moisturizing cream and really does noticeably soften skin and impart a smooth, lovely glow. The glow isn’t glittery and artificial, nor is it oily and artificial. It’s more as if my skin is capturing the light from within. In addition, after a few weeks of use, the slow fading of my old sunspots accelerated pretty noticeably. Several more of them slipped out the back door in the middle of the night and haven’t been seen again.
I’ve been using Vita Propolis Ampoule for almost 6 weeks now. My skin now has a clarity and radiance that I’ve never noticed before, and the problem areas around my mouth seem a little bit firmer. With results like these, can you blame me for being a little heavy-handed with the product?
I only have three cautions to offer about this product. Two of them are my own fault, while the third isn’t a big deal.
- I find that Vita Propolis Ampoule applies better when mixed with other products, rather than patted into the skin on its own. As a standalone skincare step, it left quite a stubborn stickiness on my face, no matter how little I applied or how long I patted. But most people have more common sense than I do and won’t want to use this as a standalone step anyway, since doing that would mean that you’d need to restock it every couple of weeks.
- Don’t mix Vita Propolis Ampoule with an L-ascorbic acid (LAA) vitamin C serum like OST C20 or C21.5, or any other low-pH acid product, such as an AHA or BHA chemical exfoliator. LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule contains niacinamide, which begins to convert to niacin at low pH levels. Niacin can cause temporary but alarming flushing and tingling. My first few nights with Vita Propolis Ampoule, I wanted to get it as close to my skin as possible, so I mixed it with my C21.5 serum. And then I was too dense to realize that my subsequent facial hot flashes were due to the niacin conversion. Whoops.
- With both my first and second bottles, I found that by the time I was close to finishing the product, the caps were starting to fall apart a bit. They would often refuse to screw closed, or pop back open if closed just a hair too tightly. Keep an eye on your bottle when you’re close to finishing it to avoid spills.
So would I repurchase this product? Yes! Absolutely! I really want to! But only after I try some comparable products. I really, really like LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule, but it’s on the pricey side. My long-suffering practical side has demanded that I make absolutely, positively sure that it’s really the best propolis ampoule for me (and that having a propolis ampoule in my routine really makes a difference). After all, I use 4-5 drops in my morning routine and again in my evening routine, and at that rate, a nearly $40 bottle of this only lasts me about 3 weeks. I’ve started sampling alternatives (Skinfood’s Royal Honey Propolis Essence has already been rejected for not having niacinamide; Scinic and Tosowoong versions are next on the list), but I’ll be perfectly happy if none of the cheaper alternatives works out and I feel I “have” to come back to this one.
I bought my 15ml bottles of Leejiham Vita Propolis Ampoule for $38 apiece at Glow Recipe and will buy them there again if I decide I need more. You may be able to find the product more cheaply elsewhere, but Glow Recipe has my loyalty for introducing me to the product in the first place and for being generally skincare-savvy, friendly, and awesome.
Semi-Review: Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil
Whoops! Like my LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule, my first bottle of Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Essence Oil fell victim to my excessive enthusiasm and ran out a good week before the end of my 4-week serum/ampoule testing period for the product. These bottles are 30ml each, twice the size of the Vita Propolis Ampoule, so you can imagine just how much of this product I was finding excuses to put on my face and neck.
Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil ingredients: Collagen extract, glycerin, water, methylgluceth-20, polyglycerin-3, niacinamide, ethanol, honey extract, aureobasidium pullulans ferment, theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, royal jelly extract, propolis extract, chrysanthellum indicum extract, plukenetia volubilis seed oil, argania spinosa kernel oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, anthemis nobilis flower extract, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, pentylene glycol, PEG-8, butylene glycol, glyceryl polyacrylate, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, adenosine, tromethamine, caprylic/capric triglyceride, octyldodecanol, hydrogenated coco-glyceride, sodium starch octenyl succinate, maltodextrin, calcium pantothenate, hydrogenated lecithin, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, tocopheryl acetate, pyridoxine HCI, silica, xanthan gum, carbomer, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance
This product has some key ingredients in common with the LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule, such as propolis extract, niacinamide, and adenosine. In fact, Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil might make the LJH redundant in my routine (I’ll have to remove all propolis ampoules from my routine completely for a couple of weeks to decide). Also like the LJH, the Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil contains a boatload of emollient, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant botanical extracts, though of course their exact concentration is questionable. But Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil is not the same thing as LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule at all. The LJH is simple, chic, and unobtrusive. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey, with its one-month-fermented yeast and honey base, is about as flashy a skincare product as anyone would want. And a slightly more risky one, according to CosDNA, which flagged several ingredients.
Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil combines richly emollient plant oils with a water-based essence. You shake the bottle before each use to mix the oils and the essence together. For my personal use and testing, I classify it as an ampoule because of its texture, its seemingly highly concentrated beneficial ingredients, and the presence of known actives like niacinamide, adenosine, and the sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) form of vitamin C.
Since my 4 weeks with the product isn’t up, I won’t talk too much about effects (though I do believe that this product is giving me some improvements in firmness and evenness). I can, however, talk about what it’s like to use Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil.
What is it like?
It’s luxurious, that’s what it’s like.
Shaken and dispensed with the dropper, Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil is a thick, viscous amber liquid with the consistency of honey and the deep, sweet, complex honey fragrance that I’ve come to expect from the Miss Flower & Mr. Honey line. Despite its thickness, it spreads smoothly and easy over my skin. Patting in is kind of an effort, as the product goes through distinct wet and then sticky phases before fully absorbing. The effort is worth it, though. Whenever I take the time to put my Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil on the right way, I end up with firm, plump, soft, bright, dewy, and totally nourished skin. The immediate results are very similar to what happens to my face when I use one of my Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey hydrogel mask preciouses. Absolutely wonderful.
In addition to patting generous amounts of my Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil onto my face as part of my morning and evening skincare routines, I’ve also tried mixing a drop or two in with my creams both morning and night when my skin feels unusually dry. It works really well at giving creams an extra boost of richness, which my face appreciates during spells of very arid SoCal weather.
Now that I’ve finished my first bottle, would I repurchase this product? Hell yes! In fact, I already did. I didn’t realize how low I was running until I went to use it one night and realized the dropper wouldn’t suck any product out of the bottle (one drawback of the otherwise insanely awesome packaging is the difficulty of gauging how much is left). I panicked and immediately ordered another bottle from Memebox, because fast shipping. That’s how much I enjoy this product.
Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil is a little hard to track down, but the 30ml bottles can be purchased from:
- Amazon Prime for $26.77 (affiliate link)
Just so you know, I’m having an equally positive experience with the Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Cream, but I haven’t finished that jar yet, so I’m not allowed to talk about it here.
Review: Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule
And finally we come to the best-known product in my June collection of empties: the recently reformulated “Borabit” version of Missha’s classic and positively reviewed Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator “Long Name” Ampoule.
So. If you read my original post on the Long Name Ampoule reformulation, you might remember that what I found exciting about the new Longer Name Ampoule was a presumed increase in the amount of retinol in the product. Many of us got that idea from a comparison of the two ingredients lists, which can be found on Reddit here. I’ve copied both lists below, with retinol bolded.
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator “Long Name” Ampoule ingredients: Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycereth-26, Juniperus Chinensis Xylem Extract, Sorbus Commixta Extract, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Betaine, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Ethyl Hexanediol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, PEG-11 Methyl Ether Dimethicone, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Polysorbate 20. Cyclomethicone, Grifola Frondosa (Maitake) Mycelium Ferment Filtrate Extract, Ophioglossum Vulgatum Extract,, Carbomer, Glyceryl Caprylate, Triethanolamine, Sea Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lactobacillus/Rice Ferment Filtrate, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, Yeast Ferment Extract, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Acacia Arabica Stem Bark Extract, Adenosine, Dimethiconol, Xanthan Gum, Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Octyldodecanol, Cyclomethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Dextrin, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Manilkara Multinervis Leaf Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment, Lauryl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Tripeptide-1, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Maltodextrin Crosspolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Propylene Glycol, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Retinol, Cholesterol, Beta-Sitosterol, Lecithin, Panthenol, Cucumis Melo (Melon) Fruit Extract, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Ceteth-24, Choleth-24, Glyceryl Arachidonate, Glyceryl Linoleate, Glyceryl Linolenate, Ubiquinone, Cetyl Phosphate, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterol, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Ceteth-3, Ceteth-5, Copper Tripeptide-1, Silica, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Biotin
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator “Longer Name” Borabit Ampoule ingredients: Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycereth-26, Sorbus Commixta Extract, Juniperus Chinensis Xylem Extract, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Betaine, Grifola Frondosa(Maitake)/Ophioglossum Vulgatum Extract, Ferment Filtrate, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Rice Ferment Filtrate, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Yeast Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Hydrolyzed Rice Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Sea Water, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Manilkara Multinervis Leaf Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Extract, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Tripeptide-1, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Beta-Sitosterol, Panthenol, Cholesterol, Glyceryl Linolenate, Glyceryl Linoleate, Ubiquinone, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Retinol, Cucumis Melo (melon) Fruit Extract, Biotin, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Copper Tripeptide-1, Adenosine, Ethyl Hexanediol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, PEG-11 Methyl Ether Dimethicone, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Polysorbate 20, Carbomer, Glyceryl Caprylate, Triethanolamine, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Acacia Arabica Stem Bark Extract, Xanthan Gum, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Octyldodecanol, Cyclomethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Dextrin, Lauryl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethiconol, Lecithin, Propylene Glycol, Glyceryl Arachidonate, Ceteth-24, Choleth-24, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Maltodextrin Crosspolymer, Cetyl Phosphate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Ceteth-3, Ceteth-5, Silica, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate
(CosDNA analysis comes up surprisingly clean for such a long ingredients list, but that’s not our main concern here.)
As you can see, in the original Long Name Ampoule, retinol is in the seventh line from the bottom of a very, very long list of ingredients, while in the Longer Name Ampoule reformulation, it’s moved a full ten lines up. Looks promising, right? Looks like they’ve significantly increased the amount of retinol in the ampoule, which makes a lot of sense for an anti-aging ampoule.
But now we know that ingredients lists don’t have to follow the most-to-least rule when specific ingredients make up less than 1% each of the total formulation. So we know that our assumption isn’t necessarily true. What if retinol is among the ingredients only present in the most minute amounts, and Missha simply moved its place in the list up to make the product appear more attractive? What if?
I couldn’t stand not knowing, so I emailed the friendly, helpful customer service desk at MisshaUS.
I’d had a bad feeling that this would be the case. Not only has the amount of retinol in the product not changed, but the amount of retinol in the product is beyond tiny. It’s 0.0004%. 0.0004%. No, I did not accidentally add an extra zero or two.
Literally the only reason to even list retinol in the ingredients list is for marketing purposes. Retinol is a well known and proven anti-aging ingredient, therefore throw the tiniest pinch of retinol into the product and put it in the middle of the list, why not?
The other distressing revelation that the retinol % uncovers is just how miniscule the amounts of all those many, many extracts and ferments really are in the Longer Name Ampoule. Since ingredients at a concentration of 1% or less can be listed in any order, as long as they’re listed after the ingredients that are present in quantities of more than 1%, that means that every single ingredient following retinol in the Longer Name Ampoule ingredients list is included only in the tiniest quantities: fractions of a single percent. And who knows how many ingredients listed before retinol also belong to the 1%-or-less club?
I originally found the extremely long list of extracts and ferments and anti-aging ingredients in the Longer Name Ampoule extremely appealing. It seemed to have everything that a maturing complexion could need. When I look at it now, what I see is a product that most likely doesn’t have anywhere near enough of anything.
I’d be willing to overlook some questionable formulation and ingredient listing practices if Longer Name Ampoule’s performance and results were more impressive, but sadly, that isn’t the case. I used a full bottle of the original Long Name Ampoule and then immediately started on my bottle of Longer Name Ampoule, which I just finished. I don’t see any significant change that I can attribute to the product. When I first started using it, I did think my eye area was getting smoother, but I realized not too long ago that that effect was just the result of good hydration. There are about 1,000,000 other hydrating serums in the Korean market, 900,000 of them available at much lower prices. At the end of every day, or on very dry days, my eye area (where testing involved using Long Name Ampoule and eye cream, no other actives or products) looked the same as it had in the pre-Long Name Ampoule days. The product may well be a solid preventative ampoule, but I’m after more than just prevention.
So would I repurchase Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Longer Name Borabit Ampoule? No. It was an all-around disappointment.
Whew! Now that’s what they call a megapost. What products have you finished off lately? Do you plan to repurchase them or are you ready to move on to different things?