So it looks like I won’t be getting much sleep tonight. Sucks for Near Future Me, but guess what? The peace and quiet (and the foreboding drone of Forensic Files in the background) provide the perfect conditions for me to finally open up and share my feelings about my new favorite brand, Tosowoong, and some of the really impressive Tosowoong products I’ve added to my routine.
My absolute favorite aspect of the K-beauty lifestyle is the process of discovery. It feels amazing to stumble across a little-known, little-hyped brand and find gem after gem after gem to love. It feels even more amazing when that brand’s gems can be had for very reasonable prices. Affordable products means more products for me!
I’m currently on a quest to hunt down the Tosowoong equivalent of COSRX’s wonderful Lee Hye Young. Even though I haven’t yet found someone to give me real color about the brand, however, I’ve picked up some information about the brand here and there during my endless romps through Tosowoong’s product portfolio.
Launched in 2004, Tosowoong is a Korean cosmetics brand that emphasizes proven, KFDA-certified “functional” ingredients (like niacinamide and adenosine) in relatively simple formulations. They offer a broad selection of products, ranging from standard skincare items like cleansers, toners, essences, serums, moisturizers, and masks to cleansing tools and accessories. Tosowoong also makes makeup. I’ve got a couple of eyeliners and an eyebrow “tattoo” pen on the way. But those aren’t here yet (sigh). Today’s post is all about the skincare!
Tosowoong’s packaging isn’t always the prettiest, and their product marketing materials can be a little strange and more than a little unnerving. None of that detracts from the brand even a bit in my eyes, because my skin absolutely adores their products.
I’ll tackle the products I have in the order in which I received them, more or less.
Tosowoong sheet masks
Much like Rick and Evie’s discovery of the mummified but all-too-undead Imhotep, my discovery of Tosowoong was entirely accidental. I was at the height of my propolis craze and searching Wishtrend for propolis sheet masks to round out an order of C21.5 vitamin C serum, which only Wishtrend is authorized to carry. The listing for 5+2 free (so, 7) Pure Propolis sheet masks caught my eye. Propolis extract, niacinamide, adenosine, and a full 23g of essence where most sheet masks only provide 20? Sold.
I got the Pure Propolis masks. I tried the Pure Propolis masks. I fell hard for the Pure Propolis masks. They’re everything a good sheet mask should be: intensely hydrating, intensely plumping, and calming enough to produce an instant brightening effect on skin. For some reason, they’re quite sloppily folded in the mask packets, but who cares? They’re great. I got through my first batch of 7 Pure Propolis masks in what seemed like no time at all, hauled another set, and, a few weeks later, picked up a pack of Pure Deep Sea Water as well.
If you’ve been following my transition from All Things Propolis to All Things from the Sea, then you’re probably not surprised that I’d spring for the Pure Deep Sea Water masks next. Their effects are similar to those of the Pure Propolis, but the Pure Deep Sea Water masks feel simultaneously lighter and more hydrating, making them almost the perfect sheet masks for summer. If Tosowoong would switch from their current sturdy mask sheets to thinner and clingier cotton or silk sheets, they’d be everything I dream about in my feverish sheet mask dreams.
I’m almost through with my first full ten-mask box of the Pure Deep Sea Water and have another set to go on the mail carrier’s truck this week. Of course I have more Pure Propolis on the way as well. Winner!
First Impressions: Tosowoong Propolis and Syn-Ake Natural Pure Essences
The next Tosowoong product I tried out was the Propolis Natural Pure Essence, followed shortly afterwards by their Syn-Ake Natural Pure Essence.
Summertime has given me a new appreciation for the gel-type essence. No matter what the weather’s like, my skin always craves hydration, and in the summertime, I vastly prefer that hydration to come in a light, watery, fast-absorbing form. Texturally, these essences deliver. They sink in within seconds of application and suffuse my skin cells with a refreshing burst of hydration and some really excellent ingredients, among them ferments, antioxidant-rich berry extracts, niacinamide, adenosine, and, of course, each essence’s featured ingredient.
One interesting thing I’ve noticed about Tosowoong’s vast array of essences is how similar they are. It looks like they take a base essence (key ingredients include their antioxidant-packed “V-Berry Complex,” niacinamide, Rh-oligopeptide-1 a.k.a. EGF, sodium hyaluronate, and adenosine) and add the featured essence ingredient, with few other changes. And you know what? That works for me. My skin drinks these essences right up. I usually chose one for use in the morning–propolis if I’m in need of soothing or trouble care, syn-ake otherwise for general anti-aging–and layer both at night. While it’s still a little too early to determine whether they’ll have significant effects on my skin, it isn’t too early to declare that they’re a fantastically reliable source of hydration and antioxidants, two things I’m determined to pump into my face at every opportunity. Super.
First Impressions: Tosowoong Timeshift Serum and Timeshift Emulsion
After my incredible disappointment in Missha’s Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule, I was on the hunt for a new anti-aging serum. You can probably see where this is going. I took a look at the ingredients for the Tosowoong Timeshift Serum and decided I had to try it out.
The Timeshift Serum reminds me strongly of the DD’ell Extra Vitalizing Serum: copious amounts of ferments, as well as seaweed extract, niacinamide (Tosowoong loves niacinamide, which I find endearing), adenosine (see previous), and antioxidant after antioxidant after antioxidant. Except the Timeshift Serum is cheaper and easier to acquire.
It was a good call. As with the essences, it’s still early days for me with the Timeshift Serum, but I’m already noticing some visible firming in certain areas of my face that have been the first to lose elasticity. The 30ml bottle of this doesn’t last long, so I’ve already got a backup on the way, and I’m definitely encouraged enough to keep using this instead of looking for another wrinkle fighter. Marvelous!
As the weather got hotter, I got more and more interested in finding a really great emulsion. You know where this is going. I picked up the Timeshift Emulsion because I already liked the Timeshift Serum. So far, I’m very happy with my choice. The Timeshift Emulsion is perfect for normal summer days, when my skin needs a good dose of moisture but my sweat glands don’t appreciate a heavy layer of anything. It sinks in quickly and leaves my skin velvety soft–and, unlike the serum, there’s plenty of this product to go around. Splendid!
Tosowoong Don’t Worry Mist and Propolis Natural Pure Mist
Korean facial mists are another thing that this summer has taught me to appreciate. I don’t have too much to say about these mists besides that their price is right and they feel wonderful spritzed over my face on hot, dry days, but I do use them for different purposes.
Tosowoong advertises the Don’t Worry Mist as a dust-cut product that creates a barrier between your skin and the elements, in particular the dust, dirt, and pollution that our faces face whenever we venture outside. These days, I spray this mist onto my BB cushion puffs to get some of that protection patted directly onto my skin. I also do a couple of spritzes right after I finish putting on makeup and, if I’m out for a particularly long stretch, take it with me to re-mist while on the go. It’s a little on the perfumey side, but the fragrance dissipates quickly, and the spray feels like turning the sprinklers on over a parched lawn. Awesome.
The Tosowoong Propolis Natural Pure Mist has a very distinctive yeasty, beer-y smell thanks to all the ferments it contains. I’m not the biggest fan of that smell, so this isn’t a mist that I’d carry around with me or enjoy spraying on myself all day. I am a big fan of the ingredients in this mist, however, so I use it during my skincare routines on days when I need lots of hydration but the weather prevents me from applying lots of heavy layers. I spray it on in between each step and, if I’m using a sheet mask, right before putting the sheet mask on, too. Dependable.
First Impressions: Tosowoong Super Aqua Cooling Gel
I’ve known for a while that the final missing piece of my final-step moisturizer collection would be a hydrating gel. I’ve got plenty of occlusive creams and I’m all set on emulsions, but there are days out here where the coastal air hangs so damp and heavy and warm that anything richer than a refreshing moisturizing gel would be unbearable.
God, just looking at the jar makes me feel a little cooler. This dense, smooth, clear blue gel with its sea water, glacier water, and seaweed extract goes on as light as silk and absorbs in a snap, leaving nothing behind but a faint tackiness that shows a film has been formed to hold all the hydration in. It plays wonderfully well with my sunscreen and makeup and it really does feel cool (probably because of the alcohol, but I’ve noticed no drying or other ill effects from the alcohol, so to my face I say, “Drink up!”). Applying this on a hot and muggy morning or evening is like dunking my face straight into a crystalline blue pool. Incredible!
First Impressions: Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash
And finally, we come to the most recent and most interesting addition to my now Tosowoong-heavy routine: the Enzyme Powder Wash.
I’ve never paid that much attention to enzyme cleansers before. I’ve been satisfied with my staid but mild and effective Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam for ages. But Snow White and the Asian Pear’s recent review of Su:m37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash got me really intrigued by the powder wash concept. When I noticed that Tosowoong makes a version and that that version has a pH of the ideal 5.5, I snapped it right up.
This cleanser is friggin’ cool. Inside that bottle you’ll find a coarse white powder, the grains and fragrance reminiscent of powdered laundry detergent (if that weirds you out, just remember: pH 5.5). Pour a bit into your hand, add water, and rub your hands together as you would with any foaming cleanser, and you’ll create a nice soft lather. Use a bit less water for an instant exfoliating facial cleanse. Sprinkle some onto a wet konjac sponge and squish the sponge a few times, and a mountain of foam will emerge.
This cleanser is a fantastic cleanser. It gets my skin feeling softer and cleaner than the Hada Labo, but is equally as mild. Even when I don’t put any products on my face right after cleansing, my skin doesn’t feel at all dry, tight, or stripped. Its gentle enzyme exfoliating action has been enough to uncover and dislodge a whole mess of grits already. As a final bonus, the fact that it’s a dry product means the Enzyme Powder Wash is ideal for traveling. No need to decant and Baggie this one, and now I’ve got room to bring a bit more skincare than the TSA would otherwise allow. Fuggin’ RAD.
In conclusion, my experiences so far have shown me that Tosowoong products are extremely compatible with both my skin and my wallet. I haven’t met a Tosowoong product I don’t like and I’m excited to continue getting to know the brand.
As far as I can tell, the online store with the best selection and prices for Tosowoong products is RoseRoseShop. Check those prices out and tell me you’re not impressed.
Have you used any Tosowoong skincare products?