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New Korean Trend, “Cica”

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I don't think it's a very pleasant time of the year for people who have sensitive skin. The weather is getting dry, and windburn is a real thing. On, most of the product descriptions are written by me, and I constantly use sentences like “please test this before purchasing, if you have sensitive skin”, because some people are sensitive to extremely large range of ingredients. Certainly, there are allerges known to be irritating for the majority of the people, but the causes of irritation come from countless factors. My dear friend Jessica, (I won’t disclose her last name for her privacy, lol) is allergic to any marine extracts including caviar extract; one of my team member Rachel (she writes good reviews, too!!!!) is allergic to oregano so she cannot enjoy the pizza with ease nor use aloe soothing balm products which usually contains oregano extract.


If it is an allergy issue, you can easily avoid it by carefully reading the ingredients list. However, when it comes to non-allergic irritation, it is extremely difficult to get away from it before you actually try the product on your skin. The bigger problem is that most of the cosmetic chemical labeling is a confusing mixture of IUPAC and common names, so it is really hard to read if you did not major in Science. So, the only way to find a cause of irritation is to compare the ingredients of the product that you use without any issues to the products that irritates your skin. I know it can be a quite long and inconvenient process, but your skin will thank you in the end:). EWG skip deep and CosDNA are great resources to check out the ingredients, and it is which I often refer.

To deal with frequent irritation, many companies add various soothing ingredients in their formula. Aloe vera leaf juice, calendula extract, or algae extract, and portulaca oleracea extract are very common soothing ingredients that are often added in the formula. Panthenol or Ceramide is often formulated for skin repairing, especially if the product is cream or other type of moisturizer. For acne induced breakout and irritation, teatree is a standard prescription and nowadays more and more companies use centella asiatica because of its excellent soothing and anti-inflammatory property. (Personally, I think centella asiatica shows the most dramatic improvement out of all plant ingredients with madecassoside.

The keyword for 2017 F/W is "cica.” It is originated from the uncommon word “cicatrisation,” which means the wound closing phenomenon by fibrous tissue contraction. So, it means wound healing and the exact definition is slightly different from the actual function of the products, but generally they all refer to skin repairing and protecting products for irritated and dry skin. So I have prepared an article on the new Korean products that are recently launched.

1. The Face Shop – Dr. Belmeur Line : Well...

The Face Shop - Dr. Belmeur

The Face Shop came out with a sensitive skincare line – Dr. Belmeur made with isotonic concentration of salt (8~9%) in the toner and the cream. They used Cyclopentasiloxane in the cream as a second ingredient, and bis-PEG methylethyl dimethyl silane in the toner as a fourth ingredient. It seems really weird to me because they are not the most soft ingredients and they could substitute them with other ingredients without compromising texture. Cyclopentasiloxane is not particularly irritating but there is an issue with Bioaccumulation and bis-PEG methylethyl dimethyl silane that have 1,4 dioxane contamination issue. Well, we do have some products with those ingredients and it's common that companies use EWG 3 grade ingredients but it’s 2017 now. The ingredients are improving and Dr. Belmeur is a sensitive care line. Why not just formulate the ingredients with EWG green only if you do not have to compromise the texture?

2. Etude House – Etude House’s 3rd Skincare Hit Soon Jung: Surprisingly Sophisticated

Etude House- Soon Jung

Etude House is definitely a makeup-focused brand. However, they do have several decent skincare lines, such as Moistfull Collagen and Wonder Pore. They've been pretty steady-sellers from the past few years. This year, Etude House made a third hit with their new Soon Jung line. The new line is a full skincare line with cleanser, toner, cica balm, emulsion, and cream. Most of the products are made with very clean, Skip Deep Green grade ingredients and decent mixture of soothing and repairing ingredients such as panthenolmadecassoside and squalene. The ingredients are very clean; the cleanser and toner have pH of 5.5 to 6.5, falls into weakly acidic range. Honestly, if you have sensitive skin and looking for a savior for your skin, Soon Jung line is what you're looking for. It’s only the half price of Dr. Belmeur and the formulation is just so much more sophisticated.

3. Innisfree, Bija Cia line: Classic

Innisfree- Bija Cica

I think Innisfree’s Truecare Cica Balm was an origin of this cica trend. Truecare Cica Balm contains all 4 kinds of TECA(titrated extract of centella Asiatica). As many of you already know, it is a good ingredient for acne and wound healing. I wrote about the Truecare Cica Balm in the new product news about a year ago, and I also wrote about Truecare Cica Balm’s “love it or hate it” customer responses I assume it is due to the Retinol and Albutin contents in the Truecare Balm. I can see why Innisfree formulated ingredients that I mentioned above, because Retinol may help with acne and albutin is used to reduce redness but Retinol is not a super soothing ingredient nor is Albutin, especially around the acne scar. So if your skin can tolerate them, you can see fast result and if not, your skin may break out. So, Innisfree introduced another line, Bija Cica Balm without Retinol and Albutin. The formula is generally clean but the balm contains Cyclopentasiloxane. So if this concerns you, I advise you to try Bija Cia Gel. Bija line is a full skincare line, but theb toner and cleanser is made for acne care rather than for sensitive skin and repairing and the ingredients are not that convincing (especially the toner) so I won’t discuss any further.

4. IOPE: Derma Repair Line – Decent Product from Cosmetic Giant

IOPE- Derma Repair

Undeniably, Amore Pacific is a big daddy in Korean cosmetic industry. They have more than 20 cosmetic brands under its umbrella and almost all of them are main stream brands – Sulwhasoo, Laneige, Mamonde, Innisfree and Hanyul. IOPE is a more science focused brand, got their fame from the 20 years best-selling anti-wrinkle eye cream. So, it was surprising that IOPE joined this Cica trend because it’s just not IOPE’s style nor the market they strive for. Anyhow, the Derma Repair Line is not far from the standard formula – Panthenol and Madecassoside. The ingredient is very clean and interestingly it contains shea butter and squalene, so this will be a good “cica” product for dry skin. They use cold temperature extracted Hinoki Cypress as signature ingredient. Love it. The Derma Repair Skin Water and BB cream from the same line that has very clean and nicely formulated ingredients as well. If you have dry skin, and if you are an extremely ingredient conscious person, IOPE is a definitely the best out of all in this article.

5. Dr. Jart – The Famous Green Bottle – Cicapair

Dr. Jart Cicapair

If you live in America, Dr. Jart’s Cicapair is probably the most approachable one, since it is sold at SephoraDr. Jart makes decent products and many would agree with me. Cicapair is not an exception from this rave. It has all the standard formula of Cica product – Panthenol, Centella Asiatica and all 4 TECAs. Interestingly, they added meristematic cell culture of Centella Asiatica as well (not sure what this fancy ingredient can do on the skin in ppm level, though.) For Cicapair Cream, the ingredient is quite clean and added good variety of active ingredients such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C (SAP) but I am not sure what these ingredients do in the seemingly low concentration. It DOES contain phenoxyethanol so be aware of it if it concerns you. They have added lots of essential oils including grapefruit peel oil and Lemon peel oil (I honestly don’t know why) and herb extracts in low concentration. Overall, it is a really well-made cream as well. Cicpair Serum and Masks have similar ingredient formula to Cicapair Cream, but both contain dimethicone. I don't think it's a bad idea to add silicone based moisturizer on “Cica” products since it may protect the irritated skin but definitely it’s not an optimal ingredient for the people who have acne-prone skin.

6. A’pieu – Cost Performance Only?

A'pieu- Madecassoside

A’pieu is one of my favorite brand overall, because they always reflect the customers' needs and feedbacks on the new products. Madecassoside line is centella asiatica based (more than 40% in most of the products.) The famous Madecassoside cream also keeps the standard Cica formula, panthenol, centella asiatica extract and madecassoside. Again, I have an issue with Cyclopentasiloxane, since it is third ingredient after Centella leaf water. As I explained in the
Face Shop’s Dr. Belmeur series, it’s not a super safe ingredient. Also citrus peel oil (grape fruit & lemon fruit) does not seem very necessary for the formula. Chlopenesin & Phenoxyethanol is a little concerning as well. Overall it’s a good cream witha a very reasonable price, but the ingredient is nothing like many other A’pieu's praiseworthy products. The Madecassoside Cica Gel Cream is definitely an improved product. 70% centella asiatica leaf water, high niacinamide contents and panthenol. A’pieu substituted Cyclopentasiloxane with Cyclomethicone (it doesn’t mean it is completely worry-free though) and they removed chlophenesin and phenoxyethanol from the ingredient list. Good job, A’pieu.

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