Laneige dubs Multi Cleanser for All Skin a makeup remover + gentle exfoliant infused with papaya, but it's anything but gentle on skin. Of chief concern is the potentially irritating cleansing mix, compounded by fragrance.
The mixture of fatty acids (stearic, myristic, and lauric), combined with the alkaline potassium hydroxide, has the potential to irritate skin—especially if you get this into the eye area. That, combined with fragrance, makes this a cleanser best to be avoided, not only by those who have sensitive skin, but also by those with any skin type!
By the way, the papaya enzyme (listed as papain) that Laneige claims can sweep away dead skin cells isn't likely to remain stable in this formula, plus it can lead to skin irritation and an allergic response for those with latex sensitivities, as papaya is a natural source of latex (Annals of Allergy, 1995). More to the point, there isn't any research demonstrating its ability to work in the same beneficial manner as leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliants. Likewise, the micro-cellular beads aren't going to be as effective at exfoliating skin as an AHA or BHA.
For effective, yet gentle, cleansing options, see our Best Cleansers list.
Strengths: SPF-rated products provide broad-spectrum sun protection; utilization of some intriguing melanin-inhibiting ingredients.
Weaknesses: Highly fragranced formulas put skin at risk of irritation; use of see-through bottles and jar packaging weakens the potency of the beneficial ingredients; claims for “mineral water” don’t stand up to the research; despite a higher-than-average drugstore price point, Laneige products aren’t superior to their competitors.
Laneige is a South Korean brand owned by high-end cosmetics company, AmorePacific. Launched in 1994, the story behind this brand centers around mineral water—which they tend to label “Optimal Mineral Water”—harvested from the snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas. They allegedly spent 20 years perfecting its scientifically engineered properties for skin and, according to Laneige, this “superior water” is the secret to hydrating, protecting, and revitalizing skin.
Here’s what we really know: All water that’s included in cosmetics, regardless of the source, must go through a rigorous purification process, and there isn’t any research showing that water from any one source is better for skin than water from any other source. More to the point, repairing and hydrating skin is not as simple as adding water. Even Laneige’s highly touted mineral water won’t retain moisture in skin unless the outer barrier is reinforced with ingredients like antioxidants, emollients, and skin-repairing ingredients—all of which are required or the water just evaporates. So, does Laneige deliver in that regard? Yes and no.
The problem is that their products tend to include beneficial ingredients right alongside potentially irritating ingredients (including fragrance), which detracts from what the good ingredients would otherwise be able to do for skin. In some cases, the jar or clear bottle packaging further impedes the potency and stability of the formula because many of the superstar ingredients break down in the presence of air and/or light.
As far as Laneige makeup goes, at the time of this review they sell only a BB cream in the United States, but it is also plagued by the inclusion of potentially irritating ingredients.
In the end, despite their highly touted Korean brand prestige and steeper-than-average mass-market price point (the line is sold at Target stores in the United States), Laneige ends up being more about marketing fluff than what’s actually good for skin. Beyond the mineral water, Laneige products would have merit for their anti-aging prowess, but their inclusion of potential irritants and the use of packaging that compromises the stability of the beneficial ingredients renders the products generally unworthy of consideration.
For more information about Laneige, visit www.us.laneige.com.
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