Laneige bills Power Essential Skin Toner Normal/Dry as a softening toner that allows skin to maintain ideal moisture levels; in reality, however, it has the exact opposite effect on skin. The high amount of alcohol present can induce free-radical damage, destroy elastin, impair skin's ability to heal, and increase inflammation, all of which add up to disaster for your skin!
The potential risk to skin is even greater because of the inclusion of potentially irritating fragrance, which can speed up the signs of aging via inflammation (see More Info). Sure, the formula boasts a few beneficial ingredients as well, but they don't even come close to making up for the overall damaging effect this toner could have. More to the point, the clear packaging allows the beneficial light-sensitive ingredients, such as the antioxidants, to break down.
As for the claim about this whisking away dead skin cells, there's nothing in the formula that functions as an exfoliant, so you can toss that hope to the side as well.
In the end, this toner leaves dry skin (or any skin type for that matter) worse off—not better. For truly replenishing options, see our list of Best Toners instead.
A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012; and Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Purifying and softening refiner. Optimal mineral water. Supplies and retains ideal moisture level. Whisks away dead skin cells. Protects and promotes clear, transparent skin.
Water, Glycereth-26, Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Glycerin, Beta-Glucan, Betaine, DL-Panthenol, Algae Extract, Glycogen, Lactobacillus/Water Hyacinth Ferment, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Royal Jelly Extract, Glutamic Acid, Lysine HCl, Serine, Citrulline, Alanine, Arginine, Threonine, Histidine HCl, Protease, Magnesium Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, PCA, Mannitol, Sucrose, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Phenyl Trimethicone, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Propanediol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance.
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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