Hello there! It's been a while, again...I've been really angry with myself for being unable to update the blog more frequentl...

Korean Skincare Reviews: MISSHA SUPER AQUA MARINE STEM CELL SPECIAL SET III

Monday, April 21, 2014 Catherina F. 0 Comments

     Hello there! It's been a while, again...I've been really angry with myself for being unable to update the blog more frequently, however, my life has been choke-full of errands to run, assignments to submit and children (not mine) to babysit. I've started a 'blogging calendar' of sorts, in order to be more punctual and keep up with the schedule I planned initially, hopefully it'll work out!

     As an added bonus to my busy schedule, my skin has been out of shape recently. Back in December I developed this weird rash around my mouth, which has never happened to me before (I did some research on it, seems like it's a side effect of using a steroid cream for my psoriasis). Aside from that, the weather here in Sweden has been ridiculously unstable - one day its sunny and warm, the next day wind is tearing off the roofs with rain whipping you in the face. Needless to say, my already sensitive skin turned even worse and its taken me about 3 months of very steady regimen to get it back to its *somewhat* healthy state.

     One of the main things that helped me in achieving this is the Super Aqua Marine Stem Cell range, which I've been using religiously day and night for the past two months. That being said, I'm now completely prepared to give you an honest and in-depth review of the products I've tried and what they've achieved. 

Read about it after the jump!



     Like I've mentioned countless times, I've been using exlusively Korean/Japanese skincare products for the past 6 years. And while there are many products that I love and keep repurchasing, I was never one of the people to get an entire 'set' - toner, emulsion, cream - from the same line. I've always been quite into creating my own lineup of products, based on their function rather than using a single line for everything.

     That's why when last summer, back in Korea, I tried the Marine Stem Cell range from Missha, I was hesitant to purchase all the items I enjoyed. Missha, just like most Korean brands, are very generous with samples - the more you spend, the more free goodies you'll get! At the time they were promoting the re-release of the range, thus I got about 8 small bottles of the toner and emulsion to try! It lasted about 2-3 months, if not more!

     The whole concept captured my attention, and I was pleasantly surprised at how effective the two products were (even when used separately). Then one weekend, back in autumn, I was traveling with my family for a few days, which meant I needed to pack really lightly. What the heck, I thought, and instead of taking my previously 'arranged' lineup, I just grabbed two sample bottles of toner and emulsion, plus a sample sachet of the cream, praying my skin doesn't freak out at the sudden change.

    And gosh golly, did my skin love the combination of all three products! It was a pleasant discovery, but also a taunting one - now that I was away from Korea, I wasn't keen on trying to hunt down these items. Thankfully a dear friend of mine, who is my 'designated shopper' for when I'm not in Korea, was kind enough to pick up the Special Set when it was on sale for 50% off! Finally, in January, I had it in my hands and decided to put it to the test immediately. For the next two months, with the exception of eye cream and serum, I used only this line.

The amount used up you see here is about 3 months of daily use!
Here's my overall impression:
     I use the Active Toner, Control Emulsion and Lucent Defending Cream in the following order:
  • after cleansing my face and patting it dry, I dispense and distribute a dime-sized amount of the toner onto my palms and apply it to my face and neck in gentle, patting motions until it is more or less absorbed.
  • following that, I distribute 2 pumps of the emulsion onto my palms and once again apply it to my face and neck in patting motions.
  • finally, after applying toner, emulsion (and after that my eye cream) I put pea-sized dots of the cream on my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin and proceed to massage it into the skin. Gently pat to fully absorb and I'm done!
     This is the order you are suggested using by Missha, so who am I to defy them *all hail Missha*! Kidding aside, I find that applying the products RIGHT after cleansing my face helps with absorption and my skin seems 'happier' than if I'd apply it a couple minutes after cleansing.

Toner - Emulsion - Cream

     The toner has a very curious consistency - not a gel, not a liquid, but something in between, not runny in the slightest though (as you can see). It's actually very pleasant to apply and has cooling properties. The gel-like texture melts immediately when applied to the face, and absorbs really quickly. It has a soft, fresh scent (I would say somewhat green tea-seaside inspired, if you get what I mean), but it doesn't linger at all after application.

     The emulsion has a slightly thinner, lotion-like consistency. 2 pumps is enough to cover my face and neck. It spreads nicely, and absorbs quickly, without leaving a sticky feeling behind. Just like the toner, it has a faint, but not irritating, fresh scent.

     Finally, the 'lucent defending cream'. It's also somewhere between a gel and a light cream in consistency and has a pleasant slip to it during application. Also, as you can see in the picture, it's got a slight mint tint to it, and it thicker than the other too products. I like to massage my face when I apply this, and it doesn't feel like I'm tugging on my skin *win*. It's decently moisturizing and leaves my skin feeling plump and 'bouncy', however, I sometimes would use a heavier cream at night, if my skin was particularly dry. That being said, I find it perfect for daytime use, especially now that the weather is warming up!

     Now for a more in-depth look at the set as a whole. I truly feel like it makes a world of difference in terms of the appearance of my skin. The rash around my mouth has almost vanished completely, and I don't get random breakouts anymore (not even when Lady Nature visited!). My skin feels smoother and more supple, even throughout the day, and oiliness has also reduced (I have relatively dry skin, but still can get oily during the day). Also, I have noticed that my skin became brighter, and the natural redness I have in my face has been reduced significantly. Before including this line in my skin care routine I would get a lobster-red face after stepping out of the shower, but now, although I still get flushed, my skin tone is much more even. Even the psoriasis spots I have near the hairline have been behaving well!
     I've also checked the ingredients thoroughly, and aside from fragrance (last on the list) and a couple emulsifiers that have slight potential to be irritating, all the products are full of goodness (for example, you'll find it has niacinamide, which is also known as vitamin B3, that is all kinds of beneficial for your skin). There's nothing alarming and they are paraben-free.

     Bottom line - while I still have a variety of products I enjoy using, the Marine Stem Cell line has become a staple in my regimen. I will definitely repurchase the items (when I will run out, by the looks of it, a few months later, if not next year)! For now, I'm eyeing the serum that goes with this line, to see if it would make a difference in the overall performance.


Name: Missha Super Aqua Marine Stem Cell Special Set II (3 full-size items+samples)
  • Missha Super Aqua Marine Stem Cell Active Toner 
  • Missha Super Aqua Marine Stem Cell Control Emulsion
  • Missha Super Aqua Marine Stem Cell Lucent Defending Cream
Price:  
  • The set - 55,400KRW in Korea, 64,99$on Ebay, 69$ at misshaus.com 
Single items:
  • Active Toner - 17,800KRW in Korea, 22,48$ on Ebay, 22$ at misshaus.com
  • Control Emulsion - 17,800KRW in Korea, 22,48$ on Ebay, 22$ at misshaus.com
  • Lucent Defending Cream - 19,800KRW in Korea, 21,98$ on Ebay, 26$ at misshaus.com
Amount: 
  • Toner - 150ml
  • Emulsion - 130ml
  • Cream - 50ml
Samples:
  • Toner - 30ml
  • Emulsion - 30ml
  • Cream - 10ml
Packaging: All three full-size items are housed in luxurious, green-tinted glass containers, emulsion comes with a pump. The sample toner&emulsion comes in plastic bottles, while the cream is in a plastic tube. The entire set comes in a heavy-duty cardboard box, green with a gradient effect.
Performance: 
  • Active Toner - 10/10 
  • Control Emulsion - 10/10
  • Lucent Defending Cream - 9/10
Pros:
  • moisturizing
  • actually improves skin condition over time
  • does not irritate psoriasis-affected skin
  • does not trigger breakouts
  • reduces oiliness
  • reduces redness/evens out skin tone
  • brightening
  • easily absorbed
  • pleasant, soft scent that does not linger after application
  • beautiful, luxurious packaging
  • excellent ingredients
  • a little goes a long way
  • very good amount of product+decently sized samples
Cons:
  • Packaging of the toner - a pump would be great, because trying to shake out the gel our of a glass bottle, especially with moist hands, screams *danger* to me!
  • The cream is not the most moisturizing out there, for people with dry skin I'd say add an extra step in-between (serum for example) 
  • The packaging, while beautiful, is quite bulky and accident-prone
  • Availability/price
Ingredients (taken off Missha US website):
  • Toner: Water, Glyceryth-26, Butylene Glycol, Nyacinnamide, Hizikia Callus Culture Extract, Red Mangrove Callus Culture Extract, Chaetomorpha Solitaria Callus Culture Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Callus Culture Extract, Sea Water, Sea Grape Extract, Chlorella Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Spirulina Extract, Sargassum Pallidum Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hydrolyzed Algin, Glycerin, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acrylate/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, PPG-24-Buteth-26, Panthenol, Postassium Hydroxide, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Palmitoyl Proline, Sodium Hyaluronate, Octanediol, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxy Ethanol, Fragrance
  • Emulsion: Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Nyacinnamide, Dimethicone, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Shea Butter, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Cylcopentasiloxane, Hizikia Callus Culture Extract, Red Mangrove Callus Culture Extract, Chaetomorpha Solitaria Callus Culture Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Callus Extract, Sea Water, Sea Grape Extract, Chlorella Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Spirulina Extract, Sargassum Pallidum Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hydrolyzed Algin, Hydrogenated Botanical Oil, Cyclohexasiloxane, Polyglyceryl-3 Methyl Glucose Distearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrogenated Poly (C6-14 Olefin), Sorbitan Stearate, PEG-32, PEG-100 Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate, Arginine, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Palmitoyl Proline, Sodium Hyaluronate, Octanediol, Lecithin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Carbomar, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxy Ethanol, Fragrance
  • Cream: Water, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Butylene Glycol, Nyacinnamide, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Red Mangrove Callus Culture Extract, Hizikia Callus Culture Extract, Chaetomorpha Solitaria Callus Culture Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Callus Extract, Sea Water, Sea Grape Extract, Chlorella Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Spirulina Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Sargassum Pallidum Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Hydrolyzed Algin, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pentylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Trehalose, Glyceryl Stearate, Polysorbate 60, PEG-100 Stearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Tromethamine, Panthenol, Polyacrylate-13, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Palmitoyl Proline, Sodium Hyaluronate, Octandiol, Lecethin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carbomar, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxy Ethanol, Fragrance
Where to buy: 
  • In Korea - Missha stores/stands, missha.net, Gmarket
  • USA - misshaus.com, Gmarket, Ebay
  • Elsewhere in the world - Ebay, Gmarket
*I am not affiliated with any of the shops/distributors*

Verdict: An absolute love for me, and recommended to anyone on the lookout for an addition to their skincare that WORKS!

    So there it is - my two cents on the Super Aqua Marine Stem Cell set. Hope you found this review useful and enjoyable! Have your tried/are planning to try any of the products mentioned, or even the set itself? Leave a comment!
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XoXo,
               Specks

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