Product Review

By Zsarlene B. Chua

BECAUSE of the sweltering heat over the past few months, I, who typically include seven to 10 steps in my daily skincare routine, made it my mission to create a simpler routine that is lightweight, that could withstand the heat and yet give me everything my skin needs.

While I do like trying out new skincare products, I generally am very careful when picking products because I have sensitive and dry skin which means a lot of products do cause reactions and breakouts so I stick to brands I know usually work for me — that is why I was so excited when Kiehl’s launched its Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream (P2,650 for 50 ml or P1,750 for 28ml).

The serum-infused water cream is the newest addition to the American skincare brand’s Calendula line which is formulated for people with sensitive skin and/or oily skin.

“Fans of the Calendula line have always asked for a cream product because they already have the basics: a foaming cleanser, a toner, and a mask,” Joan Hwang, senior product manager for Kiehl’s Philippines, told BusinessWorld during the launch at the tail-end of April at the Gallery by Chele restaurant in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

The addition of the cream — which functions as both serum and moisturizer in one — completes the Calendula routine, Ms. Hwang explained.

This writer tested the product for almost a full month and added it to my routine (which includes the aforementioned Calendula Toner and the brand’s Daily Reviving Concentrate and Midnight Recovery Concentrate) expecting a cream that would be both lightweight, soothing, and moisturizing all at once. And it does its job perfectly at night — though I do tend to go lighter on applying it during daytime because I feel that it will melt from the heat.

As with most Kiehl’s products, a little goes a long way. It’s texture is a bit reminiscent of the Avene Hydrance Optimale Cream in Gel (P2,200 for 50ml) though the Calendula gel feels a bit more full-bodied and does a better job in hydrating my skin.

Oh, and it smells like a Chupa Chups chocolate lollipop.

Do I like it? Yes, but I don’t think I love it just yet because I am still hesitant over parting ways with my beloved Hortaleza MD Perfecting Cream (P700 for 30ml) which has been my go-to day/night cream for almost 10 years now.

A week after I was given the Calendula gel, I purchased the It’s Skin Power 10 Formula GF Effector (P390 for 30ml) from Althea Korea, a Korean online beauty store. The essence is said to include ginkgo biloba leaf water and licorice extract to provide “hydrating, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging” properties while also “brightening the skin” and restoring the balance of the skin’s “oil-to-moisture” levels, according to the product description on the website.

Those are magic words in my book as I made it a point to start using anti-aging products now that I’ve turned 25.

The essence is so watery-light that at first I used a whole dropper’s worth all over my face twice daily because three drops weren’t cutting it as it gets absorbed really fast.

But after a week, I started using less of the product because, one, I realized how wasteful it is and how much money I’ll have to spend if I use too much product; and, two, it feels like my skin has adjusted and is hydrated enough to only need the usual three drops.

Do I like it? I do, but I do feel I need to use it for a longer period in order to ascertain whether it will work its magic and remove all the fine lines I accumulated because I sleep late on most days.

Does it work? It did hydrate my skin and it did calm a few breakouts (not all).

Is it worth a try? Yes, because it is pretty affordable and is a good introduction to the wonderful world of skincare essences — It’s Skin has a dozen or so essences with different formulations created for different skin concerns.

Finally, the last thing I tried in the past few weeks is the Althea Milk Peel Cream Mask (P490 for 50ml) which I also purchased from Althea Korea. It is said to have both AHA and BHA extracts which gently exfoliate the skin. It also has casein protein from milk “to revitalize and moisturize the skin,” according to the description on the website.

But the biggest selling point of the product is the novelty: it is a clay mask that turns into a whipped cream mask and finally a bubble mask.

Honestly, I bought it because of the novelty and because I’ve been searching for a good exfoliator that won’t irritate my skin for about two years now. I used to use apricot scrubs, then strawberry scrubs, and recently brown sugar scrubs, but never chemical exfoliants like AHA and BHA so I bit the bullet and bought it.

I previously bought a clay mask from L’Oreal because I thought my skin would benefit from its pore-clearing properties but it only irritated my skin and left my skin tight and dry despite buying the hydrating variant, so I don’t have the best experience when it comes to clay masks, but I was incredibly hopeful this would work for me.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t. Like my previous experience, it left my skin irritated and so dry that I needed several swipes of toner just to restore my skin’s moisture balance.

But, hey, I had fun applying it, which should count for something.

While there’s a bit of a learning curve during application. You pump out (which wasn’t easy) a small dollop of the mask before lathering it on your face, and it quickly turns into cream upon application and if you let it sit on your face for a minute (or less), you get a tingly sensation as bubbles form. After popping the bubbles by once again lathering your face, the fun ends and you have to wash your skin and run to your toner because it does not leave your face hydrated.

But my skin is dry so those folks with oilier skin might love this product.

Do I regret buying it? Yes. And so the search for a good chemical exfoliant continues.