I believe that the IOPE Bio Essence is one of the first few “First Essence” from Korea. I remember when it first came out in Korea in 2012, everyone and their mother was gushing and raving over it. Some people had even commented that it is a dupe for the more expensive SKII Facial Treatment Essence. It had also won plenty of awards since it launched.
Below are just some of the awards it had gotten:
JUN 2013 – Best Brand of the First Half of 2013 (Asia Business Daily)
MAY 2013 – Korea’s No.1 First Essence – K-Beauty Awards, Ceci
APR 2013 – ‘Makeup Artists (Kim Beom-seok and Park Seon-mi)’ Favorite Pick (Kim Beom-seok and Park Seon-mi (Ceci)Korea’s No.1 First Essence – K-Beauty Awards (Ceci)No.1 Essence My Skin Desires Right Now (Ju-Bu Styler)Grand Prix – 2013 Joy + Brand (Financial News)
MAR 2013 – No.1 Anti-Aging Essence (Sure)
FEB 2013 – Aritaum’s No. 1 Seller – Sure Beauty Awards (Sure)No. 1 Anti-Aging Essence – Sure Beauty Awards (Sure)
DEC 2012 – No. 2 Moisturizer – Hottest Beauty Items of 2012 (Queen)
Honestly, I wasn’t too interested when I saw all those reviews buzzing around in 2012. That was because people had claimed that it works in a similar way to SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence and I am allergic to SKII. I’ll breakout in small red pimples all over my face whenever I use SKII. It took me 2 years later when my friend was about to go for her vacation in Korea and she asked me if I wanted anything. I thought to myself “What the heck! Just try one bottle first! Afterall you always regret the things which you didn’t do more than the things you do right?!”
Fast forward to today and this is already my 3rd bottle of the IOPE Bio Essence (I actually stopped using it for one year plus when I got pregnant and wasn’t sure if I could use it). Let’s take a look at its ingredients, shall we?
Faex, Nicotinamide, Glycerol, Bifida Ferment Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Glycereth-26, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxycellulose, Adenosine, Propylene Glycol, Aqua
How does the IOPE Bio Essence fare?
When I first used it back in 2014, I was quite taken with it. It brightened my skin and kept it quite clear within the first 2 weeks of use. In addition, it also helped to hydrate my skin and somehow also facilitate the absorption of subsequent products that I layer over it. What impressed me the most was that it seemed to suppress my hormonal pimples that usually came one week before or after my period. I wasn’t really surprised that its first few ingredients contain Nicotinamide aka Niacinamide aka Vitamin B3. Niacinamide is an excellent skin restoring ingredient that helps to lighten areas of pigmentation and its anti-inflammatory properties make it effective for treating acne. Even though it contains a form of yeast extract, it doesn’t have any smell and feels just like water. IOPE states that you need to use cotton pads (each bottle of IOPE Bio Essence actually comes with its own box of cotton pads) for maximum absorption of the product. However, sometimes I just pour some out onto my hands and just pat it into my skin. I don’t really find a big difference between the 2 methods. I usually use this product in the daytime skincare routine.
Here’s how I slot this product into my skincare routine:
Cleanser => Acid Toner => IOPE Bio Essence => Hydrating Serum(s) => Moisturiser mixed with a few drops of facial oil => Sunscreen
Now that I’ve been using it for some time, I guess the fact that it’s still in my arsenal of products that I rotate around speaks for itself. I wouldn’t call it a “superstar” amongst all my products but it’s definitely a hardworking team player.
Where can you find it?
IOPE is not available in beauty counters in Singapore. I usually stock up whenever friends are going for vacations in Korea and asked me if I want anything to be brought back. However, I believe you can buy it from Qoo10.sg online and I’ve seen it selling for around S$60++ per bottle (168ml sized).
I started my initial foray into skincare when I was 19 years old. Back then, I had just completed my “A” levels (which is equivalent to high school for the rest of the world besides the UK) and I was looking for a part-time job until my first university semester started in August. A friend told me that she had started working part-time for Cosmetics Brand “B” and asked me if I was interested to join. I immediately agreed as the thought of selling products at cosmetic counters meant that I could wear nice makeup and it certainly looked more glamorous than my previous part-time job of selling men’s shoes. I received brand training, product training as well as sales training while I was working with that brand. I did enjoy it a lot even though sometimes a sales job also meant that I had to deal with horrible nasty customers who thought that you were lowly-educated since you were “just a counter girl”.
Anyway, my point is that during that time (around 13 years ago) and even till now, people were mostly sold skincare products based on their skin types (dry, oily or combination) or their specific skin concerns such as anti-ageing, hydrating or whitening (which is NOT bleaching by the way.. it actually just means evening out of skin tone and minimising hyper-pigmentation). There wasn’t really this concept of skincare wardrobe which seems to be more prevalent these days. By “skincare wardrobe”, I mean that just like you wear clothes to either suit the weather on that day itself or your requirements (whether you need to go to work or go to the gym or the beach etc.), you could also customise your skincare based on how your skin feels that day.
For me personally, that means that even though I have combination skin, I use a variety of products meant for oily, dry and combination skin types. Just for cleansers alone, I use cleansing balms (usually meant for people with dry skin), cleansing gels or foams (usually for people with oily skin) and cleansing lotions. I rotate these products based on what my skin is feeling on that day itself or if I know that I’m going to face environments that are harsh to skin (like construction sites or air-plane cabins for example). I find that having an arsenal of products to combat various skin issues helps me to take care of my skin better in a more intuitive way.
My tip for building your own skincare wardrobe is to be very aware of the ingredients which your skin likes or dislikes. This is especially important in order to avoid over-loading your skin and inflaming it. For example, my skin TOTALLY HATES any products with meadowfoam seed oil. My face will have tiny red breakouts all over whenever I used any products with this ingredient in it. It doesn’t matter what product it is, whether it’s a cleanser, moisturiser or facial oils. That’s why I can use the Shu Uemura ultime8 sublime beauty cleansing oil (which is a thicker texture meant for drier skins) but can’t use the Shu Uemura blanc:chroma brightening & polishing gentle cleansing oil (which is meant for combination skins with a lighter texture) because the latter contains that dreaded ingredient. On its own, meadowfoam seed oil is actually a very good facial oil with strong anti-oxidant and skin softening properties. However, my skin just doesn’t like it. This is why I advocate reading the product ingredient list very thoroughly even before you buy the product so that you are fully aware if there are any potentially problematic ingredients for your own skin.
I hope that you’ll have fun exploring the different products as you build your very own skincare wardrobe. Afterall who would know your skin better than yourself? Stay beautiful and enjoy the journey!
Thank you for reading!
I must admit that when it comes to beauty and skincare products, I’ve got a roving eye. I’m always on the constant lookout for the latest products with interesting ingredients or textures. I guess that’s why my cupboard is full of unopened products. I’ve only got one face and a limited amount of space to slather all of them at once. However the only and I really mean THE ONLY ONE product that has stayed constant with me throughout the years is the Shiseido Annessa UV Perfect Sunscreen. It’s got my heart firmly with it in the sunscreen category and I’ll always come back to it even when I try other products. In my case, I think that the biggest affirmation of a product is that I would repurchase it over and over again and have backups of it just in case it’s discontinued. That’s how much I love this sunscreen. As per normal, the ingredients list is below.
Dimethicone , Water, Alcohol, Zinc Oxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Isopropyl Myristate,Talc, Isododecane, Octocrylene, Polybutylene Glycol/PPG-9/1Copolymer, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Titanium Dioxide, Glycerin, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Dextrin Palmitate, Xylitol, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, PEG/PPG-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Sodium Chloride, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract, Thymus Serpillum Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract,Sodium Hyaluronate, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Isostearic Acid, Aluminum Hydroxide, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Stearic Acid, Hydrogen Dimethicon, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Trisodium EDTA, Butylene Glycol, BHT, Sodium Metabisulfite, Fragrance
How does the Shiseido Annessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Aqua Booster fare?
By now after reading the above paragraph, you should know that I love this product and actually I do have a story behind the reason why. If you had read an excerpt of me under “About Me”, you would know that I’m working as a civil engineer. Civil engineers design, plan and construct all manner of things such as buildings, roads, bridges, land reclamation, railways etc. Many people are surprised when I told them that I work as a civil engineer as they would always exclaim “Why are you so fair?! Ain’t civil engineers supposed to be very tanned because they are working on construction sites under the hot sun all the time?” Ladies and Gentlemen, this product is the reason why I didn’t burn to a crisp or tanned when I need to go out into the hot sun for site inspections. Even though nowadays, I don’t really need to be constantly on site for quality inspections or monitoring, in the early years of my career, I was on the construction site everyday. I was noticing that my pigmentation problems were getting worse and my skin tone was looking more and more uneven even though I do use sunscreen everyday. I wasn’t using the Shiseido Annessa sunscreen at that time yet. Somehow I went looking online for strong sunscreen to help to combat my working conditions and I came across recommendations for this product. And the rest, as they say, is history.
When it comes to sunscreen, I must recommend that you also use the appropriate amount everyday. The common directions is to apply sunscreen “liberally”. But how much is “liberally”? For me, I try my best to use around 0.5 teaspoon (equivalent to around 2.5ml) for my face and neck alone. Hence, one bottle (60ml sized) of this sunscreen usually lasts me for around one month based on my own rate of usage. As the texture of the Shiseido Annessa sunscreen is quite fluid, my face doesn’t feel sticky or suffocated even when I use that much. In fact, it dries quite nicely to a matt finish ready for makeup. It also doesn’t leave a very strong white cast to the face, it’s more of a gentle glow.
However, I must caution that this is a very water resistant sunscreen which, in my opinion, cannot be completely washed away by just a normal gentle cleanser. In fact, if you believe it, the latest formulation of this product states that with the Aqua Booster Technology, the UV protection veil becomes even more effective when bonded with sweat or water. I always use either a cleansing oil or balm as the first cleanse to remove sunscreen and makeup before I use another cleanser to wash the skin itself. I’m just paranoid like that as I’m very prone to clogged pores.
Where can you find it?
The Anessa range is actually not available in Shiseido counters in Singapore. That is why I usually stock up at the Shilla duty free shops in Changi Airport where they are selling it. It retails at S$33 (60ml sized) and S$43.80 (90ml sized).
Update: Anessa is now available at Watsons store in Singapore! It retails for S$39.90!
Or if you have friends visiting Japan, you can beg them to buy it for you. It retails at 2678 Yen (around S$33.68) the last time I bought it from Tokyo.
Thank you for reading!