Originally published 21 April 2015; updated 19 March 2017.
2017: Goodal ceased production of both the Water Oil and Tone Up First Essence formulas reviewed in this post a few months after I published this review in 2015; the formulas were replaced by an updated version with lotus extract. I tried the new formulas and wasn’t nearly as impressed by them. Many international fans of the line seemed to feel the same way. In late 2016, I found new packaging for the products on eBay and ordered them on the off change there was a new-new formula more like the original.
It turned out that while the First Essence remains the lotus version, the Water Oil had returned to exactly, precisely the old formula. I eagerly set about testing it again, wondering if it could live up to the praise I once gave it after several years of testing many, many great products.
Oh my god. YES. When used as a booster before toner, Water Oil seems to magically hold moisture to my skin’s surface, help slightly smooth texture and minor scars, give the illusion of “fatter,” more bouncy skin, and create a fantastic base for makeup.
Back to 2015 (with the exception of my notes and updates from now in bold).
A note before I start: fan-b was named by Fashionista today as one of the 14 best blogs and websites for learning about Korean products–waaaah! The list of blogs and sites is fantastic and I’m so honored to be part of the list. If you’re new, welcome, if you’re not, greetings again. Here are two products that I think everyone should learn about, given the Korean (and Western!) passion for facial oils and fermentation–the Goodal Waterest line manages to combine both and I’ve found that they do wondrous things for my oily skin.
Occasionally something comes along that entirely changes my mind about something of which I was once certain. (That’s a lot of somethings, so here’s my favorite Something.) It usually happens in just a moment, but the transformation is profound. Like seeing Lee Taemin and his iffy weave in the Sherlock MV, my world shook when I first felt Goodal’s Waterest Lasting Water Oil.
Goodal Waterest Lasting Water Oil Review
About my skin
I have naturally oily skin that never seems to be entirely free of acne despite my best attempts to treat, beat, and soothe it. My Curology dermatologist Dr. L offered a pill (in addition to my topical prescription) called Spironolactone. I’m generally not super hot on the idea of taking things for cosmetic purposes that could cause medical side effects (the change in hormones due to the pill can result in wacky periods and permanent hormone issues in developing fetuses–upon hearing that I decided to keep grinding in my struggles with blemishes); I’m not crying into my pillow over my skin and I’m certainly not missing out on life–if that were the case I’d do it. I’d like to be able to wear less bb cream, but I’d also like to learn Chinese and make a decent croissant–it’s just another thing to maybe reach at some point with some work and time.
But I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want to reach the El Dorado of clear skin.
Oil and me: a history
I’ve been aware of the facial oil trend and the benefits of oil for some time, but my experiments with oil were a mess. I tried to rub a few drops into my face about a year ago and ended up, yup, oily and sticky. I tried mixing a few drops into my face cream and ended up, indeed, oily and sticky. I wanted so badly to get my daily dose of oil because I know it’s good for skin, but my oily skin disagreed. I truly thought that my skin just couldn’t do it.
Visiting Club Clio
Fast forward to a few days after Christmas. I hopped on the subway to visit Flushing, the center of NYC’s kbeauty shop explosion. I stopped by the showroom and headquarters of Club Clio USA and happened to meet Janice Kang, the Director of Marketing and New Business Development. In addition to being the person who makes deals she also knows her skincare. She wanted me to try this “Water Oil” (a product I wouldn’t have thought to swatch on my own even if locked in the store overnight). It was love at first pat.
About Goodal’s Waterest line
I used the two Waterest products for some time without fully understanding what makes them special and how to use them best, so I stopped by the new Club Clio in NYC’s Union Square to get a Goodal lesson. The big deal with the whole Goodal Waterest product line is the fact that the featured seven oils–all coming from seeds–are fermented. In this case, the seeds remain in their whole forms (as in, they’re not pressed and then fermented, but rather fermented as complete seeds and then pressed). The fermentation takes 720 hours and uses whole yeast of the sort that’s used to ferment konji rice. So we’re talking fermentation plus oil, hot damn (too hot), this is skincare street cred in a bottle. Fermentation is a process of controlled rot that transforms things like grape juice into wine and milk curd into delicious cheese. I think that’s how you should regard the Goodal oil products: oil transmuted by yeast, temperature, and time into a skincare Brunello. Yum, get on me.
So here’s the big idea for Oily Skin People (OSP) like me looking to incorporate oils: get your oils first in micronized form, then continue with your routine.
I commence my morning skincare routine with cleansing and follow it up with a two-step super hydration Waterest starting routine.
Waterest Tone Up First Essence
CosDNA analysis. Olive Fruit Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Steareth-20, and Cetearyl Alcohol are potential acne and/or irritation triggers; none of the ingredients rate more than a 2 out of 5 in terms of risk.
After cleansing I take a seat at my beauty workstation and apply Waterest Tone Up First Essence. First essences are products, usually fermented, intended to lightly moisturize and nourish skin in preparation for all the skincare steps to follow. The Tone Up First Essence contains green tea extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract) that has been fermented for 24 days along with Goodal’s hallmark 7 fermented seed oils (Sunflower Seed, Jojoba, Camellia, Green Tea Seed, Argan, Olive, and Macadamia Oils).
It smells kind of fresh and medicinal–the closest thing I can think of would be certain Aveda products, but dialed way back so that one isn’t assaulted by a pine forest upon opening the bottle. I smooth this on with a Purederm Micro-Fiber Pad. I’ve tried just using my hands, but that was pretty messy and I ended up applying way too much and slowing down my routine due to the need for extended drying times. I also tried using this in a spray bottle, but the application was uneven and I’d end up with spray in my hair, too much spray in some areas, and not enough in other areas. Since the toner is very liquidy the pad helps apply it evenly and prevents me from overdoing the amount. I let the toner dry for just 30 seconds before moving on to the next step, in hopes of preventing my skin from overdrying between these critical first steps. I don’t even have very dry skin, but my skin resists blemishes and heals from them much more quickly when it’s well hydrated, so I like to treat my skin like it’s prone to dryness even though it’s really not.
Waterest Lasting Water Oil
CosDNA analysis. Butylene Glycol, Olive Fruit Oil, and Carbomer are potential triggers identified by CosDNA, all of them ranking either a 1 or 2 out of 5 on the risk scale.
The star of the first leg of my morning routine is the Water Oil. It smells fresh and medicinal along the lines of the first essence, but less strong. I take two pumps and rub it into my skin with my fingers. It sinks in after about a minute. The amazing thing about the Water Oil is that it delivers oil my skin needs, but the oil is micronized so it somehow sinks in more deeply (I am still confused by this–oil is oil, but this oil does seem to penetrate more deeply, so are connective bonds between the oil molecules broken, making it feel less oily? I’m just not sure, but whatever this is, it works.)
The Water Oil also contains a Bio Gum Complex that helps hold water moisture on the surface of one’s skin. This is exciting. I mean, I want moisture to penetrate deeply, but as someone who uses acids plus prescription medication, I also want the super fine, top layer of skin to have moisture all day, too–it makes no sense to have skin that’s like dry tissue paper on top of a beautifully moisturized sponge.
When the Water Oil is no longer wet, but my skin isn’t dry or thirsty I quickly hit it with a fine mist containing micronized collagen. The concept behind this technique is that I want to use the moisture-hoarding gum in the Water Oil to lock in a bunch of rich water on the surface of my skin before moving on to the next stages (which will also be held by the moisture-retaining gum).
My favorite thing about this flipped routine is that it pampers my skin like crazy at the start and helps me drive necessary oils deep into my skin early, meaning that I can layer LJH Tea Tree Essence (it contains tons of actives, but it’s not particularly moisturizing), SN Plant Stem Cell Cream (lightly moisturizing with incredible oil control), and a drop of SoyBio+ ampoule (super concentrated rich moisture and skin glow bomb) on afterwards without thinking a lot about how to get oil-based moisture. I’ve tried to add just a drop of oil to my cream the same way I do SoyBio+, but even one drop of oil tends to hang on the surface of my skin in a greasy, unhelpful way.
One thing to note is that when I started using the Goodal Waterest products my face flushed in response to them for a few days–the same thing happened with LJH Tea Tree Essence, which is my favorite product ever now. Pretty soon my face stopped flushing and I’m on very good terms with these products.
The Benefits of this routine
Moisture, oh my, moisture even in winter. Here’s a microscope shot of my hand skin before using the Goodal products:
and after applying the two Waterest steps plus a spray of micro mist (with a post-application drying time of 20 minutes):
Yeah, so that’s pretty awesome, especially since my face is nowhere near that dry ever ever ever.
I’ve been using this routine since just after Christmas 2014 (four months) and what amazes me is how adding oil of all things has helped my blemish-prone skin and pores. I started to think about it along with what I’ve read about the importance of oil and skin and it makes sense. If you think about the oil cleansing method, which people use in part to loosen “grits” of dried skin, environmental matter, and hardened oil from pores, this is a little bit like that minus the rubbing. It does an important thing very gently: it lubricates pores so that oil flows more efficiently and built up grits (sebaceous filaments, often mistaken for blackheads) are more prone to escaping without work on my part. I’ve been pretty stunned by how much garbage my skin has been giving up at last as I’ve used the Goodal line. A few weeks after starting the Waterest products I realized that grits were randomly coming out of my pores as I cleansed. Keep in mind that I use Stridex in the red tub and PocketDerm prescription medication, so there’s plenty of exfoliation, too, but I never had so much change in my pores as when I adopted the Waterest Lasting line. I honestly thought that I’d be living with sebaceous filaments, actual blackheads, and mega pores on my face forever unless I did a bunch of really deep chemical peels. My skin is still my skin, but it’s ditching some of the nastier bits without a ton of work on my part. Score.
The future of the Waterest Lasting line
Goodal has just released new versions of the Water Oil line in Korea. The base of the toner will now be lotus extract instead of green tea and the oils will be double-fermented. I contacted Janice at Club Clio in a panic, asking if my favorites will still be the same for a bit and she confirmed that Club Clio US plans to stick with the original formulation through the end of the year since so many people here love it. I’ll try the new Water Oil products and let you know how they compare to the originals–judging that it has taken me four months to test these and write this review, my assessment of the new formulations will probably be ready once they launch in the US hahah sob.
Where to buy the new, but original formula Water Oil (look for the 30ml green, clear plastic bottle)
- eBay (I like seller RoseRoseShop)
- In Ulta stores across the U.S.
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