Way back in the early days of Memebox I received a sample of IOPE’s Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning along with some cotton pads to help with its application.
True to its promise, after about three days of application my skin became strangely glowy and luminous and, hot damn, I was in LOVE. If you’ve never used a product like this…prepare to be wowed. I hunted down samples and hoarded them in hopes of retaining my glow on a budget, but eventually my samples ran out, Tester Korea didn’t stock more, and I had a crazy zoo of products to test and use. We lost touch, IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning and I, and I thought that we would never be reunited.
This all changed when I met Angela, owner of InsiderBeauty (now Via Seoul), an online Korean beauty boutique and review community based in NYC that ships to the US and Canada. By the way, [sidetrack coming] what readers sometimes don’t realize is that for the most part, bloggers don’t tend to go knees-to-pavement as soon as a sponsor ends up in our inbox. I realize that the prospect of free products given for the purpose of (unbiased, obviously) review tempts a lot of people into blogging, but the reality is that it takes most bloggers [writing posts worth reading] weeks to test a skincare product and several days to write a comprehensive review. For the most part, my labor costs vastly more than the value of the products I receive.
So why accept products for review? Given the economics of the decision, I obviously don’t do it often.
Well…sometimes I want magic to happen. It’s kind of like allowing someone who you trust implicitly with setting you up on a blind date. There’s a very good chance that things won’t work out, but there’s also a possibility that your world will expand and your heart will be moved. One of my big fears as a blogger is that I’ll move deeper and deeper into an echo chamber specific to the international Korean beauty community and I’ll miss out on things that are popular in Korea or things that should be popular everywhere and just haven’t caught on.
That’s where good sponsorship relationships can help. With a very few shops and brands I have contacts who might from time to time suggest that I review something they carry. I always set limits on what I’ll accept–basically, I want to only try things that I think I’d buy myself if I had the money. But there’s always a bit of wiggle room in the mix for my contact to show off something unexpected.
So here’s the thing about
InsiderBeauty Via Seoul: when I went to make my list of what I’d be ok with reviewing I literally made heart eyes at every product. I ended up sending Angela a list of the things I already owned and then sort of gushed for a while about how she basically stocked the store with what seem to me 100% winners. My request to Angela was to just trust her own curation taste and pick something for me to review that she thought I might like.
So when Angela revealed my lost IOPE first love (and another fantastic product that I’ll review soon) during our coffee meeting I sort of freaked out and may have flapped my hands a bit. DESTINY.
Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Niacinamide, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Glycerin, Saccharomyces Ferment, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Geranium Robertianum Extract, Thermus Thermophillus Ferment, Beta-Glucan, Eriobotrya Japonica Leaf Extract, Glycereth-26, Adenosine, Propanediol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Water. (source: Hwahae app, checked against the Korean list included with the product–this seems to be an updated version of the product formulation)
CosDNA analysis. This has zero common acne or sensitive skin triggers.
Where this fits in your routine
This product belongs in the first essence, toner, essence, and serum portion of your routine. (By the way, these routine lineup graphics are a preview of something I’m working on.^^)
There exists some debate about where this product goes in one’s routine within that category. It could be used as either a first essence (basically a hydration booster that preps the skin for toner and everything else to come) or as a toner. Or essence. Uhh. Kerry lays out the confusion in her review on Skin & Tonics. IOPE says this is actually supposed to be used after one’s toner, making it a regular essence.
I’m going to make this easy: use it as a first essence. I’ve tried to use it a few different ways and this functions best as a super light, odorless version of SK-II and Missha’s First Treatment Essence.
What the everloving fluff is a first essence? It’s a booster that hydrates your skin, thereby coaxing it into accepting more moisture later in your routine than it might otherwise accept. First essences also usually have fermented and brightening ingredients, which help to build that luminous “red carpet” glow that I think so many of us want.
First essences are usually fantastic for people with all skin types, but as someone with oily skin I can say that I love them for making my skin take on more water-based moisture than it would want to without the booster. This means reduced oil production, plumped fine lines, and a temporarily thicker layer of light absorbing/reflecting skin. That uppermost layer of light-infused skin is the source of natural glow; my microscope/skin experiments tell the tale.
How to use it
Option 1: economical
Shake a few drops into your palm. The dispenser reminds me of a vinaigrette dispenser in some ways–you just shake some out.
Use your other hand to slather the liquid onto your face. Let the liquid dry. It usually takes about 60 seconds or so.
Option 2: less economical
Shake several drops onto a cotton application pad.
Smooth the pad over your skin. Let the liquid dry. It usually takes less than 60 seconds with this method.
Either option is fine, to be honest. I’ve been going with “economical” and it’s been pretty great–I’ve been using this bottle for some time and I’ve barely made a dent in the 168ml. WOO!
My strategy for first essences
I obviously love the original version of Goodal’s Waterest Tone Up First Essence, so how does this product fit into my skincare routine?
When my skin is feeling dry due to the environment or the effect of my acids and prescription acne medication I use Goodal. Goodal contains fermented oils that help rebalance my skin.
When my skin is feeling normal to oily I use IOPE. When my skin is feeling a bit less annoyed it loves the watery boost and light moisture. IOPE is perfect for most of the year for my skin–and in summer it’s a dream.
Am I still in love?
I’ve had the chance to try lots of skincare products since the first time I encountered IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning–is it still an HG?
Absolutely. The way I can tell how much I like something, by the way, is whether I use the economical or less economical method for applying it. When I’m trying to work through something so I can move on, I’ll apply it using a microfiber round (they’re really pleasant–my favorite are made by Purederm), knowing that I’m wasting a bit, but liking the tidy application method. When I really want to keep something in my stash for a long time, I’ll apply it carefully using my hands so as not to waste any product! I’ve sometimes noticed that I switch application methods midway through using something because my feelings change. I’ve never used a cotton round to apply this–its powers make it too precious to waste.
I find that this still makes my skin more hydrated with water-based moisture, meaning it’s less likely to get super oily, even in the incredible NYC July heat. This also delivers an amazing glowy quality to my skin after a few days of continual use and doesn’t irritate it or cause breakouts for me.
The one thing that makes my heart uneasy is the pretty glass bottle–I’m terrified that I’ll smash this on something or it will roll off my stupidly cluttered makeup table and break. And yet it’s so elegant and clean that I don’t know that I’d change the bottle if given the choice. I hear that children like to break these, so I’ll just make sure to avoid acquiring any of those.
Find this at
Insider Beauty Via Seoul (plus a special promotion) InsiderBeauty Via Seoul is also having a special promotion right now on my HGest HG of 2014, LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence, which can be purchased for $30 with the code RASIANBEAUTYLJH; they’re also offering free shipping for purchases $30 and over (free shipping usually applies to orders of $50 and over). Check out my review and think about grabbing the LJH essence before this deal expires 1 August.^^
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking those links before you shop means that fan-b receives a small commission, which helps to support the blog. Please see my full disclosure for more information.