Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner Review
I love Korean skincare, but I have an appalling secret: I’ve only ever watched one episode of one K-drama, ever. It’s not that I don’t want to watch them – I actually have tons of them in my Amazon queue. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Because of this, I was oblivious to the craze surrounding the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner due to Jun Ji-hyun’s celebrity endorsement of Hanyul’s new rice-based skincare line. However, after seeing photos of her, I can easily see how she could be someone’s skinspiration – that girl’s complexion is enviably flawless.
My reason for purchasing Hanyul’s new Rice Essential line is far more mundane. I was in the midst of testing Hanyul’s old skincare line for review, when they discontinued it and released all these new, exciting products. I was enjoying the old line, so I thought I’d give the new products a try.
Today I’m reviewing the Rice Essential Skin Softner from the new Hanyul lineup, which, I should mention, is actually spelled “Softner” on the product. Don’t worry; I know how to spell “softener.” I find it almost unbearable that this product is officially labeled this way, but more on that later.
What is it?
Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner ($47) is a hydrating toner that promises to moisturize, brighten, and improve the texture of skin. There are two toner products in Hanyul’s rice-based line. This one is made for normal to dry skin, while the Rice Balancing Skin Softner is made for normal to oily skin types.
Water, Alcohol, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Glycereth-26, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Monascus/Rice Ferment, Rice Extract, Yeast/Barley Seed Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Cnidium Officinale Root (Cnidium) Extract, Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract, Soybean (Glycine Soja) Seed Extract, Cocao Extract, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl, Adenosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dextrin, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance. *Rice Extract 10268 ppm
The first thing I noticed was the amount of alcohol present in this formula. Alcohol is a bit of a controversial ingredient, as there are two schools of thought: Paula Begoun’s stance is that alcohol is never okay, and that it causes cell death. Nick Zevola’s (FutureDerm) stance is that it’s fine in a well formulated product, and that it can actually enhance the penetration of beneficial skin ingredients. When I interviewed cosmetic chemist, Perry Romanowski (The Beauty Brains & author of several skincare books), he stated unequivocally that alcohol was not a harmful ingredient, and that it not only helps with ingredient penetration, but that it also kills microbes. I find that I personally tolerate alcohol well in a properly formulated product as long as it’s not part of a BHA or AHA product, but I have to admit – I did a double take at the amount of alcohol this toner contains. It’s a lot. If you are particularly sensitive to alcohol, Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner is not for you.
As for the rest of the ingredient list, I was surprised and delighted by how many brightening agents there are in this product. Here are some of the highlights:
Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that works well for overall brightening, lightening hyperpigmentation, and acne. This is a well documented skincare ingredient. One study even showed it to be effective for reducing fine lines in addition to treating redness and hyperpigmentation:
Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance
Dermatologic Surgery, 2005
Rice alone has several properties that benefit skin (which I’ll explain in my Rice Extract description), but if you ferment that rice, you get a whole new advantage. Rice ferment, better known as sake, produces Kojic Acid as a by-product. Kojic acid is an antibacterial, antifungal substance derived from mushrooms. It is a skin-lightening agent at concentrations of 4%, and functions similarly to hydroquinone in that it inhibits melanin production, but it’s less likely than hydroquinone to cause irritation. I’m not sure how much Kojic acid present in this particular formula, however.
I’ve seen a few concerns voiced about the safety of Kojic acid. Here are the facts: There were a few studies done on rodents that showed Kojic acid to be a potential carcinogen when taken orally in large doses. Subsequently, a few more studies were done that actually showed Kojic acid to be an antioxidant, and to have cancer prevention properties. Japan is currently conducting more Kojic acid studies in an effort to come to a more definitive conclusion, but since none of the studies showed it to be harmful when applied topically, it’s considered a safe cosmetic ingredient by Japan, Korea, and the US. It has been banned in Switzerland. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Kojic acid occurs naturally as a constituent in all soy ferment based foods, such as miso and soy sauce.
For more information on Kojic Acid, check out:
Kojic acid: Applications and development of fermentation process for production (PDF)
Biotechnology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 2010
Final report of the safety assessment of Kojic acid as used in cosmetics
International Journal of Toxicology, 2010
Rice extract possesses antioxidant properties, and contains skin-improving phytochemicals such as ferulic acid, phytic acid, and γ-oryzanol. One 2012 study performed on both rabbits and human volunteers showed it enhance skin hydration, as well as improve skin tone, texture, and elasticity.
More on Rice Extract:
Anti-aging efficacy of topical formulations containing niosomes entrapped with rice bran bioactive compounds
Pharmaceutical Biology, 2012
A rice-derived recombinant human lactoferrin stimulates fibroblast proliferation, migration, and sustains cell survival
Wound Repair and Regeneration: The International Journal of Tissue Repair and Regeneration, 2010
Cnidium Officinale Root (Cnidium) Extract
Most of the scientific data I found concerning Cnidium Officinale revolved around its antioxidant and free-radical scavenging properties. I did see one very brief mention of its ability to lighten hyperpigmented skin by inhibiting a hormone called a-MSH, which is a primary player in the pigmentation of skin.
Changing skin color: Evolution and modern trends
Indian Journal of Dermatology, 2007
According to CosDNA, alcohol is the only major red flag in this ingredient lineup. It scores a 3 out of 5 as a potential irritant.
The Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner bottle is a tall beauty. It has sleek, modern lines, and an elegant, earthy gradient effect. Like the new Hanyul White Chrysanthemum Powder Serum, it has the product name written in Korean on one side and English on the other. The old Hanyul line did not have any English on it at all, and I am hoping that the English on the new product packaging signals an intention for Hanyl to enter English speaking markets. I personally think this line would stand out (in a good way) on the shelves of Sephora.
I do have a bone to pick with the packaging, though. More accurately, I have a problem with the product name. The Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner is actually named with the spelling, “Softner.” I believe the change in spelling is intentional because of the consistency – it appears this way on the bottle, the box, and in official Amore Pacific product listings. I’m not opposed to a wacky spelling per se, but I’m opposed to this wacky spelling because it reads like a mistake. I’d be more open to it if it at least had proper punctuation, as in, “Soft’ner.” I’d also be more accepting of a change in spelling that is more apparent, like Söfftner. But “Softner?” That just looks like an error to me. If it weren’t for this consistency of the misspelling, I’d just as soon presume that’s what it is. I find it to be an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise elegant and refined looking product.
The product itself is clear liquid that is thicker than water, but thinner than something like a typical hyaluronic acid serum. It’s almost identical in consistency to Sulwhasoo’s Balancing Water. In fact, it’s a very similar product in terms of application and usage as well.
Both Kojic acid and Niacinamide are pH sensitive. Kojic acid works best at a pH between 4 and 9, and Niacinamide needs a pH between 5 and 7 to work as it should. The pH for Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softener is right at 5.
The smell of the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner is fresh and herbal. It’s not too heavy, and it doesn’t stick around very long after application.
I apply a coin-sized amount of the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softener both morning and evening. The instructions say to apply it just after the Hanyul Optimizing Serum, which is booster that’s applied just after facial cleansing. For the first few days, that’s what I did. Then I ran out of my Hanyul Optimizing Serum and switched to an acid toner. When I did this, my application order and timing changed quite a bit. Currently, I wash my face, apply my acid toner, then my BHA (or my weekly AHA treatment), and wait 20-30 minutes to let the acids do their work. Then I apply the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softener, still using a coin sized amount. I apply the product with my hands, spreading it gently over my face, then pressing it in with my palms.
It only takes a couple of minutes to absorb completely on its own, due to the high alcohol content. It definitely adds moisture in spite of the alcohol, and the finish is not at all sticky. Most of the time, I start applying my subsequent skincare products before the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner has a chance to absorb on its own. It works wonderfully that way.
I’ve been using the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner for a little over 6 weeks. I definitely enjoy the added moisture to my routine. I didn’t see any visible changes in skin texture until I started using the acid toner and later, the Paula’s Choice Weekly Resurfacing Treatment. To be fair, my skin texture wasn’t bad at all to begin with.
I did see some subtle but visible overall brightening within a couple days after incorporating the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner into my routine. My PIH marks also lightened while I was using this product, but I think that credit goes to the AHA and BHA I was using concurrently with this toner. I have no definitive way of knowing whether or not the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner had any hand on the spot lightening I saw, but spot lightening wasn’t a product claim to begin with.
I also found that the serums I applied after this product absorbed more quickly, including my face oils.
I did not experience any dryness, irritation, or breakouts as a result of using the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner.
Overall, I think the Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softner is a wonderful hydrating toner for those who are not averse to alcohol in their skincare. I enjoyed the brightening, moisturizing, and increased product absorption results, and I thought the experience of using the product was extremely enjoyable.
I just wish the name was spelled correctly.
Skin & Tonics Rating
|A-||17/20 Efficacy||14/20 Ingredients||20/20 Application||20/20 Wear||20/20 Packaging|
|Total: 91||Rating system details »|
Where to Buy
|W2Beauty Online Korean cosmetics shop||$47||First time W2Beauty customers can get a $5 W2Beauty voucher by entering my sponsor code at sign-up: 025605.||buy|
|Gmarket store on eBay eBay seller||$48||buy|
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