Fermented Skincare: A Review of Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner
July 5, 2015 | Asian Skincare, Serum, Skincare, Toner
I want you to know that I’m cracking my knuckles right now, in preparation for typing up this review. It’s a long one, but it’s good, and I’ve been looking forward to writing about this product for a while! If you’re into skincare that is both glamorous and highly functional, get ready to be excited, because today I’m talking about Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner.
I’ve enjoyed Korean and Japanese hydrating toners for a long time now, but I haven’t historically had a lot of favorites in this category. I’m choosy about skincare in general, but I’m particularly choosy when it comes to hydrating toners. I expect a lot out of them! In the past, I’ve definitely had hydrating toners that I liked — maybe even a lot — but that I also found a little boring. Hada-Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion, for example, is a product I love but find a bit unglamorous. And there were other toners I cherished, but wished they could be just a touch more hydrating. I consider most first essence treatments to be a part of that group.
I was actually in a bit of a toner rut for months. Sad piano music played when I got to the toning step of my skincare routine. My bathroom turned black & white, a-la the “before” clip in any infomercial. But then this Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner came into my life and swept me right off my feet, and all of a sudden my bathroom was full-color again, and my face looked and felt amazing. I’d finally found my toner soulmate!
What is it?
Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner is a hydrating toner that also has the properties of an antioxidant-rich essence. It promises to hydrate and improve skin texture.
For anyone unfamiliar with the brand, Whamisa is a Korean brand found in higher-end department stores. The brand places an emphasis on organic, fermented ingredients and produces products that utilize an interesting range of botanical extracts. I’m not one to specifically seek out organic skincare, but say the word “fermented” and I’ll probably take off my top.
*Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract , *Chrysanthemum Morifolium Flower Extract, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Lactobacillus/Chrysanthemum Sinense Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Teraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Rhizome/Root Ferment Filtrate, Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, *Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, *Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, *Helichrysum Arenarium Flower Extract, *Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, *Glycerin, ☆Propanediol, **Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, **Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, **Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Lithospermum Erythrorhizon Root Extract, Xanthan Gum, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, *Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil, ***Fragrance
*Certified Organically Grown **Natural Preservative ***Natural Origin ☆Ecocert
The most immediately visible quality of this ingredient list is the number of fermented items it contains. There are a lot, and this is really good news! Here’s why:
What are fermented skincare ingredients?
Fermented skincare ingredients are those that have been through a lacto-fermentation process. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic (free of oxygen) process that uses a probiotic called lactobacillus to break down the sugars and proteins in organic matter over a period of time, converting those sugars and proteins into lactic acid. As the fermentation environment acidifies, bacteria and harmful microbes die off, and the ingredients break down into smaller, nutrient-dense constituents, which also allows desirable by-products such as amino acids and peptides to emerge. The end result is a preserved, concentrated, more nourishing version of the original ingredient, which can now be better utilized by the skin.
What makes them special?
There are a couple of reasons why I’ve been welcoming so many fermented skincare products into my life:
1. Fermented ingredients have a higher concentration of antioxidants and nutrients than non-fermented versions of the same ingredients. The fermentation process itself also produces additional skin-beneficial ingredients, such as amino acids and peptides. Additionally, fermentation helps break down the ingredients into more readily absorbed constituents, so the positive effects the ingredients have to offer are experienced more fully.
2. There’s also early but promising scientific evidence that some lactobacillus ferments help treat and prevent acne and rosacea. The mechanism by which this is achieved is still being explored, but the speculation is that this effect is due to a combination of the protective, “shielding” effect lactobacillus provides for skin cells, the antibacterial effect of bacteriocin produced by lactobacillus, and the anti-inflammatory effect of lactobacillus.
Further reading on lactobacillus:
Could probiotics be the next big thing in acne and rosacea treatments?
American Academy of Dermatology, 2014
Lactobacillus reuteri Protects Epidermal Keratinocytes from Staphylococcus aureus-Induced Cell Death by Competitive Exclusion
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2012
Additional Ingredient Standouts:
Aloe Barbadensis (Leaf Extract and Juice)
Aloe is a classic skincare ingredient for very good reason. It contains antioxidant properties with vitamins A, C, and E, fatty acids, as well as anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also provides humectant moisture. It’s fantastic for soothing inflamed acne, alleviating redness, and countering dryness and dehydration.
Possesses antibacterial, antifungal, and significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Contains a number of skin-beneficial nutrients, including ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and beta carotene (a precursor for vitamin A).
Lactobacillus/Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Ferment Filtrate
This is a fermented version of Nelumbo Nucifera, which is better known as the lotus. Lotus has antibacterial, antifungal, and significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also contains naturally occurring alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) which, in a formula with the right pH, provides exfoliation benefits. Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner has a pH of 4.5, which is low enough for an AHA to function as a mild exfoliator. Lotus extract also has astringent properties, which has the positive effect of making pore size appear smaller.
More on properties of the lotus:
The Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo Nucifera)- Phytochemical and Therapeutic Profile
Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2009
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil & Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil
Both of these oils provide moisture barrier-strengthening essential fatty acids, as well as a number of antioxidants. They also have emollient properties, which help smooth skin and prevent water loss. The amount of oil in the Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner is very light, so this toner isn’t heavy or remotely greasy. There is just enough oil in this formula to help seal in the moisture provided by the formula’s other hydrating ingredients.
Essential oils have a lot to offer skincare formulations when used conservatively, as they have been in this formula. Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil and Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Oil both have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil is antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic.
There are no major potential acne or irritation triggers in this formula according to CosDNA.
Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner is packed in a frosted glass bottle with a beautiful overlay of pink flowers. The flower artwork nicely compliments the look of the liquid behind the frosted glass. It’s a fun, modern, but sophisticated presentation. The dispenser for the product is of the standard flat-top-with-a-tiny-hole-in-the-middle variety, making it easy to dispense the right amount of product without spilling it onto your countertop.
The product itself has a texture that is thicker than water. It’s slightly more viscous than what I typically think of as toner consistency, but it’s still very light and fluid.
Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner smells intensely like flowers, with a hint of citrus. It’s a strong but pleasant scent, which dissipates within a few minutes of application. The fragrance is said to be naturally sourced, so if you are sensitive to synthetic fragrance, you may still be able to tolerate the fragrance in this toner.
The pH for the Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner is 4.5. This toner does contain a small amount of AHA constituents, which function optimally as exfoliants between pH 3.0 and 3.9, and modestly at pH 4.0- 4.9. This toner has some very mild exfoliating benefits, and can also act as a pH adjuster for skin after cleansing if desired.
Although Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner could theoretically be used as a pH-adjuster immediately after cleansing, I actually prefer to use it later in my routine, for my hydrating toner step. As soon as I’ve completed my 15-20 minute wait time after applying actives (such as BHA and AHA), I shake a few drops into my hand – about the size of an almond, sometimes a little less. I then pat the toner over my face, and immediately begin layering my additional serums and ampoules over it.
Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner is heaven. My first impressions of it were that it was wonderfully light but still deeply hydrating. It also felt extremely soothing and cool upon application.
I’ve been using it for nearly two months now, and I’ve noticed a number of positive changes in my skin. One observation is that my skin actually stays completely hydrated throughout the day, even if I’ve spent a lot of time in a dry, air-conditioned environment.
Any redness I experience is now easily handled. I don’t have big redness issues in general, but sometimes when I go a little hard with my AHA serum, I get redness in my cheeks from the irritation. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but my routine contains a lot of actives, and though they work wonders for my skin, it’s easy to accidentally cross a line. But now I just pat a little Deep Rich Essence Toner on my red areas, and the redness subsides within a couple of minutes.
I’ve also noticed a significant decrease in breakouts. My acne has been under control for a long time now, thankfully, but I’m still prone to small, manageable breakouts around certain times in my cycle. But I haven’t really seen any since I’ve incorporated this toner into my routine, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
Overall, my skin looks and feels hydrated, smooth, clear, and luminous. There are a lot of products to thank for my skin’s current condition – it wasn’t always like this – but Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner definitely helped me take to the next level.
It had been a long time since I truly loved a toner, but I’m happy to report that the magic is back! Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner is an amazing addition to my skincare routine, and I’m glad that I welcomed its seductive, flowery, fermented goodness into my life.
Who I think would benefit from this product:
• Normal, dry, and combination skin types who would like light but rich hydration in their skincare routine.
• Anyone suffering from dehydrated skin or a damaged moisture barrier.
• Anyone who would like the moisturizing benefits of a hydrating toner combined with the skin-beneficial ingredient concentration of an essence.
• People who want to use organic skincare products. The ingredients for Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner are 97.13% organically grown.
• Anyone who is seeking to avoid alcohol in their skincare.
• People who regularly deal with redness or sensitivity (with the exception of those who are very sensitive to essential oils)
Skin & Tonics Rating
|A+||20/20 Efficacy||19/20 Ingredients||20/20 Application||20/20 Wear||20/20 Packaging|
|Total: 99||Rating system details »|
Where to Buy
If you'd like to pick up the WhamisaOrganic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner, you can find it on Glow recipe. You can get a $5 coupon toward your first Glow Recipe Purchase with my affiliate link: http://go.referralcandy.com/share/DKWDT7V
If you follow me on Instagram (I'm skinandtonics ), you'll also have a chance to win a bottle of Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner! I'm hosting an Instagram-only giveaway for this product, courtesy of Glow Recipe. Keep an eye on your IG feed for details.
|Glow Recipe Natural Korean beauty products shipped from the U.S.||$40||Get a $5 coupon toward your first Glow Recipe Purchase with my affiliate link: http://go.referralcandy.com/share/DKWDT7V Glow Recipe ships from the U.S. International shipping also available for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, Vietnam and UK .||buy|
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My jaw kind of dropped at first the product and second the review. I only subscribed after you’d already taken off for your hiatus so this is the first review I’ve gotten to read but wow. Thanks for the detailed breakdown of every notable ingredient. You’ve def set a standard for skincare reviews.
Thanks, Joan!! 🙂
Seriously though, this post was goals.
*pterodactyl screech* NOOOOO NO NO NO! Now I want this so much, you’re killing me, Kerry! It really sounds like this would be the perfect mate for Goodal’s Waterest stuff–or am I off? Either way, WANT.
Tracy, it IS the perfect mate to the Waterest stuff! It’s SO GOOD. I want Lotus EVERYTHING.
Omg can’t wait try it out and even better to take a chance in your give away!! Love the full detailed and your humor 🙂
Thanks, Paulina! 🙂 Good luck in the giveaway!
Thanks for this detailed review! By coincidence, I placed an order for this toner earlier this afternoon from Glow Recipe (before even reading your review), so I’m relieved & excited that you love it so much! My skin is very sensitive and prone to redness, so I think this will be a welcome addition to my routine and also will fill that lackluster toner gap in my routine (currently I’m finishing up my Benton Aloe BHA Toner which is fine but I haven’t intended to repurchase). My skin loves Whamisa! First it was the hydrogels, and currently I’m using the cleansing oil, eye essence, and summer skincare set (body wash & body cream). The cleansing oil is wonderful and made me realize that I need to avoid mineral oil, plus it feels so luxurious massaging it into my skin. In the order I placed today, in addition to this toner, I also ordered the cleansing foam, flowers BB cream, and flowers and natto cream (can’t remember the exact name). Whamisa quickly has established itself as one of my HG brands (along with LJH and CosRx).
Oh man, Jennifer, can we please be Whamisa buddies?! I LOVE those hydrogels SO MUCH. And that Organic Flowers Cream is so good! I’ve got a review coming up for that soon – my skin loves it as well. And I also have that cleansing foam on the way!
You’ll have to tell me what you think of the toner when you get it! I want to know if it helps your redness as much as it helps mine. I find it sort of fascinating to watch how quickly the redness fades before my eyes if I stand in front of the mirror after applying it. I am also very curious about the eye essence but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Please let me know if you love it – then I’ll know I need it. 😀
Wonderful to hear you love the Organic Flowers Cream! As for the eye essence, I do like it. It’s hard for me to drum up much enthusiasm for any eye cream because in my experience, the effects are very subtle and not immediate. What I love about the Whamisa eye essence is the gorgeous bottle and the light Fruity Pebbles scent–my nose is so happy each time I apply it. It doesn’t irritate my skin (I got welts from one of the Missha eye creams, so this is a huge plus for me), and I think I’m seeing some positive effects from it, but I haven’t used it long enough to truly judge (I think I’ve been using it about 3 weeks). I’m in my late 30s, so fine lines around my eyes are an issue, and I don’t know yet if the product will be helpful in that area (and maybe I shouldn’t expect an eye cream to do this job), but I definitely have noticed an increase in brightness, and the essence is very light and velvety. I do enjoy applying it, and like I said, I’m in love with the scent. Overall I’m happy with it, but eye creams aren’t a category that excites me, so it’s hard for me to recommend it or not recommend it this early in the game. But yes, I would love to be Whamisa buddies with anyone who is a Whamisa fan. This brand has truly impressed me thus far, and my flower-loving feminine side luxuriates in using these products. (Too bad it’s not a budget brand though…poor wallet…)
I know what you mean about eye products – I have the same issue and so I hardly ever purchase them. But I really like the idea of an essence specifically for that area. I’ve had good luck using my rx retinoid in my undereye area a couple of times a week. There was one especially deep line under my right eye that I’ve just decided to downgrade to a fine line. So maybe I’ll wait a little while on the eye essence. My retinoid is boring, but it sure does work well!
If anyone ever finds an eye cream/serum that actually helps puffiness, dear god please let me know. I know eye creams usually don’t fulfill their promise, but I keep trying. Sad sap I am. I have some fine lines and I use my regular skincare to help them, but it’s the puffiness that is killing me. Some of it is age, some of it allergies. It’s the only problem that has made me consider surgery at some point.
I feel similarly about dark circles. I feel like those are the aging signs on my face that are most visible, and I’ve had no success lightening them. I’ve researched all kinds of stuff, and it seems like that cosmetic technology hasn’t been invented yet. When is that part of the future going to get here?!
As for the challenges of finding a good eye product, last week I received an order of Diaforce Gold & Diamond Hydrogel Eye Patches from Memebox (60 count). I’ve used them a few times, and this evening I noticed a large welt swollen beneath one of my eyes. This is the only new product I’ve introduced in the past two weeks, so I’m sure it’s the culprit. My skin obviously hates something in the ingredients (and Memebox only lists “key” ingredients, so it could be something not on their list), but this is the second eye product I’ve been allergic to (the other being the Missha Misa Geum Sul Vitalizing Eye Cream, which gave me small rice-shaped welts). It’s so difficult to find an effective but non-irritating eye product! I didn’t have a puffiness problem until tonight’s welt. Grr. This is why I give the Whamisa eye essence credit for not making my skin angry even if it’s not performing miracles.
Reply to angel, what really helps me when I get puffy eyes is to put a reusable eye gel mask in the freezer for five minutes then holding it over my eyes for a minute or two. Any cold compress should help reduce swelling without irritation! Hope it helps 🙂
I’m sorry I haven’t commented sooner to wish you a proper welcome back! I have missed you and your reviews so much. It was like a black hole of beauty despair without you. I can’t wait to read your book.
This review was awesome. A friend and I have already decided we need this, like NOW! Looking forward to all the new stuff you have to share with us. So happy you are back!
Angel, it’s so nice to see you! <3 I'm glad you didn't forget about me. I'm sorry I left you hanging! I'm going to try to make up for it by reviewing amazing things we can put on our faces.
I bought a bunch of Whamisa goodies a couple of months ago in Tokyo. In Japan it’s considered a lower end brand and priced accordingly.
But good stuff nonetheless 🙂
That’s interesting that it’s positioned that way in Tokyo! So it’s more affordable there too? My list of reasons for visiting Japan is getting longer every day. 😀
What kind of stores do they sell it in? Can you just run to the drugstore in Tokyo and pick up some Whamisa?!
Oh, and one more question – the most important question – what did you get? 😀
I got the lotion, milk and cream 🙂
Whamisa is trying to break into the Japanese market. To the point that it even uses Japan specific packaging without a word of Korean on them.
You can easily find it in ShinOkubo. Frankly, I was surprised. Apparently it’s selling, too, because masks and the toner were all sold out.
Honestly, I suspect that some customers don’t even realize it’s a Korean brand. iirc, Whamisa has a website in Japanese, too.
Cremorlab is also available in ShinOkubo at a huge discount. A friend did some shopping for me and tonight but I’ll get the package.
Oh wow! That’s interesting about the differences in the Japanese marketing strategy and packaging. Are there other brands that besides Whamisa and Cremorlab that are using a similar approach? The Japanese market must be a tough nut to crack.
Quite a few serious brands had tried and failed miserably. The biggest one being Amore Pacific (the flagship brand).
So I am hoping that Whamisa and Cremorlab will stick around for a while. Another brand that seems to be slowly carving its own niche is Atom (Atomu in Japan). TheSaem also looks quite determined to penetrate this market.
I’d be interested to know how that plays out. Do you think they are failing because they don’t understand the market? Or is it because Japan already has so many amazing domestic skincare brands?
And the most important question – how heavy is your book? I’m asking, because I have a feeling it will cost me a bundle to get it shipped to Japan.
That’s a good question! I’m actually not sure how heavy it is but I can check. There’s also a good chance there will be a distributor for it actually in Japan, or at least closer to Japan, so you won’t have to pay a fortune in shipping. I’ll check up on that too! 🙂
Kerry, your reviews keep getting better and better. And did I mention more enticing too? Ha ha! I was looking for an essence-cum-toner product for quite some time and recently shied away from the Missha FTE. But having read the fabulous results of fermented products, I couldn’t stay away from the Missha Time Revolution Borabit ampoule–the new version. In fact, I got on board the fermented goodness train after trying out the Estee Lauder ANR sample I was given with a purchase. It was simply amazing so I started looking for a dupe, as they say. I have even read your comparison review of the two but both have been upgraded since. In any case, your review made me click that Purchase button for the borabit ampoule. And now, you have combined my two recent obsessions–god help me! Excited to participate in your IG giveaway. I’m shradsm on IG, by the way! Thanks a ton for this review. 🙂
Hey Shradsm! It’s so nice to see you here! I haven’t tried the new Borabit ampoule or the newer ANR formula, but I plan to sometime so I can do a new comparison. You’ll have to let me know what you think of the Borabit when it gets there!
You’ll be the first to know! 🙂 And thank you for offering to do a new comparison review. I like to have a Kerry-approved stamp, for my peace of mind. 🙂
Hi Kerry, my Missha Borabit ampoule arrived and OMG! I love it after trying for just a few days. Now, I cannot imagine being without it. And I think it’s comparable with the new Estee Lauder ANR serum. The textures are identical, neither is sticky, and the results are very similar. 🙂
Thanks for the update, Shradda! You’ve got me really excited to try it!
Thanks for reviewing this product and its fermented magic. As always, your post covers everything and makes me want to add this to my wishlist. I love the fact that this product doesn’t alcohol because it tends to dehydrate my skin a lot. I guess it will be a good combination with the Blossom Jeju Camellia Toner you recently purchased!
Thanks, Catclaclou! You know, I’m going to have a hard time when that Blossom Jeju Toner gets here- I’ll have to give up my Whamisa Toner in order to try it out. Hopefully it will be amazing! <3
Whamisa seems to be a brand I need to look out for! this toner sounds wonderful! Ill add it in my current wishlist which is growing insanely every minute 🙂
Btw I amhoping to get a suggestion from you..I want to incorporate AHA toner in my routine..P50 is currently out of my league..so can you pls suggest any other toners apart from pixi and silk natural’s one? out of these two which one works the best as AHA toner? also I have heard a lot about the cosrx toners..what is your opinion on them?
Parita, I really like the COSRX BHA/AHA toner a lot! In fact, I have been using it as my acid toner most days in lieu of my P50 so I can make my P50 last longer. It’s a really nice toner, no alcohol, pH 3.9, and super affordable. I think it works much better than the Pixi or the Silk Naturals!
Wow! thank you! Since you approved I am now placing the order for the same 🙂
btw I know you are a big fan of shea terra organics and I got some really good suggestions from you…can you pls suggest which oils would be best to try from them? I have combination and acne prone skin with pigmentation/spots/dullness.
Have you tried the CosRX A-Sol toner? 🙂
Sorry for the double-post.. but just wanted to add: I read that the CosRX AHA/BHA toner doesn’t actually have enough actives in it to be exfoliating – so what’s the point of it being at such a low pH actually?
Hi Alex! It is actually mildly exfoliating, but has nowhere near the exfoliating power of something like a serum. The main purpose of this AHA/BHA toner is to bring down the pH of the skin, which helps pH dependent actives such as those found in an AHA serum, BHA serum, or an ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum, function more effectively. The COSRX AHA/BHA toner is also helpful for bringing down the skin’s pH after washing with an alkaline cleanser – if used consistently, it can help reduce the long term negative effects of using a cleanser with a high pH. Hope that helps! 🙂
Hi Alex! I have, but I use it solely as a spot treatment at this point, and it works very effectively that way! 🙂
There’s a very excellent review of the A-Sol toner on Fifty Shades of Snail that I think you’ll find useful: http://fiftyshadesofsnail.com/2015/05/23/review-cosrx-natural-bha-skin-returning-a-sol/
ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH! I literally (as in, just completed in another tab) an order for the Hadalabo and thought to check here after for any new posts. This stuff sounds amazing! Tempted to just stick the Hadalabo in a drawer when it arrives and buy and use this first ^^
LOL, Julia! The Hada Labo does get the job done, even if it’s a little boring! Is this your first time getting it? If so, it will be significantly less boring since it will be new to you. But yeah, it’s no Whamisa. 😉
So, you would think that living in Seoul I would have been able to get my hands on any Korean skincare product pretty easily. Yup, not the case.
I got to say that when it came to the Whamisa line, I had a really difficult time locating it anywhere in Seoul. (Actually, there are a few product lines that are difficult to find in an offline store in Seoul.) At first, I could only find it on the Whamisa website, which is in Korean, of course. I was so desperate to find it at an offline store, that I even asked my husband’s office assistant for help. I had her check with the other ladies in the office to see if they could point me in the right direction to find it. Umm, none of them had ever heard of the product line before. I know, crazy right? Anyways, this is for your devoted followers. If you’re ever in Seoul, (which is a fantastic place to visit and not just for skincare products) there is a small basement grocery store by Zara’s in Myeongdong that carries some of the Whamisa line. Yes, a grocery store. I picked up a few Hydrogel masks and the Rose Petal mist.
Now, I have to add this toner to my ever growing list of products to try.
Thanks a bunch Kerry!!! 😉
Soooooo, glad you’re back. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us!
Interesting! When they first started out a couple of years ago and were going to trade shows, they were definitely positioned as a dept.store brand, but it sounds like there’s actually only one dept. store that carries them in Seoul. Apparently the Galleria Department store carries Whamisa – was that one the places you checked? Someone also just told me that there are a few Whamisa products at some Olive Young stores (but not this toner, sadly).
I have never actually seen any of the Whamisa products at a Olive Young store. (And trust me, I looked.) That does not mean the products are not in the stores. There are just a few (like one on every other street corner) of these stores in Seoul and not everyone of them carry all of the same product lines or the full product line. So, it is possible.
As for the Galleria, (sigh, so out of my league) I’ve been there only once and at the time I went, Whamisa was not on my radar. It may still be available there or it may not.
One of the things I learned while living in Seoul, is the high turn over of stores. You could be going to the same store for over a year and the next time you go, the store is all boarded up and something else is getting ready to take its place. Same with some of the skincare lines. You may find a product in a store one week and the next week it’s no longer available. So it is possible that Whamisa started off big and was available pretty easily. But now, only available online or at a few select stores.
I feel like Seoul is the Thunderdome of the retail beauty industry! 😀
I’m curious about how that kind of turnover impacts your shopping choices. I’m trying to imagine how that turnover would affect me, and I think I would probably be less likely to try new and different things – I’d be afraid of loving something and not being able to get it anymore. Does the turnover affect your shopping choices at all or do you just get used to it after a while?
You just learn to go with the flow.
I mean, it does happen often, even in North America. I’ve seen products come and go. You find that “I can’t live without you product or I will die” and the next thing you know, poof, it’s gone. Or they change the formulation and it no longer works the same for you. So disappointing isn’t it.
Unfortunately, it’s mostly about supply and demand and breathing new life in to product line. Same in Korea. Maybe more so.
It seems to me at least, that Korean’s really like new things/ ideas. Whether it be a restaurant, a coffee joint or skincare products. The people really go crazy for a little while and then they are ready for the next big thing.
Besides, as you discovered yourself through your skincare journey, what you thought was a great product ends up being just an okay product. A little boring maybe, but effective. Then guess what? You find something even better. Like this toner. And you know what Kerry, sometimes change is good. Even if it is a forced change.
I just went to The Galleria. I’m sad to say they do not carry Whamisa products.
Also, just an FYI. The store in Myeongdong that I mentioned before and the one that Vee found, no longer have ANY Whamisa products in stock. Pretty sure this is permanent. 🙁
On a positive note, I did find the ACwells product line. I picked up a bottle of the cleanser to try. ACwells was easy to find in Seoul. It is available at Watsons, LOBH, Boons and Olive Young.
Also, I’ve gotta know – what else does Zara’s have?!
Lol, it’s just another clothing store. I have only been in it a couple of times. Nothing really exciting about it, at least not for me. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who love the store though. I mean, it does have a steady flow of traffic.
Wow. Sounds great\ will have to buy some. Have you ever tried Rimbi Treatment essence: not sure if that is the correct name since I am on vacation w/ my Rimbi in a travel bottle. I just live it; it is like Missha FTE, but much more moisturizing because it has glycerin in it. It is also very inexpensive–about $15 on ebay.
I haven’t tried anything by Rimbi – I haven’t heard of that brand until now. I’ll have to look into that one – thanks for the tip, Joyce!
Okay, now I need this. It’s so crazy because earlier today, I was looking for a toner. I’m dealing with dehydrated/damaged moisture barrier skin and I’m really getting fed up with it. Not only does the ingredients speaks wonder to me but your review is really make me want to get it. Do you know if its only available at Glow Recipe for now ? The shipping is way too expensive for France :/ This was a great review, I thank you but truly.. my wallet might hate you now.
I’m glad you enjoyed the review! I’m sorry to hear about your moisture barrier though – you have my sympathy. 🙁 I did see this toner listed by one eBay seller that is based in Korea. It’s $31 + $9 shipping USD from this seller, so it would save you a little on shipping. I’ve never bought anything from this seller before and they look new, so there’s a small gamble there. Let me know what you decide! Here’s the eBay listing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Whamisa-Organic-Deep-Rich-Facial-Toner-4oz-120ml-BDIH-ECOCERT-certified-Korea-/281713300433?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41976bd3d1
What else have you tried for your dehydrated skin woes?
I’m going to check that Ebay seller out, Ebay France blocks 90% of shops which is why I never order from Ebay but if this one isn’t blocked, I might gamble on this ! I’m currently trying Cosrx’s Hyaluronic Acid cream and have my trusty pure Argan Oil coming on its way to me as well. I was trying Innisfree’s Green Tea Seed serum on and off for a while but I still can’t tell if it’s working with my skin (giving me tiny closed comedones perhaps). I tried asking Testerkorea to stock this Toner though, I hope they’ll come through with it.
I hope you’re able to get your hands on some. Keep me posted!
I’m going to add a new comment as it’s really hard to fit another reply to the previous ones when using a phone.
I have to second what Diane said.
Last year I looked all over Seoul for Whamisa, Cremorlab and a few other brands.
They were nowhere to be found.
I enlisted the help of a Korean friend, and she said she had never even heard of them.
Later I was told that for about 5 minutes Whamisa was available at one of the duty free shops at the airport but not anymore (anymore was last year).
So imagine my surprise when suddenly last year Whamisa appeared in one of the memeboxes. And this year, heavily discounted in Tokyo. Same with Cremorlab.
My friend got me 6 items and it worked out to be less than 10 dollars per product.
Whamisa was very affordable as well.
It leads me to believe that Tokyo is the last ditch market for brands that failed in Korea. Why they failed? No idea. My suspicion is they simply outpriced themselves.
In the rush to be seen as high class and selective, they started with prices simply too high to compete.
Now, I’m guessing, they’re selling at cost, or slim profit to wholesalers who dumpnit overseas or market in for online sales.
And while the stores in Tokyo seem to be quite honest with their pricing, the online shops that carry these brands try to perpetuate the myth of high end and selective skincare.
At least that’s how it looks to someone from my end.
Amore Pacific (the flagship brand) is a good example of the opposite. It tried to come in here as a prestige brand and collapsed. Their prices were simply too high. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together very quickly figured out that it was cheaper to hop on a low cost airline to Korea and buy it there than to buy it in Tokyo. With the added bonus of Korean food and booze.
And so AP failed here.
Etude House and The Saem seem to be doing OK riding the kpop wave. But how long it will last is anybody’s guess.
And I know exactly which basement market Diane was talking about! 🙂
That’s really interesting, and your theory about using international markets like Tokyo in an attempt to keep a company alive makes sense. I’ve worked with some businesses outside of the beauty industry who have used international expansion as a way to counter a sharp decrease in domestic revenue, so it seems reasonable that beauty brands would do the same.
What baffles me is why those brands would choose a market like Tokyo, which sounds equally if not tougher to penetrate! Is it just because it’s close? I totally get why brands would want to come to the U.S. since so many other overseas brands are doing pretty well here right now.
I think it has to do with trade agreements and fda regulations. If you’re good to go in Korea, you’re good to go in Japan. No additional testing or approvals are necessary. Just translate the paperwork and slap on Japanese labels.
Been keeping up with all the interesting discussion on this thread… Definitely could be. Also the same thing could hold true with the U.S. market as if a product satisfies the Korean FDA requirements, they satisfy the U.S. FDA requirements… aside from label ingredients list ordering changes.
(Also, a link to a great post about the label ingredient differences Joan is referring to: http://www.fanserviced-b.com/south-korean-vs-u-s-cosmetic-ingredient-list-order-differences/)
That makes a lot of sense. I can see how that could balance out the risks associated with trying to break into such a tough market.
Ahhh, I *love* this toner, and your review is such a good breakdown of why. I’ve been using it for 3 months, and it is glorious. As a rosacen, I’m intrigued by the possible beneficial effects of fermented skincare–of course, I would use the stuff regardless, I love it that much.
Yes! I am really looking forward to seeing how the research on fermented skincare and rosacea plays out! I don’t have to deal with it first hand, but I have a couple of close friends that struggle with rosacea. Rosacea is so finicky and complex that it’s difficult to recommend products that will treat it. I’ve found that even in my small sample group of rosacean friends, there’s an unbelievable amount of variance of efficacy when it comes to supposed remedies. Do you find that to be the case as well?
I haven’t really used any Whamisa products yet but most reviews I read tend to rave about them. I’m on the hunt for a toner too, and your review was so in-depth and informative I might actually be sold. Plus, that packaging — gahhh who can actually resits?! I hit up, like, 5/6 of the categories for people you think would benefit, so it’s worth a shot. I only wish there were a more affordable option.
Seriously though, this was only one review and I feel like I learned a lot (I was wondering what the hype was about fermented ingredients AND NOW I KNOW).
I’m so glad! I think the fermentation process and potential benefits are both really fascinating. There’s still so much more I want to learn about it! It’s very easy to find information about fermentation as it pertains to food, but not as much as it pertains to skincare.
Fellow Southeasterner here!I am so very happy you are back! You’re the reason I got into AB skincare. 🙂 I know you said this helps you with redness, but do you think it helps with PIH? I have dark skin, so redness is easily disregarded by me. While these are different products, do you think this could replace the Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Essence? Also, unrelated, but what sunscreen are you using/planning to use now that the Hada Labo Creamy Gel has been discontinued? All these questions, I’m sorry.
Hey Heather! It’s nice to e-meet you!
I don’t think this toner helps with PIH. For that, I like to stick with something that’s heavy on any of the following:
– ascorbic acid-based vitamin C
– AHA (more than what is in this toner and at a pH closer to 3.0-3.5)
A vitamin C serum would be a good thing to incorporate if you aren’t already using one. 🙂
As for whether this could replace the Benton Essence – that’s hard to say. The products are so completely different. This toner is more hydrating and antioxidant rich. Both products calm redness very well. The Benton Essence does have some PIH lightening ingredients. Do you have an idea of which aspects of the Benton essence do you want to repeat with your next product purchase? I’d be happy to make some recommendations for a good replacement if I know what you’re hoping to achieve with it!
Thanks for the help! I rotate in a few actives right now (Tretinoin, AHA (mandelic or glycolic) and BHA) for the past few months. I recently added in OST 20 right now, but I honestly think it could be causing me to break out. The last 2 times I’ve tried to use it, after about 2 days of use I got a few painful pimples. First trial I applied it 2 days in a row, but the next time I tried it, I waited a few days in between and I still had a break out after the second day of usage. So I’ve ordered the Nufountain Celsignal. It’s formulated with MAP, but I’ve seen some people have good results with improved PIH.
That makes sense about the Benton. So this would replace Hada Labo Lotion. Got it. I like all the things that make it great. Sigh. The calming, brightening, anti-aging, creation of rainbows on my face, etc.–doesn’t moisturize all that well for me, personally– but I’d like to find something that’s a bit more stable. I guess if I had to pick my favorite attributes, I’d say:
-Calming/Healing- I know I can put it on and it won’t sting or burn even when I have a break out. It helped repair my moisture barrier.
-Brightening/Lightening of PIH- I use several products aimed at this, so Idk if the snail bee essence actually helped or not. I know propolis is getting a lot of buzz (pun intended) but I’ve only really heard people say it makes their skin soft and glowy. I don’t really care about this things at this point in my skincare journey.
Hey Heather! You might have better luck with the newer version of the OST 20, which is the Vitamin C 21.5 formula. It’s just as effective (maybe even a little more), but it doesn’t have any alcohol and contains fewer potential irritants.
Propolis is really amazing – I’ve been using a lot of propolis serums lately. But I don’t think it helps with PIH. It’s really great for reducing redness and inflammation though!
I JUST got this in the mail today. WOOHOO! Can’t wait to test it out tonight.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! I think it’s a really great alternative to the Missha FTE. I know you’re also a fan of that one, so I’m curious to know if you feel the same way about this Whamisa toner!
2CATS, Do you remember the name of the store(s) that you purchased the Whamisa goodies?
Have a friend in Tokyo who will try to purchase if I can give her more info. Thanks
Great read! Great to see you back posting again. I’ve missed your posts! 🙂
Thanks, Tania! 🙂
Kerry, I really enjoy the discussions that follow your posts. I treasure them and make a note of all the tiniest and remote shops in the world where one can buy the products you approve of. And then I give the shopping list to my husband :)). Thank you!!
LOL, Maya!! 😀 😀
Just when I need a new toner this review comes along. If only it was available more readily elsewhere than Glow Recipe though – have had a horrid customer service experience with them on two orders.
That’s terrible, Jac! I’ve always had good luck with GR. But there is an eBay seller that carries it if you’d rather go that route. I’ve never bought anything from this seller before and they look new, so there’s a small gamble there. Let me know what you decide! Here’s the eBay listing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Whamisa-Organic-Deep-Rich-Facial-Toner-4oz-120ml-BDIH-ECOCERT-certified-Korea-/281713300433?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41976bd3d1
Love that you’re back!
I have a question for you:
My skin is oily/dehydrated, and it’s exacerbated by the fact that I live in an extremely hot,humid climate. Lately, I’ve been using lightly hydrating serums in place of a moisturiser and this has lessened the whiteheads I get during the day when I use moisturiser then layer my bb cream on top. I’ve read that some hydrating toners can act as a moisturiser for oily skin in humid climate instead of using a cream/gel moisturiser which tends to make my skin really oily after an hour or so. In your opinion, could this Whamisa toner double as a liquid moisturiser of sorts on those really hot,humid days when my skin is already oily?
Hi I really love your blog and my skincare regime has improved so much with your help but i was wondering if you know if this brand (and many Korean beauty/Asian beauty) in general are cruelty free. You didn’t disclose whether it was or wasn’t here and it’s difficult to know for many Asian brands so I was wondering if you knew. I’ve cut back almost all of my asian skincare because of my personal choice and would really appreciate if you knew of any asian brands that are! (I know korea has outlawed animal testing on final products, but that does not extend to ingredient testing and what not, or if they’re sold in China)
Kerry, can we look forward to an updated skincare routine? I know in the past you’ve written several highly in depth explanations, but with your hiatus, I’m really wondering if anything’s changed, and what new products you’ve incorporated into your routine. It would also be great to hear more about new products, as I would love to try some new items and change up my own routine!
First of all, I am a firm believer in Hada Labo as well. THANK YOU for mentioning that wonderful little gem.
Second of all, I actually purchased Missha’s FTE because of your post on the skincare showdown with SK-II’s. I am now expecting my shipment with high hopes!
Overall, kudos to your wonderful site and *amazing* *easy-to-read* *meticulous* ingredients-based review! As a person who reads her labels yet understanding very little about it, stumbling across your blog is like finding holy grail by the motorway. I will be reading more Kerry from now on, I think 🙂
“but say the word “fermented” and I’ll probably take off my top.” = me loling at my desk
Seriously — this review is gorgeous, and even thought I just bought a toner a few months ago now I want this instead. These products are all SO gorgeously packaged that I want them just so I can show them off on my skincare shrine!
I love the idea of a skincare shrine! I need to make one.
Hi there. I would like to know if this toner is too hydrating for combo/oily skin. Thank you very much!
Thank you for the review! I wanted to love this but couldn’t get past the smell. To me, it smells like cheap old lady perfume, licorice, & musty potpourri. If it was a less expensive product, I would just hold my breath, but at this price point, it would have to be true love for me to repurchase again. I suppose I’ll stick with Hado Labo for now.
Then again, I just might be an oddball, as I don’t mind the smell of COSRX exfoliators or Biologique Recherche P50!
Thanks again, & keep those awesome & informative reviews coming!
I’ve been looking for a fermented hydrating toner without niacinamide (I’m sensitive to it…woe is me lol) for soooo long. This seems beyond perfect! Without your review, I would have never discovered it! Thanks so much!!!
Just tried to order this toner after reading your review but it’s sold out. Can’t wait to try it when it comes back in Stock
Hi Kerry! I’ve started reading your blog few months ago and i was like “noooo why isn’t she blogging anymore?”. You know the feeling when your love is gone but you didn’t get the chance to tell her hahaha. Anyway thank you for your very detailed reviews! That whamisa essence is on my wishlist
Whamisa has been on my radar for a while now (first because of their hydrogel masks, which I’m dying to try). I’ve also been looking for a good toner, and this review kills me :’) What step would you use this product for? Is it more of an essence or a toner? I’m looking for something to use right after double cleansing my face.
Will this essence toner replace first treatment essence and a toner? I am currently using Missha Fte and hada labo toner. Can I replace both of them with whamisa toner?
Very possibly! It did for me. It definitely replaced FTE, but it is far more moisturizing. However, it’s not quite as moisturizing as the Hada Labo toner. If I had to guess I would say it’s about half as moisturizing as the Hada Labo. So if you need the intense moisture level the Hada Labo gives, this wouldn’t be a full replacement. I was able to live with less because I’m getting enough moisture from my following products.
Thanks for this amazing review Kerry! I’m in Seoul right now and thanks to a comment by Diane in your comments, was able to track down Whamisa at that grocery store near Zara. Here’s a little more info on the grocery store in case anyone’s in Seoul. When I went Whamisa was stocked next to the Ryo hair care line.
The grocery store is indeed next to Zara. Here’s a photo of what the store looks like: http://i.imgur.com/uRxEYdz.jpg
This is the side street you have to walk down to get to the store; it’s on the left, with Zara on the right: http://i.imgur.com/uqlwNIH.jpg
Hope this is helpful to others! 🙂
Dont buy anything till I have read your reviews. I am all into natural things, but review is always a great help. Thanks and keep up the good work
This product sounds interesting. But i have oily skin and sensitive. Is it recommended for those types of skin?
Hey – have you tried the lotion one they have or know of any major diffrences ?
(i have dry, dull acneprone skin) – wich ne do you think would be better for my skintype? 🙂
just discorvered your blog – has set a new standard for me regarding reviews – and your skin is skin goals (so young looking for someone between 30-40 – thought you were in your twenties) O.o
anyway do you have a favorits list regarding skincare othervise i would like to request it for a future blog-post 😀
Hi, does the toner work for oily-acne prone skin? Comparing to benton bha toner which one better? Thanyou❤
Hi, does the Whamisa toner work for oily-acne prone skin? Comparing to benton bha toner which one better? Thanyou❤
I bought a bunch of Whamisa goodies a couple of months ago and i love it’s fragrance. Nice post BTW
i forgot it – Thanks for reviewing this product and its fermented magic. As always, your post covers everything and makes me want to add this to my wishlist.