I know you guys were probably waiting for more Korean skin care reviews, since it’s becoming a huge trend, so here is another one for you! I plan to write about Korean products from all price ranges, and today I wanted to tell you about two of my recent beauty discoveries from Kicho, a high-end brand that takes their formulas up a notch above the rest.
Kicho means “basic” in Korean, and perfectly describes the company’s approach to their formulations. Based upon the notion that beauty products should address the fundamental needs of our skin, Kicho offers solutions for a multitude of concerns with use of naturally sourced ingredients, while eliminating most or all potential irritants.
Cupidrop, the official distributor of Kicho in the US, sent me four products to try. In this post I am sharing my results and thoughts on two of them: Natural Mineral Foaming Cleanser and Sweet Nature Lip Balm.
Let’s talk about the cleanser first. Described on the website as a multi-tasker for face, body, and hair, Kicho Natural Mineral Foaming Cleanser can effectively replace three different products on your shelf, if beauty simplicity is your thing. The ingredients look very promising, too: the formula contains dozens of essential oils and natural extracts that can really turn cleansing from a daily chore into a SPA experience. Here are just some of them that were placed near the top of the ingredient list:
- Grapefruit Extract is a fantastic skin brightener, that helps even out the skin tone and provide gentle exfoliation.
- Chamomile Leaf/Flower Extract is known for its soothing properties that help calm irritation and reduce redness and swelling.
- Camellia Leaf Extract is a wonderful natural astringent and antioxidant, that helps rebalance the skin and protect it from free radicals that may cause premature aging.
Ingredients – CosDNA: Coco-Betaine, Sea Water, Water, Acer mono sap, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Potassium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower/Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Magnolia Kobus Bark Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Apium graveolens (Celery) Extract, Brassica oleracea capitata (Cabbage) leaf Extract, Oryza sativa (Rice) Extract
Solanum lycopersicum (Tomato) fruit Extract, Brassica rapa (Turnip) leaf Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Seed Extract, Propolis Extract, Thujopsis Dolabrata Branch Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, Rose Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, lvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil.
If you clicked on that CosDNA analysis link above, you noticed that this cleanser does not contain any irritants. Nada. Zero. I mean, it’s been a while since I saw a formula that looked this gentle on paper! However, I still had to subject it to a very important test before I apply it to my face.
You probably remember my recent obsession with testing pH levels in all of my cleansers, because I found out that multiple trustworthy sources link high pH to acne, dryness, and irritation, even if the rest of your routine is nothing but goodness. Here are just some of the blog posts that greatly influenced my decision [there are more, but they all pretty much say the same thing]:
Ever since I began my K-beauty journey, one thing became painfully evident – most of Korean cleansers had pH that’s just too high to maintain a healthy acid mantle, considering other things I apply on my face. That’s one reason why I told Cupidrop I am happy to try the cleanser, but I’d prefer a travel size instead of the full size, because I’d feel really bad if I had to toss it after the pH test.
Lo and behold! Natural Mineral Foaming Cleanser has a perfectly neutral pH5.5 [tested with these strips], that I consider to be ideal for my skin! This is pretty much a rare unicorn among Korean cleansers, but I take more factors into consideration than just pH when picking favorites. I like to pay attention to the packaging, too, and in this case it’s a nice and tight foam dispenser with a plastic bottle. I prefer all of the products that I use in the shower in plastic packaging, because they can easily slip out of my hand, although those hefty glass bottles and jars feel more luxe.
As far as its effectiveness goes, Natural Mineral Foaming Cleanser performed adequately well, and removed all traces of my pre-cleansing oil. I don’t think it’s meant for being the sole makeup, dirt, and grime remover, but rather for being a part of the team with a nice oil cleanser.
My final verdict: This one’s a keeper! And not just because it has a well-balanced neutral pH, but also because the formula contains virtually zero known irritants, and the only possible way you could have a negative experience is if you’re allergic to certain plant extracts or essential oils, which this cleanser is loaded with.
The second item I’m reviewing today is Kicho Sweet Nature Lip Balm, which I haven’t seen any English reviews on. I guess, someone has to be the first! 🙂 According to the company, it’s “formulated with natural ingredients to keep your lips feeling comfortable all day”, which sounds reasonably promising and not overly hyped up. I don’t like it when companies go over the top when touting the miraculous benefits of their products.
Since a pH test is unnecessary here, I can just skip that part and go straight to the packaging. Sweet Nature Lip Balm comes in a matted plastic jar, that actually looks like glass at a first glance. I find Kicho style aesthetic very appealing, and I am a fan of simple yet elegant packaging, because it makes my beauty shelf look more streamlined.
However, there’s one major downside to this type of packaging – constant finger dipping might expose the formula inside to cross-contamination and potentially make it a breeding ground for bacteria. Or at least according to folks at Paula’s Choice, that’s what’s going to happen. I personally never had anything unusual “grow” in my skin care before, but I like to be mindful of the possibility, just in case, so I either keep my jars in the fridge, or depot them in smaller containers. Sweet Nature Lip Balm jar is fairly small, so you’ll probably use up the contents before anything bad happens, anyway.
The first thing I did after opening the jar was of course smell the product. I caught a whiff of a complex herbal bouquet, and it took me a while to pick out a few notes, since my nose is not trained for this process. The fragrance is sort of a minty-herbal concoction, that smells almost medicinal, but not too offensively pungent, if that makes sense. Upon application I immediately felt a pleasant cooling effect, and felt like my dry spots were slowly disappearing.
Ingredients – CosDNA: Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Jojoba Esters, Beeswax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil Isostearate, Octyldodecanol, Diisostearyl Malate, Dipentaerythrityl Hexahydroxystearate/Hexastearate/Hexarosinate, Phytosteryl/Isostearyl/Cetyl/Stearyl/Behenyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Polybutene, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Japonica Leaf Extract, Eruca Sativa Leaf Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Sprout Extract, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Sprout Extract, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Leaf Extract, Trihydroxystearin, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Menthol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Saccharin, Titanium Dioxide, Aluminum Hydroxide, Fragrance, Yellow 5 Lake.
If you click on the CosDNA link above, you’ll notice that unlike the cleanser, this lip balm does contain a couple potentially irritating ingredients, but still the formula looks pretty safe overall and is well within the “green” range. Some noteworthy ingredients include:
- Jojoba Seed Oil that softens the skin and helps retain moisture.
- Shea Butter is known for its moisturizing and softening properties.
- Argan Oil to help repair the damaged and chapped skin, and speed up the recovery.
Since Sweet Nature Lip Balm doesn’t leave the lips looking greasy and doesn’t smell like a strawberry shortcake, it could be a good gift for any guy in your life, even those who use strictly bar soap, shaving lotion and motor oil as their beauty products of choice. The addition of Titanium Dioxide in the formula will also provide some light sun protection, which is always a nice bonus.
My final verdict: If you can get past the finger dipping and a couple potential irritants, then I say this lip balm is quite nice, especially if your lips are chronically chapped like mine. In just a few short days I was able to repair months of flakes and microtears, so now my lips look like they’re in a lip balm commercial, which this post might as well be, because I think it’s a great product that I definitely recommend trying.
Kicho defines their target demographic as 20-30 year-old young adults [men and women], because most of the products in the line are loaded with natural extracts and antioxidants, which are great for general skin hydration and first signs of aging, but may not be enough to combat deeper lines, wrinkles, and advanced hyper-pigmentation. Even though I am on the far end of the demo, my skin is still in a pretty good condition, so I can definitely benefit from these products. After all, I’m sure that 20-30 range is meant to be used more as a general guide, so YMMV.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, I have two more Kicho reviews coming, but since both of those products are skin care, they require longer testing period. Stay tuned!
WHERE TO BUY:
- Natural Mineral Foaming Cleanser – $37 USD for 150ml. Available at Cupidrop [also available in travel-size for $7 here]
- Sweet Nature Lip Balm – $21 USD for 5.5g. Available at Cupidrop.
- SEOH 0-14 pH Testing Strips – $14.50 USD for 100. Available on Amazon.
There is a special value offer available at Cupidrop right now – get this Back to Basics Value Set for $200 instead of $240, and don’t forget to use the code HOTSUMMER for extra 10% off your order over $30. If a full set is not your thing, there are several Kicho products currently on sale, including the lip balm from this post, which is discounted to $15 from $21. Cupidrop also sells travel sizes of many Kicho products at very reasonable prices.
Have you tried Korean skin care before? Do you have a favorite cleanser? What was the last lip balm that impressed you? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclosure: This post features products received for editorial consideration and may contain affiliate or referral links. For more details about my product review policy, copyright, and information about affiliate links, please refer to Disclosures & Content Use page.