I love Korean skin care, but I have a scary secret: I’ve only seen one episode of a k-drama. It’s not that I don’t want to see them, I actually have tons of them in my Amazon queue. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Because of this, I didn’t realize the craze surrounding hanyul rice essential skin softener due to jun ji-hyun’s celebrity endorsement of hanyul’s new rice-based skin care line. However, after looking at photos of her, I can easily see how she could be the inspiration for someone’s skin: that girl’s complexion is enviably flawless.
My reason for buying Hanyul’s new essential rice line is much more mundane. i was trying hanyul’s old skin care line for review, when they discontinued it and launched all these exciting new products. I was enjoying the old line, so I thought I’d try the new products.
Reading: Hanyul skin care review
Today I’m reviewing the new hanyul line rice essential skin softener, which, I should mention, is actually written “milder” 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 skin softener essential ($47) is a hydrating toner that promises to moisturize, brighten, and improve skin texture. There are two toner products in Hanyul’s rice-based line. this one is made for normal to dry skin while the rice skin softener is made for normal to oily skin.
water, alcohol, peg/ppg-17/6 copolymer, glycereth-26, butylene glycol, niacinamide, monascus/rice starter, rice extract, barley yeast/seed starter filtrate, lactobacillus/barley starter starter Soy, Cnidium officinale (Cnidium) Root, Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract, Soybean (Glycine Soya) Seed Extract, Cocoa Extract, Bis-peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Polyglyceryl Methacrylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl, Adenosine , sodium hyaluronate, dextrin, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, carbomer, tromethamine, edta disodium, phenoxyethanol, fragrance. *rice extract 10268 ppm
The first thing I noticed was the amount of alcohol 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 ok in a well formulated product and it can actually improve the penetration of beneficial ingredients to the skin. When I interviewed cosmetic chemist, Perry Romanowski (the mastermind of beauty and author of several books on skin care), he stated unequivocally that alcohol was not a harmful ingredient and that it not only helps with ingredient penetration, but It also kills microbes. I personally find that I tolerate alcohol well in a properly formulated product, as long as it is not part of a bha or aha product, but I have to admit: I had doubts about the amount of alcohol in this toner. its alot. if you are particularly sensitive to alcohol, essential skin softener with hanyul rice is not for you.
As for the rest of the ingredient list, I was surprised and delighted with the amount of brightening agents in this product. Here are some of the highlights:
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin b3 that works well for lightening, lightening hyperpigmentation and acne. this is a well documented skin care ingredient. one study even showed it to be effective at reducing fine lines as well as treating redness and hyperpigmentation:
niacinamide: a b vitamin that improves the appearance of aging facial skin dermatological surgery, 2005
Rice alone has several skin-benefiting properties (which I’ll explain in my description of rice extract), but if you ferment that rice, you get a whole new advantage. rice ferment, better known as sake, produces kojic acid as a byproduct. Kojic acid is an antibacterial and antifungal substance derived from fungi. It is a skin lightening agent in 4% concentrations and works similarly to hydroquinone in that it inhibits melanin production, but hydroquinone is less likely to cause irritation. however, I’m not sure how much kojic acid is in this particular formula.
I’ve seen some concerns expressed about the safety of kojic acid. Here are the facts: There have been some studies in rodents that have shown that kojic acid is a potential carcinogen when taken orally in large doses. Subsequently, there were some more studies that actually showed that kojic acid is an antioxidant and has cancer-preventing properties. Japan is currently conducting more studies on kojic acid in an effort to reach a more definitive conclusion, but since none of the studies showed it to be harmful when applied topically, Japan, Korea, and the United States consider it a cosmetic ingredient. sure. It has been banned in Switzerland. In addition, it should be noted that kojic acid is found naturally as a component in all soybean ferment-based foods, such as miso and soy sauce.
for more information on kojic acid, see:
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Kojic Acid: Fermentation Process Development and Applications for Production (pdf) Biotechnology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 2010
final report of the safety evaluation 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. a 2012 study conducted in both rabbits and human volunteers showed that it improved skin hydration, as well as improving skin tone, texture, and elasticity.
more information about rice extract:
antiaging efficacy of topical formulations containing niosomes entrapped in bioactive compounds from rice bran pharmaceutical biology, 2012
a rice-derived recombinant human lactoferrin stimulates fibroblast proliferation and migration and maintains cell survival wound repair and regeneration: international journal of tissue repair and regeneration, 2010
cnidium officinale (cnidium) root extract
Most of the scientific data I found on cnidium officinale revolved around its antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. I saw very brief mention of its ability to lighten hyperpigmented skin by inhibiting a hormone called a-msh, which is a major player in skin pigmentation.
skin color change: evolution and modern trends indian journal of dermatology, 2007
according to cosdna, alcohol is the only major red flag in this line of ingredients. it scores a 3 out of 5 as a potential irritant.
hanyul rice essential skin softener bottle is a great beauty. It has sleek, modern lines and a sleek 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. Hanyul’s old line had no English at all, and I hope the English on the new product’s packaging indicates Hanyl’s intention to enter English-speaking markets. I personally think this line would stand out (in a good way) on sephora’s shelves.
however, I have a problem with the packaging. more exactly, I have a problem with the name of the product. Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softener is actually called with the spelling, “softer”. I think the change in spelling is intentional for consistency – it appears this way on the bottle, box, and on official amore pacific product listings. I’m not opposed to a fancy spelling per se, but I’m opposed to this fancy spelling because it reads like a mistake. I’d be more open to it if it at least had the proper punctuation, like “softer”. I would also be more amenable to a change in spelling that is more obvious, like söfftner. but “softer?” that seems like a mistake to me. if it weren’t for this consistency of misspelling, I’d assume that’s what it is. I consider it an unfortunate blemish in a product that looks elegant and refined.
The product itself is a clear liquid that is thicker than water, but thinner than something like a typical hyaluronic acid serum. it is almost identical in consistency to the sulwhasoo equilibrium water. in fact, it is a very similar product in terms of application and use 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 of hanyul rice essential skin softener is right at 5.
The scent of Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softener is fresh and herbal. It is not too heavy and does not stay long after application.
I apply a dime-sized amount of hanyul rice essential skin softener both morning and night. the instructions say to apply it right after the hanyul optimizing serum, which is a booster that is applied right 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 for the acids to do their work. then i apply hanyul rice essential skin softener, still using a dime-sized amount. I apply the product with my hands, gently spreading it over the face and then pressing it into my palms.
It only takes a couple of minutes to absorb on its own, due to the high alcohol content. it definitely adds moisture despite the alcohol, and the finish is not sticky at all. Most of the time, i start applying my next skincare products before the hanyul rice essential skin softener has a chance to absorb itself. it works wonderfully that way.
I’ve been using hanyul rice essential skin softener for a little over 6 weeks now. i definitely enjoy the added moisture to my routine. I did not see any visible change in skin texture until i started using the acid toner and later, paula’s chosen weekly resurfacing treatment. to be fair, my skin texture wasn’t bad to begin with.
I saw a subtle but visible overall glow within a couple of days after incorporating hanyul rice essential skin softener into my routine. My pih marks also cleared up while using this product, but I think credit goes to the aha and bha that I was using at the same time as this toner. I don’t have a definitive way of knowing if hanyul rice essential skin softener had any influence on the lightening I saw, but the 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 facial oils.
I did not experience any dryness, irritation or breakouts as a result of using Hanyul Rice Essential Skin Softener.
Overall, I find hanyul rice essential skin softener to be a wonderful hydrating toner for those who are not averse to alcohol in their skin care. I enjoyed the brightening, moisturizing and increased absorption results of the product, and I thought the experience of using the product was extremely pleasant.
I just wish the name was spelled correctly.
- absorbs quickly brightens skin tone slightly moisturizes non-sticky smells pleasant
- high alcohol content
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