Review: Innisfree Jeju Orchid vs Cauliflower Mushroom range

Today, I’m reviewing the Innisfree Jeju Orchid and Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom (aka Innisfree White Fungus) range.

Let me start by saying “cauliflower mushroom” and “white fungus” are both terrible names for a beauty product, even if that is the active ingredient. That’s the elephant in the room with this range.

I was lucky enough to get a set of miniatures of both the Jeju Orchid range and the Cauliflower Mushroom range. I’ve reviewed the comparable items here.

This article covers:

  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Skin (toner) vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin (toner)
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Essence vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Essence
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Lotion vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Lotion
  • Innisfree Jeju Orchid Cream vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Cream

I’m going to start with the toner.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Skin (toner) vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin (toner)

I decided the best way to test the toner was to put orchid skin on one side of my body and cauliflower mushroom skin on the other side of my body.

I have been using K-beauty for a while (about 3 years now) and although I used to follow a 10-step routine, I have largely developed my own K-beauty routine which works best for my skin. But I could never quite figure out where to place the toner, and where other people said to put it (after essence and serum) didn’t work for me at all.

For the record, I’m 34, my face skin is still looking under 30 but my arms and legs have been ageing faster since my late twenties due to spending a lot of time in the sun in foreign countries. It’s the price you pay for being a travel blogger. But I’d still like to improve things and I’d heard that skin/toner was the product to use.

See, some K-beauty skin/toner products are exfoliating, using AHA or BHA to reveal the fresh skin and clear away the dead cells on the surface.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to know what’s in Innisfree products imported from South Korea because, of course, the labels are in Korean. When I bought their products in China, the labels were in Chinese. Go figure. And the American products are so translated that half the time I can’t even tell if something is the same product or a reformulation for the US market.

So anyway, on the one hand we have a bottle of gloopy toner in pretty purple packaging that is orchid scented and on the other, we have a bottle of toner in brown packaging that is… you guessed it. Cauliflower mushroom scented.

That’s about as good as it sounds.

I wasn’t entirely sure whether these toners should be left on or washed off, and toner seems to be one of the steps in the K-beauty routine you hear the least about. Maybe because no one else is sure whether to wash off their toner or not, too. Or maybe because most people doing K-beauty are, like, seventeen (I’m sorry, but statistics show most beauty bloggers are on average fifteen years younger than me) and therefore have no need for anti-ageing products.

So I used the orchid toner on my left arm and leg, and the cauliflower mushroom toner on my right arm and leg, then I left them for about ten minutes. They went on slightly sticky, feeling a bit like shampoo, meaning they definitely have things in them that should be washed off again. Like western exfoliating face washes.

I stepped into the shower and washed off. I had applied them to dry skin because they were quite watery and I wasn’t convinced that they would do much on wet skin, and I’m far too impatient to make my body damp then stand around in the Belfast November cold waiting for gloop to work.

When I came out of the shower, the difference was profound. The orchid skin toner had given a very mild effect, but the crumpled paper sort of appearance of the surface of my skin still remained when I pinched it (when you get to a certain age, when you pinch or squeeze your skin all these lines appear that you don’t usually see), and it felt rough to the touch, like it needed moisture ASAP.

The cauliflower mushroom skin toner had done something completely different. It had left my skin feeling smooth to the touch, and when I pinched some of my leg skin between my fingers, the crumpled paper appearance had drastically reduced.

My skin felt renewed and looked and felt younger.

I was very impressed. And also shocked that I had never seen anyone writing about this product because it’s incredible! I don’t know if it’s because the name cauliflower mushroom doesn’t sound appealing in English or because the packaging is a lot browner than the orchid’s pretty purple packaging (which I’ve commented on before in my review of the orchid eye cream vs. the perfect 9 eye cream).

The Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Skin/Toner is the best exfoliating toner for anti-ageing needs I’ve ever come across.

I don’t say it often, but Holy Grail alert! And I’ve had it sitting in my cosmetics drawer for months and never used it!

I wish this toner was more accessible to the UK market.

I wasn’t planning on doing this, but given how good this toner is, I am going to compare it to the Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peeling Exfoliator in a separate article.

Wow. So let’s look at the other products:

Innisfree Jeju Orchid essence vs. Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom vital serum

Essence and serum are sometimes used interchangeably but actually, they can sometimes be different things, such as in the Innisfree Soybean Energy range, where there used to be a (now-discontinued) serum which was different to their mega-amazing bestselling Soybean Energy Essence (which I swear I will review one of these days). Usually, however, “serum” is the English translation of “essence” which is a shame because essence is a prettier word. In the case of these two products, the word is interchangeable.

An essence or serum is sort of like someone put all the active ingredients of a cream into a container without any of the moisturising or hydrating properties. Sort of.

I’ve been using the Innisfree Orchid Essence on my face for several months, now and if I’m entirely honest, I’m not very impressed with it. I spent ages researching which products to get to replace the Soybean Energy Serum which is now discontinued and was my favourite product ever. The research I did said Orchid was just as good.

It isn’t.

I’m sorry if you’re a fan of the Innisfree Orchid Essence and I know it’s one of their bestselling ranges alongside the green tea seed products, but honestly I don’t like the Orchid Essence and I don’t feel like it’s doing anything to my skin. All told, I’m glad I got it in an Autumn Festival sale rather than paying full price for it.

So the bar was pretty low and tl;dr, the Cauliflower Mushroom essence was a lot better. I’m not rushing out to buy a full-priced bottle because there are so many serums out there to choose from and I don’t think it’s the very best, but at the same time I felt like it was at least doing something for my skin. It left my face feeling soft and hydrated.

I didn’t use the essence on my arms and legs because the bottle is a miniature and it’s even smaller than all the other miniatures in this set, so there isn’t much product.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Lotion vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Lotion

After my shower, I did put the Orchid lotion on my left arm and leg, and the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion on my right arm and leg. The Orchid lotion was thinner and came out of the sample bottle very easily, whereas the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion led to me doing the Innisfree Miniature Bottle Dance, which is where I spend about ten minutes tapping the mouth of the open bottle against my hand until enough product comes out to actually use.

If you’ve ever had an Innisfree gift set, you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean. They don’t put anything in a squeezy bottle.

Anyway after many minutes I got the Cauliflower Mushroom lotion out of the bottle and applied it to my arm and leg. It was honestly worth the wait. The Cauliflower Mushroom lotion was instantly hydrating and made my skin feel smooth. The paper bag appearance when I pinch my skin was totally gone, and I credit the Cauliflower Mushroom skin/toner and lotion combo for this.

For a lotion, the effect was very impressive.

Innisfree Jeju Orchid Cream vs Innisfree Cauliflower Mushroom Face Cream

This is the last pairing in this review and I am not sure I need to really write it, at this point, because if you’ve been following this article, you can clearly see what I’m going to say. Except I’m not.

I have been using the Orchid cream for a few weeks on my face. I hadn’t opened the Cauliflower Mushroom miniatures set until today.

The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is not as startlingly good as the Perfect 9 eye cream, which I think is my favourite Innisfree product right now. The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is richer than the Orchid face cream, though, and which one you prefer will depend on your current skin needs.

It was super clear-cut that the Cauliflower Mushroom Skin/Toner, lotion and serum was better than the Orchid range, but when it comes to the face creams, I’m not so sure that’s the case.

The Cauliflower Mushroom face cream is a lot richer than I currently need, and my skin wasn’t able to absorb it very well, suggesting it’s aimed at ladies who are ten or fifteen years older than me. The Orchid face cream was largely ineffective. Both creams left my face feeling weighed down (if that even makes sense) and over-saturated, and neither addressed my anti-ageing needs especially well.

So when it comes to the face creams, I wouldn’t buy full sized versions of either of them. And I’m glad I didn’t (I almost bought a full size pot of the Orchid one).

Conclusion:

Need a toner? Cauliflower mushroom. Need a lotion? Cauliflower mushroom. Need an essence/serum? Cauliflower mushroom. The Cauliflower mushroom range does these products extremely well.

But if you need a daytime face cream, I would suggest you keep looking, because neither of these quite hit the mark for me.

Review: Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream High End Luxury K-beauty

In this article I’m going to review the high-end K-beauty product Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream.

It costs about £75 or $100USD from Nature Republic’s official website. For that, you get a full-size jar and this contains 50ml (just under 2oz) of product.

Packaging and first impressions:

It comes in a green cardboard box with a sleeve giving you product details (and stopping the cardboard box opening). Inside the cardboard box is a crystal-style big square jar which is colored green in a gradient from clear to dark green.

Everything about this product screams pure luxury. I heard about it from a friend who asked me to bring her a jar back from Seoul when I lived in China.

Here are some photos:

The white lid is a screw top and underneath, there’s a black protective second lid.

The cream itself has a jelly-like texture and consistency. It’s clear and colourless apart from the 24 karat gold pieces that are embedded in the cream.

It has a sort of perfumed scent, I think it would pair well with Chanel No. 5 because the scent is in the same style but different.

Active Ingredients:

Every active ingredient in this product is a powerhouse from nature. They’re all slightly a big deal in South Korea (slightly), and since we know for a fact K-beauty is all about the skincare, this product should be top of everyone’s list in the fight against ageing.

The active ingredients in this product are royal jelly, silk amino acids (known for their repairing properties for skin and hair), and extract of red ginseng.

Royal jelly is well-documented as an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. It contains antioxidants that work against free radical damage. Reference here.

Ginseng is a superfood that has been used as a supplement for decades in the west to help with middle-aged women’s problems. It stands to reason it’s going to bring its A-game to skincare products, and in K-beauty, it’s currently everywhere. Red ginseng contains vitamins B1, B2 and B12, and it helps increase oxygenation and circulation to skin cells. Reference here.

The 24 karat gold is supposed to improve your complexion. Reference here.

Gold is still the next big thing in skincare, especially Korean skincare, so whether or not it’s an effective ingredient, at least you’re getting some actual gold for your money. Gold is technically inert as it’s unreactive (chemistry, yo) but it can illuminate and brighten your complexion so there’s that.

Really, the gold is there to make it look pretty while the other ingredients do the hard work.

The ingredients also list zizyphus jujuba fruit extract, which is a well-known ingredient native to South Korea which they also make delicious jujube tea out of. It’s a superfood, darling, and it’s the Korean skincare equivalent of Japan’s matcha green tea extract except that’s an understatement because this stuff is packed with vitamins. Jujube is the nutritional lovechild of goji berries and matcha powder. Reference here.

Another powerful ingredient, much higher up the list, is Cāng Zhú, aka Attractolydes Root Extract, which has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is harvested in Springtime and it has antimicrobial properties. It increases your chances of sunburn (like retinol creams do), but conversely, attractolydes has also been shown to have anti-cancer cytotoxic properties, so wear sunscreen with this one! Reference here.

How good is it?

It depends on what your skin is like, your age, and how you use it. I am 34 with some minor first signs of ageing like fine lines which I can still disappear with the right creams, masks and exfoliations (just about).

When I first opened my jar of Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream, I mistakenly used it as a day cream and as a result I didn’t like it. Bad, bad plan. It’s FAR too gloopy for that. Instead, use it in place of a sleeping mask/night cream, or in the evening if you’re staying in. Don’t try using this cream with makeup, the results will be damp and sticky.

In fact, the texture is damp and sticky anyway, which is why I think this is much better as a night cream or sleeping mask. Keeping this on for 8 hours uninterrupted is going to do your skin a lot of good. When it touches your face, it literally feels packed with goodness. It’s like making your face take a bath in a 24-karat superfood smoothie.

I tend to use this Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream in the evening after the sun has gone down, and over winter, when my skin needs more nourishment due to the weather and more time spent indoors with the heating on.

For best results, pair this with the Ginseng Royal Silk Essence.

Over several months, I’ve found that my skin has become brighter and holds moisture much better than before I was using this product. I’m liking it better than the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream although that’s a thin day cream and this is a very thick night cream so the two could work extremely well together. I’ve reviewed the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream separately.

I don’t think this cream is targeted at people in their twenties at all. You won’t find any benefit from it. If you’re in your mid-thirties onwards, this cream really comes into its own. Unfortunately, the vast majority of beauty reviewers in the world are in their teens and twenties which obviously makes it difficult for them to review anti-ageing creams.

The reason I took so long to review this cream is on the first use it didn’t seem like it had made any difference. The reason it’s hard to assess on one or even a few uses is because it doesn’t have those skin-plumping ingredients found in many western creams that are actually just a quick fix and really useless for long-term anti-ageing.

This cream is so powerful, that after using it every night for 3 weeks, I started only using it twice a week and alternating it with Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender, because I don’t need to use this cream every day, yet, so now I’m just using it for maintenance. This means if you’re under forty, one jar will last you FOREVER. Well, a long time, anyway.

The Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream is a long-term fix for your skin. It’s skincare rather than skin-fakery. And that’s what makes it worth buying.

Travel Packing:

The packaging of this cream is a little over the top. I weighed it on some scales, the jar by itself was over 500 grams (over 1lb)! It doubles up as a great paperweight. However, this is definitely not a jar of cream that you would want to take on vacation or any business trip, especially if you like to only take a carry-on.

If you regularly take excess baggage on flights and don’t mind dealing with really heavy suitcases (I absolutely detest lifting heavy bags), you could probably take the whole jar, but I’m not a fan of carrying things when I’m on vacation and I find that even executive-level rooms at the Marriott or Hilton are not big enough for more than a couple of suitcases, which is two people’s normal luggage, so this cream is good for travel only if you are booking a whole suite or apartment.

If you’re travelling and need a K-beauty fix, I recommend you take Laneige Water Sleeping Mask in a little travel pot, instead, or decant Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream into a travel container. Since this product increases your sun sensitivity, I’d suggest the Laneige product if you’re travelling to a very sunny destination like the Seychelles, Maldives or Malaysia. Likewise, if you’re under 30, Laneige Water Sleeping Mask should be your go-to night cream/sleeping mask.

Where to buy:

You can buy direct from Nature Republic’s UK website www.naturerepublicuk.com or in the US you can get it on Amazon in this incredible offer of the Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream, Ginseng Royal Silk Essence and FIVE miniatures for $130, saving about $60 on the RRPs of getting all this separately. In South Korea, just pop into any Nature Republic store where the assistants will be delighted to advise you.

The verdict:

An investment in your future skin.

Add-to-cart potential: High.

Review: Chanel Nail Varnish in Ballerina

So, I spent all week stressing about not having enough money, then I decided to make myself feel better… by spending money. So now I’m the owner of a bottle of Chanel Longwear Nail Colour in shade 167 Ballerina. I wanted some China Glaze but I couldn’t find any in TK Maxx so I went to the Chanel counter at John Lewis and bought this instead. I have never had high-end nail polish before, but I bought it because I read this article where they said it’s one of the best (along with China Glaze, Essie and Opi) for not chipping. I’ve had the same nail varnish for about 2 years as I liked the color, but it chipped SO BAD that it looked like it had been on a week after a day, which is why I thought I’d go for the best this time.

This is not only my first high-end nail varnish, it’s also my first Chanel product, and the very first time I’d ever been to the Chanel counter.

The Chanel counter assistant swatched Ballerina for me on a piece of clear plastic sticky tape on the back of my hand, alongside Organdi, because I couldn’t decide between the two colors from looking at the bottles. Organdi is a neutral nude in a generally flattering shade, whereas Ballerina looked almost white when swatched. I bought it and they wrapped it in a piece of paper scented with Chanel No. 5 then put it in a bag that was fastened with a piece of ribbon that says Chanel along it. Two days later the perfume is still making me smile (I love Chanel No. 5; if there was a room spray I’d totally get it, but the perfume never mixes well with my skin, and it produces a weird scent, so I can’t wear it despite how much I love the smell in general).

As soon as I got home I put it on my fingers and it took AGES to dry because I kept moving and smudging it. Also, I’d been doing the layers too thinly (because my old nail varnish was a one-and-done kinda nail varnish). Ballerina is really sheer and needs 2-3 thick layers, so I ended up with 5 thin layers on one hand and 4 medium ones on the other, and I still managed to smudge it again on one finger!! It was only a little smudge so I decided to do nothing about it.

It came out a really pale pink and I love the color.

Two days after I put it on (and bear in mind I’ve done SO much housework and cleaning and reorganizing which is usually certain death for nail varnish) it’s still got no chips at all and it’s still super shiny!

Chanel longwear nail colour 167 Ballerina review
You can’t tell that this is 2 days later!!

Conclusion: This is the best nail varnish I ever got! Five out of five for longevity! Usually when things say “longwear” it’s code for “sub-standard and never comes off” but in this case, it really, truly does what it’s supposed to! I’m thinking about getting another one when I next get paid, in a darker color. Obviously I can’t say that it’s the best high end nail varnish because it’s the only one I’ve tried, but I still completely love it and think it was worth £20 just for the fact I feel more confident wearing nail varnish now that I can touch things without chipping it! I’m definitely going to get some China Glaze as soon as I can find it so I can do a comparison review.