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: Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream vs Innisfree Orchid eye cream

So I’m going to review two similar products, today. The Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream and the Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream.

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you’ll know I am a HUGE fan of K-beauty brand Innisfree. I discovered them in China, where there are Innisfree stores in airports, train stations, malls and pretty much anywhere else you can think of! They have a huge presence across East Asia, and it’s because their products are great.

I bought both these products at the same time. I got a sample-sized pot of the Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream and a full-sized one of Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream. I was actually really struggling to find reviews of the Innisfree Perfect 9 range online, particularly comparisons to find out what is better out of Innisfree’s many different ranges.

Basically, Perfect 9 has nine different active ingredients aimed to improve common problems in more mature skin, where the Orchid range is aimed more at women in their late twenties/early thirties, and the main ingredient in the orchid range is hyalauronic acid.

In K-beauty, it’s difficult to place Innisfree as high-street or high-end because by western standards, Innisfree is extremely high end (and is priced like that), but the true Asian high-end market is several orders of magnitude more high end and expensive than our western ranges (Nature Republic and Clé De Peau are proper high end luxury brands).

I’d say Innisfree is high end but not necessarily luxury beauty, a bit like how we would classify Benefit, Calvin Klein, or Urban Decay (compared to, say, Guerlain, Murad, Elemis or La Mer). It’s minimalist high end, if that makes sense.

Packaging:

Both creams come in identical packaging, it’s a plastic jar with a screw-top lid. It doesn’t look as fancy as the Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Essence Watery Cream but it’s also easier to store the Innisfree jars and to find space for them on my crowded dressing table (Americans, a dressing table is literally the table you sit at when you’re getting dressed. You put cosmetics on it and sometimes it has a mirror).

The Orchid packaging does appeal to me a little more because it’s purple, which is my favourite colour, whereas the Perfect 9 range is all brown, not my favourite. Perhaps this is intentional, because older women aren’t necessarily going to want bright colours on their dressing table? I don’t know. When I’m fifty, I think I’ll still like purple more than brown.

The full-sized jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream comes with a protective inner lid made of white plastic. The Orchid miniature jar doesn’t. This is usual for miniatures from Innisfree, I know, since I’ve had about 4 sets of miniatures at this point.

Scent

The scent of the Perfect 9 Eye Cream is what I’d consider a generic floral scent. The Orchid range obviously smells like guess what? Orchids, haha.

To my mind, neither scent is particularly strong or overwhelming but I have seen some reviews for the Orchid range by people complaining it’s overly-perfumed. I react badly to a lot of cheap western fragrances (I can’t use 80% of all deodorants because my nose and eyes start running and I feel like there’s a hairball at the back of my throat), and I’ve never actually come across a K-beauty product with a scent that caused me issues.

Consistency

Both creams are thick, you could turn both jars upside-down for several minutes and no product will fall out. The consistency is that of a very rich cream but somehow they still manage to not be overly-greasy. I wish western beauty companies would take notes from K-beauty because I cannot believe the amount of western “anti-ageing” creams that are useless because they’re oilier than putting butter on your face.

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is a little thicker than the Orchid Eye Cream, but there’s not much in it.

Appearance

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is a little darker in colour than the Orchid Eye Cream, but both creams are creamy coloured and opaque, meaning you can’t see through them.

For some reason, their appearance reassures me that they’re made of proper ingredients. My Innisfree Orchid Essence really throws me for a loop because it’s completely colourless which makes me wonder what’s effective about it (which is frankly silly because colour and opacity don’t determine how well a product works).

When you put them on your skin, they sit on the surface for a few minutes (especially if you have just used toner, essence etc) then disappear.

When to use it

I tend to use these at night time, around my eye area, and I pair them with the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender or the Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream.

Effectiveness

Okay, so up to now, the two creams are almost identical. You might be forgiven for wondering if Innisfree just puts the same stuff into different jars.

They don’t.

The Orchid Eye Cream is a gentle moisturising cream and when I use it, I don’t notice a vast improvement in the texture or elasticity of my skin. However, it definitely improves the moisture in my skin, which is usually prone to dryness.

I was surprised that a cream containing hyalauronic acid didn’t have any kind of noticeable plumping effect, even when I use it with all the other orchid products in the range.

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is literally the best eye cream I have ever used. Since using this cream, my skin has been transformed. I used to have deepening lines around my eyes which were especially noticeable when I smiled.

Since using the Perfect 9 Eye cream, those lines have faded significantly. I know this is a long-term effect because they stay faded on days when I use other products.

Verdict

My full-sized jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream is almost empty, and my trial size jar of Orchid Eye Cream is almost full. This is because I keep reaching for the Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream over and over again, its results are fantastic and I’m really happy with this eye cream. I hope they keep making it for years to come.

There’s nothing wrong with the Orchid Eye Cream, per se, it’s just not got the incredible transformative power of the Perfect 9 Eye Cream which I think is the best thing you can put around your eye area once ageing starts to take hold. I can see this being effective for older women, not just women my age (34).

Overall, when that jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream runs out, I’m going to order more of it. Given that there will be a 6 week delay before it arrives from South Korea, I’m going to have to use up the Orchid Eye Cream in the meantime.

I do also have the Innisfree White Mushroom range in miniature, so I’ll review those, too, in a separate post, and I will discuss how they compare to these.

Have you tried anything from the Innisfree Perfect 9 range, yet? I’d love to hear about their other products. Let me know in the comments!

The K-beauty regime: Is it for you?

The K-beauty regime is such a big deal in East Asia. It’s also popular to a lesser extent in China (you can buy the products but people don’t necessarily use them all, and there’s fewer brands to choose from in China, but there are still a LOT of brands; it’s just a testament to how much of a big deal K-beauty is in Korea that they have the biggest selection of beauty products that I’ve ever seen in my life). One thing to note, though, is that China has its own beauty brands (usually with European-sounding names) and they don’t like to think of themselves as aficionados of K-beauty. In China, the exact same things are pretty much classed as Chinese beauty. 😉

IMG_7213b

There’s been a lot of online articles from western magazines and whatnot which are all like, “Korean women spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening on their beauty regime!!!” Honestly? While they sure spend time on it, with VISIBLE results, they also generally work very long hours (much longer than people do in the west) and so I’d say twenty minutes to half an hour, morning and evening, is probably more realistic, certainly on the days when I’ve done a full K-beauty regime. Sheet masks, of course, take 15-20 mins all by themselves, but you don’t do those daily; two to four times a week is more reasonable.

Why do they do it? Well, unlike in the west, K-beauty tends to focus on skincare. Get a good canvas, THEN correct flaws with makeup. It’s a much more natural look, and I really like the whole idea, I mean, depending how long you’ve been reading my blog, even before I came to Asia you may remember that most of my beauty articles were skincare related. Makeup? Eh. When I hit twenty-five, I started to feel like taking care of my skin was WAY more important. #realtalk #confessionsofabeautyblogger some days, I don’t even wear any makeup. Most days, I wear the bare minimum. But I never forget my skincare.

So, the FULL K-beauty routine goes like this (usually… there are some variations depending who you ask and what brands they use), starting from a completely cleansed face (you would use cleanser and whatnot first, if your face was dirty):

Essence goes on first. This is usually the most watery or thinnest consistency of product. If you’re ever in doubt about whether you’re using K-beauty properly, usually it goes from thinnest to thickest consistency of product. 😉 And at the end of the day, it’s no biggie if you get one or two steps back to front. I use this Soybean Firming Essence [light] from Innisfree; it’s about the same price in China as in the US, and I plan to review it at some point.

Serum goes on after essence. I use the Innisfree Soybean Energy Serum which TRAGICALLY you don’t seem to be able to get in America. It’s like my favorite thing so that’s very sad. I do also like the Innisfree Jeju Pomegranate Serum which you ALSO can’t get in the US. Sometimes around now I’ll use a moisture spray, too.

Then, you put on something called “skin” if you want, but I’ve never found one I especially loved and the consistency seems to vary between different ones, too, which makes me feel like I’m just washing off my serum and essence. Some K-beauty people call “skin” “toner” but where the west calls toner something you remove makeup with/clean your face with, K-beauty “toner” seems to mean something that improves the tone of your skin. I’m not sure if they mean color or firmness, but I’ve tried a few and none of them did either for me. I skip this step.

Next comes moisturizer or lotion. Some brands call it one, some call it the other. I would usually use one with an SPF, but if it’s a day when I’m not going outside, I’ll use one with other properties instead. My favorite non-SPF is the Innisfree Green Tea balancing cream. My favorite SPF is the Clio Kill Cover SPF 50 but you can’t get that in the US. My second favorite (better for oily skin as it has a matte finish, so with my normal skin, I use it on top of another moisturizer like the Innisfree one, above) is the Etude House Sunprise SPF32 (the US one is SPF50 and reviews claim it’s better for dry skin so maybe that’s a slightly different product to the one I have).

Now you put on your base (or primer, or veil… some people use veil and base, I personally feel they’re interchangable). I have some nice ones of these, and the K-beauty ones all seem to be good for color-correcting, especially if you have dark circles under your eyes. My favorites are the Etude House baby choux because I wear it on its own for color correction and it’s fabulous (I will review this, too, soon) and the Cle De Peau Correcting Creme Veil which I also wear on its own sometimes, without any other makeup on top. It is a French brand but, like many western cosmetics companies, they have a completely different line of (arguably better) products for the Chinese and Korean market, because they have to compete against homegrown Asian products that are really good. And HOLY MACARONI I had no IDEA how much that Cle De Peau one cost as I got it as a thank-you gift, as part of a big set of Cle De Peau cosmetics from a first-grader’s mom after I taught her daughter English. It’s sooooo good though. If all expensive cosmetics are that good, I can totally see why Kim Kardashian looks so good, even if we ignore the surgery and personal trainer sessions.

After primer, you add either BB cream, cushion, or what-have-you (whatever you use for foundation). I was using the Innisfree cushion but I’ve just ran out, so last week I bought the Clio Kill Professional one. I like cushion makeup (it’s like pressed powder but wet… I can’t explain it), because it’s quick to apply, but when I have time, I prefer BB cream applied with a beauty blender (or a 20-cent Chinese knock-off… $10 for a sponge?? Nope) as it’s more nourishing and I think it looks more natural on my face. I haven’t used western foundation since I got to China because it’s complete garbage compared to the stuff here, and SO bad for my skin. All the redness I’ve had, and which I’ve seen pretty much every western beauty vlogger seems to have before they apply their makeup, has vanished since I stopped using western foundation; I think there’s something badly wrong with it. Unless you have deeply tanned skin, Asian foundations are way better.

After that, you do the rest of your make-up; blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, brows.

Lastly, dust with some finishing powder and you’re good to go. And if you feel dry during the course of the day? Don’t be afraid to mist your face with moisturizing spray in public. Seriously, people do this SO OFTEN at coffee shops in Korea. I just got the LaNeige Water Bank Mist last week and I really love it. It’s so much fun, and quick and easy to use, although I’m lazy and only use it about once a day.

HOWEVER, there’s a huge difference between what I know I *should* do and what I actually do. I feel dowdy just thinking about the fact that some people are doing all of this every day. They will look like Zsa Zsa Gabor when they’re 80, and I’ll look like Sir Ian McKellen. I know I should do all this, but it’s so much effort and when I was working full-time I didn’t have time. Anyway, I tend to go along with how my skin feels, and a lot of the time, I don’t feel like I need to use all of that stuff.

So instead, usually I go:

Essence,

Serum,

Moisturizer/moisturizing suncream. I put all those on my face AND neck, because I feel like my neck needs more love than my body lotion can give it. If I get too much product on my hands, I also rub it into the backs of my hands and I’ve noticed the difference in my hand skin since I started doing that, but I still can’t bring myself to regularly use hand cream, it just isn’t me.

If I feel red or washed out I add one of the choux base veils I mentioned.

Then, unless I’m going out somewhere nice or Youtubing, I usually just sort my brows out, throw on some lipstick (my current favorites are Bobbi Brown or Elizabeth Arden… because I know where I left those) and get on with finding where I left my shoes and whether I have any hair elastics.

Then I am ready to face the day.

I’m a soccer mom waiting to happen.