The more literate one becomes in the language of K-beauty, the more fluent one becomes, by necessity, in the ingredients, technology and science underlying those cushiony creams, dripping sheet masks and bouncy essences. Less starry-eyed are we over the bells and whistles and gimmicks of a product, and more laser-focused on a well-formulated serum or a high-tech delivery system.
I’m no exception. These days, ampoules in droppers, pre-soaked acid peelers and multitasking treatment masks dominate my vanity, making my bathroom look more like a laboratory than a boudoir. And that’s the way I like it. After all, I test, experiment and analyze new products on a daily basis — if that isn’t science, what is?
Indeed, it’s the science of K-beauty that appeals to the nerd in me. Of course, the main goal is to have glowing, translucent, need-nothin’-but-a-cushion complexion, but I have to admit, I geek out over new technologies, ingredient lists littered with botanical Latin genus names, and studies showing an X-percentage improvement in hydration after six weeks of use.
Which is what makes Blithe’s Vital Treatment Pulp Essence—8 Nourishing Beans the perfect product for me to scrutinize next. Yes, I’ve already fallen in love with the brand’s Pressed Serums (try it as a morning mask — can you say “bye bye dry?”) and Patting Splash Masks (the lazy girl in me thanks you). But how could Blithe possibly make a treatment essence amazing? Good, I can see. Amazing? Now that’s a tall order.
Let’s start with the basics: the ingredient list. Check out the first seven ingredients of the Essence:
Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract (22.844%)
Ceratonia Siliqua (Carob) Fruit Extract (9.665%)
Phaseolus Radiatus Seed Extract (9.665%), a.k.a. mung bean
Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut) Fruit Extract (9.665%)
Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract (9.665%)
Phaseolus Angularis Seed Extract (9.665%) — that’s adzuki bean, to you and me
Phaseolus Vulgaris (Kidney Bean) Seed Extract (9.665%)
Now if all those percentages haven’t gotten your inner math nerd into a tizzy (over 80% of the ingredients is bean extracts), how about this little factoid: Ingredients are listed by their highest concentrations to the lowest. No preservatives or even aqua (water) listed first, second or even seventh? Go right now to your bathroom, and check the ingredients list of any of your skincare products. Most likely, the first ingredient in most of them will be aqua, the second some form of preservative.
Even cooler than all those numbers in the ingredient list is the formula itself. Look carefully at the bottle, and you’ll see little white beads suspended throughout, like some freaky science experiment. It’s the coolest thing because, in addition to a host of peptide- and vitamin-rich bean extracts like lentil, black beans and red beans in the essence base itself, those miniature capsules are filled with vitamin E, just waiting to saturate your skin and demolish skin cell-killing free radicals from environmental pollution and UV rays. Vitamin E also fights inflammation, the cause of all sorts of aging indicators like hyperpigmentation and fine lines, and is an excellent hydrator.
Clearly, the Pulp Essence is amazing on paper, but how does it feel? I tap a dime-size amount of the essence, including a handful of tiny capsules, onto my palm. (I forgo the cotton pad, just so I don’t waste any product.) The texture has a lightweight viscosity, which I prefer in my essences over a more liquid feel. As I pat the pulpy goodness onto my face, the little capsules burst, and the essence forms a palpable veil on my skin. The finish is less tacky and more nourished, plumped. And I can practically feel the force field of antioxidants, ready to deactivate marauding free radicals. The evidence is clear: This essence is moving to the front of my vanity.
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that when technology meets a pleasing sensorial experience, there’s no better alchemy than that.