I know I always say in my reviews that I wouldn’t bother using toners which require cotton pads unless they include exfoliating acids, but this product is different – it isn’t just a toner.
This toner, or softener as such products are called in Japan, contains an interesting mix of ingredients. There are many components in this product that work together to give a brighter, smoother, and softer skin. Also, the product is supposed to help with the penetration of other products into the skin.
One of the main elements in this product is the SkingenecellEnmei which is Shiseido’s patented technology that combines three ingredients: enmei plant extract, Skingenecell 1P (amino acid), and 2-O-ethyl ascorbic acid. The SkingenecellEnmei helps to protect the skin from exterior aggressors and promote its renewal to achieve more radiant and healthy skin. Two other of the main ingredients are 4MSK and TMG. The first one is a brightening ingredient which works similarly to arbutin, and the latter is also known as betaine which is an amino acid extracted from sugar beets, it stimulates mild exfoliation of the dead layer of the skin. The formula also includes Uji green tea extract, sakura leaf extract, and angelica root extract, as many plant extracts also these are full of antioxidants which help to scavenge free radicals and reinforce the skin’s protective mechanisms. The toner contains alcohol to make all ingredients work as well as prepare the skin for the following skincare products. Despite the inclusion of alcohol, the softener doesn’t dry out the skin as there is a lot of glycerine in the formula, and other ingredients also help to hydrate the skin. I would only worry about the large quantity of fragrance; there are a few different types listed throughout the ingredients list, though the product has a pretty pleasant scent.
I started using this softener at the beginning of this year, because I had decided stop cleansing my face in the morning. As my skin is less oily, I don’t need to wash it with water and cleanser twice a day. I’d also wanted to try 4MSK, since 4MSK is Shiseido’s creation, my options were limited. I always knew that Japanese toners are different from Western fragranced waters, so if I wanted a proper toner, then it had to be a Japanese one. Does this product work? The short answer is yes. It makes my skin feel smoother and softer, it instantly brightens it (perhaps it is thanks to the various oxides in the formula), and it helps other products to absorb faster. I was sceptical about this aspect when I was reading the product’s claims online before buying, but it really improves the absorption of skincare. I guess it’s the alcohol in the formula or the various polymers and emollients, whatever ingredient it is, it works anyway. As for the brightening action that 4MSK is supposed to deliver, it happens, but it isn’t too potent, and it takes time to see minor results. I have used this softener on its own with only hydrating products for a few weeks, and I have noticed some brightening of new hyperpigmentation spots, but nothing outstanding. I wouldn’t buy this product with the hope that it would resolve hyperpigmentation issues; however, it might be useful as an additional step in an elaborate, skin-brightening routine.
I like this toner; I think it’s a fantastic product suitable for all skin types, as long as you tolerate all of the ingredients. It softens the skin, aids penetration of other skincare products, and it helps to fade hyperpigmentation. However, I am not sure if I would return this toner, solely because of the price, it is steep. It’s an interesting product, but it’s just too expensive for what it is.
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