What’s the most important criteria for good skincare, in your opinion? Maybe it’s ingredients and formulation, texture and experience of using or measurable benefits for the skin.
I take my job as a skincare reviewer seriously. I like to make sure I put products to the test and see exactly how they measure up to their expected claims. I often know if I like a product or not within the first 2-3 weeks, so when I still feel ambivalent after that time, it’s a bit puzzling.
This is where I introduce Make Prem Chaga Concentrate Essence, a highly concentrated single extract essence that has me feeling a little torn.
Heads up: This product was provided to me as a press sample from K-Beauty retailer Credithink
My Skin Type: Combo/Dry, Dehydrated, Sensitive
What is it?
A super watery essence that contains 100% chaga mushroom extract and claims to help condition skin and enhance its natural strength.
The texture is very much like a mushroom water. It’s incredibly thin and runny and there is just a hint of richness to this as you rub it between your fingers.
The first question I had about this essence was, “Is it a first essence or something I should use after toner?”
This doesn’t feel like a first essence (it’s also not fermented) so it doesn’t have to be ordered right after cleansing, but its super light texture makes it an easy first step or even a toner replacement. I mostly use this in my routines first, but I have also used it after very similarly textured toners. There seems to be some flexibility with its uses.
This is a 100% chaga mushroom essence but it’s not the only ingredient that makes up this essence. Authorized Make Prem retailer Credithink lists the ingredients as:
Ingredients: Water, Chaga (Inonotus Obliquus) Mushroom Extract, Propanediol
Remember that this extract needs a few other things to make it worthy of being on your skin. Extracts need to be distilled in water, and you know you want to have some type of preservation ingredients to keep that essence from going moldy.
Let’s talk chaga mushroom.
Mushrooms are certainly having their superfood movement, aren’t they? I mean, we have mushroom supplements, tea and even shroom coffee (I’ve tried it; I’m a believer). So it’s not really surprising to see this trend end up in skincare; if it’s good for you on the inside it must be good for you on the outside, right?
Chaga is considered the king of mushrooms and is special in the fact that it doesn’t grow on the ground, but rather on birch trees. And not just any birch trees, but those found in the northern hemisphere, meaning that is has to thrive in super cold and harsh environments. This results in a super charged, hearty and resilient mushroom.
Chaga has the best antiviral properties when compared to other forest mushroom varieties. Chaga also has antibacterial properties that make it beneficial for protecting the skin from infections.
Chaga also has soothing abilities and happens to be packed full of antioxidants, which can help protect the skin from free radical damage caused by everyday irritants like pollution, UV exposure, lack of sleep, stress and poor diet. Antioxidants can protect from free radicals, but they also can help to repair the damage already done, called oxidative stress. Not only that but antioxidants also have the ability to help boost your sunscreen’s UVB protection, making it an effective addition to your morning skincare routine.
All of this makes chaga a great extract for all skin types and ages.
I do really like the watery, light texture of this, but that posed some problems with how to incorporate this into my routine. I don’t think there is a wrong way, as this has a lot of flexibility. This is thin enough in texture to be used straight after cleansing or ordered after your toner. This also works as a toner mask (saturate 5-layer cotton and place on your face for 3-5 minutes). My favorite way to use this was actually much like a toner in 2-3 layers after cleansing.
This isn’t crazy hydrating on its own, so I like to pair it with other hydrating toners to help boost my skin’s water levels, but it does have some hydration benefits. I wouldn’t call this essence moisturizing, but if you layer it up more than twice you might start to feel some richness build up on your skin.
So this wasn’t really a strong hydrator or moisturizer, which left me wondering how this was benefiting my skincare routines.
Since chaga is a known skin soother I wondered if this might have some irritation soothing properties. I did try this out as my first skincare product a few times when my skin was irritated, and it just didn’t give my skin relief like some other single extract essences have.
Hmmm, do you see why I’m a bit on the fence about this?
The claims of this essence are rather vague – to condition and strengthen skin. I really didn’t notice any skin conditioning, softening, glow or pore refinement. As far as strengthening skin, it may have helped but I didn’t notice remarkable differences in this area either.
So I’m a bit torn here.
This is a good, solid product. As a single extract essence it has a pleasing texture that offers a moderate amount of hydration. For what it’s worth, this stands out against the mugwort and green tea single extract essences I’ve tried because it is not fermented, making very ferment-sensitive skin rejoice.
This has never caused any issues for my skin and has been a pleasurable, if silent (in terms of visible benefits), product in my routine.
I know that chaga comes with a lot of antioxidant benefits which I will always take in my skincare, but since this isn’t paired with say brightening ingredients, it’s hard for me to see exactly what it’s doing for my skin.
So that brings me to the more overarching question I had when compiling my review: Do skincare products have to show you visible benefits in order to be reviewed as good?
And I’m not 100% sure that I know the answer. This product does not irritate or harm skin, is easy and pleasant to use and is gentle on skin, containing no known irritating ingredients. While a little hard on the wallet, it contains a super nutrient and antioxidant-charged ingredient that is probably more protective for skin then transformative.
So, exciting and sexy, no. Utilitarian but solid, yes.
If the protective benefits of chaga interest you or you’re looking for a single extract essence that isn’t fermented, I think this is worth trying. If you are looking for more transformative benefits from your essence, you might look elsewhere.
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