Just before I started using the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning treatment for the first time, I decided that I’m on a quest to try every ferment-based-SK-II-style treatment essence on the market. This, as it turns out, is no small undertaking. So far I’ve counted 18 of these products, all from different brands. My criteria for products to be included in this experiment are:
• Contains a high percentage of fermented ingredient(s)
• Clearish appearance
• Watery or near-watery consistency
• Intended for use as either the first or second step in a skin care routine
I’ve already reviewed the SK-II and the Missha First Treatment Essence in the form of a Skin Care Smackdown I wrote last year, so that’s 2 down, only 16 to go! Well, 15 after this review. Since I prefer to test my skin care products for a minimum of 28 days, this little endeavor will take me well over a year to complete. I guess I better get crackin’ on this review then!
What is it?
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning ($50 – $80 USD) is an Asian facial treatment that promises to restore the skin condition within 3 days of use. That particular claim is awfully vague, but it also says it makes transparent clear, and smooth skin.
The actual product type is a little vague – it’s not even included in the name. When I first laid eyes on this bottle, all I could think was, “Intensive conditioning what?” Was it a booster? An essence? Unicorn tears? I started using it without first reading the directions. It had so many similarities to the Missha First Treatment Essence (which is technically a booster and not an essence, despite the confusing name), I thought for sure the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning must be a booster/toner. I later fished the instructions out of the box and learned that this product should actually be applied after a toner, which I suppose makes it an actual essence.
Faex, Nicotinamide, Glycerol, Bifida Ferment Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Glycereth-26, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxycellulose, Adenosine, Propylene Glycol, Aqua
There was no English ingredient list anywhere in the product literature for IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning treatment, but someone was thoughtful enough to enter the ingredient list in COSDNA. For the sake of this review, I’m assuming that the ingredients appear in order, although I’m highly suspicious about water appearing last on the list. EDIT 01/21/2014: After examining the ingredient lists of similar products, I think there’s a pretty chance these ingredients appear in the correct order.
These are the ingredients I found interesting:
Faex – This is the primary ferment ingredient in this essence. It is a yeast-derived ferment, also known as Saccharomyces lysate. It’s in the same family as the ferment ingredients contained in the SK-II and Missha treatment essences, though I’m not sure what the source of the yeast is (SK-II’s yeast ferment is a Sake product, and the Missha ferment comes from beer).
There haven’t been a lot of studies done to confirm or refute the claims made about the skin restoring powers of yeast ferment, at least not that I could find. I did find one study that showed Saccharomyces cerevisiae extract (a different yeast, but in the same family as those contained in this essence) to be effective for improving skin micro-relief (small wrinkles) and moisture. I hope to see more research on the yeast ingredient in the future, but until then, here is the study abstract I found:
Nicotinamide – Nicotinamide is another name for one of my favorite skin care ingredients, Niacinamide. It’s a form of Vitamin B3 that works well for overall brightening, lightening hyperpigmentation, and acne. This is a decently documented skin care ingredient. One study even showed it to be effective for reducing fine lines in addition to treating redness and hyperpigmentation:
Sodium Hyaluronate – Often referred to as hyaluronic acid, this ingredient is able to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. This humectant also does a great job attracting and maintaining water in the skin, and nutrient absorption.
Beta-Glucan – This is a natural compound that can be extracted from yeast, fungi, seaweed, oats, barley, rye, or wheat. There have been numerous studies conducted on its wound healing effects in animals, as well as a few studies on its efficacy on human skin. This particular study showed it to be effective as an anti-oxidant, wound healing, moisturizing, and anti-wrinkle:
Adenosine – This ingredient possesses anti-inflammatory properties, promotes the production of collagen and elastin, and has a respectable handful of studies showing it to be an effective anti-aging ingredient. Here’s an interesting abstract from one of those studies, which appeared in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2006:
According to COSDNA, there are no known irritants or acne triggers in this formula.
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning comes in a frosted glass bottle. It feels sturdy and heavy in hand, and has a silver cap. Under the cap is a tiny hole to dispense the product.
The essence itself is clear, and is nearly the same consistency as water.
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning is virtually odorless. I put my face in it at one point, closed my eyes, and inhaled deeply, just to see if there was something subtle there. I smelled nothing.
The dispenser for IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning releases a few drops of liquid at a time, but I actually found it a little laborious to shake out the amount of product I wanted in a timely fashion. I ended up transferring the essence to a spray bottle, which turned out to be much more efficient.
For the first few weeks, I mistakenly assumed that IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning was a booster product, so I applied 4 spritzes immediately after cleansing, before any of my other products. When used in this fashion, I found it soaked into my skin very quickly. I don’t have an opinion on whether this is good or bad – I have dry skin so I’m not one to shy away from the sight of moisture. I imagine the fast absorption would be very appealing to oilier skin types, though.
Once I finally read the instructions and learned that IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning should be applied after toner, I started applying it immediately after my Benton Aloe BHA Toner. I didn’t find this method to be nearly as satisfying, even though it’s correct way to use it. After a week, I went back to applying the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning first.
Also, a quick note about BHA and Niacinamide: there is evidence that suggests that the mixing of BHA and Niacinamide can cause flushing in some people, though it’s not very common – the pH of the skin would need to be at least below a 5 for this to occur. I personally did not experience any flushing at all, even when using the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning with my Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid or, more recently, my Paula’s Choice CLEAR Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid, but it’s definitely something to be cautious of. If you want to use IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning (or any Niacinamide product) in conjunction with a BHA (or an AHA, for that matter), the safest way to steer clear of potential flushing is to wait 30 minutes between each product.
My skin type is dry, sensitive, and acne prone. I’ve been using the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning treatment for about 5 weeks now. I can’t say it’s providing any additional hydration – notably less than Missha’s First Treatment Essence, which I would consider only somewhat hydrating. I do, however, see some nice brightening effects from IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning. The brightening was fairly immediate –this must be the outcome referred to in the product literature that promised results in 3 days. I started noticing the brightness around day 4, myself, but the brightness did not increase beyond what was achieved at around day 7. It has sustained over the weeks though, and I’m totally good with that. If there were no limit to how bright my skin could get, my head would look like a glowing ball of gas by now, and no one would be able to look me in the face without burning their retinas.
I can’t say whether or not IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning did anything for my red acne marks – they are fading quickly, but that seems to be mostly the result of my 2% BHA product.
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning did not aggravate active acne when I had it, and it actually seemed to help with some of the redness and inflammation associated with my breakouts. It certainly has not caused any acne at all. In fact, as of last week, my skin is the clearest it’s been in a very long time. For the first time in years, I have absolutely no acne anywhere on my face. Not one pimple. To be clear, I don’t credit IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning with this small miracle – I’m giving my BHA and Tretinoin combo most of the merit here, along with the intermittent AHA. I’m also testing a moisturizer right now that’s nothing short of glorious (though sadly, too expensive to be sustainable), and I do believe that’s had some influence on my skin’s clarity as well. But I will say that the IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning has been a part of my routine throughout the entire duration of this healing process, and for that reason, it still deserves a little fist bump.
- Absorbs quickly
- Visible brightening effect
- Reduces redness and inflammation of active acne
- Dispenser isn’t very efficient – I wish the hole was a little larger
- Not particularly hydrating (though not drying either)
Skin & Tonics Rating:
Note: I’m making some changes to my rating system. Product value will no longer be considered in the overall product rating. I am currently working on a separate approach to handling product value. Keep a watch out for it in future reviews!
Performance: 4/5 – Nice brightening effect, reduced redness and inflammation of active acne
Ingredients: 5/5 – Good ingredient list, no known irritants or acne triggers
Packaging: 4/5 – The bottle is beautiful, solid, and sturdy, but I wish the dispenser had a slightly larger opening.
Where to buy
I bought my IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning at W2Beauty.com, where the large, 168mL bottle retails for $59. First time customers can get a $5 W2Beauty voucher by entering my sponsor code at sign-up: 025605.
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning can also be found through multiple eBay sellers, including Amore Pacific’s eBay shop, where it sells for $60.
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