Korean brands have become so ubiquitous that they are no longer a niche segment of the skincare market. Everyone from Lady Gaga to my work colleagues use K(orean)-beauty products. I asked my friend Fiona of Orchids and Peonies (my go-to person for all things K-beauty ) for her input on this, and she told me that the mass popularity of Korean products was due to a combination of factors, including their affordable price points, innovative textures and instant results. ‘And,’ she added ‘what attracts me to them is their obsession with beautiful skin. You see so many Koreans with amazing, flawless skin. I personally love Korean products for their innovation and textures. They are regarded to be at least 10 years ahead of the western world.”
Although there are K-beauty products available for every single skin concern, it’s hard to find Korean products that are 100% clean or natural. About three years ago, I stumbled upon Whamisa, a 100% clean brand that makes products with fermented organic ingredients. Until recently, Whamisa was terribly hard to find here in Australia: they didn’t have a single stockist. I used to order their products online from America, and I once even got Orchids and Peonies to pick up some Whamisa goodies during her trip to Seoul. Luckily, that has changed. We finally have an Australian stockist for Whamisa in Franki and Seoul, an Australian online boutique specialising in natural Korean skincare. I know the founders Jayme and Jenny personally, and I love how ingredient-focused they are to only curate the best of the best in ‘clean’ Korean skincare.
As with Korean cuisine (has anyone else been wowed by Korean Zen Buddhist num Jeong Kwan on this season’s Chef’s Table?), Whamisa ferments their ingredients to make them more bio-available. In Whamisa’s own words, ‘fermentation in skincare helps to increase ingredient absorption and acts as a natural preservative for gentle yet effective treatments.’
I’ve reviewed some of Whamisa’s other offerings in the past. Below are reviews of some of the products that Franki and Seoul recommended for my skin type (combination, acne-prone):
1) Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Oil: This hazelnut seed oil-based emulsifying cleanser is possibly the best cleansing oil in its price range. At A$48 (or US$38) for 150ml, the price is unbeatable for the quality you get. I massage it on dry skin and rinse it off with lukewarm water. It removes makeup, sunscreen and pollutants without drying the skin or irritating the gentle eye area. The smell is very mildly floral, and instantly recognisable as Whamisa. The packaging is very practical and the slight downward curve on the pump is a nice touch (reminds me of La Mer’s packaging). Highly recommend this cleansing oil for all skin types.
Ingredients: *Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, ☆Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, *Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, *Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, *Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, **Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, **Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, **Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, *Lactobacillus/Chrysanthemum Sinense Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Dandelion Leaf/Root Extract Ferment Filtrate, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Geranium Maculatum Oil, ***Natural Fragrance *Certified Organically Grown **Natural Preservative ***Ecocert
2) Whamisa Organic Flowers Water Cream: I’ve used this cream on an off for 3+ years. If you’re looking for a light, noncomedogenic cream, this is definitely worth considering. Rich in good bacteria, this has a whipped yoghurt/kefir-like consistency that disappears into the skin without any residue. The unique texture is thanks to the use of fermented ingredients like natto gum (fermented soy beans), rice, olive oil and aloe vera. This works especially well in summer. A$48 for 50ml.
Ingredients: *Oryza sativa (Rice) Extract, *Aloe Maculata leaf extract, *Lactobacillus/ Rice Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Maculata Aloe Leaf/Molasses Ferment Filtrate, *Camelia Japonica Seed Oil, *Olea Europea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, ***Cetearyl Olivate, ***Sorbitan Olivate, **Natto Gum, *Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, *Camelia Sinensis Leaf Extract, *Lactobacillus/Chrysanthemum Sinense Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Rhizome/Root Ferment Filtrate, ***Scuterllaria Baicalensis Root Extract, ***Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, ***Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Xanthan gum, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood oil, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, **Fragrance * Certified Organically Grown, ** Natural Origin, ***Natural Preservative
3) Whamisa Organic Kelp Facial Sheet Mask: Possibly Whamisa’s most famous product, this sheet mask is made from real sea kelp (instead of cotton or synthetic fibre). The kelp sheet is soaked ‘with a full bottle of mineral and antioxidant rich fermented sea kelp and bamboo serum to help reduce inflammation and breakouts and instantly hydrate dry and white flaky patches.’ While I love how natural and nourishing it is, I think I have the wrong face shape for it: it always slides off my face. I’d recommend buying them individually to see how it fits before committing to a set. A$18/sheet.
Ingredients: Laminaria Japonica, *Aloe Maculata Leaf Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, *Lactobacillus/Maculata Aloe Leaf/ Molasses Ferment Filtrate, Serenoa Serrulata Fruit Extract, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, ☆(-)-alpha-bisabolol, Trigonella Foenum-Graecum Seed Extract, Natto Gum, Leonurus Sibiricus Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Dioscorea Opposita (Wild Yam) Root Extract, *Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, *Centella Asiatica Extract, *Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Anemarrhena Asphodeloides Root Extract, *Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Chlorella Ferment, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Angelica Keiskei Leaf/Stem Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Royal Jelly 0.05, **Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Xanthan Gum, **Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Plantago Asiatica Extract, **Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, ☆Adenosine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil *Certified Organically Grown **Natural Preservative ☆Ecocert
Where to buy: Franki and Seoul.