NEOGEN Code9 Lemon Green Caviar Essence & Tox Tightening Pack Review

The YS Beauty Lab

I just wrote about caviar being one of the most luxurious skincare ingredients and guess what just fell into my lap?

Well, it’s not exactly caviar that one eats by the dainty spoonful along with sips of expensive wine, but what I’m using is NEOGEN’s Code9 Lemon Green Caviar Essence & Tox Tightening Pack. Such a long name for a product that derives its “essence” from a strand of tiny leaves that grows deep in the ocean.

NEOGEN is one of the newer Korean beauty brands introduced on YesStyle and is getting popular. While the parent brand NEOGEN was launched in Korea in 2009, its umbrella label NEOGEN Code9 came into the scene in 2012. It’s worth noting that NEOGEN is a cruelty-free brand and proudly carries the Leaping Bunny logo as it doesn’t test on animals.

The “Caviar” That’s Not From Fish

The “green caviar” in the name actually refers to sea grapes. The little globules are spherical leaves that grow in thick strands, and are farmed in coastal areas in Asia such as Okinawa in Japan, Palawan and Cebu in the Philippines, and Sabah in Malaysia. The Japanese name is umi budou while its official name is Caulerpa Lentillifera. Note that this ingredient comes sixth in the ingredient list on the box.

Umi budou or sea grapes
Image: Wikipedia

Sea grapes have many benefits, including its high protein and calcium content, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that help reduce cholesterol, maintain the collagen structure of the arteries and increase the elasticity of blood vessels. These same benefits affect the skin in a big way as improved elasticity and increased antioxidant and collagen production result in better skin and hair condition, and help to slow down the aging process.

A Big Production

By now, I really shouldn’t be surprised that Korean beauty products have such long names. However, this product’s name is only matched by its impressive packaging and very long list of ingredients. While there are many Korean and Western skincare items that do everything except cleaning the house, the Lemon Green Caviar Essence deviates from the norm by packaging its components separately. And when they say “pack,” they really do mean it.

The box itself comes in an attractive lime green color with information in both Korean and English. It’s about the size of a child’s shoebox by my estimate. Inside are two jars: a clear plastic one containing a similar lime green-colored essence and a large, round one that contains 25 pads. There’s also a plastic tweezer, a stand for the jar of pads and a little holder for the tweezers. You soak the pads by pouring essence into the round container . Cover the jar tightly and store the pads in the fridge for about 9 hours to let the pads steep fully in the essence. Use the tweezer to extract a pad to minimize contamination. It’s such a slick production, and the entire set is so very Instagram-worthy!

Buffed, Bright, Light

The product has a very long list of ingredients. While I’ve learned that a long list doesn’t always guarantee efficacy (YMMV), I’m impressed that lemon extract and sea grape extract along with niacinamide, hydrolyzed collagen, sodium hyaluronate, caffeine and licorice root are all fairly high up on the list. That’s a quintuple whammy of known whitening and moisturizing ingredients right there.

If you haven’t figured it out yet from the star ingredients, this product is primarily for exfoliation and brightening skin tone. The exfoliation happens two ways: chemically via the essence, and physically by way of the unique two-sided cotton pads. The pads are a 3-layer concoction designed to gently scrub away impurities and dead skin cells with the fine mesh side, and a softer, quilted texture on the reverse for patting and helping to absorb the essence fully as the final step.

These photos show you how to use the pack.

Keeping the tub in the fridge is a good idea because the cold temperature creates a more refreshing and soothing feeling when you apply the pads on your skin and helps calm down any minor skin inflammations. While the mesh side of the pad feels less rough than the usual exfoliating grains in facial scrubs, I make sure not to rub too hard to avoid irritating my skin. I usually spend about 20 to 30 seconds to gently buff away and about a minute or more with the quilted side to let the essence be absorbed by my skin. Of course, patch-testing the product prior to fully using it is always a must, but I wouldn’t recommend using this everyday either. I use it every two or three days at night and then apply a sheet mask for about 15 minutes to remove the slightly sticky after-feel.

Lots to Love

After nearly a month’s use, there are definite signs of improvement on my skin. One or two dark spots have now faded slightly. I still need to put some concealer and foundation to completely cover them but they’re now less conspicuous under makeup.

One thing I love about this product is the 250 ml of essence which is equivalent to about 10 packs of sheet masks. And as a fan of recycling, I love that I now have two big jars that I can use for other things and an extra-large tweezer too! Did I already mention that this brand is vegan-friendly? Because it is!

The only downside is that you have to use up all the pads and essence in two months and since it really isn’t advisable to exfoliate every day, what’s a girl to do? I use the pads to buff and brighten my neck, arms and legs. On days when I don’t want to exfoliate but would like to continue the brightening, cotton pads do the trick. I just dribble a little of the essence on several (I use a dropper) and stick them on my face as an instant mask.

While the entire kit is not exactly travel-friendly, this pack also has a smaller pouch version for those want to get the same benefits in a more economical form.

The NEOGEN Code9 Lemon Green Caviar Essence & Tox Tightening Pack currently retails at an affordable US$26.32 on YesStyle. Get 20% off all NEOGEN products until the end of July!

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