With skin care trends leaning towards natural and organic ingredients, and traditional methods like fermentation, it’s no wonder that the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is a bestseller at YesStyle. Since this product has 329 reviews and a 97.4% approval rating from customers, I wanted to try it to see what the hype is about.
It’s All About Hanbang
The Pyunkang Yul skin care line was developed by the Pyunkang Korean Medicine Hospital in Korea, an institution that uses hanbang or traditional Korean herbal ingredients and methods to treat ailments. The product line was created in response to the hospital receiving many patients suffering from atopic dermatitis.
Pyunkang Yul adheres to a philosophy of simplicity in skin care. All its products use only natural ingredients with no fillers, and are gentle enough for all skin types. Speaking of skin types, I discovered that Pyunkang Yul’s website has a useful quiz-type tool to help you determine which products suit your skin concerns. Note that I didn’t mention skin type. This is because the brand’s traditional Korean medicine philosophy advocates treating the root cause, not just the symptoms. Since the website is in Korean, I used the automatic Google translation feature of my browser to answer the questions. The results I got were quite spot on:
My results also stated that skin condition can be affected by environmental factors, such as humidity, pollution and more. I took this quiz twice before and each time, my oil index was higher than my temperature and moisture indices. My previous diagnoses indicated that I had a “cold skin” condition. My latest result now says my skin is healthy.
Minimalist Aesthetics, Minimal Ingredients
The main Pyunkang Yul line has a distinctive apothecary-esque vibe using a cool shade of blue for its plastic jars and bottles. Its other lines, such as the A Therapy line, come in muted shades of green and gray-beige, and old-fashioned amber. I find the packaging quite elegant and chic, and ideal for posting on Instagram. The toner has a flip-top cap that makes it easier to control the amount you want to use.
Like its design aesthetics, the Essence Toner’s ingredient list is simple, totaling only seven (7) ingredients. All are verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) as low hazard (green):
While most skin care products feature water as the first ingredient, this toner contains 90% Astragalus Membranaceus or milk vetch instead. Initial studies have shown that this common traditional Chinese medicinal herb has anti-inflammatory properties, can protect skin against UV irradiation, and be able to inhibit skin darkening.
Hydrating and Refreshing
The unscented toner has a slightly watery yet non-sticky consistency similar to the Moist version of Hada Labo’s Goku-Jyun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion. The texture was a godsend during a very dry and cold spell here in Hong Kong from January to February.
In low humidity, I used 4 or 5 layers, similar to the 7-skin method, and then sealed it with a heavier moisturizing cream at night. During daytime, 2 or 3 layers were sufficient. It worked well under sunscreen and makeup – no caking even without primer! My skin never felt dry or tight, and the usual oily sheen I get on my T-zone at mid-day was minimized significantly. Even when the weather suddenly became warmer and more humid, my face didn’t break out at all.
The toner did an excellent job in maintaining my skin’s oil and water ratio despite changing conditions in environment and temperature. By adding it to my winter skin care regimen, I managed to pare down the number of products I use since it works as both a toner and essence.
Retailing at US$18.90 for the 200ml bottle or less than 10 US cents per ml, the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is one of the most affordable and effective skin care products I’ve ever used.