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My first experience with Secret Key was the Snow White Cream, but my most desired product from the brand has always been its Starting Treatment Essence – the toner essence that made Secret Key famous and still continues to be its bestseller. I tried the line’s Rose Edition Sheet Mask a while ago, and now it’s finally time to review the original essence itself!
To my delight, this Starting Treatment Kit also comes with the Starting Treatment Cream and Starting Treatment Eye Cream in mini sizes to complete a basic skin care routine. For those who’ve never tried any Starting Treatment products before, this kit is a wonderful starting point.
What is galactomyces?
The Starting Treatment Essence consists of over 90% galactomyces ferment filtrate, and the Rose Edition even contains 94% of it. It’s a fungal byproduct from aspergillus oryzae, a yeast that’s used to ferment Japanese sake during the brewing process. Similar to how snail slime was converted into a skin care ingredient, the benefits of galactomyces were accidentally discovered when people noticed that elderly brewers’ hands were smooth and wrinkle-free.
Studies have shown that galactomyces carries the following skin care benefits:
• Shrinks pores
• Reduces blackheads and comedones
• Balances skin’s oil-water ratio
• Fades hyperpigmentation
• Brightens dull skin
• Hydrates skin
• Reduces wrinkles
Secret Key vs SKII
If you’re curious why Secret Key’s Starting Treatment Essence looks so similar to SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence and MISSHA’s Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence, it’s because they all feature galactomyces as the main ingredient. PITERA is SKII’s patented name for galactomyces. The Japanese brand might have been the first to use galactomyces in skin care, but lots of Korean brands have launched similar products in recent years. Secret Key’s essence prides itself on affordability and a dual-functional formula infusing soothing botanical ingredients. It provides both wrinkle care and brightening effects.
The essence is infused with extracts from aloe, chamomile, green tea, centella, witch hazel, portulaca and rice to soothe skin. It’s free from paraben, colorants, fragrances, alcohol, animal oil, mineral oil and benzophenone. Both the cream and eye cream are fragranced but free from parabens, colorants, phenoxyethanol, mineral oil and benzophenon. They both contain ceramide, shea butter, botanical oils and niacinamide to moisturize and brighten complexion, as well as skin-friendly fatty alcohols as stabilizers.
Note that galactomyces doesn’t treat acne, and may even worsen fungal acne. Like any other products, perform a patch test first before fully adopting it into your regimen.
How to use this kit
After cleansing, spritz face with the Starting Treatment Aura Mist. Soak cotton pad with the Starting Treatment Essence and wipe over face. Massage the Starting Treatment Eye Cream over the eye area and finish your regimen by applying the Starting Treatment Cream all over the face. Use the Starting Treatment Essential Mask Sheet for extra nourishment.
Since the essence has a very runny texture that feels like a toner, I sometimes skip toner and apply the essence with my bare hands right after cleansing to prevent product wastage. The smell is quite similar to alcohol, but there’s no alcohol in it. Perhaps it’s just the smell of ferment or yeast? Having sensitive and acne-prone skin, I was a little put off by the smell at first, but I soon got used to it. The essence absorbs quickly and doesn’t sit on skin.
The eye cream has a refined and lightweight formula that sinks into my dry skin almost immediately. The cream is slightly less easy to spread and a bit sticky, but a little goes a long way, so don’t use more than a coin-sized amount each time. Both the essence and the eye cream have a delicate floral scent, but it’s not as strong as that of the Rose Edition line.
Improvement didn’t occur overnight, but I felt my skin getting better and better over the course of two weeks. The biggest change was perhaps my skin’s sebum levels. I used to have an oily T-zone and dry chin, but the Starting Treatment Kit left me waking up with evenly moisturized skin. I also noticed slight improvements in skin tone, smoothness and resilience. I’m still occasionally bothered by whiteheads, but instead of flaring up, bulging and persisting for days, these now sit on the surface and usually shrink within the next day.
The kit does its job slowly but surely. If you use it twice daily, it’ll last around a month, which is just the perfect duration for testing any skin care product, because our skin tends to renew itself every 28 days. Don’t give up after the first few days – be patient and tell us how it went after one month!