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Up-and-coming brand Anua is all about comforting stressed-out skin through natural goodness and minimalist formulas. In particular, it’s harnessed heartleaf (also known as houttuynia cordata), one of K-Beauty’s most popular and potent ingredients, to produce an entire skin care routine that can really do it all – soothe, hydrate and fight free radicals! At the heart of this wonder ingredient is an abundance of polyphenolic flavonoids, which are laden with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial benefits, as well as polysaccharides, which lock in moisture. The result is a product range that’s tailor-made for dehydrated, sensitive and acne-prone skin – gentle enough to cause zero irritation, and powerful enough to provide a thorough detox.
As I grow older, I find that my skin is responding increasingly poorly to stresses both internal and external. Rough and red patches often appear after late nights (or extensive snacking), new blemishes pop up with distressing regularity, and fluctuations between oiliness and dryness occur with greater frequency. That’s why I’m more than a little excited to try out Anua’s heartleaf-based product range, which includes cleanser, toner, ampoule, cream, sun cream and mud cream mask. Will it calm and comfort as promised? Read on for full details on how my skin fared after two weeks of this intensive regimen!
The Product: Designed to provide hydrating boosts and skin-soothing benefits on top of deep cleanses, this pH-balanced foam cleanser comes with 90% naturally derived ingredients, including an impressive 35% heartleaf extract! Skin care superstar glycerin is also on hand to moisturize and restore skin barriers.
The Low-Down: I’m a loyal fan of gel cleansers, but this milky version with a whipped cream consistency gave me serious pause. Providing a thorough cleanse that’s nonetheless super gentle, it successfully drew out dirt and impurities from my pores to leave my skin with a comfy, refreshed finish. My face didn’t feel tight afterward and in an exciting turnaround, my pores appear to have shrunk slightly – no doubt due to clearing out all that gunk inside them!
The Product: Infused with 77% heartleaf extract to fight free radicals and soothe skin, portulaca oleracea (a Korean herbal medicine staple) extract and panthenol to further calm irritations, and sugar cane extract, glycerin and betaine to deeply moisturize, this fuss-free toner controls sebum production while prepping skin for the rest of your skin care routine.
The Low-Down: While I wasn’t 100% sure about applying toner given the minor irritations I’d been experiencing, the alcohol-free formula proved to be a godsend, giving my pores a quick cleanse and my sensitive skin a plumping boost. It may not come with fancy add-ons like anti-aging powers, brightening benefits or exfoliating properties, but as a skin-soother that doesn’t dry out your skin, it does its job pretty well – especially when used together with Anua’s specially formulated Cotton Pad for Toner, a curved pad that’s super absorbent.
The Product: Touted as the star of the collection, this honey-colored ampoule is packed with 80% heartleaf extract to give troubled complexions the skin care equivalent of a cuddle. Moisturizing staples such as glycerin and betaine keep skin hydrated, while arginine provides an extra layer of protection. What’s more, it comes in a frosted dropper bottle that’s as chic as it’s user-friendly!
The Low-Down: I love how this serum comes in a thick, viscous formulation but absorbs surprisingly quickly into skin, leaving no sticky after-feel. Two to three drops morning and night, and I began to see subtle differences in my skin – reduced appearances of pores, a new smoothness and a slight tamping down of redness and itchiness. The results weren’t dramatic, but I wasn’t expecting miracle turnarounds – just slow, steady improvement, which the product delivered.
The Product: Infused with a whopping 78% heartleaf extract alongside five major moisturizing agents (hyaluronic acid, amino acid complex, panthenol, ceramide and menthyl PCA), this simple but potent gel cream is formulated to eliminate roughness and dryness, whatever your skin type or condition.
The Low-Down: First off, I loved the fact that this cream comes only with a faint herbal scent – a godsend for someone like me who prefers their products fragrance-free. Secondly, I loved the texture. It’s lightweight and refreshing rather than rich and dense, while still providing an adequate hit of hydration. However, while this worked great as a summer moisturizer, it might not be hydrating enough during wintertime, especially for drier complexions. As for its soothing properties, I can’t say whether my improved skin condition is due to this one product or the combined effect of everything in this routine, but the gentle formula certainly doesn’t hurt!
The Product: A physical sunscreen that’s specially formulated for sensitive skin, this is free from 20 hazardous substances and comes in a smooth, milky texture. Besides being fitted with SPF 50+ PA++++, it also comes with moisturizing benefits courtesy of ingredients such as butylene glycol and glycerin, while heartleaf and cica extracts provide a final soothing touch.
The Low-Down: Being a lazy girl, I’ve recently swapped all my sun creams for sun sticks. I was still eager to try this out though, given the fact that it’s meant to be extremely gentle. Overall, it was a solid performer, offering adequate sun protection that only required a couple of touch-ups throughout the day. The thicker consistency means that it takes some blending for full absorption into face – you have to pay extra care to avoid an annoying white cast!
The Product: Packed with 70% heartleaf extract, this exfoliating mud mask targeted at sensitive complexions absorbs sebum, sloughs away dead skin cells and clears away gunk to promote softer, smoother skin.
The Low-Down: I’ve always preferred sheet masks since they’re less messy and drying. But my skin has been quite oily lately, so now seems as good a time as ever to try out Anua’s mud cream mask. To my surprise, there was no stinging upon application and no discomfort as it dried. The next morning, I woke up to a subtle glow on my face that I hadn’t seen for quite some time. A true keeper!
My skin has experienced small but encouraging improvements during these two weeks. It feels suppler and looks clearer, and even those annoyingly enlarged pores seem to be smaller. I’m still unsure whether heartleaf is indeed the do-it-all ingredient that’ll save my skin long-term, but in the short run, it has proven effective at taming redness, smoothing irritated patches and providing an all-round skin-soothing experience.
Out of all the products in the routine, I could take or leave the sunscreen and the toner, which don’t necessarily outperform other K-Beauty faves, but I’ve readily embraced the cleanser, ampoule, cream and mud cream mask. The cleanser rises head and above the gel cleanser (from a Western brand) I have been using, leaving my skin clearer and more refreshed. The ampoule gave my skin a gentle reset, the cream has been absorbed into my rotation of summer moisturizers, and I’m thrilled at how the mud cream mask brought a quick rejuvenating boost to my complexion.
Anua’s motto is “Keep things simple.” Although some might find their products a tad too simple, ultimately, this is what I love about them. No harmful substances or allergy-triggering ingredients, only plant-based goodness that delivers steady benefits in subtle ways.