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I’m always looking for acne care goodies to tackle my oily, acne-prone skin, and what better way to kick off 2021 than by trialing a four-step routine that practically has my name written all over it? The flagship Agas ACue line from herbal care brand Inward stars agastache rugosa (Korean mint) – an ingredient I’ve not yet encountered in K-Beauty – for moisturizing and soothing properties, and it’s targeted toward acne-prone, troubled and oily skin types. Read on to see if its cleansing foam, serum, herbal mask and cream helped me start the year on a strong note!
In addition to Korean mint, this sulfate-free cleansing foam is formulated with centella asiatica to create a clean and healthy complexion, as well as naturally derived AHA and BHA for mild exfoliation to reduce blackheads and excess sebum. Certified by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to be effective in acne treatment, it also helps form a protective barrier on skin while providing deep hydration.
I have no complaints about this cleanser, which is a basic staple that works much like other similar products. It has a mild, slightly acidic fragrance and a familiar texture that foams easily. I like that a little goes a long way – with some massaging, a pea-sized amount is enough to cover your whole face. It leaves my face clean and refreshed, though I have not yet seen its impact on my blackheads and sebum.
This serum is infused with patented ingredient COS-5 Complex, which contains five herb extracts such as dogwood and sarcandra. It relieves, revitalizes and moisturizes stressed skin, while also reducing excess sebum. With its watery, non-sticky and easily absorbed texture, the serum can also be used as an alternative to toners.
Like the cleansing foam, I found this serum to be similar to alternatives in my current rotation. Although I enjoy its sweet fragrance, it’s a tad too strong. The serum leaves my skin smooth and moisturized, and true to the description, it’s non-sticky and quickly absorbed, making it easy to incorporate into my skin care routine.
Containing the same patented COS-5 Complex as the serum, this wash-off mask has speckles of fresh green tea leaves. The epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) content in the green tea powder creates a healthy, radiant complexion.
The herbal mask is the most unique out of the four items in the Agas ACue collection. It comes in a thin, yellow-brown liquid with plenty of small tea leaf pieces but transforms into a rubbery and gelatinous texture after use. To scoop up a generous dollop that’s spreadable, you have to use the included spatula instead of your hands. Even then, it’s tricky to spread evenly as it forms little clumps, and the thin formula easily falls off the spatula and lands everywhere. I suggest doing it over the sink and using a face wash headband. When removing the mask, you’ll need to spend a few extra minutes to ensure that you’ve gotten all the tea leaves off the contours of your face as well as your hair.
Apart from the difficulty in application, this was my favorite item of the bunch, and I look forward to using it the most. The green tea scent is natural, comforting and truly reminiscent of a hot pot of freshly brewed tea – perfect for tea lovers like me! The herbal mask also has the most cooling finish, which is what I expected from the featured Korean mint ingredient. Soothing and refreshing on skin, the mask is a relaxing wind-down activity before going to bed.
To lock in moisture and restore skin elasticity, the cream contains not one but two patented ingredients: COS-5 Complex and Fructan. According to Inward, the formula’s rich, silky texture enables quick absorption and provides a refreshing finish.
The cream has the same super sweet fragrance as the serum, and also boasts similarities in its easy absorption and smooth finish. However, I wasn’t fond of its stringy texture, as it doesn’t come out cleanly when you scoop it from the tub and tends to drip messily off the spatula. Like with the herbal mask, I recommend applying the cream over the sink to catch any excess that falls off.
After using all four Inward products, my complexion became significantly clearer and brighter with a glowy finish, and I also woke up with moisturized skin. I like that this routine is just as suitable for day and night use (though I typically skipped the herbal mask step in mornings due to a lack of time). It lives up to its claims of being suitable for oily and acne-prone skin. The whole collection was soothing, mild and non-aggravating. They kept my pimples at bay as I didn’t see any new breakouts or irritation during use.
The cream is my least favorite of the four because it isn’t as moisturizing as some of my regulars. The cleansing foam and serum are reliable replacements if you’re running out of your trusty fave or wanting to switch things up, while the herbal mask is worth trying for its delicious scent and cooling, calming effects, despite its rather experimental texture. If you’ve been struggling with troubled skin lately, I recommend trying these out!