Quick Reviews #36: Isntree

Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Toner

Hyaluronic Acid Toner

Apparently the number one toner in Korea, this slightly viscous essence is closer in texture to something like the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion (available in SA here) than a traditional watery toner and is a lovely first step skincare product. Applied to a clean, dry face, this immediately plumps up the skin and leaves it feeling fresh and hydrated. Mutiple layers (or “skins”, as in, the 7 Skin Method) increase the sense of hydration if you are very dehydrated (I usually do 2-3) and it’s juicy enough to be used alone as a moisturising comfort product if you’re very oily. The Hada Labo toners are still my favourites but this is a very close second and I will enjoy every minute of using it up. Note: the packaging says that it contains “50% Hyaluronic Acid” which actually refers to the 1% concentration of Sodium Hyaluronate; a form of HA that is considered even more effective due to its greater compatibility with the skin.

Price: R215/200ml

Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Water Essence

Hyaluronic Acid Water Essence

The name is a little misleading as this product is really a serum but nonetheless, this is another wonderfully juicy step if you need to layer some hyaluronic acid into your routine. Lightweight and easily absorbed, it’s non-sticky and slips neatly between essence and moisturiser (or, in my case, more hydrating serums!). The formula contains eight types of HA at various molecular levels (high weight = easily absorbed for superficial hydration, low weight = deeper hydration, a combo = both), natural moisturising factors and prickly pear seed oil (although it doesn’t feel oily at all so don’t be put off by this). Again, this would be suitable as a moisturiser on its own if you’re very oily. I would rate this as a middleweight serum in the sense that I don’t think I could use it on its own (but I’m very dehydrated) but I think it would be perfectly effective for someone who needs less help in this area than I do. It’s not as sophisticated as something like the Lamelle Hydrating HA Plus but it’s got a bit more punch than something like the Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5.

Price: R445/50ml

Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Moist Cream

Hyaluronic Acid Moist Cream

What a delight this cream is! It’s very unusual for Camilla and I to use a moisturiser that suits us both but this is one of the rare exceptions. It’s a very simple comfort product and by that I mean it doesn’t contain a whole lot of fancy actives, it doesn’t claim to be “anti-ageing”, it doesn’t contain SPF – it is just a moisturiser. And that’s not a bad thing: I don’t tend to use moisturisers that come with bells and whistles because I use targeted products and treatments to address my particular skin concerns. In my opinion, a good moisturiser should provide comfort to the skin and help to maintain your barrier; something this does very well, while leaving your face feeling really glowy and plump. A little goes a long way too so experiment with how much you use – I use a small pea-sized amount on my face in the day (if you’re drier, you may want more) but I’ll double that amount at night when I don’t have to worry about layering SPF and makeup on top.

Price: R285/80ml

Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Water Sleeping Mask

Hyaluronic Acid Water Sleeping Mask

Of all of the Isntree products I tried, this was the least impressive. It’s not a bad product, I just didn’t find it as effective as other overnight masks I’ve tried and it also didn’t seem to do anything that the Moist Cream couldn’t do. Similarly to the Water Essence and the Moist Cream, it’s formulated with multiple forms of HA at varying weights, soothing centella asiatica and allantoin, natural moisturising factors and brightening fig fruit extract but hydration is definitely its main purpose in life. Look, it’s fine, but I have a deep and profound love for the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask and I’m afraid not much can beat it.

Price: R315/100ml

Isntree Clear Skin PHA Sleeping Mask

Clear Skin PHA Sleeping Mask

Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) are a new-generation chemical exfoliant that tend to be more suitable for sensitive skin, especially if you’ve struggled to use AHAs and BHAs in the past without a reaction. One of the most common PHAs is gluconolactone which is present in a 5% concentration in this overnight treatment, gently sloughing away dead skin cells while you sleep. The formula also contains 2% niacinamide (vitamin B3); a wonder-ingredient for supporting the skin barrier, reducing the appearance of pores and tackling uneven skin tone. The overall effect is a smoother complexion without aggravation. Camilla described it as giving her “glass skin” after just one use and she’s usually very sensitive to exfoliating acids so perhaps worth a try if your skin also tends to be easily annoyed.

Price: R315/100ml

Isntree Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence

Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence

This is a great alternative to something like the Pixi Glow Tonic and other chemical exfoliants designed to be used at the toner stage of your routine. Containing two forms of AHA – 4% Glycolic Acid and 4% Lactic Acid – regular use will help to keep skin clear and smooth, while tackling pigmentation, dark spots and fine lines over time. I didn’t experience any tingling so I think the formulation is quite mild but the results were on par with my experiences using a product like The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%. There are much stronger chemical exfoliators on the market but this is a great option if you’re more sensitive (but always do a patch test if you are!) or you want more of an everyday maintenance product. I also saw a review on the Glow Theory site where someone had used it to treat KP on their arms with great success.

Price: R215/100ml

Some notes:

  • All of these products were sent to us as PR samples
  • Isntree is available in SA from Glow Theory
  • We usually test new skincare for 6-12 weeks before reviewing it, but as these products contain ingredients that deliver short-term results, it’s easier to get a sense of how they work in a shorter period of time.
  • Camilla, who has quite sensitive skin as you know, hasn’t had a reaction to any of these so it might be a good range to try if you struggle with skin flare ups and are looking for hydrating skincare products.