SHISEIDO Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free

lavlilacs SHISEIDO Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free Review

It's been years since I last used any Shiseido products. Even though my mom isn't into beauty anything, I always associated the brand with a more mature audience since I grew up seeing it fill my aunt's vanity. Especially the thick and rich Benefiance line, which also has a grandma-esque aroma IMO.

Shiseido Pureness Mattifying Moisturizer Oil-Free was one of the first higher-end brands I tried as a teenager as per said aunt's recommendations. She thought it would suit my then skin type well since she very much trusted the brand with their anti-aging products. I might have accompanied it with the Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free but perhaps I didn't; I don't have any memories of it in particular, good or bad, and I think I know why after using it for the last month or so.

lavlilacs SHISEIDO Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free packaging

Shiseido's description:

Give your skin power over shine and imperfections.

Bring new radiance, softness, and balance to blemish-prone skin with this refreshing, alcohol-free softening lotion. Lightly rehydrates, leaving skin smooth and comfortable.

For all skin types.Dermatologist-tested.

Saturate a cotton pad and smooth over face after cleansing.


Toner 150 ml / 5 fl oz

Shiseido (USA retail): USD $24.50
Macy's & Sephora: USD $24.50

lavlilacs SHISEIDO Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free bottle

lavlilacs SHISEIDO Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free bottle closeup


Comes in a light blue bottle with a pump dispenser and an accompanying cap. A fresh bottle does come with a sliver of a security seal sticker to indicate if it's been opened or not. I have come to appreciate watery toners that come in pump bottles since it controls how much product I use and reduces the chance of creating a mess because of stray droplets.

lavlilacs SHISEIDO Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free dispensed

Color, Texture, Finish & Scent

The watery liquid is blue-tinged and has a light/clean perfumy scent (that doesn't linger long). It doesn't leave any residue or tackiness.

How I Apply

I use 2 pumps of the toner on a cotton round and wipe my entire face and neck, mostly after my morning cleanse...sometimes also at night (but I usually prefer something with AHA or BHA in the PM).

Thoughts & Recommendations

In my younger years, this kind of softener a.k.a. toner would have been the type of product that made me question whether a toner is a necessary step in the routine. For one, it is pricey! It also doesn't seem like it does much other than wipe remaining dirt, if any, off my face.

While those two thoughts don't just change with age, I have just grown accustomed to the act of using a wipable toner...because I like to see that it does pick up stuff sometimes even after a double cleanse. Price-wise I think there are cheaper options available that does essentially the same thing, has a similar ingredients list (i.e. Thayer's Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free), yet still formulated without fluff things like fragrance and color.

I haven't used the Thayer's toners in a very long time so I can't attest to how it'll actually compare.

I didn't have any issues with it; no rashes, no breakouts, etc. Since I don't typically follow-up with my skincare products right after cleanser, my face does dry up between the cleansing and toner steps. In that regards, the softener did what I wanted—refresh and rehydrate my face while picking up any residual dirt and dust. The hydration effect isn't long-lasting but that is what the rest of my skincare routine is for. I could see it suitable for oily, combination, to normal skin types; those with drier skin would probably want something more nourishing.

If my aunt hadn't gifted me with a bottle of the toner, I would definitely not have dropped almost USD $25 on it for myself. The Shiseido's Pureness Balancing Softener is pleasant to use, just nothing spectacular in my books. Having it be alcohol-free and pH balanced is great but then there are things like fragrance and color in it which seem a little unnecessary. I am not sensitive to them but there are people who are. Unless you are someone very brand loyal to Shiseido, I would skip this toner. Maybe it's time for me to revisit Thayers again?

Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam Review

I have tried my fair share of cleansers; a majority of the cleansers I've gone through were cleansing foams in fact. Of the squeezable and lathering cleansing varieties I have gone through, I don't think I have ever come across one (at least in recent memory) that did not leave my face feeling immediately tight and parched after rinsing. Supposedly it is the sulfates doing (darn those foaming agents); supposedly pH in typical cleansers is too high for our skin (acid mantles need to be kept).

But who knows precisely what the definitive reason is right? I just know that when I hear someone say something doesn't leave their skin too dry or tight, especially when it is a skincare guru like Gothamist, and as I've heard for Pyunkang Yul's Cleansing Foam, I get curious. Learning that it's from a Korean traditional medicinal brand that focuses on minimal yet effective ingredients was just the perfect toppings on the cake.

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam packaging

Ohlolly's description:

A gentle but mighty cleansing foam made with ledebouriella seseloides extract that deliver highly effective cleansing with lots of delightful bubbles. The stretchy consistency of Pyunkang Cleansing Foam adheres to dirt and oil trapped in pores, and removes them leaving skin feeling clean and fresh without drying. For all skin types.

1. Squeeze a small amount onto hand and apply to dry skin
2. Use palms to stretch out the cleanser onto skin
3. Apply water to create a rich lather then rinse with lukewarm water


Cleansing foam 180ml / 60 Fl. oz.

Pyunkang Yul (Korean retail): ₩12,000
Ohlolly: USD $12.00
StyleKorean: USD $12.00
Amazon: USD $12.00
oo35mm: USD $12.99

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam security label

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam tube front and back

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam tube security seal


Previously, it came in a blue and white tube with a black cap. Currently, Pyunkang Yul sells this cleansing foam in an all white tube. From what I could find the formulation hasn't changed. With that being said any other comments I make about the packaging might be useless since I don't have the "renewal" version to look at and compare.

Even still I want to gush about how lovely the box was designed. It felt so luxurious and the textured cardboard material had some heft. I loved how the entire label took on the role of the security seal to give that extra reassurance the product had never been tampered with. I was not expecting the small details to be so well thought out for a cleanser that was relatively inexpensive.

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam swatch close up

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam swatch

Color, Texture, & Scent

The product itself is white in color and extremely lightweight. It isn't stiff and dry like typical foaming cleansers. There is a perfumy quality to it due to the added fragrance but isn't overpowering.

The weirdest thing about this cleanser is it's slimy, stretchiness. I guess the best way to describe it, as gross as it sounds, would be milky...snot consistency. It is easy to spread but trying to foam all of the product with just bare hands and water requires a little more effort since it likes to stick to skin. This is supposedly their marketing point though: high adhesion to impurities in order to clean out pores.

lavlilacs Pyunkang Yul Cleansing Foam whipped foam

How I Apply

I prefer to use this as a second cleanse. I generously pre-lather the cleansing foam with either a foaming net or the foam maker cup contraptions—both create airy whipped bubbles with just a small about of water and product. Afterwards, I proceed to massage the foam all over my face and neck until the bubbles deflate by half and then rinse off with water.

This goes against the OHLOLLY's recommended instructions (apply onto dry skin, then lather and rinse) but I use less product per cleanse this way while reducing the possibility of over tugging and pulling my skin.

Thoughts & Recommendations

As per usual, the cleanser has a bunch of skin beneficial claims. Cleaner pores, clean feeling, non-drying. For me, as long as I don't break out from using the product and it isn't overly drying I am a happy customer. I can keep my pores clear via other methods.

Gothamista tested the pH level herself and found that the cleanser is around pH 7. The ideal for skincare is said to be pH 5.5 (slightly acidic).

While I have had clearer pores lately, I cannot confidently say this cleanser is the sole reason why. I am certain though that this is one of the first cleansing foams I have used that makes me feel refreshed and clean without having that squeaky clean feel. Wiping my face afterward with toner and cotton pad produces minimal residual dirt.

Now I cannot say I do not ever experience tightness or dryness with this cleanser. If I do, I would be lying. Heck, there isn't one cleanser out there that won't do that because the act of cleansing is to remove dirt, impurities, and oils which means if moisture isn't replenished right away the skin will, therefore, be tight and dry. With Pyunkang Yul's Cleansing Foam though, I have found that I can sit around just a little longer before following up with my skincare routine. The waiting period differs when the weather is drier and more humid of course.

I am very satisfied with this cleanser. It does what it needs to do and mostly what it promises. I like that the ingredients list is kept to a minimum without much compromise elsewhere. The tube of product is huge when considering how much is needed for each use. I have been using my tube for almost 4 months nightly and have a fair bit of it left. To top it all off, it is inexpensive at USD $12. For anyone looking for something that is sulfate-free, give it a try. As for whether I will repurchase, I am considering it—with the new trend of low pH cleansers on the rise, I would like to test my luck with other brands to find a cleanser that can elongate that drying out timeframe even more. If I don't find anything better I will gladly pick up another tube as a backup.

JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy

JUNGSAEMMOOL's High Color Lipstick in High Matt seemed too good to be true on paper: high color, matte shades that aren't drying. If it truly lives up to its claims where has this magical formulation been all this time? Why didn't anyone come up with it sooner?

A lippie junkie I am not. In fact, I almost have an aversion to lip products. I prefer my lips to be naked and free. The feeling of having something slippery on my lips is just too uncomfortable when I am conscious and aware. The marks it leaves on bottles and cups also irk my inner neat-freak tendencies.

Lip tints and stains were a nice compromise though—residue-free and long-lasting color, brilliant! It's just the formulas typically dry unforgivingly fast and colors too sheer.

When the matte look gained traction, I was intrigued—promises of non-sticky formulas that are far more blendable called my name. The dryness factor that inevitably comes with matte things held me back for sure. Constantly flaky lips don't really pair well with dry colors now does it?

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy packaging box

JUNGSAEMMOOL's Description:

High-pigmented and high-stain lipstick that defines the perfect color with single-stroke as if done by an artist.

High Chroma Color
Expresses vivid and refined color without being dusky by mixing minimum base material to increase color purity.

Cashmere Formula
Used the new cashmere formula that creates perfectly blendable and silky texture.

New Matt Texture
The new type of matte lipstick that stays on matte-finish comfortably without drying out made by a thin and even spreading process.

Evenly apply proper amount on lips.


Lipstick tube 4.7 g

JSM Beauty (Korean retail): ₩27,000
JSM Beauty (USA retail): USD $29.74
Peach & Lily: USD $29.00

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy label safety seal

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy color labeling

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy opened


Lipsticks in this line come in a twist up bullet "tubing". The outer plastic is boxy but the lipstick itself is a slender circular shape. The tip isn't shaped in any unique way, just flat and barely angled. I found it difficult to achieve nice define edges when directly applying; a small tipped brush would be the way to go. I don't know about you but my lips aren't that flat. I guess I could have tried to create the lines with the edge of the lipstick but I prefer to keep those clean cut.

I very much appreciate the thought that went into all the packaging. The box makes use of all its small real estate while maintaining negative space. The safety seal is the actual functional labels instead of separate plastic wrap or some arbitrary sticker. The cap is mostly clear so I could spot the shade no matter if I stand the tube up or lay it down flat. I could also tell what color it is even if placed label side up as the name, albeit in Korean only, is printed rather large in comparison to the other information on the label. Even the color of the label is practically a near perfect match of the color of the lipstick, which can be surprisingly rare to find.

The one thing that is missing though is an officially printed ingredients list...even if it has to be in Korean. The photo above shows an English ingredient list on the box, but that is one printed and placed on by Peach & Lily (I am guessing done Stateside) to comply with USA's cosmetic selling standards.

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy hand swatches

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy transfer test

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy lip swatch buildability closeup

Color, Texture, Finish, & Scent

Describing a color that is named burgundy is difficult. Burgundy is burgundy! The best I can do is give some associating terms to help make it more relatable. Blood, ox-blood red, wine, deep red, vampy, etc. I think all of those trendy beauty/fashion keywords are fitting. It is a very textbook sample of what "burgundy" would be. Very dark red that leans somewhat magenta-blue. When applied sheer, it gives a cherry-stained (innocent?) effect; when applied in a thicker manner, it changes to a much edgier vibe.

The lipstick isn't too creamy. Just emollient enough to glide over lips and apply well without too much tugging and pulling. It is also creamy enough to be able to blend just by slightly running over it...which, of course, translates to it wiping away and transferring incredibly easily. Somehow though the lipstick does "stain" a little and I am usually left with a nice cherry-, wine-stained color after.

While it doesn't dry my lips out, the formula also isn't super moisturizing either. My lips don't have to be slathered in lip balm beforehand but it looks better on softened lips. Product doesn't settle into the fine lip wrinkles; it does catch onto dry patches, flakes, and deeper lines/cuts. I found dabbing the product on via the tube OR lightly brushing it on with a lip brush helps avoid streaking and irritating any dry skin.

I didn't think cashmere could be a good description for a lipstick finish but now it seems to fit the High Color Lipstick well in the sense that a fresh application of the lipstick looks matte yet still somehow soft. I guess it helps that it doesn't make my lips look desert dry or crackly. I can freely move them every which way and it never feels constricted.

Added fragrance isn't on the ingredients list I found on the JSM Beauty Korea website. There isn't any noticeable scent either when taking a whiff of the lipstick by itself. Just neutral.

How I Apply

Gradient // Lightly dab the lipstick on the inner portions of my lips in multiple light layers depending on what color intensity I feel. Use a brush, finger, or cotton swab to feather out the outer edges to blend with my lip color.

Full color // Either directly swipe the lipstick all across my lips and then fix any streaks and patches with a brush OR slowly build up to the full color intensity with multiple layers via brush.

lavlilacs Review JUNGSAEMMOOL High Color Lipstick - High Matt Burgundy lip swatch buildability face

Thoughts & Recommendations

I honestly didn't think I would like the High Matt Burgundy lipstick as much as I do now. I love how versatile the pigmentation is with just one tube of color. The above photo was taken the same day with the same base and eye makeup. I appreciate how it isn't overly drying just for the sake of achieving the matte look. Even though some might find it too smudgy, I enjoyed the fact that the lipstick is easy to blend, even if it means it can easily smear and wipe off, without feeling like it is tacky or slippery.

JUNGSAEMMOOL doesn't offer a bajillion lipstick shades: 7 in each the High Matt and High Glow variety and 6 in the High Master grouping. A handful are more daring (violets, deep purples, mints), a few are for color mixing/concealing (white, black, brown, and beige), and everything else offered are incredible wearable and/or classic shades (nudes, pinks, and reds).

Pricing-wise these seem to be on par with higher-end brands (over USD $20 but under $50). While the packaging itself doesn't state how many grams of product it has, visually it looks to be similar to your typical bullet of rouge. It was quite the splurge for me considering how little lip product I wear on the daily, even with the Peach & Lily holiday discount. But I may have had a change of heart since, solely because of how many checkmarks it ticked off on my lipstick preference wish list.

It would save a lot of time, effort, and money to continue stick to this line of product. I may consider purchasing another shade in the High Matt range—specifically Nude, Ginger Brown, and/or Real Red. Thinking of repurchasing Burgundy isn't even an option considering how long this current tube may last me. When that day comes and the stars align (i.e. I am still in love with the deep dark reds and JUNGSAEMMOOL still makes this item) then yes I would buy the High Color Lipstick in a heartbeat.