DOES INNISFREE’S BEST-SELLING SERUM LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?
KATHERINE SPOWART on MAY 3, 2020
If you’ve heard of Innisfree, you’ve most likely heard of their famous Green Tea Seed Line. If you haven’t heard of it, I’m certain you’ll recognize the signature green bottle design, which is available everywhere from the streets of Seoul to your local Sephora. Innisfree is one of the most well-known K-beauty brands both within Korea and abroad and I’ve had their Green Tea Seed Serum on my “to-try” list for years. Why have I never taken the plunge and bought it? Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe because it was always just there? Despite wanting to try it, it didn’t excite me enough to make the purchase? Because I already own 5000 serums? Regardless, when it landed in my lap to review for Beautchat, I was definitely ready to finally put this little bottle of green to the test.
WHAT IS IT?
The description from Innisfree is as follows:
“Our global best-selling lightweight yet nourishing serum instantly replenishes your skin’s moisture for a soft, glowing complexion. Formulated with a blend of Jeju Green Tea Extract and Green Tea Seed Oil that work together to help maintain skin’s delicate balance and retain moisture longer.”
The ingredients, as per Innisfree USA:
WATER / AQUA / EAU, PROPANEDIOL, ALCOHOL, GLYCERIN, BETAINE, 1,2-HEXANEDIOL, SACCHARIDE ISOMERATE, CAMELLIA SINENSIS SEED OIL, CETEARYL OLIVATE, HYDROGENATED LECITHIN, SORBITAN OLIVATE, ACRYLATES/C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, FRAGRANCE / PARFUM, PANTHENOL, HYDROXYETHYL ACRYLATE/SODIUM ACRYLOYLDIMETHYL TAURATE COPOLYMER, TROMETHAMINE, CERATONIA SILIQUA GUM, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN, DISODIUM EDTA, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT, DEXTRIN, THEOBROMA CACAO (COCOA) EXTRACT, SORBITAN ISOSTEARATE, SODIUM CITRATE, CITRIC ACID, SUCROSE
Note- this serum is now called the Intensive Hydrating Serum on Innisfree USA and Sephora. It has the same ingredients list as the bottle I own from Korea that is named Green Tea Seed Serum.
The ingredients list looks fine to me, although the formula is not outstanding. If you’re sensitive to alcohol that might be something to keep in mind (although this product certainly isn’t drying from my experience and the alcohol is likely present either to increase absorption ability or provide a lighter texture). The green tea seed oil (Camellia Sinensis seed oil in its scientific form) is the star ingredient here for Innisfree. They base their marketing on the fact that the green tea they use comes from their “USDA-organic farm on Korea’s Jeju Island” and “the new Beauty Green Tea was selected from 2,401 varieties”. I can’t say whether that makes it better for the skin than other brands’ green tea but I like the back story and appreciate the focus on organic Jeju farming.
The bottle is small and pretty; I love the green and the minimal design. A pump dispenser is my ideal choice as it makes the packaging both functional and sanitary. The bottle is made of plastic and is labeled as recyclable. It’s a fairly small container with only 80ml of product, but this isn’t unusual for serums or ampoules, I guess.
Once I tried the serum, my first impression was how much I adored the consistency. It’s a light liquid-gel when dispensed that becomes a more watery consistency once spread over the skin. My skin drinks it up and the product is absorbed within seconds. It’s very much a lightweight serum that leaves no tackiness on the skin.
The scent hits you in the face on the first pump of the serum. It’s a very fragrant product with the scent of perfumey, green tea. I have to be honest and tell you that I like it. It’s fresh, it gives a very sensory experience to the product, and it reminds me of shopping in Myeongdong (sob). The Innisfree stores I used to frequent in Seoul literally smell of this particular scent. BUT, I know many users will find it far too strong. It could do with being dialed down to become much more subtle. If scented skincare is an issue for you, the very strong scent here is something to be wary of before purchasing.
PERFORMANCE & TAKEAWAY
I’m always skeptical of products labeled as “best-sellers”, particularly from Korean high street brands. I’ve found that the hype behind them is very often rooted more in their marketing and the visibility of the brand (or their K-pop/K-drama advocates!) rather than the quality of the product. Thankfully, this Innisfree serum has not left me completely disappointed, although I wouldn’t declare I’m in love. The serum has become a bit of a go-to particularly when I sit at my desk working from home while doing my morning skincare routine. The scent is enjoyable (for me!) and the rapid absorption makes it a very “easy” product to incorporate into my daily routine. Immediately after applying, my skin feels soft and well hydrated. It’s playing a considerable role in my hydration-focussed line up of products. I’ve also noticed subtle plumping and my moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup all sit very nicely over the top. I will definitely be keeping it in my daily routine.
Although I’ve enjoyed the product and I’m certainly reaching for it, I can’t necessarily say it’s blown me away. It’s not a life-changing serum that I would be rushing to replace when I finish my current bottle. The ingredients are fairly standard and I was surprised when I saw the price tag for $27 on the Innisfree USA site. I think that’s substantially overpriced. I see at the time of writing that the serum is on sale for $15 on Jolse, which I think is reasonable for my experience and a price I would happily pay for it. However, I’d still be more inclined to go for something like my favorite Iunik Propolis Serum for $17. I’m pleased to have finally crossed Innisfree’s best-seller off my list and if you enjoy their products I’d say go for it (if you can find it for less than $27 and don’t mind the scent!). But the main takeaway is that popularity does not necessarily equal the best there is in the Korean skincare world.