isoi (pronounced like eye-so-eye) is a brand that I have reviewed before. I also used to buy and even repurchase their Blemish Care Serum again and again in my twenties as I felt that it helped improve my adult acne at the time. Recently, I repurchased it again after not having used it for several years to see if I still liked it as much as I did then, and am now ready to share my thoughts.
For reference, these are some of my earlier reviews of isoi products. Generally speaking, I feel that the below are nice products, but not must haves and also a tad overpriced for what they are.
Review: isoi Blemish Care Tonic Essence (one of my earliest reviews on the blog!)
As you can tell, since I am now well into my 30s, this serum has been around for quite a while, so it must have a fanbase out there. When I checked Olive Young’s (Korean chemist/pharmacy retailer), I found out that indeed, this serum is 8 years old at this point and is apparently their best selling serum. I also saw that the packaging had changed, again.
・What it is: ・
It’s a serum, ie it goes on after cleansing and toner but before moisturisers, sunscreens or face oils.
I liked it more in my 20s than now in my 30s.
・Price & Availability: ・
This brand and serum are Olive Young exclusive in Korea when it comes to chemists; you seem to be able to get it online from isoi’s own online presence as well as other online shops.
I got mine in a set of three x 20 ml each for around KRW 40,000 or thereabouts, which must have been an absolute steal at the time because right now I can see two bottles going for the same price.
So at the time, it worked out to KRW 13,000 / bottle for me.
Each of the three bottles came with 20 ml of product, so a total of 60 ml for yourself or you could have chosen to gift these bottles.
Both cosDNA and inci decoder flag Rosa Damacena flower oil as a potential trigger, while inci decoder also flags alcohol. Now, alcohol is not the devil, true, and formulation is everything, but generally, I try to avoid denatured alcohol in my skincare, while loving fatty alcohols such as cetearyl alcohol.
This formulation has denatured alcohol quite high on the list, which I am not the biggest fan of, if I am being completely honest.
Packaging wise, these serums come in beautifully designed glass bottles. The bottles are very pretty to look at, limited edition or not, but I do wonder if brown or clear glass would not have been easier to recycle for a circular economy.
The bottle is topped with a plastic pump which works well while there is plenty of product left, however once it starts dwindling, you may find that you need to turn the bottle upside down, shake it, and remove the pump, letting the remainder drip into your hand. If I were isoi, I’d extend the plastic straw connected to the pump a little bit, for a better user experience.
・What the company says:・
Generally speaking, this is supposed to be a brightening and skin tone evening product, judging from the ad copy:
isoi’s Bulgarian Rose Blemish Care Serum Plus improves uneven pigmentation, clarifies blemishes and reduces dark spots with vitamin-rich Bulgarian rose oil, arbutin, and natural plant extracts. The serum also brightens and improves uneven skin tone, hydrates, and soothes redness. This product is recommended for sensitive and blemished skin types.Source
This brightening serum refines skin texture by improving blemishes and evening out uneven pigmentation.Source
Those who want to even out their skin tone
Those who want to improve their skin texture
Those with sensitive skin
Bulgarian Rosa Damascena Flower Oil: Fights skin aging and soothes inflammation and redness
Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract: Gently exfoliates skin and reduces signs of aging and the appearance of wrinkles
Centella Asiatica Extract: A blend of amino acids, beta carotene, and fatty acids that fight against skin aging
Improves uneven skin tone
Helps reduce dark sports [sic] isoiand blemishes
Gives skin a lovely glow and a flawless appearance
Promotes skin elasticity and firmness
The serum is a viscous yet light textured one, it does not run easily or spill.
It has a lovely scent of fresh roses that is natural and pleasing. Since it stems from the ingredients rather than being an artificial fragrance, I actually don’t mind.
My biggest peeve with the product is how a little does NOT go a long way. As you apply it, the serum sinks in pretty much immediately without stickiness or greasiness, but also without slip.
This means that 2-3 pumps are required to cover the whole face. But as mentioned, each bottle only contains 20 ml. What ends up happening is that you burn through this product at lightning speed, especially when used twice daily. When it is not on sale, this serum is kind of pricey – definitely up there with French pharmacy brands – and if you were to use it for extended periods of time, this could run quite deep.
I remember loving this in my 20s, when acne was more of a concern and when my skin was still grease bucket oily.
As a 30 something grandma, where my acne, though being a concern, does not give me as much trouble as it used to, and where I am more fixated on ample hydration and anti aging, I’ll have to say that it failed to rock my socks off this time around. For skin brightening, I am definitely more into arbutin and niacinamides these days, along with hyaluronic acid for hydration, and I have products that give me more of those, at a fraction of the cost of this serum.
I did not find that it managed my acne well, though I did think that it was somewhat brightening. But I could not see benefits outside of brightening. Smoothing, softening, fine line reduction? None of those for me personally.
While I will not be looking into repurchasing this, I think this could be a great pick for 20 something acne sufferers or even teenagers, if they have the correspondingly deep pockets. The rose scent makes this serum a great self care tool, as long as you do not mind alcohol in your skincare.