Korean skincare is still all the rage, and one brand that is ever-increasingly popular is Saranghae. Korean for “I love you,” Saranghae claims to be as much about rejuvenation and results as healing and gentle botanicals. One of the first lines from Korea I’ve seen claiming to be natural and non-toxic, it seems like this brand is mainly trying to appeal to Americans who are looking for Korean skincare, rather than die-hard Korean skincare fans. That said, here are my thoughts on the line:
Saranghae Oil & Foam Cleanser: Pass By
It is not uncommon for skin care companies to use expensive sounding ingredients (like black truffle and gold for instance) as a way to lift a product’s perceived value and justify the price tag. Do these ingredients have any benefits for your skin though?
Truffles are a unique kind of mushrooms that grow in tree roots and are often used in food served in high-end restaurants as they are a difficult ingredient to obtain. Truffle is said to contain essential fatty acids that hydrate the skin, however, I find little evidence that it actually has any real benefits for your skin. It’s great in food, but not sure if it makes a good skincare ingredient.
In skin care, gold complexes could have two effects: Gold interacts with thiol groups on proteins that are responsible for regulating the transcription of cytokines involved in inflammation. This means that gold may inhibit inflammation in the skin. Gold has also been found to inhibit the breakdown of collagen by reacting with thiol groups in matrix metalloproteinases, according to a 1987 study. The University of Miami School of Medicine found that small concentrations of gold dramatically reduces skin inflammation and blood clotting. Promotes cellular recovery for healthier skin.
The issue here is that, given the less-than-$50 price point, it’s unlikely that this cleanser contains enough gold to have the proven effects. And so I give this one a big thumbs-down — just pass it by.
Saranghae Essence + Serum: Pass By (For Now)
Korean Pasque Flower
Korean Pasque Flower contains a compound called saponins, known collectively as ‘aescin’, which have a gentle soapy feel and are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Saponins, such as escin, also reduce capillary fragility and therefore help to prevent leakage of fluids into surrounding tissues, which can cause swelling. (Source)
However, until more research is done on Pasque flower, I’m reluctant to recommend it to my readers. Other ingredients that may help with capillary fragility, such as Haloxyl, have a lot more research behind them. So I’m a little reluctant to say yes to this until I see more research.
Saranghae Eye Cream: Pass By
Amino acids are building blocks of protein throughout the body. When you apply the amino acids to the skin, it has been shown in multiple studies to have significant effects, ranging from antioxidant and boosted UV protection (Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, 1999), to the promotion of tissue repair (Journal of Clinical Investigation, 1993), to conditioning the skin (Conditioning Agents for Hair and Skin [book], 1999). L- Argine is an amino acid that boosts the production of collagen and helps maintain a healthy skin cell immune system. L-Argine may also speed the healing of skin cell damage and wounds (Wilderness and Environmental Damage, 2014; JPEN, 2014; Eksp Klin Pharmacol, 2014; Minerva Pediatrica, 2014).
Unfortunately, L-arginine is the only ingredient here that I get excited about, which is why this gets the “pass by” designation.
Ginseng is used in contemporary Chinese medicine to increase metabolism and regulate blood pressure, but the United States only recognizes its use as a skin-soothing agent in topical ointments at the moment (JAMA). When used as a topical treatment, ginseng can protect cells from UV radiation.Testing on rats has shown a significant decrease in wrinkle formation after UVB exposure. This might be due to its decreasing of MM-1, an enzyme that degrades collagen (Journal of Ethnopharmacology).
Hyaluronic acid is a natural moisturizing factor (NMF). It is naturally found in the skin. But hyaluronic acid is naturally produced and found in the uppermost layer of the skin, so when you topically apply hyaluronic acid, it has similar effects to when it’s naturally produced. This is different from, say, collagen, which is produced and found predominantly in the deeper layers of the skin, so when you topically apply collagen, it has very little effect other than hydration and temporary skin plumping. When you apply hyaluronic acid to the skin, it draws water into the skin, reducing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). It helps to temporarily stabilize and maintain the complex intercellular-skin matrix, which is the “glue” that holds the skin together. Hyaluronic acid also creates a slight swelling of the skin that temporarily reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Of all the products in the line, this is probably my favorite.
Saranghae Elemental Essence Mask: Buy (especially if you use a vitamin CE serum)
Coenzyme Q-10, also called ubiquinone, is a spectacular antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. When applied to the skin, Coenzyme Q-10 has been shown to penetrate the skin layers and reduce cellular oxidation (Biofactors). It’s antioxidant and coenzyme effects also may help to prevent cell death. As far as more, uh, visible effects, Coenzyme Q-10 reduces wrinkles, prevent UVA-irradiation damage (Biofactors), and helps to suppress the inflammation that occurs with UV-irradiation. When coenzyme Q10 is used with other antioxidants, it is even more powerful (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). For instance, when mixed with beta-carotene, it may also be able to stop the action of collagen-degrading enzymes (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology).
Because coenzyme Q10 works in conjunction with vitamins C and E in the literature, I love the idea of incorporating coenzyme Q10 — especially when you can get away with it in mask form, since it’s hard to come by in serums and moisturizers, as it’s expensive to formulate with.
Saranghae products worth trying IMO are the moisturizer and the mask, which offer ginseng and hyaluronic acid, and coenzyme Q10, respectively. The other products contain Korean botanicals without enough substantial research for me to get excited about them at this point.