The founder of Then I met you is Charlotte Cho who is the co-founder of sokoglam.com. There are one the Kbeauty website that popularized South Korean skincare in the United States.
Then I met has recently launched a toner and an essence and it follows the Korean skincare steps: double cleanse, toner, essence, serum, moisturizer and sometimes a sleeping mask. It may look too much and gimmicky but if you do this type of routine with excellent products it makes your skin glow. By layering hydrating formulas you build up humectants making the skin plumper.
I got the double cleansing duo and I’m not crazy about. In this post, I’m going to review the cleansing duo and do the breakdown of formulas of the Birch milk refining toner and the giving essence.
Living cleansing balm
I love a good cleansing balm that melts into your skin. I find it very soothing after a long day. It contains a blend of different oils: olive oil, grape seed oil, sea buckthorn oil and babassu oil, a wax (Cera Microcristallina), surfactants… I won’t comment on the oils because a balm aim is to solubilize impurities, be pleasant to massage and easy to rinse. It does remove my sunscreen and foundation, rinse easily but it does glide that nice on the skin. There are also essential oils (rosewood, grapefruit, and rosemary). I don’t mind them that much in rinse-off products but the smell is not nice. Also using different sophisticated oils in a rinse-off product is a waste in my opinion.
Soothing tea cleansing gel
It features rice Ferment Filtrate, glycerin, diglycerin, licorice, Centella asiatica, tea extracts, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, mild detergents, a bunch of essential oils (tea tree oil, orange, and camphor).
It is a light foaming gel that is not drying at all. The texture is nice but not the nicest I have used. Interestingly, there are soothing ingredients (Centella asiatica, licorice…) but why adding inflammatory ingredients like essential oils. It is a rinse-off product so likely none of those actives and icky ingredients will stay on the skin anyway. I happen to dislike the smell of this cleanser.
There is polyhydroxy acid (gluconolactone) that acts like an AHA but without the irritation, in a rinse-off product, it is pretty ineffective. Maybe it is used to lower the pH which I like. Overall I am not crazy about it but it is an acidic water-based cleanser.
Birch milk refiner toner
This refiner toner contains Birch sap (aka Betula Platyphylla Japonica Juice), a blend of AHA (glycolic acid and lactic acid) at 1%, gluconolactone (likely at a tiny concentration), squalane, shea butter, marshmallow root (Althaea Officinalis Root Extract)…
I have found one article Birch sap and the study was conducted in mice model showing that it reduces inflammation in atopic skin and that’s it. There is virtually nothing on the effect of birch sap on the skin. There are some reports that it is antioxidant in various models but none on the skin. Birch has been used in traditional Korean medicine. I would guess that it contains complex sugar as most plant’s sap and therefore it could be excellent humectants but we are in the unknown.
The blend of AHA is very minimal but for balancing the skin pH to its acidic state and provide a very gentle exfoliation it is fine in my book. The emollients (squalane and shea butter mainly) are below 1% which is fine in a toner.
The marshmallow root is also supposed to be anti-inflammatory but again we are in the unknown because of the lack of proper science.
There is also a Wintergreen extract, it could be an extract sold as Amiperfect which is supposed to be rich in salicylic acid aka a BHA.
Last but not least it has Rosa Damascena Flower Water. Floral waters are diluted version of essential oils thus could be fragrant. It could be used as a fragrant for this toner. But I have also used products with Rosa Damascena Flower Water that are not fragrant. I always prefer fragrance free products.
Overall this toner falls into the natural trend. Only a handful of ingredients have back up science the rest is unknown. If you have sensitive skin and prone to contact allergies I would stay away from it. I would guess it is a hydrating toner be careful if you want to try it.
The giving essence
This essence is packed with fermented ingredient: galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, aspergillus Ferment Extract Filtrate and saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate.
Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate is the ferment used by SKII and named Pitera. There a 3 studies on it and none in vivo. Aspergillus Ferment Extract Filtrate has no study that I’ve found. Saccharomyces ferment is supposed to contain Beta-glucan which is an excellent wound healing ingredient. Overall fermented filtrates are from the metabolism of bacteria and yeast.
In general, filtrates contains interesting molecules that can act humectants, antioxidant and skin-soothing but nothing is proven. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
There is the wonderful niacinamide one of the best skin barrier supportive ingredients. I would love to know the concentration.
Ellagic acid is often found in plants and fruits and is part of the plant metabolism. Again there is almost nothing on its effect on the skin it could a skin brightening.
It has polyglutamic acid a polymer that is claimed to be a better humectant than hyaluronic acid. The essence also has hyaluronic acid.
Then we have a lot of botanical extracts among them Aronia Melanocarpa Fruit Extract aka chokeberry (but no study on the skin), blueberry, black currant, raspberry… All those extracts are supposed to be antioxidants but again no science to back it up
There are skin-soothing ingredients: licorice extract and aloe vera.
Like the toner, this formula contains barely any ingredient with scientific data so we are again in the unknown. I would expect this essence to be hydrating and maybe antioxidant. At least it contains a lot of different potential antioxidants and it doesn’t seem to have any fragrant component which I always prefer.
So yes or no? It is hard to tell because there are no data on most of the ingredients used. They are plant-derived and are total extracts, so if your skin is sensitive that is not the type of product for you. I would expect that the toner and the essence are very hydrating and respect the skin pH for the rest of the claims I won’t bet on them. I would give it a try because I am a skincare nerd and I didn’t detect any problematic ingredients that I know off but be careful. However, I don’t recommend the cleansing duo.
I have yet tried it so let’s see if it is worth a try.
You can watch my video to know more as always.
Thank you for your time.