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I still remember the first Korean skin care I tried some 20 years ago – it was a sheet mask soaked with gooey, beige-colored ginseng extract. Back then, Korean red ginseng a.k.a. panax ginseng was hyped for its anti-aging and detoxifying effects, and this ingredient attracted many people to hanbang beauty.
Hanbang is the Korean term for traditional Korean medicine, which is based on centuries-old practices. The 17th-century Donguibogam texts compiled by royal physician Heo Jun during the Joseon Dynasty are often cited when concocting traditional medicinal formulas. Examples of Korean cosmetics brands that use hanbang ingredients include Sulwhasoo, The History of Whoo, DONGINBI and Beauty of Joseon. Products containing high concentrations of precious herbs like ginseng are usually more expensive than other types of skin care products. Luckily, I’ve recently discovered Korean brand danahan, which offers more wallet-friendly anti-aging ginseng products that come in luxurious-looking packaging.
Founded in 2004, danahan got its name by combining the words dana (dame) with han (wholeness). The K-Beauty brand currently carries 17 product lines, all of which are rooted in hanbang concepts. The brand uses red ginseng saponins certified by the Korea Ginseng Corp (KGC). Ginseng saponins are the major active ingredient in ginseng, which is known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The Bon Yeon Jin Anti-Wrinkle Line
I’m not certain what bon yeon jin means, but based on the Korean characters, it may mean “to enhance natural skin.” According to the brochure included in the skin care sets, the Bon Yeon Jin line was developed based on the principles of yin and yang. In traditional Eastern medicine, homeostasis determines health. An imbalance in yin and yang or congestion of jinaek (essence) results in premature aging, which can be prevented by boosting the skin’s ability to absorb and metabolize nutrients. Two traditional Korean medicine remedies are used in the Bon Yeon Jin line, one originally intended for strengthening the spleen and the other for clearing the body of excess phlegm. The mixture of ingredients in the formulas helps to achieve harmony of these energies and improve overall skin health.
Does this all sound quite vague to you? Don’t worry, danahan lists out the key ingredients used in each set. The Bon Yeon Jin line boasts concentrated panax ginseng root extract, chrysanthellum indicum extract, white poria cocos extract, magnolia officinalis bark extract and roasted licorice root extract. Red ginseng keeps skin smooth and firm, while the other ingredients soothe and detoxify skin.
To complete my skin care routine, I tried the three Bon Yeon Jin gift sets featuring a toner, essence, emulsion and face cream. Let’s look at them one by one!
A nice gift for your mom or BFF, this generous set includes the Anti-Wrinkle Skin Toner and Anti-Wrinkle Emulsion in both full size (160ml) and travel size (31ml), as well as a mini version (10ml) of the Anti-Wrinkle Essence in a pump bottle.
This set includes a full bottle (50ml) of the Anti-Wrinkle Essence and travel-sized versions (31ml) of the Anti-Wrinkle Skin Toner and Anti-Wrinkle Emulsion.
This set includes a full tub (50ml) of Anti-Wrinkle Cream and travel-sized versions (31ml) of the Anti-Wrinkle Skin Toner and Anti-Wrinkle Emulsion, plus ten cotton pads.
Here’s a breakdown of the four featured products:
The toner comes in a sturdy and elegant beige gold pump bottle. Unlike most toners that have a watery and transparent texture and color, danahan’s toner is a little dense and beige in color. It’s even denser than Hada Labo’s Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion which is by far my favorite toner for winter. The Anti-Wrinkle Skin Toner’s fragrance is enticing, although some may find it too strong. Despite its thick consistency, the toner spread on easily and immediately absorbed into my dry skin, leaving a smooth and non-sticky finish.
Bon Yeon Jin Anti-Wrinkle Essence
The essence is like a denser version of the toner. Carrying a slightly sweeter scent, the Anti-Wrinkle Essence is easy to absorb and leaves skin instantly smoother. Don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t mean you can replace the essence with more toner, because the ingredients and concentrations of both products are different. The essence also contains squalane, macadamia oil, ceramide and shea butter so its formula is more moisturizing than the toner.
The emulsion is, again, slightly beigey and carries the same scent as the toner. Like with the toner and essence, a little goes a long way when using the Anti-Wrinkle Emulsion, so I expect this 160ml bottle to last me through winter. The emulsion contains more seed oils than the essence, including those from chamomile, geranium, lavender, bergamot, lemon peel, cymbopogon martini and rosemary leaf. At this stage of the routine, my skin already feels very plump and smooth. I reckon those with normal to oily skin type can skip the cream, especially in the morning.
Bon Yeon Jin Anti-Wrinkle Cream
I usually dab only the slightest amount of face cream on my cheeks, forehead, chin and nose tip, and then spread evenly. This cream by danahan is utterly smooth and non-greasy. It’s as fine and buttery as some nourishing eye creams I’ve tried. Since I’d already applied several nourishing products before using this cream, I only patted a small amount of the Anti-Wrinkle Cream onto my skin. After applying all four products from the Bon Yeon Jin line in quick succession, my skin looked greasy in the first minute, but that appearance soon dissipated.
I’m glad I found danahan’s Bon Yeon Jin line just as cold weather arrives. These items have saved my dry skin from flaking and restored suppleness to my skin. I haven’t tried the eye cream from the range yet, but a four-step skin care routine with the toner, essence, emulsion and cream feels just about right for me.
The toner and emulsion can be purchased individually but the essence and cream are only available in gift sets. Even though I usually prefer to buy skin care products individually, the sets let you try other products from the collection that you may unexpectedly fall in love with. The mini-sized products are also great for a staycation. The best part? The Bon Yeon Jin products are very affordable but look expensive thanks to the opulently designed product packaging. These sets are a keeper for me and I’m already contemplating getting the Bon Yeon Jin 2pcs Set for my mom and sis!
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