My first encounter with Missha must have been about 15 years ago already.
I was a wee pre-teen that surfed the forums of the internet in complete awe of the methodologies of cosmetics application. Missha was an internet company back then, without a physical store. Their biggest online traffic was generated from their beauty forums, back then it was mostly about the forum, the products were more so considered a generous sample from a start-up company. The website had mini games and events that you could participate when you maintained activity on the forums. The earned points from the forums and website games could be traded in for various cosmetic gifts from the Missha company. All you had to pay was shipping.
What a great opportunity for a curious girl to spend her time trying to win cosmetics freebies on the internet! I remember ordering a ton of products from the website with the points that I’ve won. It ended up being a giant bag of cosmetics, which I hid underneath my desk (My mom eventually found out). When I realized I was missing a couple pieces from my order — they shipped me my entire order again for some reason. This was my first and last biggest beauty haul ever as a pre-teen. And I don’t think I’ve even had to pay much for it! Ah the early days of the internet.
Aside from trying to score free makeup, I’ve spent a lot of time reading these forums fancying about all the different types of cosmetics and what they do. I would boast my newfound knowledge on the taboo subject that is cosmetics to my fellow classmates in my all-girls middle school. What is now considered the “Korean method” of cosmetics application was still very apparent then, and the young me had internalized the routine over and over to remember it by heart. I’ll probably write more on my thoughts of the Korean method later on a different post, since this isn’t about that!
It wasn’t long after I found Missha stores on the streets of Seoul, along with The Face Shop, Skin Food stores. Curious about their products, I remember buying a soap bar along with a couple skincare products from The Face Shop. I’ve used their products maybe 3 times, broke out with pimples and I was left with severely irritated skin. I swore off Korean “road shop” brands from this moment on.
Years pass, and I seek out the best and the greatest names in the cosmetics industry that fell within my price range. I would save up for a long while to be able to afford things like a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Night repair, or a bottle of SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence. I’ve tried various products such as Biotherm’s Aquasource gel, Estee Lauder’s Idealist, anything and everything that seemed to be famous within its brand. Estee Lauder’s Night Repair, SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream were probably my favorite care products at the time. Biotherm’s Aquasource gel, and Estee Lauder’s Idealist were the two products I’ve had the most terrible experiences with, unfortunately.
It was around the time I was living in dry, dry Toronto winters. A friend of mine working at the Duty Free store let me use her employee discount to purchase a bottle of SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence. This product was magic. My face felt so hydrated like never before — it felt like I comfortable in my own skin for the very first time. This product cleared my skin of the odd zingers I would get one after another. Night repair was one of those products I’ve used continuously. It didn’t feel like it helped a ton, but it didn’t harm my skin in any way either. I simply used it religiously hoping that it might serve as some kind of preventive measure for the future for youthful looking skin.
Late 2011 I’ve returned to Korea for a few years. I was almost done with my bottle of SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence when I saw an advertisement at Missha. If I brought in a empty bottle of SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence, they were trading away their brand new product “The First Treatment Essence” which was worth around $40… for free! The snob in me would have never bothered trading in my empty bottle if it was to receive an exchange for a sample. But their aggressive marketing tactics got me, and has me hooked for good.
I was able to try Missha’s First Treatment Essence along with my SK II Facial Treatment Essence for direct comparison at the time, because I moved the little SK II Essence I had left into a smaller empty container!
Advertisements posted in 2011 announcing Missha First Essence trades for empty SK II Facial Treatment Essences
I’m happy to say that Missha’s First Treatment Essence was as good as SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence. If anything, I might even go as far to say that it’s better. Performance wise, they’re pretty similar. Although there was one thing that I absolutely detested while using SK II Facial Treatment Essence, and that was the smell.I’m not sure what it is that causes it, but it gets worse and worse as with use. Perhaps the oxidization worsens it. This is unfound in Missha’s First Treatment Essence. If price alone wasn’t a selling factor, this was another big plus in my books. Even with it’s miraculous benefits, SK II’s First Treatment Essence was something that I did not look forward to using, purely because of how icky it smelled. It was another factor that lead me to question whether I really needed it.
I was absolutely ecstatic when Missha announced the release of their version of Night Repair. Estee Lauder’s Night Repair was one of those things that I only bought from duty free stores, because I was able to buy their 100ml bottles there, and I would use this in small amounts at a time. Did you know that Estee Lauder’s Night Repair has a PAO (period after opening) of 24 months? Well, I made good use of the time they gave me, because it would take me about a year to two to finish my 100ml bottle. I was happy that they were releasing a cheaper alternative, that was hopefully better than the original.
Missha’s Night Repair, that Koreans call “The Purple Bottle” (Estee Lauder’s Night Repair is called “The Brown Bottle” respectively), was an instant hit yet again. Just like the Night Repair, I can’t say that the effects are dramatic. When I purchased a bottle of The Purple Bottle, I also had Estee Lauder’s Night Repair in my possession so I was able to compare the two simultaneously. The biggest difference between the two was that the Estee Lauder’s Night Repair had a silicone texture after applying it to the face. Sure it made it feel smoother as a result of it, but my skin felt less breathable. Among these two products, I’d probably still prefer Missha’s version. Aside from price, the biggest differences for me were probably the texture and its period after opening date. Estee Lauder’s Night Repair gives a generous 2 years to use once the product is open, whereas Missha’s Purple Bottle recommends the product to be used within 9 months. I’m not sure if I would trust a product with such a long expiry date again. After all, a long Period After Opening would only mean more preservatives to suppress bacterial growth and oxidization.
Keep in mind however, Missha’s Purple bottle contains retinol — which should be used either at night or with generous amounts of sunscreen if applied during the daytime. Estee Lauder promotes their Night Repair to be used during the daytime as well, and it is completely safe to use during the daytime since their product does not contain retinol. However applying sunscreen is always good skincare practice!
It’s been a lovely, enjoyable adventure so far, and I’m looking forward to where this frenzy will lead me to!
Pictured above are empty bottles of Missha’s First Treatment Essence and Night Repair that I’ve just finished using.
The two products that had me dive head-first into the world of Korean cosmetics