by Rosy Day Blog
Honest Products Made With a Mother’s LoveClean, natural, and vegan products have been thriving on the western side for awhile now, however, it appeared to have not caught on quite yet with the Korean beauty side until more recently. Similar to some other natural Korean brands I’ve come across, the brand Ground Plan came about when its founder, Kim Yoon-Kyun was pregnant and wanted safe products for use during her pregnancy as well as on her newborn. Like its name, it became literally a “ground plan” for healthy skin.
Similar to some other brands, Ground Plan takes a more simple approach to skincare. Ground plan has a commitment to natural ingredients, luxurious textures, and simplicity. Their products might initially seem basic, but they boast unique beneficial ingredients. That is not to say that the products/ingredients themselves are any less effective than more elaborate brands. Sometimes more simple ingredients lead the way for more potent formulations, as well as less irritation for those with skin sensitivity issues. With the exception of a couple of products, most of the Ground Plan products are vegan as well. Being someone with sensitive skin that seems to be reactive to many different products, this is always something that I can get behind on.
Unlike some other brands, Ground Plan doesn’t exactly have a single “star” ingredient that is in all of their products. Instead, each product comes with its own set of star ingredients which I will bring up in all my mini-reviews below. Read on to learn more!
Disclosure:I bought all of these with my own money from Peach & Lily. I was not given anything in exchange for this review. I enjoy doing product reviews to share my own experiences with the product and hope someone finds it useful. I do not work for Peach & Lily or Ground Plan.
Table of Contents
- First Clear Skin Toner
- Cell Power Energy Essence
- Day & Night Secret Moisture Cream
- Final Thoughts & Shop This Post
First Clear Skin Toner Mini-Review
BHA + Centella Asiatica:I used to really like exfoliating toners, especially when I was more acne-prone in my late teens to mid 20’s (the struggle with acne was real). However, since I’m older now and started incorporating actives like retinol and vitamin C into my routine (I don’t use the two at the same time), my skin has become a bit sensitive to what seems like all forms of exfoliation. I still like BHA because it keeps my now minor breakouts under control. The Ground Plan First Clear Toner is perfect because it has the power of BHA, yet the gentleness of centella asiatica which many should know by now is powerhouse when it comes to sensitive, irritated skin. I have sensitive skin and I can use this like almost everyday without any issues. And if I do have any existing breakouts (because they will sometimes happen anyway), they seem to look at least 50% smaller after using this toner. My favorite way to use this though is if I plan to wear foundation/makeup, I will sweep this across my face before doing the rest of my skincare routine. Personally whenever I start my routine with this toner (or any BHA-type of toner), I do oil up and breakout less than if I use a more hydrating-type of toner before makeup wear. I may also use this toner more frequently during the hot summer months to help prevent any breakouts due to the oiliness on my face. Other interesting ingredients include chia seed extract (for skin barrier & anti-wrinkle), houttuynia cordata extra (anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial), and lavender oil (reduce redness & acne scarring). It is important to note that the BHA in this product is from wintergreen, and according to Peach & Lily’s website, you should check with your doctor before using this product if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Sounds a bit weird considering it’s a Ground Plan product, however, everyone is different so it is definitely better to be safe than sorry. Overall, I don’t find any faults with this product unless you specifically want something with a strong percentage of BHA (though it’s potentially drying at that point).
Final Rating = 5/5
Cell Power Energy Essence Mini-Review
Plant Stem Cells + Oatmeal:This essence attracted me because it has plant stem cells which is a pretty unique ingredient that I don’t see too often from other skincare brands. The Cell Power Energy Essence has the powerful anti-aging properties of stem cells (from tomatoes) and the hydrating and soothing properties of oatmeal. If you have sensitive skin that is more on the dry side and looking for something anti-aging, this would be a great pick. However, just keep in mind that as with most anti-aging products, this is probably more preventative and you won’t necessarily see a huge improvement to any wrinkles or concerns with skin firmness. With that said, this essence does produce a lovely glass skin-like glow upon use. I highly recommend this if you’re not a big fan of watery essences that don’t provide enough hydration for your skin. The Cell Power Energy Essence is a watery gel that might seem slightly sticky at first, but it absorbs into your skin nicely. Other interesting ingredients include job’s tears (nourishing & anti-wrinkle), rose extract (anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial), edelweiss extract (more antioxidant potency than vitamin C), rice extract (anti-inflammatory & moisture retention), star anise (antioxidant & astringent), East Asian mountain yam (for fighting collagen loss & reducing skin flakiness), adenosine (anti-wrinkle & skin smoothing), lavender oil (reduce redness & acne scarring), aronia/black chokeberry fruit extract (phytonutrients & collagen building), centella asiatica extract (anti-bacterial & reduces redness), and purslane extract (antioxidant & collagen building). Overall I like how hydrating this essence is (I can get a good amount with only 1-2 layers versus doing the full on 7-skin method). I also see potential in plant stem cells, and while I didn’t really notice much with the use of this essence, I do hope that Peach & Lily will eventually curate more of Ground Plan’s products with stem cells in them. At the moment I have a hard time fitting this essence into my routine as I’m a bit overwhelmed by the many different essences out there. If there was a serum or emulsion, etc. from Ground Plan with similar ingredients, that would fit into my current routine a bit better.
Final Rating = 3.5/5
Day & Night Secret Moisture Cream Mini-Review
Olive Oil & Shea Butter + Rice Bran & Green Tea:At the time, I was suffering from dryness due to my Curology prescription and I wanted something hydrating for night, yet didn’t make my face greasy. The Ground Plan Day & Night Secret Moisture Cream is one of the best “basic” moisturizers I’ve used. You get the hydrating powerhouses of olive oil and shea butter, with the nourishing and soothing properties of rice bran and green tea. It’s a nice medium-weight cream that is both creamy, yet lightweight at the same time. This might be a bit much for more oily skin during the day, but I feel like almost everyone can use this at night. The thing that I like about this cream is that it gives me enough moisture to help combat the drying side-effects of tretinoin yet it leaves behind a satin/semi-matte finish. It has helped minimize redness on my skin as well. A lot of people claim that the Peach & Lily Matcha Pudding cream helps with their redness, but personally I saw better redness reducing properties with this Ground Plan cream than the Matcha Pudding one (it still has great soothing properties though). It also helps that the Ground Plan cream comes in a large 1.7 oz (50 ml) jar compared to the usual 1 oz or even 1.2 oz. Other interesting ingredients include beeswax (anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial), witch hazel (pore minimizing & anti-inflammatory), star anise (antioxidant & astringent), purslane extract (antioxidant & collagen building), lavender extract & oil (reduce redness & acne scarring), and ginko biloba leaf extract (antioxidant & hydration). Overall this is a great “basic” moisturizer with some hidden star ingredients (lots of balancing ingredients and antioxidants). Only fault I see with this cream is that it obviously won’t please those seeking more (acne prevention, brightening or anti-wrinkle type of products).
Final Rating = 4.5/5
Natural + Clean Skincare
I think it is important to focus on your own skin health first, as healthy, hydrated skin can help minimize fine lines as well as help balance skin for less acne and smaller pores. Then you can move onto stronger/more specific targeted treatments to further address those areas of concern.
Overall, I love the simplicity of Ground Plan and I feel like they give a lot of love and care to their products to make them just a bit more than “basic”. If you are looking for more vegan options within the K-beauty world, I definitely recommend checking this brand out. If you are new to K-beauty, it is definitely not all snail creams and whatever else “exotic” ingredients you might be thinking of. Ground Plan products might surprise you with how compatible they are with your skin. In fact, there is nothing wrong with going for more simple products for your base routine. If you have concerns such as acne, dullness, or wrinkles, etc. you should always target those areas with treatments such as serums, ampoules, etc. in addition to a basic routine anyway, as those items are more potent (instead of expecting a cleanser/toner/moisturizer to cure something for you). Basically, don’t be afraid to mix and match your products to get the routine that is just right for you. I hope to try more Ground Plan products in the future, and if I do, I’ll be sure to update this post with more mini-reviews for you.
Any questions and/or comments about my Ground Plan brand overview/product reviews? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please let me know in the comments below!
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Photo Credit: Peach & Lily
by Rosy Day Blog
Beauty Tap + AZN Labs Partner UpAZN Labs is basically the brand of Korean beauty store Beauty Tap (they have both a website and a physical U.S. store in Costa Mesa, CA). AZN Labs is a luxury skincare brand that marries Japanese ingredients with Korean emulsion technology, set out with the challenge to restore skin vitality and radiance without damaging active ingredients or the hassle of a multiple-step routine. Their first flagship product, the Afterglow Ampoule was born.
Disclosure:I bought this with my own money from AZN Labs. I was not given anything in exchange for this review. I enjoy doing product reviews to share my own experiences with the product and hope someone finds it useful. I do not work for AZN Labs or BeautyTap.
Table of Contents- Product Description, Claims, & How-To
- The Ingredients
- Packaging, Scent & Texture
- Product Review & Final Impressions
- Similar Products & Shop This Post
If Anti-Aging is on Your Checklist...
Product Description & Claims:The AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule claims to reverse signs of aging such as age-related dryness, dark spots, dullness, and loss of elasticity, as well as help prevent future damage without spending as much time and effort on skincare. Think of a more simplified, streamlined routine instead of having 10+ steps. The product also claims to be anti-pollution (protect from harmful radicals and fine dust, etc.) while achieving a more warm, dewy glow (hence the name “Afterglow”).
After the first use, skin should look and feel softer, more supple and nourished, along with a dewy glow. After one week, a vibrant rosy glow should return to your cheeks for a natural “lit from within” type of look. Over time, collagen production should increase, therefore reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Lastly, the antioxidants in the product, while protecting against UV and free radical damage, should allow the skin to be able to repair previous damage and help regain its original youthful look.
How To Use:The directions for this are very simple. Just apply to your face after cleansing and toning, but before your moisturizer. A little goes a long way with this product as it’s actually quite hydrating. I personally use 2 drops all over my face initially, and if I have any areas of concern where I feel I need more nourishment, I take another drop to those areas (usually the eye and mouth areas). Finally, if I don’t have enough to go down to my neck, I may take another drop as well (for a max total of 4 drops depending on my mood and needs).
Yes, I take this all the way down to my neck. Not many people pay attention to their neck, and the next thing they know, they have severe neck lines and skin starting to sag that seem to come from out of nowhere. This ampoule has lots of anti-aging stuff and since a little goes a long way anyway, it just seems wasted to only put it on your face. I do only use this ampoule at night though as it is a bit much (and slightly sticky/tacky) for me to use during the day. However, I have used it during the day many times initially, and didn’t have any major problems with it other than the fact my combo skin just needed to breathe more during the day (my own personal preference). You can also make this product last longer if you only use it once a day. I didn’t notice any difference from using it once a day versus twice a day.
Astaxanthin: The Powerhouse You’ve Never Heard OfAstaxanthin is a vibrant red keto-carotenoid (antioxidants with organic pigment usually from plants/algae/bacteria/fungi) that is created naturally in rainwater microalgae. It is basically a byproduct from stressful conditions such as excess heat, excess UV exposure, and lack of nutrients. It gives salmon and shrimp their characteristic red and pink color. However this ampoule isn’t here to turn us red or pink. Fuji Chemical Industry (yes the same ones that do the Fujifilm cameras, etc.), did a study that suggested that astaxanthin could significantly reduce wrinkles as well as age spots, rough skin texture, and age-related dryness. As the star ingredient of the Afterglow Ampoule, astaxanthin has 550 times more antioxidant activity than vitamin E, 1,000 times more than CoQ10 - even 6,000 times more antioxidant activity than vitamin C which is typically considered one of the most powerful antioxidants out there by many.
While antioxidants are more preventative in my opinion (rather than fixing/reversing any issues you might have), I do believe in the powers of anything related to algae and vitamin C. I have been using some other products with algae and plankton in my skincare routine, and they have slowly but surely helped with smoothing out some of my textural issues (more specifically some old acne scars that I have). Of course my scars were more on the minor side to begin with, but inspecting them nearly everyday, I have definitely seen them smooth out from these algae products. Vitamin C on the other hand is great for overall brightening, especially for dark spots. While I can’t say that the Afterglow Ampoule brightened my face better than other brightening/vitamin C type products I’ve tried out there, the ability to brighten/even out skin tone is always a welcomed attribute. Besides the astaxanthin, here I’ll break down other ingredients in this product to see what other types of things might help with anti-aging and restoring that natural glow.
Full Ingredients List:Water, Rhizophora Mangle Callus Culture Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol, Diethoxyethyl Succinate, Arbutin, Betaine, Astaxanthin, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Ubiquinone, Ferulic Acid, Caffeic Acid, Thioctic Acid, Glutathione, Xanthophylls, Hydroxycinnamic Acid, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Sodium, Ascorbyl Phosphate, Galloyl Pentapeptide-33, sh-Oligopeptide-1, sh-Oligopeptide-2, sh-Polypeptide-1, sh-Polypeptide-10, Superoxide Dismutase, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Viscum, Album (Mistletoe) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Phellinus Linteus Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Extract, Sparassis Crispa Extract, Hericium Erinaceum (Mushroom) Extract, Cudrania Tricuspidata Fruit Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Extract, Caffeine, Allantoin, Adenosine, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycosyl Trehalose, Lactic Acid, Panthenol, Propylene Carbonate, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, PEG-240/HDI Copolymer, Bis-Decyltetradeceth-20 Ether, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Polysorbate 60, Decyltetradeceth-25, Octyldodeceth-16, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Ethylhexyl Methoxycrylene, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Cholesterol, Ceteth-3, Ceteth-5, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Lysolecithin, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Phosphate, Lecithin, Fragrance
Packaging, Scent & Texture
Packaging:The product comes in a white dropper bottle. The dropper cap itself is a beautiful rose gold color (appropriate for the Afterglow Ampoule). The bottle itself isn’t transparent so you can’t see how much product you have left, but with such potent anti-aging ingredients inside, you do not want them to oxidate from being exposed sunlight. It does look pretty luxe as the product also comes in a rose gold trimmed box.
Scent & Texture:Honestly, to me it’s not exactly a pleasant scent. It’s not super off putting but really, this is not necessarily the type of product you go around sniffing either, lol. Like do you go around sniffing your vitamin C serums, retinol, or glycolic acid products? No, I don’t think so. Not unless that product specifically advertises that it smells like oranges or whatever...This product does smell alcoholic to me, but that’s probably because alcohol is the 5th ingredient on the list. I also think AZN Labs couldn’t be bothered adding fragrance to the ampoule for various reasons. So for those of you that don’t like perfumes/artificial fragrances in your products, you can at least rejoice about that part.
The ampoule itself is (not surprisingly) kind of a rose gold color as well. It really is a serum texture, not at all watery like some other serums/essences/ampoules might be. You do still have to quickly apply to your face as sometimes liquid just easily escapes from the dropper without you necessarily needing to squeeze it out. As for the actual texture, the ampoule is slightly sticky/tacky as you’re patting it on. To me it’s similar to something like the Missha Time Revolution ampoule. The tackiness does eventually subside and your skin just feels nice and hydrated. Anyone can use this ampoule really, but those with more oily skin may not like the slight tackiness, but I think that’s more of a personal preference. The formulation itself shouldn’t make you breakout unless you’re like allergic to any of the ingredients for example.
Youthful Glowing Formula
Firming/Elasticity: I don’t really have any serious issues with firming and elasticity, though I could use some firming around my eye area as I do have one eye that depending on the angle, does look more sunken in than the other. Because of this, I do tend to use my eye area as a benchmark for how good something is anti-aging wise. While I do think the overall ingredients are good for firming and elasticity, I feel like it would mainly be the hydration you get from this product that might help. Other than that, I personally did not see any improvements in firming and elasticity with my eye area. This ampoule would be good for prevention though.
Fine Lines & Wrinkles: I do have a few fine lines under my eyes. While some reviews I’ve seen for this ampoule claim to have their fine lines vanished, that did not happen for me here. Of course, considering I’ve had these fine lines since I was in my early 20’s and I’m now 34 - they certainly haven’t gotten worse so I guess I’m doing something right routine-wise. I guess just don’t expect much with your fine lines. If they do fade - great, but if not, just accept that the ampoule is probably more maintenance and prevention if anything.
Brightening & Dark Spots: I don’t have any major issues with dullness and dark spots, but I did stop using actives while I was using this ampoule. I also eventually developed dark spots (not related to this product). Overtime, my dark spots were definitely fading and I wasn’t using any other brightening product or even a vitamin C. It was all due to this ampoule.
Dryness: Whether you have age-related dryness or just plain dryness, this will definitely hydrate your skin. Of course if you’re very dry, you should definitely top this ampoule off with an appropriate hydrating moisturizer. As someone with combo skin, this hydrated my skin without making me breakout. Though now that the weather is slowly getting warmer, it is my preference to only wear this ampoule at night. You might think that hydration isn’t such a big deal, but when your skin is well hydrated, it looks more youthful and can plump up skin and minimize fine lines.
Not Just a Warm Glow
With that said, if you’re like me and you like to have a little bit of everything (multiple products to explore with) in your routine, then yes it’s not necessarily cheaper as you will just be adding an additional $120 USD product to your existing routine. But if you can find a use for this ampoule to cut out several products/steps from your routine (which is what I’ve heard some people use it for), then more power to you. If this ampoule at least did something for my eye area, this definitely could have replaced some products for me.
So while I did not experience the same “miracles” that other reviewers of the Afterglow Ampoule did, if you take the time to read a bit of background on how this product was made, I can appreciate all the work that was put into its creation and release. This ampoule is far from holy grail status for me and considering its price and the lack of physical anti-aging results I saw, I can’t quite justify consistently re-purchasing this product. However, as I mentioned earlier, I do believe in the power of algae/plankton-related products, so I may keep this in rotation when I’m not using my EGF serum (that happens to be cheaper than this ampoule). Overall, I do look forward to any future products AZN Labs might release. They still did a good job with this ampoule and I do like the way it feels on my skin.
Final Rating = 3/5
Other Products For an Anti-Aging/Antioxidant-Heavy Skincare Routine
Products of Interest:I totally understand that not everyone has the budget for a $120 USD product, or anything over $100 USD really. Even spending over $50 USD sometimes just seems too much. Here I’ll suggest to you some other anti-aging/multi-tasking products at different price points that you might want to slowly incorporate into an anti-aging specific routine - whether you decide to use these products alongside the Afterglow Ampoule or something similar.
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Photo Credit: BeautyTap