The first step to Jun Ji-hyun’s beauty regime, after cleansing? Hera’s Cell Essence. One of Hera’s top three bestselling products, it claims to lock in moisture for a dewy, flawless complexion. With the brand recently opening its first counter in Takashimaya this month, I used the Cell Essence for a month to see if I too, could look as porcelain-skinned as the Korean actress (one can try).
The Cell Essence has some pretty big claims – it’s got 8 skin cell activators (in a body fluid-mimicking solution they call Cell-Bio Fluid Sync) that penetrate deep into the skin, right down to the molecule level. These nutrients include the good stuff like amino acids, peptides and lipids. It promises removal of dead skin cells, increase moisture and hydration, and leave your skin looking clear, bright and dewy. It doesn’t just target dryness, but something Hera calls Skin Desertification, which includes roughness, stiffening of the skin, and dead cells. Think of the product as building an oasis in a desert’s parched sand for irrigation, and you get the picture.
Korean actress Jun Ji-hyun is Hera's spokesperson.
The essence comes in a sleek, frosted glass bottle with a metallic twist-open top. What I really liked is that there are demarcations along the bottle to indicate how much you’ve used – a helpful addition since the recommended usage is 2.5ml, and without said markings I would no idea how much product that would constitute. Assuming you use it twice a day (morning and night), one bottle should last you for about a month.
Hera advises applying the milky white essence as a first step after cleansing, patting it into your skin in the morning with your fingertips, and using a cotton pad at night. A bonus is that the essence comes with a box of special two sided cotton pads – a wave-patterned side that’s smooth and gentle on the face, and a mesh-patterned side for exfoliation and removal of dead skin. Brownie points for anything dual purpose.
My skin is super sensitive, and after cleansing it tends to feel tight. I also have the bad habit of skimping on the amount of skincare I use for fear my skin will look shiny or oily with too much product. So I was pleased to discover that the essence was both cooling and refreshing (no tightness!). It doesn’t take too long to get absorbed and doesn't leave a sticky after feel – great news when I’m against the clock the morning, which is pretty much every day.
After one month of religiously using the product twice a day, here’s my verdict. I tend to be a little lazy with my skincare regime and go for products that are quick and effective. This did the job. My temperamental skin gave few problems, and for someone that swims once a week, the essence definitely helped in keeping my skin hydrated. That being said, if you have acne problems, this product probably won’t deliver a quick fix. I had the odd zit that appeared before my period, and while the essence didn't vanish them overnight (which is fine by me since it doesn't promise to do so), I did think it helped to reduce inflammation. Overall, my skin felt firm, supple and hydrated.
If you need more convincing, Jason Lee, Hera’s chief makeup artist, swears by Cell Essence as a key first step before applying makeup. When asked about his experience applying makeup for the models at Seoul Fashion Week, he commented, “Some top models do a lot of shows, and we need to redo and refresh their makeup. The Cell Essence helps to soothe and moisturise their skin.”
Local makeup artist Lolent Lee agrees. He’s a fan of how fast absorbing the product is, and uses it to prep the skin before makeup. “It leaves the skin looking smoother and brighter immediately,” he says.
So if it’s good enough for Korean superstars, international and local makeup artists, I'm pretty sure that it's good enough for me.
The Cell Essence retails for $80 (150ml). The Hera beauty counter is located at Takashimaya, Level 1.