KBeauty: The Battle of the Cleansing Sticks

Battle of the Cleansing Sticks

As you may have seen in my previous post about the Korean Double Cleanse method, cleansing sticks are increasingly becoming very popular here. After the success of the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick which people go gaga over, many other brands have taken to their innovation labs and come up with similar products. Cleansing sticks are essentially a face wash in a stick. You simply wet your face, give the stick a few swipes over your skin and lather it up. The rise of Korean cleansing products has meant that in order to differentiate themselves, brands have sought to find new formulations and I personally think this one is a winner. The sticks, for me, are an absolute must when travelling. In this blog I’ll talk about my first impressions with the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick, the Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick – Chamomile and the infamous Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick.

The Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick 

The first cleansing stick that I purchased and tried out was the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick. I love Neogen products, in particular their wine gauze peeling pads and their foam cleansers so I had super high hopes for this one. Their products are usually affordable, clinical and do the job. I purchased mine at Olive Young where it was on sale for 11,000 won ($11) – even better. The Neogen cleansing stick claims to be hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin. It contains a lot of essential oils like olive oil, camellia oil and coconut oil (although the latter can trigger breakouts in some people so be careful). It also contains green tea seed oil and green tea leaves which you can see dispersed throughout the stick, is loaded with 99% of natural ingredients and claims to leave skin feeling clean, clear and hydrated. Sounds wonderful, right?

Wrong. Whilst I did not dislike this cleansing stick completely, it did the job and foamed up nicely, I hated the smell of it. It smells literally like a bar of Dove soap; perhaps stronger. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that smell but I just don’t want it on my face. That is just a personal preference though; I just like my skincare products smelling fresh. After usage, it also left my skin feeling a bit tight making me question how hydrating it really is. Also, after a few uses the green tea specks were hardly in there. That being said, it’s the most affordable one I have tried and works fine as your average face wash; it just wasn’t anything to write home about.

The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick – Chamomile 

After the disappointment of the Neogen cleansing stick my quest continued and a few days later I found myself at the Belif counter in Lotte Department Store, Myeongdong. I love Belif products; the packaging and brand identity is right up my street. Similar to Kiehls, it has that ‘apothecary’ feel which makes me believe that everything they sell must be great for my skin. The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick was 28,000 won ($28) and is suitable for all skin types. It contains chamomile extracts and natural chamomile flower petals that gentle lather up and cleanse your skin. It claims to provide a solution to dullness, uneven texture, redness and dryness. Like the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick, it also has a neutral/slightly lower pH.

The moment I opened the Belif cleansing stick, the first thing I did was smell it and it.was.wonderful. It was fresh, slightly herbal and citrus/lemon-like. The stick was easy to lather up and the foam felt more creamier and softer than the Neogen Cleansing Stick. After patting my face dry, my skin felt fresh, clean and not tight at all. What more can I say? First impression of this stick was very positive and it now has a place in my daily skincare regime.

The Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick 

It felt wrong to do a cleansing stick review without trying the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. Almost without knowing, I had subconsciously tried the others first, believing I was saving the best until last. The Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, or the MRCS as the cool kids call it, has cult like status around the K-Beauty lovin’ world. It’s weird but in Korea it’s actually not one of the so-called ‘holy grail’ products; it seems to be way more popular overseas in countries like China and the USA. For a while the MRCS was difficult to find; it was constantly out of stock, forcing people to buy back ups upon back ups of the stuff. It was so elusive that it was not actually displayed in Su:m37 shops here; you had to ask the shop assistant who would whip one out from under the counter. I cannot deny that I fell in to the trap of the buying frenzy that this cleansing stick induces. I purchased one online but as I was too impatient to wait until it was delivered, I purchased another one in the Su:m37 shop in Garusogil when I saw that it was actually out on display for once!  It too, retails for 28,000 won ($28).

True to it’s name, the stick is made from fermented rose and has little bits of it spread throughout the stick. It smells gloriously of roses as well making it feel luxurious to use. It has a completely different feel and packaging to the Belif Cleansing Stick which appears more ‘functional’ and ‘good for your skin’. The MRCS is all about the pampering. Coupled with the knowledge that it is so elusive and coveted, you get an extra hit of giddiness when using it *smug face*.

The MRCS lathers up nicely as well, has a lovely scented, creamy foam and does not leave my skin feeling sucked of moisture. The only tiny gripe I have with it is that the stick is ever-so-slightly convex which makes it a little difficult to manoeuvre around my cheekbone and eye area; a problem I don’t have with the Belif one. But other than that, both are very, very similar.

…and so the winner is….

In the way of formulation, ease of use and quality the Belif Cleansing Stick and the MRCS are hard to separate. Both smell great, both are easy to use, both foam up well and both leave the skin feeling fresh and clean. They both retail for the same price here in Korea and they both contain the same amount of product; this comes as no surprise as both brands are in fact owned by the same company – LG. My favourite is purely based on my own personal preferences – the smell. And so, the winner is…. The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick! I was really impressed with this stick after the first time I used it. I think the MRCS has been so bigged up that when I finally got around to trying it, I just felt a teeny bit underwhelmed – I’m such a rebel. I much prefer a fresh scent over a floral one but as I said before, that is purely my own preference. I know there are a lot of rose lovers out there and coupled with the luxurious feel of the MRCS, this will be, (and clearly is) the firm favourite of many a skincare addict. I have no qualms in highly recommending both cleansing sticks, it purely comes down to whatever scent and packaging you prefer. But for me, the Belif True Tincture just about wins it!

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Maree Kinder

My name is Maree, a Korean adoptee who discovered Korean beauty products on my first trip back to Seoul; I’ve been hooked ever since. Come join me on my journey as I move to Korea, learn more about my past and try as many K-beauty products I can get my little hands on!

5 thoughts on “Battle of the Cleansing Sticks

  1. This was very beautifully written! I too would prefer citrus over floral any day, hands down. And now I don’t have to settle for a rose stick cleanser! Brava!

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  2. Another brilliant post! I too much prefer citrus over floral! Looking forward to trying the Belif stick out – especially if it’s good for travel! xx

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  3. […] My favourite water-based foaming cleansers are the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Heimish White Clay Foam and Benton Honest Cleansing Foam. In the mornings, I will use the Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. I am also a recent convert of cleansing sticks like the Belif True Tincture Chamomile Cleansing Stick and su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. Please see this blog on my review of Korean cleansing sticks.  […]

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