Maximum Moisture? A Look at Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cleanser and Cream
The Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Mask is a pretty solid sheet mask, so how does the rest of the line fare? Jude Chao puts the line’s cleanser and face cream to the test.
Excellent products abound in K-beauty. It’s why so many of us have become devotees: Given enough time and patience, we’re pretty much guaranteed to find products that fit our skin, our budgets, and our aesthetic preferences.
Excellent full lines are more rare. Trawl the skincare routines posted on Instagram accounts like mine, and you’ll see a lot more mixing than you will see matching. Part of that is due to the desire to avoid redundancy when you’re tackling several different skin issues. Even for simple skincare goals, however, most line and brand mixing is due to the fact that one great product does not mean the rest of the line will be great. This is a lesson I find myself having to re-learn periodically. This time around, mainstream Korean brand Mediheal taught me my lesson.
Why this line?
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While thicker than I prefer, the soft cotton material clings well to my face and holds essence for a solid 40 minutes or so, giving my skin ample time to drink its fill. (The extra detail of the embossed Mediheal logo becoming visible as the sheet dries is a cool gimmick.) The essence itself reliably hydrates my skin for a smooth, dewy glow. Calming ingredients like willow bark extract and witch hazel water reduce redness; amino acids quickly add extra bounce and resilience. Also, at about $2 per mask, they’re relatively economical.
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Since I like the N.M.F. masks so much, I grew curious about other products in the line. I’ve now gotten around to trying out the Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cleansing Foam and the Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cream, and … ehhh. I’ll stick to the sheet masks.
Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cleansing Foam Review
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I don’t like cleansers at a pH above neutral (7). There are many reasons for this. In short, high pH cleansers disrupt skin’s acid mantle. This can cause moisture loss, leading to dry and dehydrated skin. High pH cleansers also render skin more vulnerable to external pathogens and irritants, making your face more prone to breakouts and excessive sensitivity.
This line is marketed as “Intensive Hydrating,” and the cleanser claims to “quench dry, thirsty skin.” Unfortunately, this cleanser’s pH tests at about a 9 according to the strips I use. That is way too high, considering that a healthy acid mantle’s pH is about 5.5. And the problems don’t stop there.
Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cleansing Foam ingredients: Water, myristic acid, glycerin, stearic acid, potassium hydroxide, lauric acid, dipropylene glycol, palmitic acid, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, arachidic acid, oleic acid, ceramide NP (ceramide 3), polyglutamic acid, tocopheryl acetate, trisodium EDTA, butylene glycol, fragrance, aloe vera leaf extract, hollyhock flower extract, sodium hyaluronate, capric acid, mushroom extract, witch hazel extract
Oh yay, I think, upon first glance at the ingredients list. (This was before I tested the pH.) This cleanser uses cocamidopropyl betaine, aka coco betaine, a relatively mild synthetic detergent used in many of the gentle, low pH cleansers I do like. I welcome coco betaine much more than harsher synthetic detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), for example.
The problem appears before the coco betaine. What made my heart sink was the inclusion of myristic acid and potassium hydroxide.
When you see myristic acid and potassium hydroxide in the ingredients list of a cleanser that also contains fatty ingredients (like, say, oleic acid or ceramides), what you’re looking at is … soap. Literally. Myristic acid and potassium hydroxide create the saponification reaction with oils, converting them into soap and alcohol.
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Soap is a much harsher cleanser than most synthetic detergents. Its cleansing action, at a molecular level, relies on it grabbing everything it can and pulling it away as it’s rinsed off; this includes dirt, excess sebum, and also the naturally occurring and very helpful lipids in your skin, which retain moisture and help keep that acid mantle intact. Soap can be nice for dirty hands and feet. It isn’t great for your face.
Since I am apparently a glutton for punishment, I used the N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cleansing Foam anyway. I made it three washes in before I had to throw in the towel. It left my skin feeling immediately squeaky, dry, and stripped, and by the third use, I had to skip my usual actives step and start hydrating and moisturizing immediately to minimize the discomfort. Hydrating? Not in the slightest.
Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cream Review
My experience with the cream in this line was less disastrous than my experience with the cleanser, but still not at all what I’d hoped for.
Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cream ingredients: Water, cetyl ethylhexanoate, sea water, glycerin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, butylene glycol, 1,2-hexanediol, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, stearic acid, dimethicone, cetearyl alcohol, mushroom extract, sugar maple extract, sodium polyacrylate, sorbitan sesquioleate, hydrogenated polydecene, phenoxyethanol, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, tromethamine, tocopheryl acetate, hydrolyzed collagen, cabbage rose flower water, honey extract, fragrance, allantoin, adenosine, disodium EDTA, trideceth-6, sodium hyaluronate, asiatic pennywort extract, copper tripeptide-1, ethylhexylglycerin
One of the things I find hilarious about this line is how the cream’s marketing claims perfectly coincide with the consequences of using the cleanser. The “long lasting hydration” and the way the formula “creates a moisture barrier to lock in moisture” should come in handy after destroying your actual moisture barrier with that cleanser. The “skin soothing and stress relieving” effects might mitigate the irritation and sensitivity brought on by the alkaline soap face wash. And this cream promises to eliminate “problematic dry skin” — like that caused by a compromised barrier.
On all these counts, the cream is fine. It’s just that for my skin, it’s only “fine” — nothing special and nothing that I couldn’t find on the shelves at any drugstore for the same or a lower price than this product.
Mediheal N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cream has a soft cream consistency and the same bland scent as the sheet masks. It feels deceptively light to the touch but surprisingly heavy on my face, with a tendency to just sit on the surface all night instead of sinking in nicely.
I’d expected a different balance to this cream, based on its name and marketing claims. I envisioned one weighted more towards hydration, with a more watery effect and less surface residue. Instead, what I got was a very plain feeling and moderately heavy emollient cream that delivered little hydration and seemed to be almost entirely surface residue. Imbalanced and definitely not all that my skin needed after my misadventure with the cleanser.
It’s not a bad product by any means. In fact, I’m keeping this jar around for times when I do feel like I need heavier surface moisture. But for everyday use, it’s too oily yet not hydrating enough. The N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Cream isn’t the kind of moisturizer I’d go back to again and again.
Star products are often stars for a reason
I haven’t gotten around to trying the toner or the serum from this line, but based on my feelings about the cleanser and cream, I doubt I’ll care enough to test them anytime soon. Basic hydration and moisture aren’t hard to find these days. My existing routine already gives me plenty from different brands, another argument against a single-line routine.
In the end, the star product from this line is the only one I consider worth using. Based on the popularity of the N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Mask compared to the rest of this line, I’m not alone.
Have you tried any products from the Mediheal N.M.F. line? Let us know how you liked them in the comments!