The Whitening Story (plus New Laneige White Plus Renew Products and BB Cushion!)
If you’ve never lived in Asia, you might find it odd that “whitening” is a big thing in skincare here. It frequently out-sells color cosmetics and other skincare lines for many of the brands.
One thing you need to understand is that “whitening” in Asia generally doesn’t carry the same stigma that it does in the West. It doesn’t stem from the same concept as some Western skincare brands in the early parts of the 20th century, where “white skin” was associated with superiority and women of color were often sold skin-lightening products and encouraged to change their appearance.
Many East Asians ARE very fair-skinned to begin with, and culturally, we grew up associating porcelain skin with unblemished beauty and well-preserved youthfulness. So if you ask many women here, it’s more about achieving (or mimicking) pristine, perfectly-preserved skin that looks like it has never been exposed to any photo-aging and environmental damage, than about emulating other races. (That’s why you’ll see most women here buying sun creams and foundations with as high an SPF factor as we can find.)
Ironically, in modern days, a tan, golden appearance is more associated with Western ideals and pop culture!
Long-winded story aside, the 2 powerhouses where the most popular whitening ranges originate are Japan and South Korea. And every Spring, we usually see a bumper crop of new whitening products launched.
The latest “thing” among many of the whitening ranges this year are groups of active ingredients that work together to treat 3 forms of discolorations. Redness (flushed skin, capillaries), darkness (melanin), and sallowness (poor circulation etc). Japanese brand Shiseido’s new White Lucent serum promises the same as Laneige, although the pricing and ingredients used to achieve those vary slightly.
Laneige introduces 3 new products that contain the new “melano-crusher” complex.
- The updated White Plus Renew Original Essence (S$76 for 40ml): the serum contains the highest concentration of the whitening complex and is used day and night before moisturizer and sunblock.
- The White Plus Renew Capsule Sleeping Pack (S$42 for a pack of 16): These fun little portable vacuum-sealed pods contain a white cream suspended in a clear gel. Open one, mix up the cream and gel using the spatula that comes in the box, and apply in place of moisturizer twice a week as an intensive treatment before bed.
- BB Cushion SPF50 PA+++ (S$65 per box with 1 case and 2 stamp pads): The latest iteration of the super-popular BB cushions (portable little stamp-pads soaked in a lightweight BB cream) come in 6 shades; the 4 above, plus 2 darker shades for tanned skins. The texture and finish is dewy, with light to medium coverage depending how you apply it (pat for higher coverage, rub for lower coverage). The new version give the same glowy perfected skin finish as the Soothing BB Cushion, but includes the new whitening complex for added skincare benefits.
My favorite out of the 3? It’s hard to say since I haven’t had a lot of time to try each of them, but here are my first impressions.
- Essence: Very fresh and soothing to use; the ingredients and the science behind it sounds promising, but I’ll have to use it for a longer period of time to say if it can really repair and sooth the skin as well as promised, but so far so good!
- Capsule Sleeping Pack: Super fun, and feels extremely soothing and luxe on the skin, but I have to say a single capsule easily contains enough product for 2-3 uses, so it’s a bit of a waste unless you’re traveling and want something portable. You can try to use some and store the opened capsule in the fridge for another day, but I probably won’t recommend that because some ingredients can degrade with air exposure, so you won’t really be getting maximum efficacy if you do that. Great as a special treat before special occasions though!
- BB cushion: I don’t need to say all that much about this; it’s a huge hit in Asia because of the amount of coverage it gives, and how convenient it is. (A multi-purpose skincare-slash-base with SPF50 PA+++, in a portable compact so you can touch up through the day; no brainer for all the lazy girls who’d rather sleep in than apply serum, lotion, sunblock, primer, foundation, etc). I do have to say this is better for normal to drier skins, as it doesn’t really “set”, and can rub off on oilier skins.
Shade reference: (this is an approximation, so do make sure you test it out and check in daylight before purchasing!)
NC15/NC20 - 13
NW15 - 14
NW20/NC25 - 21 (this I can guarantee cos it’s my shade!)
NW25/NC30 - 23
NW30-35/NC35-37 - 31
NW40/NC42 - 33
The shades are quite forgiving, but I’d say if in doubt, go one shade darker. If you go lighter, you might get a white cast that’s more obvious because of the high SPF. And I do have to say the shade range isn’t quite large enough for women with darker skins, even though 6 shades is pretty impressive compared to most Korean/Japanese brands which carry about 2-3 colors max in their BB ranges.