Finding a full 5-piece kit in the luxury beauty category for a moderate price seems fairly impossible, so when I spotted Laneige’s hydrating collection at this price point and read through hundreds of glowing reviews, it was an easy choice to purchase this kit as a travel option before a trip.
While I hadn’t tried any other products from the Korean beauty brand before, and had not even heard of it or any recommendations from personal friends, it did seem to be trending and growing an army of supporters claiming the reasonably priced products actually work and provide benefits with use to the skin. All of the included products in the set are suitable for any skin type, including sensitive skin, and are free of any parabens or sulfates. The kit promises to deliver benefits beyond hydration, including brightening up any dull or sallow skin and evening out tone. While it’s a perfect kit for traveling with and all of the items can be carried on flights, it’s also a great way to try out the products for the first time as an introductory product, and makes a great gifting option as well.
While all hydration is technically supportive of anti-aging benefits, it’s important to note these products do not claim to specifically address concerns such as lines and wrinkles, so this is likely best as a preventative product. It can also be used in conjunction with an anti-aging treatment or oil-type product if desired. It’s also important to note that the sizes included are quite small, and you should only expect approximately a month or so of longevity if you are going to use the products every day, this is why I opted to use this mostly for a week long trip. I was also happy to discover none of the included products irritated my very sensitive skin, and there was no redness, irritation, or acne following use, they all seem to really work in tandem to provide suitable anti-aging and skincare benefits.
This review will cover the main product features and overview, positives and negatives to bear in mind prior to purchase, as well as breakdowns of the included products and their main benefits with use.
The Main Features
Laneige is a very popular and growing Korean skincare brand that has recently expanded into several different chain retailers and various points of distribution, and the hydrating starter collection (there is also a pore starter collection, but hydrating remains the most popular) features 5 of the brands most popular skincare products in travel sizes.
The kit includes one 1 Moisturizing Foam Cleanser, one Essential Power Skin Toner for Normal to Dry Skin, one Water Bank Essence, one Water Bank Moisture Cream, and one Water Sleeping Mask (sizes listed below in product breakdowns). All of the products work together harmoniously to promote hydration, help minimize the appearance of pore size, promote an even texture, create a dewy and radiant complexion, and treat any signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. For those seeking preventative anti-aging treatment, all of the products will definitely prove helpful and protect the skin. While I tend to steer away from regimens that seem complicated, the only additional step outside of a normal regimen (if you tone) is the essence, and it’s quick and easy to apply and use all of the products. I definitely noticed improvements with respect to skin texture, and my skin looked bright and radiant following use, especially with the overnight Water Mask, which is a really fantastic product and provided great benefits with use.
Even with very sensitive skin, none of the products created any reaction or irritation, and I did not experience any breakouts, this is of course a possibility with any skincare products and topical treatments, so it’s important to check ingredient lists as well to detect any potential allergens. Below you will find briefer reviews on each included product, including key benefits to use and any cons.
The Included Products
Moisturizing Foam Cleanser (30ml)
My favorite thing about this cleanser is it’s hydrating quality, it’s able to provide a deep clean to the skin and remove all makeup and eye makeup or mascara but definitely restores any depleted hydration, and skin never feels dry or tight after use.
Skin is left refreshed, clean, soft, and brightened. Because of the deep clean you may be able to eliminate a toner from your regimen as well, although I did use one in conjunction with the cleanser as it was included in the set. The cleanser is formulated with birch water, vitamin E, and fruit acids, and is designed to treat dryness or dry patches, dull skin, and uneven skin tone. It definitely lives up to the claims and fully restores moisture while improving the overall tone and adding balance. I would definitely recommend this wash to anyone seeking a deep clean that also provides hydrating benefits. The only letdown is the scent, which I found a bit overpowering. I would not be very likely to invest in a full size of this product, only because I have found other washes with the same price points and benefits that I prefer, with better scents. With that said, this is of course a matter of personal preference, as some reviews praise the scent of the cleanser.
Essential Power Skin Toner for Normal to Dry Skin (50 ml)
After discovering a miracle toner at a drugstore price and cleansers that often eliminate the need for one, I don’t typically test out or review many toner products, unless they are included in sets like these.
This product is designed to treat dryness, dullness, uneven skin texture, as well as dull skin. Purifying and softening, it’s formulated with minerals rich in moisture like zinc, and it leaves the skin radiant and re-texturized. It did not break me out or create any redness, irritation, dryness, or allergic reaction. It leaves a silky finish to prep the skin for serums and moisturizers, and feels quite soothing upon application. It also visibly reduces pore size. Some reviewers have claimed that this product can be drying for those with very dry skin as it contains drying alcohol, however I really did not find it to cause any tightness or drying, and the other products included in the set help to restore hydration if you do experience any drying following use. As with the cleanser, this toner has a fairly strong perfume type scent, which some may like, but I tend to prefer a natural smelling skincare product free of any perfume-type odors. I noticed it dissipated immediately, but it’s important to be prepared for the smell, especially if you’re sensitive to scent. I would not be likely to purchase a full size of this item, and would recommend other toners at lower price points that provide the same benefits with use.
With that said, some swear by this toner and claim they can’t use anything else, so as with the scent issue, it is of course personal preference.
Water Bank Essence (10 ml)
While I’m not typically a fan of essence products and think they sometimes overcomplicate a regimen, it was actually a very lovely product and addition to the set.
The essence can be used after a toner and is designed to treat dull or uneven skin. The formulation is quite lightweight and gentle, and not at all irritating to the skin. It also acts a primer and delivers a radiant, dewy aesthetic after applying foundation. If desired, it also preps the skin for moisturizer, and brightens the skin, treating any skin that may appear sallow or uneven. The product is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and does not dry out the skin or feel tight at all, but is also great for combination or oily types, as it helps restore balance. Skin appears smoother, softer, plumper, and more even after use, and out of all of the included products the essence also seems to offer the best benefits with respect to anti-aging. It can be mixed with a serum or cream for velvety soft skin, and is quite lightweight in texture but still fully hydrates. Unfortunately as with the other products there is a bit of a perfume odor present. While I have not tested many other formulations or products in this particular category before, I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an essence product, or a step to top after foundation. If you dislike perfume scents, it may not be the best fit, but as with the other products the smell dissipates very quickly and is only so noticeable because it’s on your face.
With this specific product I’d still recommend purchase for the benefits with use.
Water Bank Moisture Cream (10 ml)
This moisturizer is definitely one of the most popular products for the Korean skincare brand, with fans praising its ability to hydrate and soften the skin.
Although the texture is quite lightweight, it definitely feels great to apply, and skin looks supple and hydrated following use. It’s suitable for all skin types as it offers balance and nourishment for combination or oily complexions, but also hydrating enough to quench even the dryest skin. With extremely dry skin, I did not feel the need to apply any addition hydrating serum or oil product when using this, and it seems like a great go-to daily moisturizer.
It did not irritate, break out, or cause any redness even with very sensitive skin, and does not feel heavy or greasy following application. While this isn’t necessarily an anti-aging cream, it does help to provide brightening benefits, restores glow to a dull complexion, and helps improve evenness with respect to the skins texture, if used continually and daily. With that in mind, there are some reviewers who do feel the cream helps provide anti-aging benefits for fine lines and wrinkles, so this is merely in comparison to more advanced treatments with more active ingredients. Generally, providing the skin with adequate hydration and providing it with a suitable barrier to protect from sun and environmental (which the cream does, though it does not contain SPF), will help prevent and address the signs of aging, but it is still not comparable to a retinol or glycolic formula. As with the other products, this also has a scent of perfume that is fairly strong. It’s formulated with minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and sodium, which help to hydrate and protect the skin.
I would recommend this for anyone seeking a go-to daily moisturizer at a reasonable cost that has brightening benefits, or if you’re seeking a treatment for dull skin to renew and restore glow.
Water Sleeping Mask (15 ml)
This cult-favorite for the brand was definitely my favorite product included in the set and I would purchase the full sized option.
While I don’t generally use overnight masks, only due to a fear that product or residue will get on to linens and pillowcases, I tried this product out and was amazed with the results. It is not sticky, oily, or greasy and leaves behind no residue, and it plumps and hydrates the skin as you sleep. It fully restores moisture and you wake up looking refreshed, glowing, and bright, irrespective of how much sleep you have gotten in reality. I was very pleased to find that the scent was quite light, especially due to the nature of the product, unlike some of the others included in the set. If you have any redness or irritation, this is also a suitable treatment for your concerns. It’s formulated with Hydro Ionized Mineral Water, orange flower, rose, and sandalwood, designed to treat uneven skin, fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, and dryness. This is definitely the most superior product featured in the starter kit in terms of anti-aging benefits, as skin is visibly restored and refreshed, and you definitely wake up to a smoother and younger aesthetic. I really like the dewy glow, and it’s perfect for a prep before makeup, saving time on a complicated morning routine.
I highly recommend this overnight mask as an anti-aging treatment and a moisturizing treatment that’s still lightweight, and it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Positives and Negatives
I felt that the main downside of the set was the odor of some of the products included, as skincare benefits definitely lived up to initial claims of benefits (if not exceeded claims). It’s a great way to try out a traditional step-based Korean skincare beauty routine, and all of the products were hydrating and proved to be soothing and gentle, and did not cause any irritation. It’s important to bear in mind the smell dissipates, however if you are quite sensitive to perfume scents you may not like the products (excluding the overnight mask). Here is a look at some key pros and cons to keep in mind prior to purchase:
- Cruelty-free company: company does not test products on animals and does not use animal product in any of its manufacturing processes
- Products are all quite clean and formulated without any parabens or irritating additives
- None of the products included were irritating to the skin, and did not cause redness, allergy, breakouts, or any reaction (of course allergy is always possible)
- Products included are all safe and suitable for all skin types, including very sensitive skin
- While I don’t typically use essences as they can often overcomplicate regimens, the one in the set is lovely and soothes the skin, delivering a radiant complexion following use
- Travel-friendly: all products are suitable for travel and can be carried on for flights, easy to toss in a bag or gym tote to use after a workout
- Great gifting option if your recipient likes skincare, and it comes at a reasonable cost, it can also be broken down to many several smaller stocking stuffer gifts
- Perfect for an introductory product if you’re new to Korean skincare or the brand itself, as you get to test out some of the bestsellers and purchase full sizes if you enjoy use
- Good for those who already enjoy the collection, as a travel option or way to try out new products for variety
- Skincare benefits include treating fine lines and wrinkles, hydrating the skin, brightening, promoting a more even texture, and creating a more radiant complexion
- The Water Sleeping Mask is an incredible product and I would absolutely purchase the full size, as it does provide excellent anti-aging benefits and is very reasonably priced, particularly for the luxury beauty category
- Products did last longer than anticipated, and users can expect a months worth of use, as conservative application is fine and will yield the same benefits
- The smell of the products is quite strong and not extremely pleasant, I would have preferred a lighter fragrance or different fragrance, however it does dissipate quite quickly
- While $50 is certainly reasonable for a starter kit, because the sizes are quite small, it doesn’t seem to have much savings or value in comparison to total retail cost
The manufacturer, Laneige, has a strong return and exchange policy that honors full refunds upon dissatisfaction or allergy, this policy favors the consumer, both returning and new.
If you are dissatisfied with the use of the products, or if they do not work for your skin to provide suitable benefits, or you experience any product allergy or reaction to the formulations, you may elect to return the entire set. In this case, you will receive a full refund equal to the entire purchase price of the full kit. You may also wish to exchange the product for an equal and full refund- or opt for a single product you prefer. One must bear in mind that you will need to return the entire set, as individual items within the kit are not available for return. If received as a gift, you are eligible for an even exchange at the purchase price. I was very pleased to discover none of the included products caused any redness, irritation, acne, or reaction, however allergy is always possible with topical products.
This policy applies to online purchases and is not the same with in-store or drugstore purchases, who may not accept opened products.
The Final Verdict
The Hydration starter kit is an excellent introductory product for those new to Korean skincare or Laneige, and includes several products that work in tandem to maximize benefits of use and deliver results like hydration, brightening, anti-aging benefits, and firmness.
Using the products I definitely noticed a change in my skin, which was smoother and softer. While the scent of some of the products is a bit too strong and may aggravate users with very sensitive senses of smell, it would not be enough to deter me from using the products as the scent does not last linger, and the benefits seem to outweigh this drawback anyway. It’s a perfect kit if you’re seeking softer skin or if your skin is dry and dehydrated, as the products work to restore moisture without feeling heavy or greasy on the skin, and are all still highly breathable. This also makes a lovely gifting option if you’re in the market for a moderately priced collection that comes with several products for variety. It definitely feels like a luxury beauty item and belongs in the category, but the moderate price point adds value and is the main factor of differentiation here.
If your skin is parched and you do not mind a perfumed fragrance, I highly recommend this kit.