Disclaimer: This blog article contains PR Samples and affiliate links. Hanbang, traditional Korean herbal medicine, has become a source of inspiration for a number of skincare brands. The Atoclassic Skin Calming Set offers two beauties from this hanbang brand, and I was lucky enough to be chosen by the curated K-beauty shop Be Mused Korea to try them out. Naturally, I have to share my two new hanbang loves with you today!
Hanbang skincare – skincare that features herbal ingredients inspired by ancient Korean medicinal remedies – is a hot topic in global K-beauty circles. Many a times, brands that focus exclusively on hanbang ingredients, Sulwhasoo* and The History of Whoo* in particular, become somewhat pricey “gateway drugs” that draw skincare junkies into the wonderful world of Korean cosmetics and skincare. Cult products from Sulwhasoo like their Radiance Energy Mask* can easily cost over 90$, and the “packaging porn” that is The History of Whoo’s trademark draw usually results in a pretty hefty price tag, e.g. the Jinyul Intensive Revitalizing Essence* in its gorgeous red and golden jar, which will cost you 165$.
It is thus with great joy that I discovered the comparatively affordable hanbang skincare line Atoclassic, developed by notable Korean skincare clinic Woobo. Be Mused Korea sent me their Atoclassic Skin Calming Set, which consists of the following two Atoclassic products:°
- Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist, 80ml spray bottle
- Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence, 30ml airless pump bottle
Before I tell you more about the two products I received, I’ll give you a bit of background information on what hanbang actually is, what it can do for your skin, and on the people behind the Atoclassic brand!
Atoclassic and Its Hanbang Roots – Traditional Herbalist Expertise for Sensitive Skin
Whenever I read a mainstream article about Korean beauty that talks about the “cuteness” and playful packaging of the products, or emphasises the “ancient tradition” behind Japanese beauty products vs. the somewhat inexperienced, new-ish trend that is K-beauty, I cannot help but roll my eyes ever so slightly. Well, I roll them quite intensely, if I am fully honest, and even tend to do a full podcast episode on the problems surrounding the stereotyping of K-beauty as glitzy, “exotic”, and without much of a cultural tradition compared to “J-beauty.”
True, the Korean beauty industry is a relatively young endeavour, especially compared to Japan, which boasts the creation of the world’s oldest beauty brand, Shiseido. However, there are a number of historical reasons behind this relatively late start (namely the fact that Korea was more or less occupied territory for many decades, with anything Korean purposefully degraded as “unsophisticated”). Do listen to my podcast episode on the topic for more information on this!
For the purpose of this article, what is predominantly important to realise is the fact that just because skincare and cosmetics weren’t produced on a massive, industrialised scale until late in the twentieth century, does not mean Korea lacks a history of using traditional ingredients for the purpose of beautification. Again, make sure to check out my “J-Beauty vs. K-Beauty” podcast episode linked above for more info on this!
Hanbang, traditional Korean medicine, has existed for thousands of years, and especially traditional Korean herbalism has been a very unique and decisively Korean invention, with its emphasis of native herbs and ancient herbal remedies still used to this day. True, there are strong connections to traditional Chinese medicine, but the two are still very distinct from each other in a number of ways.
Now, hanbang herbalism itself is not a skincare tradition per se – herbal concoctions were predominantly taken orally, as tonics and potions. However, there have also been a number of ways these herbal remedies were applied topically, especially for skin diseases such as eczema. If hanbang is of interest to you, make sure to read the pretty thorough Wikipedia entry on its history.
Hanbang skincare thus draws on a tradition that spans millennia, even though most hanbang skincare lines are merely a few decades old themselves. Korean women in the 11th or 15th century didn’t really use Sulwhasoo-style ginseng gels to treat their skin, but they may just have used their own concoctions of ginseng, licorice root, camellia oil or rose water to treat their delicate faces.
As I said, hanbang is still pretty much ubiquitous throughout Korea, and ultra modern clinics specialising in ancient herbal treatments are well respected and frequently visited for a number of ailments. The Woobo Health & Skin Research Center is one of these clinics, with a 100 year history of specialising in dermatological hanbang treatments. Atoclassic products have been developed by the Woobo clinic as a result of this impressive knowledge.
Apart from the gorgeously mimimalist packaging of the brand, I was especially drawn to the Atoclassic products due to their holistic approach and the use of consciously high-tolerance, low-sensitising ingredients. Often, more high end hanbang lines can be chock full of fragrance and even alcohol, two ingredients that I know many of you see as a 100% “no go”, so it will please you to hear that from what I’ve seen, Atoclassic is pretty much free from both of these (do check the ingredients lists carefully though, as I cannot guarantee this!). Some of their products do seem to contain essential oils, however, so watch out for that if you are sensitive.
All Atoclassic products contain a whole list of traditional herbal extracts, most noticeably ginseng, licorice root, cinnamon bark, ginger root, Coptis Japonica (used extensively in another herbal skincare clinical line I’ve reviewed here before, Pyunkang Yul), and the highly interesting “lithospermum erythrorhizon”, which has traditionally been used to treat eczema and serious skincare rashes. Basically, a whole cocktail (or, well “tonic” – hence the secondary name of the Atoclassic product line) of yummy hanbang goodness makes up the basis for these products – formulated as gently and as non-irritating as possible.
Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist – My Review
I love a good facial mist! Especially now that summer has finally hit Germany, I am more dependent than ever on spritzing my easily overheated face constantly. The Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist comes in a small, transparent spray bottle and contains a number of herbal extracts meant to soothe and hydrate sensitive skin.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist:
“Coptis Chinensis Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Gardenia Jasminoides Extract, Phellodendron Amurense Bark Extract, Water, Glycerin, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycereth-26, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Panthenol, Allantoin, Cananga Odorata Oil.”
What a beautiful ingredient list! Coptis Chinensis (Chinese goldthreat) root extract is a classical healing herb with strong anti-inflammatory properties, and Scutellaria Baicalensis (Baikal scullcap) root extract is also known as “Huang-Quin”, a powerful traditional Chinese herbal remedy known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties (read this amazingly interesting scientific study on Baikal scullcap and its many uses!). Gardenia Jasminoides extract is said to help treat “hotness” of the body and skin, and Phellodendron Amurense bark extract has antioxidant properties.
Interestingly enough, this mist also contains Ylang Ylang oil, which is a very flowery-sweet essential oil. I was surprised by this, since I do not detect a noticeable fragrance to the mist when I spritz it on at all – it seems to be pretty much fragrance-free to my usually quite sensitive nose.
Now, first off – the one negative thing I have to say about the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist: the spray mist from this is far too strong, and it does not dispense finely enough to be directly spritzed onto the face especially during the day. This is somewhat disappointing, since I love carrying a face mist with me to refresh myself in summer. This is not really doable with the Atoclassic mist, especially not if you are wearing makeup.
I do, however, still really love this product! Unlike the rather “meh” Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner, which did pretty much nothing for my skin, I notice a distinct dewy glow whenever I apply the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist. This face mist isn’t sticky at all and feels like you basically spray water on your face. Yet, it most definitely leaves skin more hydrated, baby soft and with a very natural, healthy glow. Just beautiful!
This works great if sprayed onto a cotton pad and then either lightly patted onto skin or used as a “DIY face mask”, by using special cotton pads from brands such as Klairs* or Unicharm* (these ones are the bomb!). Just spray the cotton pads and layer them over your cheeks and forehead, then leave on for a good 15-20 minutes, re-spraying them if they start drying out. You will see your skin just lapping up all the hydrating goodness from the mist, feeling and looking extra dewy and with that distinct “glass skin” sheen after you remove the cotton pads.
If you are interested in purchasing the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist individually, you can find it at Be Mused Korea for 13$.
Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence – My Review
Ok, be forewarned guys – some seriously intense gushing is about to commence! Truly, it’s been a while since I’ve been this wowed by a serum/essence! The Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence is a beautiful little treasure, with a deceptively simple, minimalist texture.
Here is a full ingredient list for the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence:
“Water, Chrysanthemum Sinense Flower Extract, Panthenol, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Punica Granatum Fruit Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol Rehmannia Chinensis Root Extract, Polygonum Multiflorum Root Extract, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Lycium Chinense Root Extract, Dictamnus Desycarpus Root Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Angelica Gigas Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Kochia Scoparia Fruit Extract, Lithospermum Erythrorhizon Root Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Atractyloides Japonica Rhizome Extract, Forsythia Suspensa Fruit Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, PEG-8 Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Carbomer, Algin Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine.”
I won’t go through every single ingredient on the list, since that would take too long and also isn’t really my main writing focus. Suffice it to say that this serum – since this is definitely more of a serum than a classical “essence” – is chock full of 20 traditional herbal extracts, a true “hanbang tonic” for your skin. Panax ginseng root extract and licorice extract in particular are two skincare superstars, used predominantly for brightening and skin toning. Astralagus root extract is another one of those classical hanbang extracts with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
This is a very gentle, gel-type serum, which is free from alcohol or fragrance. Indeed, this does not seem to have any scent at all, maybe a very faint herbal smell if I strain my nose to detect it.
I’ve been using this transparent, non-sticky serum for a few weeks now and can honestly say that it has helped my skin tone and texture enormously. I use one pump-full from the airless pump bottle (so hygienic and convenient!) and dispense it all over my face, including my usually very sensitive eye area. As soon as the Atoclassic essence comes in contact with my skin, it sort of “melts” into a more watery consistency, which means it can easily be absorbed by the skin without any residue or tacky feeling.
As with most products containing licorice root extract, I have noticed a brightening and clarifying effect on my skin. It looks more even-toned and less tired overall since I’ve started using the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence. I feel this essence is a wonderful product for anyone with dehydrated and sensitive skin, both dry and more oily/combo skin types, since this gives moisture and hydration without feeling too heavy or potentially acne-aggravating.
I am already feeling sad for when my bottle of essence will be empty, since this is such a wonderful skincare gem. I’ve tried a couple of new skincare products lately, and there have been some serious winners, but I would say the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence has brought the most noticeable improvement when it comes to making my skin look more hydrated, toned and just overall fresh-looking.
If you are interested in purchasing the Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence separately, you can find this at Be Mused Korea for 34$. Since this spreads very well on the face, a little goes a long way. Now, if you buy the Atoclassic Skin Calming Set, you can get both the Real Tonic Mist as well as the Soothing Origin Essence together for only 39$!
Atoclassic Skin Calming Set – The Bottom Line
Pfew, I’ve written a lot today, haven’t I? The truth is, I have become quite passionate about the brand Atoclassic, and sincerely hope that it will continue to thrive. The hanbang background for this brand is supremely interesting, and I love the fair pricing compared to most luxury hanbang brands such as Sulwhasoo. Hey, nothing wrong with splurging on skincare, but not everyone has that sort of budget. True, Atoclassic is still clearly a high-end brand, but I feel that you really get something for your buck here given the beautiful, effective formulations, appealing textures and the wonderfully minimalist branding.
Make sure to check out the other Atoclassic products on offer at Be Mused Korea. This is a lovingly curated K-beauty shop, by the way, and my skincare products came wrapped in such a thoughtful, aesthetically pleasing way, it felt like Christmas had arrived early. I always appreciate these types of shops, which do such a great job helping us consumers discover new, exciting K-beauty brands!
Let me know in the comments: What are your favourite hanbang skincare products? Have you tried any Atoclassic products yet?
Take care guys!
°PR Samples, kindly provided by Be Mused Korea for review purposes – I am not obligated to write this blog review, and my opinions are entirely my own.
*Affiliate Links, meaning I earn a small commission if you decide to use the link to purchase an item. This does not raise the purchase price for you, and it helps me and my blog to grow – so, thank you for supporting me in this way!