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This review contains PR samples° and affiliate links* The AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule is the first product from Beautytap’s new inhouse brand, and I was fortunate enough to try out this fascinating powerhouse that combines J-beauty and K-beauty technology. So, time for an in-depth review of this glow-enhancing ampoule!
It seems that 2019 is the year of the “Western-Korean” skincare brand hybrids: Glow Recipe, Peach & Lily, Soko Glam’s Then I Met You, and now the predominantly US-targeted but Korean-made brand AZN Labs. This mix of American marketing and Korean ingredient know-how seems to really hit the spot within the wider skincare community. Perhaps it is simply easier to bypass potential, um “biases” (read: xenophobic paranoia) towards Asian skincare by presenting them with all-English ads and English writing on the packaging? Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that these types of West meats East brands (Tatcha being another one, and a problematic one at that…) are killing it right now.
Glow Recipe’s inhouse brand, in fact, has been so successful that they have decided to solely focus on their brand development and have stopped selling actual Korean skincare. I have…feelings about this, but they will have to wait to be expressed until I have time for a full podcast episode.
For now, let’s focus on the latest in-house brand from a large K-beauty retailer: Beautytap. The AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule is the first in what will, I presume, end up being a number of products from the brand. It features a number of delectable ingredients with powerful antioxidant properties, and a texture that will delight Asian skincare lovers with a flair for the luxurious.
AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule: J-Beauty Meets K-Beauty (and they fall in love, basically)
I’m still not 100% sure how to pronounce the brand, and I keep potentially getting it wrong on my podcast, but I suspect the “AZN” stands for “Asian” and should be pronounced as thus. I tried to find out a bit more about the brand, mostly where the products are made, and apparently the ampoule is “made in Korea” according to the description on the packaging. AZN Labs also stresses the fact that their products are meant to marry the best of both the K-beauty and the J-beauty world, which means combining K-beauty textures and technologies with the minimalist skincare philosophy of J-beauty.
Definitely not minimalist is the pretty intense ingredient list for the AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule:
“Water, Rhizophora Mangle Callus Culture Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol, Diethoxyethyl Succinate, Arbutin, Betaine, Astaxanthin, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Ubiquinone, Ferulic Acid, Caffeic Acid, Thioctic Acid, Glutathione, Xanthophylls, Hydroxycinnamic Acid, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Sodium, Ascorbyl Phosphate, Galloyl Pentapeptide-33, sh-Oligopeptide-1, sh-Oligopeptide-2, sh-Polypeptide-1, sh-Polypeptide-10, Superoxide Dismutase, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Viscum, Album (Mistletoe) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Phellinus Linteus Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Extract, Sparassis Crispa Extract, Hericium Erinaceum (Mushroom) Extract, Cudrania Tricuspidata Fruit Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Extract, Caffeine, Allantoin, Adenosine, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycosyl Trehalose, Lactic Acid, Panthenol, Propylene Carbonate, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, PEG-240/HDI Copolymer, Bis-Decyltetradeceth-20 Ether, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Polysorbate 60, Decyltetradeceth-25, Octyldodeceth-16, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Ethylhexyl Methoxycrylene, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Cholesterol, Ceteth-3, Ceteth-5, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Lysolecithin, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Phosphate, Lecithin, Fragrance.”
Phew, what a whopper of a list, am I right? I won’t be able to go through all the manifold goodies in this list, so I will just point out a couple of ingredients that I find particularly appealing. Before I do, however, just a heads up that this product does contain alcohol, which I know is a no go for some of you.
As for the ingredient goodies on this list, they are plentiful! Apart from old favourites such as vitamin C, a number of anti ageing peptides, skin-brightening licorice root extract, and Camellia flower extract, the AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule also boasts a number of highly potent antioxidants. The primary antioxidant powerhouse found in this formulation is astaxanthin, a carotenoid won mostly from red algae that supposedly has 6,000 times more antioxidant force than vitamin C! Astaxanthin is also what gives salmon its pinkish colour, and likewise serves as the main pigment in the ampoule. Some people do describe its colour as pink, but to me it looks more orange, to be honest.
Apart from astaxanthin, other notable anti ageing ingredients are coenzyme Q10, perfect for anti-wrinkle care, ferulic acid, another great antioxidant that also boosts the stability of vitamin C, and tremella fuciformis – snow mushroom extract, said to work similarly to hyaluronic acid in that it draws and binds moisture into the skin.
The AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule is meant to replace multiple steps in your skincare routine, though I admit I am not sure which steps precisely are meant to be covered by using this – I presume ampoule, serum and maybe even the moisturiser step? Personally, I tend to be doubtful about multistep, “one for all” products, but that’s just me. In regards to what this pretty, rose gold skincare jewel can do for your skin, AZN Labs promises anti ageing benefits for problems such as dullness, hyperpigmentation, sagging skin and even wrinkles, as well as support for pollution-stressed skin. Remember, polluaging is a real thing not just a marketing gimmick, and it is – sadly – going to increasingly affect us in this modern, industrialised world.
AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule – How I Got on with the Product
The first thing I noticed about the AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule is its sleek, luxe packaging: from the marble and rose gold box to the sturdy, rose gold and white glass bottle itself, this is a really high end presentation, made for stylish Instagram images. I have to say, however, that I was a bit disappointed about the metallic lettering coming off rather quickly from grabbing the bottle, and it already didn’t look quite as polished and nice anymore after I had used it for a few weeks.
As I said, the ampoule liquid is described as “pink” in most of the marketing materials, but it really is a salmon-hued, golden orange, mostly due to the high astaxanthin amount. I don’t know if the astaxanthin is also the main culprit when it comes to the AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule’s fragrance, or maybe some of the other natural plant extracts in this, but in any case, the scent is…well, in all honestly, not 100% my thing. It reminds me of German cough syrup, slightly herbal and with a hint of something else, something almost spicy.
That being said, I was amazed at the potency of this product – a little really goes a long way, and I usually only need 2-3 drops for my entire face. The liquid from the ampoule feels slightly oily, but does not feel like an oil once it touches my skin. The texture and consistency is reminiscent of a K-beauty propolis ampoule such as the Dr Ceuracle Royal Vita Propolis 33 Ampoule*, smooth and rich, yet easily absorbed once applied. I usually include the ampoule in my PM routine and love to use it right after my hydrating serum, when my skin still feels a bit damp.
It took a while for the AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule to show me its full power. I did notice how wonderfully moisturising it is straight away, and how it seems to enhance my skin’s natural radiance even hours after I applied it. But it’s only been recently that I have also started to see how positively this product has improved my skin’s texture, making it look more even and less rough especially around my cheek area. I’m so impressed! I can’t say that the Afterglow Ampoule has helped that much with the little hyperpigmentation spots on my cheekbones, but I still love the overall noticeably positive effect this has had on my skin. It’s a very nice addition to my overnight routine, and also feels super luscious under a sheet mask for some extra nourishing!
AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule – the Bottom Line
I like the AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule – a lot, in fact! It is packed full with so many skincare ingredient goodies, and the texture looks and feels super luxurious. You can tell that Beautytap is really passionate about delivering high quality products with their in-house brand, and I adore the glow-enhancing qualities and deeply moisturising benefits of this ampoule. I don’t think that it can replace multiple products for me, but it works super well as a nourishing anti ageing ampoule for my autumn and winter skincare routine. I am also so happy that this hasn’t broken me out even once, despite its richness – the ampoule deserves thousands extra points for that alone!
The one thing I slightly wrestle with is the question of whether or not the rather high price point of 120$ is justified. In all honesty, I don’t know if I would have spent that money myself, even on a less tight budget. I do think that this is a highly potent product, with raw ingredients that are indeed valuable and not easy to source. Furthermore, a little goes a very long way, and this ampoule will probably last me for a while, even though I use it pretty much daily. So, overall I do think the price is justified, though I wonder if the average Beautytap customer will see it the same way. Time will tell, I guess!
You can buy the AZN Labs Afterglow Ampoule at Beautytap* for 120$ if you are interested. It is an investment, but as I said – it is a very potent product and you only need tiny amounts for each use!
Let me know in the comments: Do you use ampoules in your skincare routine? How do you feel about luxury K-beauty?
Take care guys!
°PR Sample, kindly provided by the brand – 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!