This article contains affiliate links* Bad skin days are unavoidable, especially for those of us under the tyranny of our menstrual cycle and/or all of us currently stuck indoors. But fear not, dear readers – I bring relief in the form of a soothing, minimalist K-beauty product currently trending all over Instagram: the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule!
Bad skin days are, sadly, a fact of life for most of us. True, there are those rare human specimen who are so genetically blessed that neither stress, hormonal changes, seasonal changes or even ageing will destroy their perfect complexion, but for most of us common folks, an awful lot of factors can lead to sudden, intense skin freakouts. As a beauty blogger specialising in skincare, I often get smug comments from people who like to remind me of every single one of my skin flaws, citing them as “proof” that a good routine doesn’t magically turn skin into a flawless, poreless, subtly glowing canvass and is thus – obviously! – useless and silly.
The idea that a great beauty routine will automatically protect you from any change in skin condition is, of course, a common misconception when it comes to skincare. Any blogger with an ethical backbone will stress that no, skincare won’t be able to shield you from the myriads of outside (and inside) factors that play a part in our skin’s appearance. In my case, for instance, sliding into perimenopause (those years before entering menopause, which are marked by often volatile hormonal ups and downs) has aggravated my skin breakouts right before my period.
Being good about my skincare routine most definitely helps keeping those breakouts to a minimum, but double cleansing and a good acid routine won’t magically cause my hormonal fluctuations to stop. Same goes for my hay fever affecting skin negatively, since pollen also enters your body via the skin and can cause itching, increased redness and a heightened sensitivity. Skincare, in my eyes, is about supporting the health of your skin and helping it deal with changes and stress factors by strengthening its innate defence mechanism.
And, as ever-changing as my body and my immediate environment, thus, also, are the changes and adjustments that I make to my skincare routine. Especially when a skin freakout happens – so, any moment where my skin suddenly decides to get angry for whatever reason and starts to develop redness, breakouts, or (for my skin type unusual) instances of dryness – I tend to grab specific products that I know will help bring my skin back into balance.
One of those skin freakout emergency helpers is the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule. This pure, minimalist beauty has been a strongly hyped skincare item in Korea for a while now, and it’s been so popular that the brand updated its original 30ml size to a larger version with 50ml, which luckily is the version I got. Let me first share some basics about the Cicaful Ampoule with you and the brand Be Plain, and then I’ll explain why this product is such a great helper for sensitised skin.
Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule – the Basics
Be Plain is still a relatively new brand from Korea, though I couldn’t find out when exactly they were founded. I myself started seeing their products on social media around early to mid 2019, especially the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule, a clear bestseller from the brand.
Since most of the brand history on their website is in Korean, I can only give some basics here that I was able to glimpse from a few English expressions used. So, from what I can gather, Be Plain is another one of these currently ultra popular “clean beauty” brands. As I made clear in my podcast episode on organic K-beauty, the terms “clean” or “natural” beauty do not really mean much at all, since there are no clear guidelines or certifications attached to them. Very often, brands use the EWG guidelines for their claims of being “certified clean” or similar, but the EWG itself is pretty controversial, since they add to the fear-mongering common in the green beauty industry regarding perfectly harmless ingredients such as certain preservatives. So…just take the label “clean beauty” with a grain of salt!
What I like about Be Plain and their branding is the consciously simplistic elegance of their products: the packaging is clean and mostly white, with bottles made of frosted glass. They are also unisex or “genderless”, as the brand calls their approach, which I am always a big fan of given the tendency to overcharge us women for “female” products of any kind, or the absurdity of making “manly” skincare products by choosing blue packaging or musk scents or whatever else is deemed “masculine.”
The formulations of all Be Plain products are also noticeably muted and simple – “stress-free” is how the brand describes it. Much of the brand’s success originates from this “stress-free” approach, with short lists of mostly plant-based ingredients. Again, this of course buys into the current “clean beauty” craze, but it also means less risk for irritation and a gentle approach to skincare. From what I can tell, most of the Be Plain products are fragrance- and essential oil free and formulated without alcohol. Their Greenful Ph-Balanced Cleansing Foam* – high on my wish list – also uses very mild surfactants and should be a wonderfully gentle second step cleanser.
As for the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule, the ingredient list is a joy to read for anyone with sensitive or reactive skin:
“Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20, Polyglycerin-3, Pentylene Glycol, Anthemis Nobilis Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Rice Extract, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Tromethamine, Xanthan Gum, 1,2 Hexanediol, Ethyhexylglycerin.”
Short an sweet, isn’t it? Again, this ampoule is formulated without any added fragrance, essential oils or alcohol/ethanol. It contains 84% centella asiatica extract, known to be beneficial for all sorts of skin troubles such as redness, oiliness, acne scarring and general sensitivity. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are both humectants, so, “water-grabbing” ingredients that plump up and help skin remain hydrated. Saccharomyces and fermented rice extract are said to brighten skin and give a subtle glow – you often find them in first treatment essences such as the Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence*.
Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule – Skin Saviour in Times of Need
I received the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule as a gift (not from the brand, mind you – it was a private gift!) in late October and have been using it consistently since then, especially right before and during my period. As I said, my skin is suffering from increased breakouts lately, and it gets particularly bad around that time of the month. I also struggle with redness and notice that my skin’s sensitivities seem to increase ever since I turned 40… Ah, the joys of ageing!
So, lately I’ve really been scaling back on fragrance in products. I’ve never been super vigilant about fragrance before and could tolerate essential oils well enough in products, as long as they weren’t super potent. However, especially during hay fever season I notice my skin reacting far more quickly to any kind of aggravator, fragrance and alcohol being two of those. Alcohol, in mild doses, never tended to bother my skin, but now I have to be far more careful with products containing it.
Thus, I was pretty stoked about the mild formulation of the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule. I received the “L” version with 50ml, which I would advise you to get if possible because, in all honesty, I tend to need a pretty sizeable amount for my skin. The texture of the Cicaful Ampoule is pretty runny overall, and I would classify it more as a serum than a hyper potent ampoule, which to me usually have more of a thicker, syrupy consistency. The ampoule liquid has no discernible scent and feels cooling and refreshing on the skin. It spreads well and sinks into the skin without leaving any sticky sensations.
My skin is super happy with the ampoule, and I love to use it especially as a morning serum for a readily absorbable dose of pure hydration. The centella asiatica extract helps to calm down my skin when it feels red and angry – it doesn’t fully get rid of the redness, but soothes overheated sensations and doesn’t add any new stressors thanks to the mild formula.
This is just a great product in times of skin freakouts! It has a simple, yet effective ingredient list with lots of skin-soothers and humectants, and offers fast and effective hydration. I feel that with increasing temperatures I will probably reach for the ampoule more and more, since it feels so cooling on the skin. I’m a fan!
If you are interested in the large 50ml version of the Be Plain Cicaful Ampoule you can buy it either at Jolse* or at Yesstyle* – check prices before buying, since both shops tend to fluctuate depending on sales. The 30ml version of the ampoule is only marginally cheaper, so I would advise purchasing the large version, as it works out cheaper per ml. Nevertheless, you can also purchase the small version both at Jolse* or at Yesstyle*.
Let me know in the comments: What’s your go-to skincare routine when your skin is freaking out?
Take care guys – lots of love to everyone during these trying times!
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