This article contains affiliate links* The ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner has been topping the favourites lists of numerous Korean beauty apps, so of course I absolutely had to try this hydrating K-beauty cult star! Learn whether it lived up to the hype, and what exactly makes it so popular in Korea!
I had been eyeing up the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner for a while before I was finally able to get a really good deal on it. This toner is basically a legend in the Asian beauty community, since it tops the lists for best toner regularly. In fact, it’s been sitting in the number one spot on the super influential Korean beauty app Hwahea for what feels like an eternity. I also heard Director Pi, a well-respected beauty editor who is also prominent on Youtube with her skincare rankings and ratings, sing the praises of this toner. So naturally, I was intrigued!
The ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner is said to be one of the best toners for sensitive skin, with a minimalist ingredient list and a consciously simplistic formulation. It is also one of the few hydrating toners from Korea that doesn’t contain hyaluronic acid – some people break out from HA, and have a hard time finding a suitable alternative for their hydrating toner layer(s).
I received my Dokdo Toner quite a few months ago, sometime in August, and I’ve actually almost used it up by now. So, you can already tell that I’ve definitely not hated this. But – was it able to live up to the hype created around it? Did this K-beauty toner totally blew me away, becoming my number one favourite in what is arguably my favourite skincare category? Well, read on to find out!
ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner – the Basics
So, first things first: if you aren’t Korean (or Japanese…) and not too well-versed in Korean history, the name of this toner may confuse you. It did confuse me, especially the mysterious number 1025, since I didn’t know anything about the famous Dokdo Islands dispute between Korea and Japan.
So, basically, the Dokdo Islands – or “Liancourt Rocks”, as they are known here in the West (and “Takeshima Islands” in Japan) – are… Well, honestly, they are just two tiny, rocky islands that aren’t really that fantastically desirable as a habitat. However, they lie right in-between (South) Korea and Japan, though a tad closer to Korea from what I can tell gazing at the maps. Due to the tempestuous historical relationship between Korea and Japan (and the fact that the islands are surrounded by extremely profitable fishing grounds), there has been a dispute about the ownership of these islands for over 300 years. Apart from South Korea and Japan, North Korea also lays claim to them because – of course they do. For many Koreans, the Dokdo Islands are a symbol of patriotic pride and a very important, touchy subject.
So, what’s the story behind the number “1025”? Well, October 25 is “Dokdo Day” in Korea, an unofficial holiday commemorating the official declaration of the Dokdo Islands as part of Korean territory in 1900. There are some predecessors to that declaration, as the dispute started many centuries before that, but this is apparently one of those official proofs South Korea sees as indisputable enough to have declared it a day of (somewhat defiant) national celebrations. Though, again, this is not an official, governmental holiday and not everyone takes part in events on that day.
The Dokdo Toner uses deep sea water from around that Dokdo region as its main ingredient, hence the connection to the islands, though I suspect the name is mostly meant as a patriotic declaration.
Alright, so now that this somewhat uncomfortable topic is out of the way, let’s focus again on the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner and the reasons for its popularity. As I mentioned earlier, this toner is often said to be the gentlest and least irritating one you can find in Korea. No wonder, given its super clean and humbly short ingredient list!
Here is the full ingredient list for the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo toner:
“Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Saccharum Officinarum Ferment Extract, Sea Water, 1,2 Hexanediol, Protease, Betaine, Panthenol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA.”
This is a very light toner with a watery texture, so it differs quite noticeably from the usual K-beauty skins, which tend to be on the thicker and more viscous side. Hydration is provided by the sea water, the humectant glycerin and moisture-balancing betaine. Allantoin and panthenol soothe and calm down irritated skin, while saccharum officinarum ferment extract supposedly has a mildly exfoliating effect. This toner is free from any added fragrance, any essential oils, and it is also alcohol-free.
ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner – Did It Live up to the Hype?
So, I like this toner – a lot, in fact. It definitely is extremely gentle and soothing, and I love that it is free from pretty much any potentially skin-aggravating ingredients (except maybe the two “glycols”, which some people find skin-sensitising). I have no issues with hyaluronic acid, so I don’t necessarily need an HA-free toner, but it’s important for me to find good options for my readers and podcast listeners if they ask me for recommendations.
The toner basically has the consistency of water, so most people will probably prefer to use a cotton pad to apply it. I myself prefer to just pour a little bit into the palm of my hand and then use both palms to softly pat it into my skin. It soaks in fast and feels very refreshing and seems… I don’t even know how to express this except by using the word “unobtrusive.” It’s a completely razzmatazz-free product that just quietly does its job of hydrating your skin.
Now, is it the best toner I’ve ever tried? Will it become my number one forever favourite? Honestly, not really. I love how gentle it is, and I feel it really helps to calm down my skin whenever I’ve overdone it with trying out too many products or grabbing too many acids within a week. I’ve noticed that apart from my other favourite watery K-beauty toner, the Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner, this is the one I gravitate to the most when I have sensitised skin. It’s just so reliably simplistic and feels pleasantly lighter than those thicker hydrating toners. I also love to combine it with the amazing Rootree Cryptherapy Toner, which does tend to be a tad stripping otherwise if used too often, since it contains alcohol. The combo of Dokdo Toner plus Cryptherapy Toner was a favourite of mine for the summer!
The thing with the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner is… It’s just not that exciting to me in the long run. It hydrates, but not as deeply and intensely as many of my other favourite toners. Even the Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner, equally thin in texture, seems to replenish my skin’s moisture levels more noticeably, and of course all the thicker toners are just so much more impressive in regards to making skin look more plump and juicy. I also can’t say that I have seen any exfoliating action from this toner, though I didn’t necessarily expect that.
For some people, a simple formulation may be just what they need and like, but for me, I’m slightly missing the ingredient “wow factor” that many other K-beauty toners have: licorice extract, niacinamide, centella asiatica extract, to just name a few ingredient highlights from products I consider to be higher up in my top rated toners list.
So, basically what I’m saying is: I like this toner and would absolutely consider re-purchasing it especially for summer, but I do not fully get the extreme hype around it. To me, there are too many other amazing toners from Korean brands that run circles around this perfectly lovely product.
ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner – the Bottom Line
A part of me understands the cult following surrounding the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner: it is a super gentle, carefully-formulated toner providing basic hydration for sensitive skin. If you tend to break out from hyaluronic acid toners and/or if you have highly sensitive skin, this may be a good option for you. Dryer skin types will probably not find this hydrating enough, and I would suggest a thicker-textured toner like the Klairs Supple Preparation Unscented Toner.
For me personally, the Dokdo Toner is maybe just a tad too basic overall. I do like, even love it for many reasons. Since it is also fairly-priced overall, I would repurchase this in a heartbeat just as a nice addition to my routine on days where I feel my skin needs a bit of a break from heavier textures. So, the toner is really nice, but not an absolute favourite or a contender for a number one spot in any top ten list I would compile about toners or K-beauty products.
A part of me wonders if the naming of the toner after what seems to be a strongly felt patriotic issue in Korea may have contributed to the intense love for this product, but then I’m not Korean myself and thus should definitely not speculate too wildly about this.
In any case, if I have piqued your interest in the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner, you can purchase it at Yesstyle* for currently around 23$, or at Jolse* for a price that can go as far down as 11$ during a sale!
Let me know in the comments: Have you tried the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner or any other product from the brand?
Take care guys!
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