Tosowoong Timeshift First Essence Review


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Peach & Lily has a sample sale once a year in NYC, and I was lucky enough this year to be in the area, so I got up early, gulped some coffee, and headed out to stand in line! I didn’t have any ideas of what I wanted to grab ahead of time, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some products that they don’t carry on their website. Tosowoong’s Time Shift First Essence falls into that category, and as I browsed, the promise of glowy skin + light hydration tempted me enough that this made the cut (that, and I had recently dropped and broken my Secret Key First Treatment Rose Essence).


Brand: Tosowoong
Price: $15, bought at the Peach & Lily sample sale. Usually $25-$35.
Step:  First Essence
Size: 150ml
Purchase at: Crystal Cove Beauty | KoreaDepart | RoseRoseShop

There’s a lot of great resources out there on where everything in your routine should go, so I’m not going to talk too much about that here. This product is a first essence, meant to be your first, light hydrating layer, as well as boosting absorption of other products. You apply it immediately after cleansing, before any hydrating toners, but after any actives.


Like many first essences, The Timeshift First Essence comes in a frosted glass bottle with a shiny cap. The bottle is sturdy (or as sturdy as glass can be), and feels very luxurious. SK-II’s famed first essence is a clear inspiration for the look and feel of this specific product, though Tosowoong’s entire Timeshift line (there’s a few other products in this line) has this clean, simple look.


  • Aureobasidium Pullulans Ferment: This makes up most of the essence, at 80% black yeast ferment. It’s the essence’s primary ingredient, and a recent (2014) study suggests that this naturally-derived ingredient is moisturizing, antiaging, and anti-wrinkle.
  • Niacinamide: A super hero ingredient! A 2005 study finds topical niacinamide to be a great anti-aging ingredient, with visible “reductions in fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing).” Niacinamide also aids with improving skin elasticity, as well as being lightly hydrating.
  • Adenosine: Adenosine’s super power is its anti-wrinkle (anti-ageing) abilities. A 2006 study shows that adenosine delivered significant impact on skin smoothness on the face. The ful study is here if you want to check it out, and Fifty Shades of Snail has a great overview of adenosine, which I recommend for further reading if you’re interested from an Asian Beauty skincare perspective.
  • Extracts. There’s too many extracts to detail here, but there’s a variety of plant extracts included.

Full ingredients: Aureobasidium Pullulans Ferment, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Dimethicone, Water, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sucrose Palmitate, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Asparagus Lucidus Root Extract, Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Flower Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Flower/Leaf Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Pinus sylvestris bud Extract, Pinellia Ternata Root Extract, Plantago asiatica seed extract, Portulaca Grandiflora Extract, Robinia Pseudacacia Flower Extract, Psidium Guajava Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Abronia Villosa Leaf Extract, Cinchona Succirubra Bark Extract, Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract, Badger Oil, Adenosine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium EDTA, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin (CosDNA)

Review & Performance.

Texture & feel: This is a thin, clear, watery essence, with some slip to it. It’s more viscous than water, to give you an idea of the consistency.

Fragrance: A barely discernable yeast-y smell, but there’s no added fragrance.

For me, a first essence serves a few purposes: it should lightly hydrate my skin after cleansing and it should boost absorption of other products. The Timeshift First Essence did a great job with the light hydration, but it didn’t discernibly affect absorption of products after. In fact, it almost seemed to sit on my skin, leaving a slight film.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t hinder the layers afterwards, but it didn’t seem to actually do anything beyond give a light hydration boost. Many first essences also promise giving your skin that lit-from-within glow, which I didn’t see with usage of this product either. I used this product for ~3 months, and it didn’t do much for my skin beyond providing a light hydration layer.

The ingredients list suggested far more power than this delivered.


3/5: Didn’t make my skin worse, but didn’t have any noticeable effects beyond hydration. Would not repurchase