Review - Roots Base Botanicals (K-Beauty) - Part 1
My review on Roots Base essence, emulsion & eye cream
Overview on Roots Base
"Roots Base Botanicals uses the finest Korean ginseng in their skincare products, which addresses hyperpigmentation and skin aging. All products in this range are lightweight and non-greasy, yet highly potent and the ingredients are responsibly sourced... All products have a beautiful botanical/herbal scent, which enhances the relaxation process during your skincare routine." - from KBeautyAustralia
Super lucky me, I was given the entire set of Roots Base to trial and review! The set contains a cleanser, a toner, an essence (serum), an emulsion (moisturiser) and an eye cream. The set is beautifully presented in a gift box.
As I spent more than 4 months trialling this range, there are a lot of thoughts that I want to share. I have structured this review over two posts.
After the initial week, I decided to stop using the cleanser and the toner because thy are not suitable for my skin type. For the rest of the range (essence, emulsion and eye cream), I continued to use them for the next 3.5 months. In this post I am going to comprehensively review these 3 items.
Main ingredients in the range
Although the Roots Base brand boasts the use of ginseng as a featured ingredient, from what I can see only the essence contains ginseng (ginseng berry extract, ginseng root ferment filtrate). However, the use of various other root extracts (such as Dioscorea Japonica (Japanese yam) root extract, Ulmus davidiana (Japanese elm) root extract, etc.) are abundant.
Ginseng is very widely used in the Korean beauty industry. Just like many other plant extracts, it contains powerful antioxidants and other nutrients (e.g. vitamins). In vitro studies (i.e. experiments done in petri dishes) support that ginseng may fade pigmentation and improves skin texture and hydration, although literature reviews done in the States seem to converge into the view that more clinical evidence is needed to conclusively determine effectiveness (see examples here and here).
That said, all Roots Base products contain very comprehensive range of ingredients (many are well-proven) and they appear to adopt a "cover-all-basis" approach. Two other ingredients that are widely used in the range are:
Niacinamide (vitamin B3): the ability of niacinamide to lighten pigmentation has been widely documented (see an example here). For it to be effective, the minimum concentration is 5%. Other documented benefits include soften fine lines and wrinkles, improve overall dullness, and strengthen the skin's barrier.
Saccharomyces ferment filtrate: What's this fermenting business in K-beauty? Apparently, microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast produce various molecules such as amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants during the fermentation process. The process also helps to "break down" ingredients so that they are easier to absorb into skin. One analogy is milk (not fermented) and yoghurt (fermented) - and often yoghurt is considered more nutritious. The fermentation process in skincare needs to be strictly controlled so that the starting ingredients would not be broken down to a point where they are no longer useful. For me, it seems like a somewhat mysterious process but it is so common in K-beauty time that it is considered "standard". Speaking from personal experience, this fermenting business works... and it is not limited to K-beauty. For example, bifida ferment lysate has been used for years by Estee Lauder in its Advanced Night Repair (which I rate highly). Recently, I tried the iUNIK beta-glucan serum (containing 98% beta-glucan fermentation solution) and it is one of the best hydrating serum that I have used. The golden rule is: ferment the right starting ingredients using the right microb (if you are interested in the science of "fermented broth", there's a neat summary in this academic article).
Roots Base Botanicals Revitalising Concentrate Essence | 50mL $56.95
What is an essence anyway?
Many cosmetic companies recommend using an "essence" after toning and before applying serum. Essence generally feels lighter and more watery - with a consistency lies somewhere between a toner and a serum.
In fact, essence is just another name for serum. Serums can come in different consistencies, combinations of active ingredients and concentrations. I sometimes use just one serum, sometimes two (in which case the first serum would be equivalent to an "essence"), depending on skin needs. By calling a second serum an "essence", it makes consumers think that they need an additional step, which is not always necessary.
Roots Base Essence (Serum)
Coming back to Roots Base, the "essence" is the only serum in the range, so there is no confusion as to when to use it. It has a lovely lightweight consistency that is very easy to apply, glides on skin effortlessly and instantly absorbs beautifully into skin. I have a habit of misting my skin prior to applying serum, but this serum feels so full of water that the misting step becomes optional. The clean and fresh botanical scent is second to none. Overall, it is a delightful serum to use twice a day.
Ingredient highlights: relatively high concentration of niacinamide, various plant/root extracts, panax ginseng berry extract, Saccharomyces ferment filtrate, Lactobacillus ginseng root ferment filtrate, glycerin, and many more.
Packaged in an opaque and airless pump bottle, this serum is expensive compared to the rest of the Roots Base range.
My 50 mL bottle lasted for 4 months when used twice a day.
Roots Base Botanicals Intensive Moisturising Emulsion | 130mL $40.95
The Roots Base Emulsion is essentially a moisturiser. Similar to the serum, it is extremely delightful to use. Again, it has a lightweight and melt-into-your-skin consistency, with a similar luxurious botanical scent making it very relaxing to use.
Ingredient highlights: glycerin, nacinamide, betaine, avocado oil, algae extract and various plants and roots extracts, Saccharomyces ferment filtrate, shea butter, squalane, and many more.
The emulsion also has a cosmetic watery-glow effect, which lasts the whole day. It gives my skin a glow-from-within illumination which looks great with or without makeup. To visually demonstrate the effect I have pictured myself immediately before any skincare application and after using Roots Base essence, emulsion and eye cream. The instant "face lift" effect from the healthy glow is obvious.
The emulsion is packaged in a transparent bottle with a regular pump. The size of 130 mL is much bigger than most other moisturisers in the market (typically 50 mL), making it rather affordable. I use mine very generously (2-3 pumps) twice a day. After 4 months, I have only gone through half a bottle.
Because the trial was done throughout winter, I feel that as a moisturiser it does not quite provide me with the oil content that my skin needs. I overcome this by using an oil-based ceramide serum in conjunction with the Roots Base products. However, the Roots Base Emulsion would be perfect for combination to oily skin, or for normal skin types in warmer weather.
Roots Base Botanicals Soothing Eye Cream | 35mL $50.95
It is difficult not to fall in love with the texture of Roots Base Eye Cream. It has a thick, solid appearance, yet it feels lightweight and melts into skin instantly. The ingredients are top notch - shea butter, squalane, beta-glucan, a diverse range of plant extracts, ceramide and matrixyl just to name a few. Comes in a 35 mL huge size and lasts forever.
The nozzle is very small and precise, making it easy to control the amount of product being squeezed out. I also love the fact that it comes in a squeeze tube rather than a tub to preserve cleanliness.
I have been using the eye cream twice a day for 3 months and subsequently once a day for another month. While it is not an overnight miracle cure for all my fine lines and dark circles, it has certainly maintained the under-eye area pretty well.
Ingredient highlights: shea butter, squalane, beta-glucan,various roots and plants extract, sodum hyaluronate, Saccharomyces ferment filtrate, Ceramid NP, palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 (Matrixyl) and many more.
At the end of the 4 months, I was happy with my skin condition. It felt smooth, supple and hydrated.
However, there was no visible improvement on hyper-pigmentation.
Throughout this time, I supplemented both AM and PM routine with ceramides and a hydrating serum, but I genuinely believe that these were only necessary because I used Roots Base in winter. My skin normally gets quite dehydrated in winter.
One surprise was that throughout the these four months I did not have any congestion, break out or pimple (and if there were any, they were so minor that I have forgotten about them). I used to have occasional pimples despite using very good skincare.
Overall, I would highly recommend Roots Base essence, emulsion and eye cream as a great range for maintenance. My favourite is the emulsion as it is very special in terms of texture, luminosity and scent, closely followed by the eye cream for its wonderful ingredients and good value.
Perfect experience in ease of use, texture, scent and layerability (that's my terminology)
Skin balancing (no congestion / breakout)
Emulsion has a luminous effect which doubles up as a makeup base
Both emulsion and eye cream come in big sizes - very reasonably priced per mL
The range is more suitable to oily skin types than dry skin types
No visible effects on hyper-pigmentation (noting that I did not use the matching cleanser and toner)
Cleanser and toner were too drying for my skin (see next blog post... coming soon)
Most Suitable for general skin maintenance and radiance boosting for combination to oily skin.
In the next blog post I will continue to review the Roots Base range: cleanser and toner.
Love K-beauty? Read my other reviews on K-beauty products:
This review was written based on my opinion after 4 months of trial. The products were given to me by K Beauty Australia for a collaboration campaign. My opinion is honest.
Makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Founder of the well-known award-winning bridal specialist team Faces Makeup & Hair. Beauty junkie with an obsession for skincare.