There’s this new-fangled thing going around called “aqua” powders or “cooling” powders that give an instant jolt of cool together with a burst of wet at the moment of application. It is a very curious invention that promises skincare benefits whilst mattifying and setting makeup. I am naturally apprehensive about new marketing gimmicks, but when it comes from an established Japanese beauty brand like Kose, and is highly raved by my friends, I had to check it out for myself.
Kose Infinity Cool Face Powder is a limited edition loose powder that is marketed as 80% serum! As such, it may be used as the last step of your skincare, or to set your makeup at the end, even both. It is a white powder that is finely milled, and gives a nice matte finish without being overly flat. It does not contain any shimmer which I know many girls are averse to (although I personally prefer more luminous powders).
The magic happens when the powder is dusted or patted into the skin. There is an instant sensation of wetness and icy chill, but it does not actually make your skin damp although the brush that I used does feel slightly damp afterwards. As for my skin, it looks instantly mattified and smoothened.
But does this powder really live up to its skincare claims with all its razzle dazzle sensations? Here is the ingredient list as printed on the back of the box:
The ingredients with skincare benefits are most likely – agar (emollient), witch hazel extract (astringent), leontopodium alpinum extract (anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory), and rhodiola sacra root extract (holistic herb for helping body resist environmental stresses). All 4 appear mid-way down the list of 27 ingredients, so the claim of 80% serum is sadly untrue. Unless, of course, you include water.
There are indeed humectants (butylenes glycol and glycerin) in this powder that provide some hydrating benefits to back up the powder’s skin benefit claims. Calendula officinalis flower extract provides that occlusive agent to prevent the water from evaporating into the atmosphere, locking it in for the skin to absorb it.
Strangely, despite the potential for hydration benefits, Kose Infinity Cool Face Powder actually dried up my skin! On the various occasions I used it, it caused my skin to turn dry and flakey as the day progressed. I have tried it both as a final step after makeup as a loose powder, and as a final step after skincare before makeup. Both ways, my skin dried up like a prune as the day progresses.
And this is where the science eludes me. I would love to be able to speak with an expert chemist or cosmetologist on this, but this is what I think – the instant cooling effect is most certainly due to something evaporating rapidly from the surface of the skin upon application. I’m not sure if this is the alcohol (which by nature is drying) or the water. In any case, evaporation of any kind from the surface of the skin will draw out moisture along the way and in turn cause dehydration. Of course, the occlusive agent in the formula is supposed to prevent that from happening, but combined with the water-absorbing properties of the humectants, it may or may not be sufficient. This is entirely my own hypothesis, and very likely wrong as I’m not a trained chemist and one has to assume Kose knows what it’s doing. The astringent property of the witch hazel extract, combined with aluminium chloride (a form of anti-perspirant) may also have drying effects on the skin.
I had initially purchased Kose Infinity Cool Face Powder as a novelty and in the hopes that it does actually provide a moisture boost for my skin. But I ended up holding back on this review for so long because it completely baffled me. And it somehow ended up being a crash course in chemistry 101. Thank you for making it through such a long read, and I hope it has been interesting for the beauty nerd in us. The long and short of it is, the claims of 80% skincare benefits is sadly false. In fact, I should point out that this particular product seems to contain an inordinate amount of silicones; and some of the chemical ingredients have mildly toxic potential (e.g. aluminium chloride) so be sure not to dust this all over yourself and keep from breathing it in as you’re applying. As a mattifying powder, this one certainly is excellent. However, if you have dry sensitive skin, or are prone to patches of flakiness, this one is not for you.
I have to thank Jerlene of Musicalhouses for our short but insightful conversation that set me on the path to demystifying this product. She makes it a point to dissect ingredient lists in her beauty reviews, so if that is something of interest do hop on over here.