Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream and Essence Review and Ingredients Analysis

Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Check this out - an actual "proper" skincare review! I know I've not done one of these in awhile, but better late than never, right? Fancl's BC range, according to the Fancl website, provides "intensive treatment for aging skin needs". I'm actually not sure what the BC stands for, but suffice to say it's an anti-aging line. Recently (and by recently I meant "actually a couple of months before Christmas last year because I've been busy like that"), Fancl has added two new products to the BC range in Singapore - the BC Night Intensive Cream, and BC Essence. Existing products in the range include a facial cleanser, lotion, as well as eye essence.

Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream and Essence: The newest additions to the BC skincare range

As you can imagine, the products feature a lot of Fancl's typical brand claims - for example being suitable for sensitive skin, having a gentle, simple formula that works as it claims without any unnecessary frills, and also being what the brand calls "preservative free". Some of you may recall I was previously introduced to the brand's "preservative free" philosophy and have done a review here, where I examined whether it was really preservative-free or not. Much to my satisfaction, my assessment of the concept of a "preservative-free" formulation was retweeted by an actual cosmetics formulator, who called it "long but well informed". I won't deny it's long (if you haven't realized my ingredients analysis-type reviews tend to be), but I was happy that he found it accurate. Colin also incidentally runs the blog Colin's Beauty Pages, which I really value for its take on cosmetics by an actual person who knows his ingredients and formulations, and works in the biz!

Anyway, after being retweeted by Colin, whom I really respect and admire for his competency, I don't know if this review will live up to my previous one. But I can try! Or at least just do the best I can.

Fancl BC Essence NIght Cream Skincare Review
Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream and Essence: Claims to be formulated for sensitive skin, and to be preservative-free

Anyhoo, that was a really, really long introduction for a blogpost (which, by the way, is also going to be quite long). Let's just dive into the review already, shall we? And of course, we're going to start with the ingredients!

Fancl BC Essence Ingredients List
Fancl BC Essence Ingredients

First, let's take a look at the ingredients in the Fancl BC Essence. The ingredients list is pretty long, but we can see a few categories of ingredients here that are key. There's water, humectants (Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-10, Pentylene Glycol), some of which do double duty as skin conditioning agents, emollients (Olive Fruit Oil, Macademia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Dimethicone, PPG-9 Diglyceryl Ether, Arachidyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Collagen), which obviously are the moisturizing elements of the essence. There are also emulsifiers (Polyglyceryl-10 Distearate), which are there to prevent the product from separating. These would be the main ingredients in the product.

Fancl BC Essence Skincare Ingredients Review
Fancl BC Essence: Formulated primarily with humectants and emollients, alongside plant extracts

In addition to the moisturizing elements and emulsifiers, there are also a slew of various plant extracts, ferments, and other such ingredients (Silybum Marianum Fruit, Hops Flower, Pear Juice Ferment, Ivy Leaf Stem, Soybean Seed, Lathyrus Odoratus Flower, Mallow Flower, Rosemary Leaf, Palm Oil), so for those who love your plant extracts, there are actually some very interesting ones here, beyond the typical aloe vera. There are also more emollients (Phytosteryl/ Behenyl/ Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Atelocollagen, Behenyl Alcohol, Squalane, Phytosteryl Isostearate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Hydrogenated Lecithin), and humectants (Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol), some of which also double as binders and stabilizers (Behenyl Alcohol, Phytosteryl Isostearate, Hydrogenated Lecithin). There are also of course more gelling agents, thickeners and other stabilizers (Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Xanthum Gum, Potassium Carbomer Sucrose Polylaurate, Polyglyceryl-10 Distearate) as well as surfactants (Arachidyl Glucoside, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isostearate).

Lastly, Fancl claims to be preservative-free, which is true if you're looking at certain classes of preservatives, such as parabens, but there are also some ingredients that are there to prevent spoilage of the product, such as buffering agents and the like (Tocopherol, Citric Acid, Potassium Phosphate, Disodium Phosphate). So while I guess Fancl could claim to be paraben-free, and some sort of preservative-free, the product still includes ingredients intended to ensure the essence doesn't go "off" by the third time you use it. Which is very important here, because the essence is a product with lots of water in it, and thus lots of potential for spoilage. Basically, it would go bad as fast as milk did, if there were no preservatives at all.

Fancl BC Essence Swatch Review
Fancl BC Essence: Not quite preservative free, but close enough as you can get without the product going bad fast, I suppose

From a formulation perspective, I do like the nice mix of humectants and emollients, and that Fancl has actually bothered to include a range of moisturizing ingredients beyond the standard few we often see in most skincare brands, such as Phytosteryl/ Behenyl/ Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, which is an ingredient that also has ceramide-like properties, which is definitely something a little different, and which I personally do like. I also do appreciate that the brand tries to stick to its "as little preservatives as you can get away with"-sort of philosophy, even if I don't personally think it's possible (or even advisable) to make a product that is truly preservative-free in the purest sense, just because the product would spoil so fast otherwise, as in within a couple of days.

So, now that we've looked at the ingredients inside the Fancl BC Essence, how does it actually perform on skin? As you can see from the photo, this is a slightly thicker kind of essence with a gel texture, and isn't really a watery, almost-like-water kind of essence. It does have a good light texture overall though, and also absorbs pretty well. I do also like that it layers pretty well under most of my skincare products and makeup. When I used the product I thought it did a good job overal of moisturizing and generally improving the overall condition of my skin. It's a little pricey, especially given the small product size (a common thing with Fancl products) but I suppose if you've got the budget to spare, this isn't bad at all.

Fancl BC Night Cream Ingredients Skincare
Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream Ingredients

Now that we've looked at the BC Essence, let's check out the BC Night Intensive Cream. Again, we have a pretty long ingredients list, with a lot of similar ingredients, so I won't rehash everything. The main difference between the BC Night Intensive Cream and the Essence is that:

1) The Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream is formulated to be more emollient and occlusive than the Fancl BC Essence: A lot of the more emollient ingredients are present in greater amounts, such as the aforementioned Phytosteryl/ Behenyl/ Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Macademia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Behenyl Alcohol, and so on. There are also additional emollient ingredients, namely C10-18 Triglycerides, which are not present in the Essence. Obviously this makes a lot of sense, because you generally want your creams to be more emollient and occlusive than your serums. So if you're planning on picking just one item, and have drier skin, probably the BC Night Intensive Cream might be a better choice. Conversely, if you have oilier skin, you might prefer the lighter formulation of the BC Essence.

Fancl BC Night Cream Review Skicare
Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream: Has similar humectants and emollients as the Essence, but with a thicker formulation

2) The Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream has a slightly different system to prevent product spoilage: The BC Night Intensive Cream contains Ethylhexylglycerin, which is a preservative that also has moisturizing effects similar to that of glycerin. This ingredient is probably there to prevent the BC Night Intensive Cream from spoiling, so although the cream is indeed free of some classes of preservatives (e.g. parabens), I don't know if it's truly preservative free in the purest sense. Again, I believe this is a good thing, because noone wants allergic reactions from spoiled product! Otherwise, like the Essence, a lot of the buffering agents and other ingredients are pretty similar.

So, I guess the BC Night Intensive Cream is generally similar to the Essence, except that you can expect it to be thicker. How does it fare on the skin?

Fancl BC Intensive Night Cream Swatch Review
Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream: It does contain some preservatives, but does avoid parabens and some other major preservatives used

As expected, this is indeed a thicker cream - but that said, despite its fairly rich texture, it still absorbs into skin pretty well. I found that I could use it both during the day and at night as well. In fact I'd go as far as to say that if you're inclined to use this as a day cream, you can certainly do so - there aren't any acids or retinols or any ingredients that consign the product to be strictly for night use. A good blend of emollients, humectants, and some nice plant extracts is always good for day or night, I say! When I used this, I definitely found this to be nice and moisturizing, and it seemed to improve my skin's overall condition. It also generally worked quite well when layered under other products, too.

Fancl BC Essence Night Cream Review Skincare
Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream and Essence: Despite the expensive price tag, the formulation of the products is well-done and interesting

So, would I recommend the Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream and Fancl BC Essence? Sure, if you don't mind the price. I'm not gonna lie - Fancl products tend to be on the pricey side, and the BC Night Intensive Cream is S$175 for a 20g jar, while the Essence is $125 for a 18ml bottle. So it's only going to be for those with the budget to spare. But if you happen to be willing to spend a little more on your skincare, you could certainly do worse. Generally, I do feel that the Fancl brand does live up to its claim for the most part - the products are thoughtfully formulated, with an emphasis on ingredients that work, rather than gimmericky, and also I do like that in general their products are also rather suitable for sensitive skin, as claimed. Indeed, the brand uses very little potentially irritating ingredients (no citrus extracts, which is commonplace in most skincare), and the products also don't have alcohol. There are a couple of silicones in both products, but I do feel that the formula definitely isn't silicone-heavy at all. So overall these are pretty good products.

And then, there is the really awesome packaging, where your product is basically hermetically sealed (like a medical product) until the moment you use it. It's partially a luxury, but I was also previously told that this was also necessary in part due to the brand's products being "preservative-free". In any case, it's definitely a premium that's reflected in the product pricing too:

Fancl BC Skincare Sealed
Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream and Essence: The hermetically sealed packaging is also a feature of the brand

Speaking of the claim to being "preservative-free", perhaps the only brand claim I really take issue with. On the one hand, I do get where Fancl is coming from - the products are indeed paraben-free, and also free of most major preservatives I see in skincare products, like Phenoxyethanol. So compared to other products out there, you don't get as many preservatives (or at least, not in these two products I reviewed). But on the other hand, there are still a couple of ingredients, such as Ethylhexylglycerin, which do have a similar preservative effect in the skincare products as well. So...I mean yes, I can see why the brand would want to market themselves that way, but in a very strict sense, it's not technically correct. "Paraben-free"? Sure. "X number of preservatives-free"? Sure. But I'm not too sure about absolutely no preservatives. In any case, like I've mentioned before, having actually, legitimately preservative-free products is probably not a great idea, unless the product is entirely water-less (and even then, once it's opened, there are still risks involved as the product gets exposed to moisture).

Fancl BC Skincare Review
Fancl BC Night Intensive Cream and Essence: If you don't mind the price, these are products with good formulation suitable for sensitive skin

So, I guess to sum up, the products are nicely-formulated, uses some interesting ingredients, and are indeed suitable for sensitive skin. And they come with very fancy hermetically-sealed packaging to boot. Other than my personal iffiness about the "preservative-free" claim, and the fairly expensive price, I think these are overall good products.
Recommended? Formulation Packaging Ease of Use Effectiveness
Yes, if you don't mind the price 9/10 10/10 10/10 9/10
The Bottom Line: Both the BC Night Intensive Cream and BC Essence are pricey, but do have a formulation that is well-thought out, uses some interesting ingredients, and is mostly (but not quite) preservative-free.

(Product was sent for review. Review is my complete and honest opinion. I am not affiliated with/compensated by the company.)

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