Evercos Hanbang Masks & Ingredient Focus: Ginseng, Poria Cocos, Sanghwang Mushroom

11:10 PM

Hi everyone,

I decided to review the 6 Evercos Hanbang Sheet Masks that I have because I love hanbang (Korean Traditional Medicine) and because I haven't seen many reviews of these masks although they seem quite popular.

I will start by a review of the literature about the main ingredient of each mask and then a translation of what is written on the packaging. I'm not really good at Korean so forgive me if what I write is not 100% accurate (+ I have to translate from Korean to French and then from French to English >_<;)! I will not go into the details of the whole ingredient list because this article would be way too long  but if you want to know something more specifically, ask me. It's worth mentioning that none of these masks contain alcool but they do contain fragrance.

In this article, I will review the GinsengWhite Poria Cocos, and Sanghwang mushroom masks and I will review the 3 others in a second post.

Korean Red Ginseng (홍삼) :
Ginseng has been traditionally used as a general tonic in Oriental medicine for several thousand years. 
In Western countries, nowadays ginseng extracts can also be found in every drug store and are used in case of state of exhaustion, fatigue, decreased concentration or to increase performance when learning.
This mask contains red ginseng. By the way, the difference between the white and red ginseng is the following one. White ginseng is the peeled and air-dried root of Panax Ginseng, while red ginseng is steamed and then airdried. It has been reported that red ginseng has more bioactivity than white ginseng. 

Ginsenosides are the major active constituents of ginseng and are widely held to be responsible for its pharmacological properties. They have been investigated with regards to many biological and pharmacological effects, such as anti-aging, anti-inflammation, and antioxidation in the central nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems.

I did a review of the available scientific literature to see if ginseng has effects on skin. I found quite a lot of studies that assess the protective effect of Red Ginseng extracts on UVB‐irradiated skin either per os or topical application. I'm listing below just of a few of them to give you an idea of what can be found.

  • Dietary supply containing Korean Red Ginseng extract showed significantly inhibition of wrinkle formation caused by chronic UVB irradiation in mice. The results also showed that the anti-wrinkle effect involved rather the inhibition of collagen degradation rather than increased collagen synthesis. It was concluded that Korean Red Ginseng may be a functional food candidate for skin photoaging (link).
  •  Another study examined the effects of total saponins and ginsenoside Rb1 isolated from Red Ginseng roots on skin thickness, elasticity, and wrinkle formation caused by long-term, low-dose UVB irradiation in hairless mice by topical application. The topical application significantly inhibited increase in skin thickness and wrinkle formation and the reduction in skin elasticity induced by long-term UVB irradiation. It also prevented the induced disruption of collagen fibers (link). Many similar other studies on this topic can be found.
  •  A few studies assessed the therapeutic effect of total ginseng on wound healing (link). Topical applications of Korean Red Ginseng extracts also showed significantly improvement of atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions in mice (link 1, 2).

  • I found only one randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study on human volunteers. In this study it was investigated whether the repeated oral administration of red ginseng extract in  herbal mixtures can reduce UVB-induced wrinkle formation in human volunteers. A mixture of 45.3% (by weight) of Korean red ginseng extract powder and 54.6% of the powdered extracts of two herbs (Torilus fructus and Corni fructus) was administered orally to the subjects daily for 24 weeks.  The levels of the main constituents of the three substances in the mixutre (ginsenoside-Rb1, torilin, and lo- ganin) were standardized at 10.85 mg/g, 0.12 mg/g, and 3.33 mg/g, respectively. The study concluded that facial wrinkles were significantly improved in  volunteers treated with ginseng compated to placebo. No changes were seen in the facial elasticity, epidermal water content, facial erythema and pigmentation, and epidermal thickness in either placebo or active group (link). The results of this study are interesting but we have to keep in my that ginseng was not used alone here but in association with 2 other plant extracts that can have themseleves an activity.

In summary, although there is a lack of well-designed randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled studies on humans, there is a strong body of studies that evidenced the potential effects of red ginseng on skin photoaging when taken orally or when applied topically. Ginseng could therefore be a very interesting anti-aging ingredient in skincare. Ginseng roots are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are good for the overall skin health. In addition to its well-know antioxidant activity, it has also shown some wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Now let's get back to the Ginseng sheet mask :D
On the front side, it is written that "ginseng gives nutrition to the skin. The mask adheres perfectly to the skin and is made of an excellent non-woven cellulose.
It gives enough nutrition and vitality to skin that has lost its vigor and makes the rough skin bright and clear and transparent."

On the back: Herbal Clinic Sheet Mask
"Ginseng – ginseng that gives nutrition to the skin.
Contents : ginseng extract 1.00%, Korean Angelica extract 0.10%, Angelica Keiskei leaf extract 0.10%.

Ingredients : 
Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Ginseng Extract (1.0%), Witch Hazel Extract, Korean Angelica Leaf Extract, Angelica Keiskei Extract, Natto Gum, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Wheat Amino Acids, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Carbomer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Trietanolamine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethyl cellulose, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Fragrance.

The scent of this mask is quite strong and very earthy (typical of ginseng). If you like the scent of ginseng, you'll be delighted (like me!) otherwise it may be a bit too much for you.

White Poria Cocos (백봉령) :
White Poria Cocos is a fungus growing on diverse Pinus species. It has been used in the Chinese pharmacopoeia for thousands of years. It has been used for medicinal purposes to treat physical and mental recuperation, promote diuresis, forgetfulness and physical weakening.

photo credits 1, 2

Effects on skin:
  • Poria Cocos extracts has been reported to be effective in skin whitening by inhibition of the  melanin synthesis in in vitro tests (link). In vitro tests don't always reflect what happen in vivo but it's already a good starting point.
  •  Poria Cocos extracts have antioxidant (link) and anti-inflammatory (link 1,2) properties when taken per os or topically adminstered.
  • Triterpene acids from Poria Cocos extract exhibited inhibitory effects on skin tumor promotion in an in vivo carcinogenesis test (link).
  • I also found a patent filled by LVMH research group that claim to have discovered that extracts of Poria cocos fungi exhibit an anti-acne activity and an oily skin controlling activity (link).

Overall, after reviewing the literature I found mainly in vitro tests on disease models so there is clearly a lack of studies to support the effects of Poria Cocos. That said, it doesn't mean that because there is no published scientific studies, the extract has no activity and is  not worth it. In fact I guess that only few studies exist because no one has devoted the financial resources to study this fungus into more details. That's often the case with ingredients from traditional medicine. However very often the believed effects turn out to be real. A lot of ethnopharmacists actually use this traditional knownlegde to create new drugs. That said, I think Poria Cocos do have anti-inflammatory effects. The skin whitening effect is possible but should be confirmed.

Concerning the mask:
On the front side, it is written that "the essence of White Poria Cocos makes the skin smooth, porcelain-like. It makes dry and rough/flaky skin moist and bright."

On the back: Herbal Clinic Sheet Mask
"White Poria extract for porcelain skin

Contains: White Poria extract 1.00%, Apricot seed extract 0.10%, Licorice extract 0.10%."

Ingredients : Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Poria Extract, Natto Gum, Wheat Amino Acids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Witch Hazel Extract, Apricot Seed Extract, Licorice extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Hydroxyethyl cellulose, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Carbomer, Trietanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Fragrance.

Note the presence of licorice extract in the ingredient list. Licorice extract is a very well-known "whitening agent", i.e. it promotes healthy, even-toned skin.

Sanghwang Mushroom /Phellinus Linteus / Black Hoof Mushroom (상황버섯) :
Sanghwang mushroom (or Phellinus Linteus or black hoof mushroom) is a medicinal mushroom used for centuries in China, Korea, and Japan. It has been reported to have many pharmaceutical attributes, including anti-mutagenicity and anti-cytotoxicity, as well as enhancement of immunity, and antioxidant properties. Reports suggested that the anti-cancer effect of P. linteus might be an indirect action by activating cytotoxic cells and macrophages in order to increase the immune response potential (link).
In Korean traditional medicine, the mushroom is consumed in the form of hot tea. If you want to know more about the traditional use of it, you can read more here.
In summary,

  • Extracts from the fruiting body or mycelia of Phellinus linteus has been reported to produce antitumor and immunomodulatory activities in vivo and in vitro (link)
  • Phellinus linteus exhibits antioxidative effects on DNA damage induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS) (link). As a reminder, oxidative damage is considered a major type of endogenous damage leading to the aging process.

  • P. linteus has been shown to modulate inflammation and allergic activities. More specifically some studies demonstrated its effectiveness to modulate allergic skin disease, such as atopic dermatitis (link).

  • It was shown that P. linteus extracts contain a tyrosinase inhibitor compound (skin lightening) (link 1, 2)

In terms of skincare, we can therefore say that sanghwang mushroom has interesting effects to reduce inflammation and has antioxidative properties to soothe and protect the skin against stress. It could also be useful in atopic conditions.

Concerning the mask:
On the front side, it is written that "sanghwang mushroom sap restors youth to the skin that has lost its vitality. It grants vitality and elasticity to the skin. It balances the secretion of sebum and makes the skin beautiful and smooth."

On the back: Herbal Clinic Sheet Mask
"Restores youth to the skin that has lost its vitality.
Contains. Phellinus linteus extract (1.00%), Coix Seed Extract (0.10%), Angelica Dahurica extract (0.10%).

Ingredients : Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Phellinus linteus extract (1.0%), Natto Gum, Wheat Amino Acids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Witch Hazel Extract, Coix Seed Extract, Angelica Dahurica Extract (whitening), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate,  Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethyl cellulose, Carbomer, Trietanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance.

Note that this mask also contains Coix Seed (Job’s Tears) extract that has moisturizing, soothing, and whitening/brightening (skin evening) activities. This mask has a rather strong earthy scent.

Concerning the Evercos masks, I must add that they are generously soaked in essence! They are the masks with the highest essence content I've tried so far. I usually keep them on for about 1 hour without them to dry. Usually sheet masks get dry in 20-30 min but not these ones.
Ingredient-wise, I think they are really interesting. They all contain "Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin" and then 1.0% of the main extract (ginseng, P. Cocos, P. Linteus extract) and 0.1% of 2 other botanical extracts. They also contain sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (a stable form of vitamin C) for the Ginseng and P. Cocos mask and Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) for the P. Linteus mask, although in low concentration.
They feel great on the skin and are all very moisturizing. I've also notice some temporary brightening and soothing effects from the the Poria Cocos and ginseng mask, respectively. If you want to notice more effects, I guess you sould use the same mask for several days but usually with sheet mask, I like rotating and therefore I use sheet masks mainly for moisturizing purposes.
Overally these are sheet masks I would gladly repurchase! Note also that the Ginseng and P. Linteus/Sanghwang mushroom masks have a rather strong earthy smell. If you like traditional medicine scents, you will like them otherwise these 2 masks are not for you.

Have you already tried these masks or other sheet masks? Which ones are you favorites?

Purchase info:
Evercos sheet masks can be purchased from TesterKorea, 11st, Gmarket, or EvercosMall. If you're not familiar with Korean websites, the easiest is to purchase from TesterKorea.

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