Zymogen Houttuynia Cordata Ferment Mask

One of the fun/terrifying things about ordering products directly from Korea is that you get to try new things that you don’t know much about. Sure, CosDNA can help with ingredients list sometimes, but most of the time you’ve got a sketchy description and not much else to go on.

Case in point: Zymogen. I know they’re know for their houttuynia cordata and centella products, but not much else. Literally, I read this description from RoseRoseShop:


Soothes, moisturizes and refreshes the pimpled skin.

and went, “yes, ma’am, that’s something I want on my face.” Jolse had a little more information, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t find that until after I hit the order button, so yeah. I like to live dangerously.

In the two weeks it took for the masks to get from Korea to me here in the States I did do a little investigating. The first thing I found out was that houttuynia cordata is also known as “fishy-smell herb”, which was super reassuring. Generally speaking though, houttuynia cordata has three benefits that could possibly aid in skin health:

  1. Anti-inflammatory
  2. Antioxidant
  3. Antibacterial


Regardless, by the time they arrived from Korea my enthusiasm for them wasn’t at all dampened, and when I got my that time of the month breakout last month I eagerly pulled these masks from my stash. But we’ll get to that. First:

Product Information: Plant originated lactobacillus ferment cosmetics. Houttuynia cordata Thunberg, which is the extracts for traditional Korean medicine based cosmetic care are contained to mitigate skin pimple and to minimize sebum.

Ingredients: Water, butylene glycol, glycerin, alcohol, PEG-75, grapefruit extract, centella asiatica extract, houttuynia cordata extract, sophora japonica extract, bacillus/glutamic acid ferment, aspergillus/saccharomyces/rice ferment filtrate, trehalose, xanthum gum, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, carbomer, potassium hydroxide, dimethyl sulfone, disodium EDTA, lecithin, allantoin, tocopheryl acetate, phenoxylethanol, fragrance


Price: $15 + shipping (box of 6)

The Good

The mask sheet is made from bamboo, so it is on the thick side, but it’s very soft and easily conforms to your face. The essence is similar to what you’d encounter on Taiwanese sheet masks, but not quite as thin and slippery, and there isn’t such an abundance of it. Personally, I like it that way since I’m not constantly annoyed by essence dripping off my face. These still stayed moist for about 45 minutes.

It has a lot of very good extracts and ferments. Centella is antioxidant rich, contains amino acids, and even in low concentrations can improve the skin’s moisture levels. Glutamic acid helps water bind to the skin. Sophora Japonica can help with hyper-pigmentation. Plus the saccharomyces  ferment? Ohhh boy, there’s some promising stuff in here.

By the time I removed this mask my skin was soothed and softened. Any little patches of irritated, dehydrated, or otherwise unhappy skin was calmed. In that regard it was good, and would definitely be useful for the (too frequent) times when I get a little too slap-happy with the actives.

The Bad

Well, this didn’t really do anything for my acne. Redness? Great. Irritation? Wonderful. Acne? Meh. This could be because the breakout I tried to tackle with it was hormonal. If it was due to surface P. acnes bacteria I might have had better luck.

The Ugly

The extracts. Well, one extract. “Citrus paradisi fruit extract” can actually mean a few different things. It could be grapefruit seed extract, which can act as a natural preservative when used in the right amounts. But it could also mean grapefruit peel extract, and that’s definitely not great because even in small amounts it’s photosensitizing. And calling it a fruit extract actually doesn’t clear up which one it is. That worries me.

My Verdict

Honestly? I don’t think I’ll buy these again. Yes, they’re good for irritated skin, but I’ve got a lot of a lot of sheet masks that are just as good at that. And I have several masks that are better for dealing with acne, even the hormonal kind. I wouldn’t mind having to order these from overseas if they were the best option for irritation or acne, but for my skin they’re not, and that just makes it an added hassle. That said, I’m still curious about Zymogen’s other products and will probably end up trying them before too long.

Where to buy:


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