essence,  Huxley

Huxley Grab Water Essence

the claim

Huxley Grab Water Essence is a lightweight gel essence that delivers intense hydration and helps to retain moisture with Sahara Cactus Extract.
Huxley Grab Water Essence

the science

Prickly Pear Extract has been used medicinally for centuries and is the star ingredient of the brand’s Secret of Sahara range. Sourced from Morocco, it’s present at a dominant concentration in this essence, leading the INCI. The plant is hand picked and cold-pressed to procure maximum benefit. In addition to being antioxidant-rich, it’s a competent humectant (complementing Glycerin), displaying exceptional moisture retention to keep skin hydrated. Anti-aging properties result from a vitamin rich composition effective at preventing free-radical damage.
The oil from the prickly pear seed is non-comedogenic, moisturising and soothing. It is abundant in vitamin E and antioxidants, making it a skin super food. Prickly pear contains 88% unsaturated fatty acids which are essential to stimulating healthy cell production and turnover. It boasts the highest level of tocopherol, (Vitamin E) of any beauty oil (150% more than argan oil), making it an outstanding free radical scavenger. Polyphenols also assist to fight oxidative stress. Additionally, water-binding phytosterols help the skin retain moisture, enhancing the skin barrier. In summary, the prickly pear’s moisturising and protective properties assist to prevent premature ageing and keep skin well hydrated.
Ceramides (Ceramide 3) help to restore and maintain the skin’s protective barrier. As we age, naturally occurring ceramides in skin cells become less effective at achieving hydration, giving way to dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. Reinforcing this supply fortifies the skin’s natural barrier resulting in increased hydration for more smooth and youthful looking skin. Similarly tasked, Bamboo Juice is packed with amino acids and flavonoids which allows it to provide antioxidant protection against UV radiation as well as reinforce the moisture barrier to reduce bacteria penetration which can lead to acne.
Birch Sap is derived from birch trees. It is a rich source of amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and minerals that help skin retain moisture and protect the skin barrier function. Like Beta Glucan, it’s also said to provide more hydration to skin than hyaluronic acid. Also present, is the ingredient hydrators tend to be compared against, Sodium Hyaluronate. One of the Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF), it’s found in skin and helps to prevent water loss, drying and flaking. It protects the moisture barrier, plumps the skin and gives the appearance of reduced wrinkles and fine lines.
Antioxidant behaviour and thus free radical scavenging is strengthened by several plant extracts including those derived from Malachite, Acai Fruit, Yerba Mate, Japanese Apricot, Camu Camu and Quinoa Seed. The latter also has an ability to reinforce the moisture barrier with high essential fatty acid content for soft supple skin. A good source also of essential amino acids such as Lysine and Methionine, Quinoa can help to strengthen skin by encouraging collagen synthesis.
The Menthol in Peppermint Leaf Extract has a cooling effect and also helps to brighten dull skin. It improves pore health and sebum control to prevent congestion and blemishes. Meanwhile, Grapefruit Seed Extract introduces ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to the skin which helps break the bonds that dead skin can have with the living skin on your face for a gentle exfoliating and brightening effect.
Unfortunately, there is also a fair concentration of Alcohol in this product as well as Fragrance, the former listed at position 3 and the latter at 13 in a formula comprising 36 ingredients.
Huxley Grab Water Essence

the ingredients

Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Methyl Gluceth-20, Water, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Fragrance, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Malachite Extract, Phyllostachys Bambusoides (Bamboo) Juice, Betula Platyphylla Japonica (Birch Sap) Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chenopodium Quinoa (Quinoa) Seed Extract, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Ilex Paraguariensis (Yerba Mate) Leaf Extract, Myrciaria Dubia (Camu Camu) Fruit Extract, Prunus Mume (Japanese Apricot) Fruit Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Seed Oil, Menthapiperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Ceramide Np (Ceramide 3), Hydrogenated Lecithin, Acorus Gramineus Root/Steam Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Perilla Frutescens Leaf Extract, Polysorbate 80

the packaging

Huxley Grab Water Essence comes in clean glass screw top bottle with dropper dispenser. When purchased separately, it is packaged in an attractive, well protected box, however, I received mine as part of a hydration set, so it did not have any outer packaging.
Huxley Grab Water Essence (Hydration Set) Packaging

the analysis

The analysis proves moderate CosDNA and EWG ratings, returning a red flag against Fragrance since it is is a known irritant as well as a some yellow alerts.
Huxley Grab Water Essence CosDNA Analysis

the application

After cleansing and toning, apply a few drops of the Grab Water Essence to the face and pat gently. Follow with the rest of your skincare routine.

the scent

Huxley describes the scent of this product quite elaborately, green, rose, lily, jasmine, spicy, narcotic, coniferous and fruiting layers contributing to an ultimately strong floral fragrance. It incorporates musk undertones, a floral body and finishes with invigorating sea and fresh herbal top notes. A surprisingly extensive and creative description is supplied on the Huxley website:
The green floral fragrance is a poem complementing the natural beauty of a spring garden. The first impression is like stepping from inside a house into a lush green garden. The young leaves are still glittering with chilly morning dew at their tips, emitting a fresh green scent to welcome you. White flowers are enticing you with their scents along your morning walk. Hints of sensual jasmine and sweet gardenia are catching your attention from hidden corners, while soft roses and narcotic lilies are inviting you to take a seat next to their carefully planted flowerbeds. The serenity and beauty of this garden is completed by the powdery scent of white musk.

the cost

A 30ml bottle of the Huxley Grab Water Essence costs approximately USD$43.00.

the availability

Huxley skincare is now sold in-store in Australia at department stores like Myer. I purchased mine from Style Korean.

the expiry

The product has a shelf life of three years and expiry of 12 months after opening.
Huxley Grab Water Essence Expiry

the performance

As with all the Huxley products, this essence is beautifully packaged, reflecting their sophisticated minimalist style. It comes in a clear, baby blue tinted glass bottle with plastic screw top dropper dispenser. The Huxley Secret of Sahara scent is present in all the products of this line. As I have said before, it’s strong but pleasant, intended to transport you to the serenity of a spring garden. They have collaborated with LUZI, a Swiss fragrance company to achieve this. As always, my preference is for fragrance free skincare, although the scent is nice and didn’t cause me any adverse reaction.
I consider this more of a serum than an essence. To me an essence is more watery and voluminous. I like to splash it on. However, I did use this as my first step after toner – layering based on the rule of viscosity, application of products in the order thinnest to thickest.
Huxley Grab Water Essence Texture
The essence has a clear, colour free appearance, the light blue tint a characteristic of the glass bottle. It retains a watery, gel-like texture with plenty of slip, so it glides on very quickly and easily across the skin. Three drops is ample to cover face and neck. The signature scent is evident as always but it dissipates after absorption which happens very quickly. There is no noticeable residue, it sinks in seamlessly leaving skin ready for the next step in under a minute. As such, it plays well with everything, a test it has undergone a few times as I change up my routines. Note, I did use this consistently day and night for a few weeks as my only hydrating essence/serum to test its efficacy in preparing this review.
Its primary purpose is to deliver hydration. And it achieves this purpose well. It’s not the most hydrating product I’ve used, but it is effective. The dilemma I have in making my assessment of the Huxley Grab Water Essence comes from the inclusion of alcohol in the formula. Not only is this present, but at a significant concentration, listed third on the INCI, way before hero ingredient Prickly Pear Seed Oil. I’m sure the alcohol content has something to do with the quick absorption and near weightless sensation on the skin, so, it probably adds an elegance to the essence. However, at what cost? I won’t go into the details here as this is a product review. Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice has an interesting article about the effects of alcohol in skincare which is worth a read.
Personally, my skin can tolerate alcohol containing products, provided they are not layered and not consistently applied. Hence the reason why I used this a few weeks at a time and put it aside to test other serums and essences in between. As alcohol is known to be drying, I wouldn’t recommend it for dry and dehydrated skin. It’s probably more suitable to those on the oilier side of the scale (normal-oily-combo).
Huxley Grab Water Essence

the conclusion

I like this product but I don’t love it. I’m also at a stage where I’m trying to eliminate alcohol and artificial fragrance from my skincare regimen completely so this was never going to be a fully favourable review. Nonetheless, I know a lot of people love this essence and its fragrance. It’s a nice product. It’s just unfortunate that alcohol is used to enhance application, at the potential detriment of the moisture barrier.
Huxley Grab Water Essence

the summary

Pros Cons
Beautiful packaging Strong fragrance
Lightweight, watery gel consistency Moderate CosDNA and EWG ratings
Hydrating Contains potentially drying alcohol
Layers well, absorbs fast Not suitable for sensitive and dry skin types


the references

Style Korean website
Opuntia Ficus Indica Stem Extract Bellatorra
Ingredient Spotlight: Prickly Pear Seed Oil MŪN Skin Care
Prickly Pear Seed Oil and the Skin Billie A. Leyendecker
Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract The Derm Review
Sodium Hyaluronate in Skincare Products Nicki Zevola Benvenuti
Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Oil Florencia Beauty



the disclaimer

Please read in context with my disclaimer.


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