Friday, October 14, 2016

Glotion Trend: Tatcha Pore Perfecting Water Gel* Review

It comes as no surprise to say that I'm a fan of Tatcha skincare ever since I tried two of the original products from the range, the One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil and the Rice Enzyme Powder (here), which I still use in my skincare routine today. So I'm always looking forward to trying out their new releases, and I was especially excited to trial the Tatcha Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer* ($68 for 50ml/ 1.7 fl oz, available at and Sephora). My skintype is combination pretty much all year round, but in the summer it tends to get especially oily, so this moisturizing gel seemed like a match made in heaven for my skin.
The Pore Perfecting Water Gel quickly became 'the' skincare product of summer 2016. Wherever I turned, I heard nothing but raves - it was part of Sephora's 'Glotion' campaign, and every self-respecting beauty guru had it and touted it as a firm favorite. It seems to me that within a few months, it already became a cult classic everyone needed in their routine. I received mine a little later - in mid July - and have since been testing it as an integral part of my morning skincare routine.
On that note: I realize it is now October and beauty stories have already turned to nourishing products for the colder season. Yes, it would have been more fitting of me to put up this review in July or August when there was potentially more interest in a lightweight summer moisturizer. However, this is not how I work. I just don't think it's fair to you guys to write a full review of a product - especially when it's skincare, and expensive skincare at that - after just a few weeks of testing. When I trial a new product, I do need to use it consistently for at least a couple months to firmly establish what I think of it and rule out any hasty conclusions. In the case of the Tatcha Water Gel Moisturizer, I have tried it on bare skin, with different toners and serums underneath, and layered with several sunscreens, make-up primers and foundations over the top to fully evaluate its performance. I know there's a constant pressure in the beauty community to be the first to feature a newly released product and I do feel it too - but what's the point if I can't give you my honest and balanced opinion? My personal priority will always be to provide a thorough and detailed review instead of staying abreast of every trend. I hope you understand :)
Okay, rant over - let's get back to the point. Tatcha's Pore Perfecting Water Gel claims to offer 'ultralight, oil-balancing hydration', and 'features Japanese Wild Rose, Leopard Lily and Dokudami extracts to balance and clarify skin, while visibly tightening pores in 28 days'. There's also a fine 23 karat gold dust suspended in the formula, which aims to impart a shine-free glow to the skin. The ingredients list includes lots of lovely botanical extracts (green tea, rice, chamomile, licorice, silk, algae) as well as glycerin, propanediol and squalane from olive oil. The product comes in a sleek pistachio green glass bottle with a hygenic pump dispenser, and the gel itself has a definite herbal scent (maybe the closest to chamomile tea?) that dissipates quickly once on the skin - there's no artifical fragrance in this. One pump is sufficient for my whole face.
The Water Gel is especially recommended for normal, combination to oily skin types or to be used as a primer prior to make-up application. Unfortunately, after testing it in every way I could think of, I have to conclude it just doesn't work for my combination skin. Yes, the texture is a liquidy gel and it seems like it should absorb quickly into the skin - but for me, it just never fully sinks in, no matter how long I wait. Every time I tested it, the Water Gel left an unpleasant sticky residue on my face. It definitely hydrates my skin, but I just can't get over the feel of it on my face, and if I attempt to use it in combination with another hydrating serum underneath or even my regular sunscreen over the top, the end result is way too tacky, heavy and shiny. I also haven't noticed any improvement in the appearance of my pores; if anything, the shiny finish accentuates them under my make-up (there's no glitter or sparkle though so rest assured - I can't see any shimmer particles once I apply it to my face, it's just the actual shiny finish of the gel itself). It also doesn't prolong the wear of my make-up at all - on the contrary, I can see my foundation breaking down on the T-zone faster than with other moisturizers. In comparison, the Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate (reviewed here), aimed for evening use and dry & dehydrated skin types, feels less sticky and more comfortable on my skin than the Pore Perfecting Water Gel. Yes, it doesn't really make sense - but such is my personal experience with this product.
I am not saying that the Pore Perfecting Water Gel is a bad moisturizer and you shouldn't give it a try - I'm saying it simply doesn't work for me. Skincare can be weird like that; maybe one of the key ingredients in this product just doesn't mesh well with my skin. But since I haven't really seen any negative - or uhm, even lukewarm - reviews of the Water Gel in the blogosphere, I wanted to add my thoughts into the mix. Have you already tried the Pore Perfecting Water Gel? Have you ever purchased a hyped-up product that just didn't work for your skin?

Disclaimer: Product featured in this post is a press sample I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the product featured was purchased with my own money or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading! 


  1. Thank you for this great review, Monika. (and squish/huggles) There is NO way anyone can give a comprehensive review without testing for a reasonable length of time unless it was reporting on an allergic/acneic reaction, no?
    I am a stickler for texture of skincare products as well, especially for products used during the day time and under my makeup. And things that affect the performance or application of makeup generally tends to be a big NOPE right off the bat.

    1. *hugs back* I appreciate you saying so, Belly. In general, I think skincare is a very difficult thing to write about in an objective manner, because everyone's skin is different.

      It occured to me as well with the Tatcha Water Gel that maybe high humidity levels in NYC were affecting the feel of the product on my skin. But with a moisturizer meant for use in the summer months, it's a no go anyway :/

  2. I truly appreciate the amount of time you take testing skincare. I mean, a moisturizer or a serum is not like a lipstick: you can't get an instant feel for how the formula feels and how it changes your appearance.

    You've got me interested in that "Memory whatever" product. I waffle on Tatcha because it seems like a lot of hype and pretty, not so much substance, but your comments on it combined with a few other reviews have me curious.

    1. I do think Tatcha has some beautiful and effective products in their range and in a way, I find that the amount of hype that's generated over some of their products can actually feel a bit off-putting to a lot of beauty lovers like you and me. The nice thing about most of their products is that they offer travel sizes so that you don't have to splurge big bucks without knowing how they will work for your skin. Thank you for the kind words, Renee!