At a glance
My detailed review of the 1025 Dokdo Toner from the Korean brand ROUND LAB, the story behind its name finally revealed, plus a reminder of the role of toners in skincare.
A very mild enzymatic toner, great for sensitive skin, a best seller in Korea since last year, with a name that mentions an unresolved dispute between Korea and Japan… Aren’t you intrigued?! If so, let me tell you more about this very special product, the 1025 Dokdo Toner from ROUND LAB!
When I went to Korea last June, I saw the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner absolutely everywhere!
In every store I went, it was there: in a set with its matching sheet mask, in a giant 500ml format or in the mini travel size… It’s simple, it was completely unavoidable!
After I did some research, I realized that this toner had won an impressive number of Korean beauty magazine awards. I asked my Korean girlfriends if they knew about it and they confirmed that the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner had been a bestseller all over the country for over a year.
Besides, its name intrigued me a lot. What could 1025 Dokdo mean? Was it a new mysterious ingredient, a new effective skincare technology that Korea had the secret to? (you’ll see, I was really far from the truth!)
If you add on top of that a lovely packaging, too pretty to pass on… Well, in short, this toner was basically screaming my name at this point!
So, I’ve been using the ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner for a few weeks now and I’m ready to do my review of this very mysterious product!
But first, let’s take a look at the role of a toner in a skincare routine if you don’t mind! (as usual, you can use the “Jump To” menu to go straight to the product review if you’re less interested in this first part 😉)
What’s the purpose of the toner?
The toner is generally used as a supplement to the cleansing product.
Its main purpose is to complete the make-up removal or the skin cleansing by eliminating the remains of make-up, impurities, dead cells etc and to bring the skin various ingredients to purify, moisturize it or give it radiance.
But it also has other interesting actions:
– it neutralizes the drying effect of hard water you use to rinse your skin.
Indeed, depending on where you live, the water can be very hard (= with a lot of lime) and after a while, it can irritate your skin. Using a product to rinse it like a toner, which is really adapted to your skin, can only be good for it!
– it also helps to keep the skin moist, which will help a lot with the absorption of skincare products that you will apply after it.
Indeed, a moist skin better absorbs skincare products you apply on it! For those who like gardening, imagine it’s like watering your garden. When the earth is very dry, the water from the garden hose runs off, it doesn’t penetrate the dry soil. However, if the earth is already wet, it will “drink” much more water and go deeper. Well, it’s the same principle for the skin! A moist skin, unlike a dry skin, will “capture” the moisturizing ingredients more easily from products you apply on it.
You could tell me that you could also simply leave your skin wet after rinsing it with water, but as discussed above, tap water is not necessarily ideal to maintain the natural protection of the skin, so it’s better to use a suitable product which respects its pH.
– it can restore the pH of the skin, which contrary to a popular belief, is not 7 or neutral.
The pH is the unit of measure of the acidity and alkalinity of the substances. Water has a rather alkaline pH, between 7 and 8. Most of the cleansers on the market also have an alkaline pH. However, healthy skin has an acidic pH, varying between 4.5 and 5. Toners usually have a slightly acidic pH and can help to re-balance the pH of the skin, or in short, to acidify the skin.
Why acidifying your skin is a good thing?
The slightly acid pH value of the skin comes from the natural layer of protection on its surface, called the acid mantle. This protective layer is composed of microorganisms with which we cohabit in harmony. In every human body’s skin, live billions of bacteria from a thousand different species, as well as many fungi and yeasts. This micro-flora (or microbiome) also stimulates the immune system, which is the protective shield of the skin.
To maintain your healthy skin, it’s important to not destroy the protective capacity of this microbiome. And you can start by avoiding altering the skin’s natural acidity. Since tap water has a pH between 7 and 8, or is alkaline, after simply washing with water, the skin can take up to six hours to regain its normal level of acidity (a pH of less than 5).
So you can use a mild cleanser with an acidic pH but also a slightly acidic toner which will help to quickly rebuild this protective acid mantle.
What’s the difference between an essence and a toner?
Essences are like liquid skincare products. Some of them are very liquid, like water and the thicker ones have the texture of a very light gel, a little viscous. They’re highly concentrated in moisturizing, anti-aging, radiance-boosting and/or regenerating ingredients.
Usually, their texture is thicker than toners but finer than most serums. However, as always, there are exceptions. In fact, what characterizes an essence in addition to its texture is the high concentration of ingredients.
An essence is often much more concentrated in active ingredients than a toner. An essence is the beginning of the treatment steps of your skincare routine, it’s not part of the cleansing steps like the toner.
Another difference, toners usually are a little bit more acidifying (in terms of its pH), or even slightly exfoliating (with ingredients that boost cell renewal), than an essence.
If you’re a fan of Asian cosmetics, don’t pay too much attention to the names of liquid care products, because they are quite confusing. It’s very complicated to find your way around between their essences, toners, and ampoules (and the approximate English translation doesn’t help much).
In my experience, most of them are actually essences (I explained it in more detail in this article all about essences). There are relatively few “true” toners on the Asian skincare market (especially compared to essences).
Are toners essential in a skincare routine?
You know me, I’m a big “more is more” believer for my skincare routine. The more steps, the better!
And yet, I must admit that if there is one step that I regularly skip, it’s definitely the toner step.
First, because I often use acid toners with exfoliating acids, which can totally replace toners. They’re also a proper anti-ageing treatment (I explain this principle in detail in my article Focus on exfoliating acids, if the topic interests you).
I use an acid toner in the evening in general, and so I don’t really need to exfoliate in the morning.
Also, I’m using thermal water to “double rinse” my face (I told you all about it in my article about cleansing a few weeks ago), and it’s very effective in removing limescale from tap water.
And I always use an acid pH cleanser in my routine, so I don’t always feel the need to acidify my skin.
The toner is, therefore, in my routine at least, an extra step, which I don’t systematically do.
That being said, I still wanted to try this ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner and added an extra step for it in my routine this summer 🙂
Product presentation: ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner
For once, there’s no doubt about it, the 1025 Dokdo Toner from the Korean brand ROUND LAB is what its name suggests, a toner!
But since it’s a Korean toner, it’s also a little more than that 😉
The 1025 Dokdo Toner completes the cleansing step in a routine, but also moisturizes and soothes the skin with ingredients such as panthenol (the famous pro-vitamin B5), allantoin, glycerin, and betaine.
It’s also very slightly exfoliating thanks to an active ingredient exclusive to the brand ROUND LAB, the patented protease enzyme HATCHING EX-07 which allows a very gentle and light exfoliation of dead cells.
But let’s take a closer look at the ROUND LAB brand, shall we?
ROUND LAB is a very recent Korean skincare brand (just over 3 years old) but it’s already super popular in South Korea.
The brand uses ingredients derived from nature and quite well-known in Korea (mugwort, birch juice, soya bean…) to soothe and revitalize tired and stressed skin. The Dokdo line is by far their best-known range!
The Dokdo range is mainly focused on moisturizing and soothing sensitive skin. To do this, the brand highlights a particular ingredient, water taken from the deep seabed of Ulleung-do (an area offshore of the Korean peninsula), which contains 74 minerals such as magnesium, calcium and zinc for example.
And that’s where the name of the product makes sense (and you’ll see, it’s unusual, to say the least, especially if you don’t know much about Korean culture, like myself, I must admit…).
1025 Dokdo, the mystery of the name revealed:
1025 Dokdo is not an ingredient at all as I thought it was at first. It is actually a date (October 25th, 10/25) that in Korea is the “Dokdo Day“.
And what is Dokdo Day, you might ask?
Dokdo Day is a day celebrated in South Korea, which commemorates the decision of the Korean emperor Gojong to reattach a small group of islets located in the Sea of Japan on October 25th, 1900.
Problem, this small group of islets (also called Liancourt rocks, because they were also “discovered” by a French whaler in 1849) is the subject of an unresolved dispute of 300 years between Korea and Japan. In Japan, this group of islets even has a different name, it’s called Takeshima.
Dokdo is actually a political symbol for Koreans. For them, these rocks represent nothing less than their national independence from Japan.
Indeed, the Dokdo Islands were the first Korean territory to be annexed by the Japanese Empire in 1905. Japan’s colonization of Korea at that time is still a very painful memory in the minds of many South Koreans.
And of course, as often, there is also money involved. The Dokdo Islands also represent a major economic and commercial challenge, as it is also a source of dispute between Japan and Korea over the delimitation of exclusive economic zones, which is crucial for the fishing and underwater exploration of these two countries.
And what does all this have to do with cosmetics?
Well, nothing at all! But unlike in the West, where this type of approach would be considered weird, to say the least, it’s not unusual in Korean culture to mix history (or even politics) with everyday products, such as cosmetics for example.
I remember a post by the fantastic K-Beauty blogger fanserviced-b saying that a Korean cosmetics online store celebrated the impeachment of the former President of South Korea with sales (!!!!!). I can hardly imagine Amazon doing the same thing in the United States to celebrate the impeachment of Donald Trump (but after all, I guess anything is possible nowadays…) 😉
Could part of the huge success of this toner in Korea be linked to its name and the symbol it represents for Koreans?
That is indeed possible. If you look at the illustration on the product label (which is really pretty IMO!), you can see the famous rocks of Dokdo with the Korean flag floating in the wind. The least you can say is that ROUND LAB isn’t very subtle on this one!
I started using this toner this summer (mid-July). I chose to add it to my morning routine, after my cleansing step, and before my vitamin C serum.
Quite honestly, I can’t say that I had a real need to integrate this product into my routine, I already told you about it earlier. But well, if I can use this excuse as a pretext, I really piled on the application of sunscreen this summer and a little extra exfoliation certainly didn’t hurt.
Clearly, this exfoliation is very, very light. It’s a chemical exfoliation, but don’t expect to feel the slightest tingling, we’re far from the keratolytic effect of exfoliating acids!
Enzymes (here the HATCHING EX-07 protease) exfoliate the skin by “uncoupling” dead cells from other skin cells.
If you have hypersensitive skin and can’t tolerate any acids, this toner would be a great way to exfoliate your skin!
Its moisturizing and soothing effect is really perfect for the season (in Dubai, hot summer is still here for a few weeks), and it’s a very pleasant and refreshing product to use!
The 200ml bottle will last me a long time (probably another 6 months), it’s a very good value for money!
The toner ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner may not be the most essential product of my skincare routine but on the one hand, I find it rather pleasant to use, and above all, it allowed me to tell you all about a historical fact between Korea and Japan, and that, I bet you didn’t seen it coming! 😉
Product Review in detail
ROUND LAB 1025 Dokdo Toner
"Bestselling daily toner that helps exfoliate and moisturize skin for healthy, dewy skin with comforts.
Deep seawater from Dokdo Island enriched with Minerals helps maintain optimal skin oil-water balance.
HATCHING EX-07 content mildly removes dead skin cells and sebum for refined, clear skin express.
Contain Panthenol, Allantoin and Betaine to effectively protect and soothe irritated skin.
Watery texture offers refreshing toning without leaving any stickiness."
Not an essential but it's nice to use!
$15 - $30
- the packaging is really pretty, minimalist and lovely,
- the very light exfoliating effect, perfect for sensitive skin,
- the moisturizing and soothing effect,
- it lasts a long time, no need to use a lot,
- it's very cost-effective (you can even find it in a very large 500ml format),
- the historical and cultural reference of its name, the cosmetic geek in me was delighted to found out!
- for me, it's not really an essential product, especially knowing that I already use other stronger acid toners,
- you have to order it online if you're living outside of Korea, and I don't think the brand will be widely distributed outside Korea anytime soon.
1025 Dokdo Toner
A plastic bottle with a very pretty illustrated label.
Very liquid and watery.
All skin types, all ages.
– very hard water,
– skin with a lack of radiance,
– someone with super sensitive skin that prefers a very gentle exfoliation.
I use the Dokdo Toner 1025 Toner after cleansing and patting my skin dry in the morning. You can use it morning and/or evening if you want, but I already use an acid toner in the evening.
I soak a soft cotton pad with a few drops of the product and gently wipe it on my face and neck. It can also be applied directly with your fingertips if you prefer. In this case, you just gently press it into your skin.
If you prefer not to clean your face in the morning, this step can totally be the first step in your routine to refresh your skin when you wake up.
The list of ingredients is rather short here, but it still contains several interesting ingredients such as:
– deep seawater taken from the deep seabed of Ulleung-do (next to Dokdo), which contains 74 minerals such as magnesium, calcium and zinc for example,
– an enzyme, protease, patented by the brand (its patented name: HATCHING EX-07) for a very gentle and light exfoliation of dead cells,
– soothing ingredients: panthenol (the famous pro-vitamin B5), allantoin,
– and moisturizing ingredients: glycerin and betaine.
Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Saccharum Officinarum Ferment Extract, Sea Water, 1,2-Hexanediol, Protease, Betaine, Panthenol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA
Ingredients not included
– mineral oil,