review : Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
October (my birthmonth!) was filled with a lot of pleasant surprises! In addition to getting to work with a new contact lens brand, I was also given the opportunity to try a new Korean skincare brand—Huxley. Through StyleKorean's Try Me Review Me program, I was chosen to try their Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set*. I've heard a lot of good things about this brand, so I'm curious to see if it really lives up to its hype!

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
Launched in 2016, Huxley is a fairly new skincare brand that aims to take the natural value of skin as its top priority. Their tagline—"Great things never came from comfort zones"—comes from their dedication to continuously trying to create new and innovative products to pursue true beauty.

The Secret of Sahara line features prickly pear seed oil, their star ingredient. This oil comes from the Sahara prickly pear cactus seed and is abundant in linoleic acid and Vitamin E.
The Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set includes:
🌵 Oil Essence: Essence-like, Oil-like⁣⁣⁣⁣ (30ml)
🌵 Essence: Grab Water⁣⁣⁣⁣ (5ml)
🌵 Essence: Brightly Ever After⁣⁣⁣⁣ (5ml)⁣⁣⁣⁣
🌵 Oil: Light and More⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ (5ml)
🌵 Masks: Glow and Brightness⁣⁣⁣⁣ (3ea)⁣⁣⁣⁣
I received this set near the end of October. It typically takes me at least a month or two to determine whether a product actually does anything for me, which is why this post came later than promised. (I said on Instagram that I'd be back with a review after two weeks....) I also wanted to try each product on its own first then try different combinations to see which works best for me.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
A new type of oil essence developed with the optimal balance of oil and essence. It provides the potent moisturizing ability of an oil and rich nourishment of an essence, without the heavy or greasy feeling.

Key ingredients: prickly pear seed oil; yerba mate leaf (antioxidant, strengthening immune function); acai berry (antioxidant, strengthening immune function); camu camu (antioxidant, strengthening immune function); quinoa (hydration, nourishment).

Huxley's best-selling product. I've been curious about this one for the longest time because I keep seeing it on a lot of Korean influencers' IG posts. The minimalist packaging alone was enough to pique my interest. (If it looks pretty enough to display on a table, it'll definitely catch my attention.) I'd never encountered an oil essence before, so this was new. The consistency is just that—a cross between an oil and an essence—but it leans more towards the latter. Almost similar to the Hada Labo Premium.

Once applied, you can feel that the oil content is there, but it doesn't stay greasy for long. I find that patting it in helps it absorb into the skin more quickly. And so, after using it for almost a month, the question is: is it moisturizing? Yes. Is it mind-blowingly good? Not really. I find that it does do its job, but I don't feel any superb effects. Saks lang, ganon. I included it in my routine without taking out anything else, but my skin didn't look any much different. Plus the scent, even if it does go away after a while, isn't really my thing.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
A hydrating essence that locks moisture within the skin for a long time. Contains prickly pear seed oil, but doesn't leave a greasy feeling. Provides a natural cooling effect because of peppermint.

Key ingredients: prickly pear seed oil; natural moisturizing factor: hyaluronic acid, ceramide (increased hydration retention); antioxidant berry complex: acai berry, quinoa, camu camu, japanese apricot, peppermint (cooling, soothing); yerba mate leaf (antioxidant, strengthening immune function).

Used this for two weeks, and instantly I liked this more than the oil essence. For one thing, I'm very partial to watery essences. Another thing, the scent is a lot lighter than the oil essence's. Lastly, hyaluronic acid and ceramide? Sign me tf up. Upon application, the essence absorbs quickly into the skin and provides instant hydration. Goes great with the rest of my routine, too. Sadly there's no way for me to tell if it delivers real long-lasting hydration, since it's such a small bottle. Especially for the price, I'm sure there are cheaper products that deliver similar results. Would I ever purchase this product? If it were on sale, maybe!

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
A highly concentrated brightening essence with ingredients that protect the skin from pollution.

Key ingredients: prickly pear seed oil; niacinamide (brightening); Odeetox (antioxidant, anti-pollution, brightening); glutathione (detoxification, skin tone improvement); bisabolol (brightening, soothing).

Because I've been getting breakouts the past few weeks (hormonal acne, not because of the product), I didn't get to use this as often as I wanted. I think I only used this for less than a week? Then I switched to the Grab Water again. I'll try this again after my hormonal acne's calmed down, but during the week that I did use it, I already noticed visible brightening effects. My only issue with it is that it's a bit heavy. Consistency is similar to the Hada Labo Gokujyun emulsion, so it's heavier compared to other essences. I find that if I don't cleanse with cleanser the next morning, I get a few closed comedones near my nose later in the day. Because of this I've only been applying it on the outside area of my face, which has the most dark spots. My nose area is already prone to CCs in the first place, so if you're like me, keep this in mind. Again, everything is YMMV.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
A lightweight facial oil that contains prickly pear seed oil with outstanding moisturizing ability. It absorbs into the skin quickly, protects it from various stressors, and fortifies the skin.

Key ingredients: prickly pear seed oil; sunflower seed oil; squalene; jojoba oil.

I was actually the most hesitant about this one. I've only used two facial oils, rosehip and tamanu, and I only liked the latter. Although the Light and More is very lightweight, almost watery even, I'm not a big fan of the method of spreading the oil on your hands and then patting it on the face. Especially because the scent is quite strong—it has the strongest scent among all the products in the set, but it's more of a green scent than floral. The way I used it is by mixing a drop of the product with my moisturizer (for reference, I use the Naturie Hatomugi Gel). When I used it, I noticed my skin was super soft and bouncy even the next day. But just like the Brightly Ever After, if I don't cleanse properly the next day, I'll end up with closed comedones. I feel like my skin just really clogs easily? I'm thinking of trying this again once I re-introduce BHA into my routine. I'll hold onto this until then, because I really like how my skin looks after using it.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
Key ingredients: prickly pear seed oil; cactus extract; nectapure (moisturizing, skin protection); edelweiss (antioxidant, soothing); glutathione (detoxification, skin tone improvement).

To use, you have to squeeze the bottom part of the mask's plastic packaging to release prickly pear seed oil from an inner pocket into a bigger pocket which holds the mask itself. This ensures that the components remain fresh, since you mix them right before use. There's a how-to on the back, but here's a video to help you visualize. I don't know if it's because I was doing it wrong, or if I'm just really weak, but I'm pretty sure it took me more than 5 minutes to do it??? So while the brightening and hydrating factor is good, I don't want to feel like I'm being made to work for it. This is a pass for me, sadly.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set |
Before getting to try this set, I only knew of the Oil Essence, I didn't even know about the other products. So when I received the set, I was a little confused. Do I use all of them in one routine? I later realized that no, you don't, but you could if you wanted to (and if your skin can handle it). Personally, my oily-dehydrated skin prefers layering multiple thin hydrating essences vs slapping on heavy creams or lotions. This is why out of all the products, the Grab Water Essence worked the best for me. For this whole set, it's Grab Water > Oil Essence > Light and More Oil > Brightly Ever After > Glow and Brightness Mask for me.

But is the Secret of Sahara line worth all the hype it gets? For me, not really. I feel like I had such high expectations going into this that I was a little disappointed when I didn't get super bouncy skin even after using it for almost a month. Don't get me wrong, all of the products do what they're supposed to do, but there isn't anything that's mind-blowingly good. The scent is a big factor for me, too. While I can tolerate the scent because it doesn't trigger my rhinitis and it goes away after a couple of minutes, I don't like that they put in other ingredients specifically for the fragrance. I think part of the reason why it's so popular is because of the packaging, especially since it fits the minimalistic aesthetic that's so loved on IG. I'm sure there are a lot of products that perform better, some even without the heavy pricetag.

You can get the Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence & Mask Set on StyleKorean here. As of this writing though, it seems to be temporarily sold out. There's a similar set available, which comes with the Grab Water Essence in the full-sized bottle instead of the Oil Essence, and with the Moisture & Freshness Mask instead of the Glow & Brightness Mask. (As I prefer the Grab Water Essence, I think I'd like that set more!)

DISCLAIMER: Products were sent to me by StyleKorean for review, but the opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Also, this post contains affiliate links. Clicking those links before you make a purchase means that receives a small commission, which helps to support the blog. Please see my full disclaimer for more information.