Secret Key Snail + EGF Repairing Toner Review

secret key snail efg toner

My relationship with beauty products is a little bit like my relationships with men. Sometimes, products seem exciting and awesome at first only to be revealed as duds a few weeks later. Other times, my love for the item grows with time, as the effects no my skin are revealed. This is why, for the most part, I try to give all products a month of use before making any judgements on it. Occasionally though, a hasty judgement can’t be helped. This is one of these times. This toner? No bueno.

secret key snail efg toner

This toner comes in a beige, plastic bottle that isn’t very fancy, but feels sturdy. It has the consistency of water but has more slip to it than water does.

Per the name of this product, snail secretion filtrate and EGF are the star ingredients:

Snail secretion filtrate is a skin repairing superstar. It contains chondroitin sulphuric acid, which is an important structural component of cartilage and used to treat osteoporosis.

EGF stands for epidermal growth factor. This toner contains oligopeptide-1, which has an identical chemical structure to an epidermal growth factor and has been shown to increase the rate of healing and renewal of the skin. The jury seems to be out on whether or not putting this stuff in skincare does anything, but it certainly sounds nice.

In addition to these two ingredients, this toner also includes a number of extracts. The full ingredient list, with cosdna acne triggers and irritants indicated, is below:

Water, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol DenaturedAlthaea Rosea Flower ExtractAloe Barbadensis Leaf ExtractSnail Secretion Filtrate, Beta-Glucan, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Saccharomyces / Caragana sinica root ferment extract, Oligopeptide-1Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Seed Extract, PEG-60, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance

secret key snail efg toner ingredients

Despite snail secretion filtrate and EGF being the star ingredients, they are found 6th and 10th on an ingredient list with 18 items listed. Although no specific percentages are included, there certainly is not a lot of either ingredient in the actual toner. The first three ingredients on the list are water, butylene glycol, and alcohol denatured (aka ethanol), none of which are very exciting. 

Despite this, I opted to give this toner a shot. After washing my face, I poured some on a cotton pad and swiped it over my face. Immediately, there was a problem. It didn’t bother me when I tested this on my arm, but on my face, this toner stunk of alcohol. A frequent refrain in Asian Beauty communities I hear is that AB toners are not supposed to be harsh, astringent, or drying, like Western toners are known to be. Snail or no snail, this toner should be strongly classified as a Western style toner. Also, despite the high alcohol content, it is slow to absorb, which considering the first ingredient is water, boggles my mind.

Final thoughts: Sometimes, AB products are just as bad as their Western counterparts can be. This is one of those cases. Hugely disappointing toner. The high alcohol content and low concentration of its star ingredients makes it not worth using. Every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded that Asian Beauty products are not infallible. 

Texture 2/5
Effectiveness 1/5
Fragrance 2/5
Price 5/5
Repurchase? No

I purchased this through Koreadepart, where it is priced very cheaply and has strangely positive reviews. 

Edit: it has been brought to my attention that my bottle of toner is different from the one some other people have. Also, while the Koreadepart has this listed as a Snail + EGF toner, the bottle only says snail (the ingredients do include EGF), which makes me think this toner was recently reformulated. It also may be worth mentioning the person who alerted me of this has had better luck with her version!

5 thoughts on “Secret Key Snail + EGF Repairing Toner Review

  1. Mavis Ngui says:

    Aww 😦 I have an unintended bias against Secret Key cos it looks like a total ripoff of SKII – even packaging wise. IMO alcoholic toners do more damage than good.


  2. Poulepondeuse Coakes says:

    Thank you (really) for the review. I ordered an anti-ageing secret box on eopenmarket and the content was a bottle of Secret Key Snail+EGF Toner and the Snail+EGF emulsion from the same brand. My skin has lately not been keen on alcohol, but apparently not all alcohols make it turn irritated and very red for hours, as if it were sunburnt, so before I use any product now, I go to COSDNA for a quick overview.
    Seeing the ingredients list for the toner made me cringe, so I thought I’d hunt for reviews and it seems your experience mirrors perfectly the ingredients list, so thank you for this honest review 🙂

    (On a side note, I’ve read many times that, unlike western ingredients lists, Korean ingredients lists do not have to start with the ingredient in the higher concentration, so we can’t really tell which ingredient is the most important in their products)

    Liked by 1 person

    • V. Rex says:

      Sorry to hear that!! Different alcohols behave differently on my skin as well. I think the chemistry to it is a bit more complicated than in understand, but this toner was a definite no-go with my skin! Who knows, might be another culprit instead of the alcohol too (or a combination of things). I’ve read about the ingredients order thing too…. Makes me much less excited about impressive sounding ingredients lists, sadly!


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