Road-Testing Moisturizers from Three K-Beauty Faves

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The Quest for an Effective Moisturizer:

Finding an effective moisturizer that’s appropriate for your skin type and skin care concerns can be a tall order. Often, formulas boast impressive ingredient lists only to fall short when it comes to rescuing dehydrated skin, or they come in an overly rich consistency that causes breakouts. The biggest turn-off for me, however, is a strong floral fragrance. There have been many times when I abandoned an otherwise solid product because the scent was too strong for my taste! I’m constantly on the lookout for a gentle yet intensively hydrating moisturizer that can form the bulk of my daytime and nighttime skin care routines.

This time, I had my eye on three moisturizers from K-Beauty brands reputed for fuss-free formulas composed of carefully curated ingredients: Pyunkang Yul, make p:rem and Anua. I’ve always admired make p:rem and Anua for their minimalistic approach to beauty. Meanwhile, I’d never sampled Pyunkang Yul’s products before and I was eager to change that given the brand’s emphasis on keeping everything uber-gentle.

I picked three products that most suited my skin care needs: Pyunkang Yul’s Intensive Repair Cream, make p:rem’s Safe Me. Relief Intensive CP Cream and Anua’s Heartleaf 70 Intense Calming Cream. All of them come with skin-soothing and skin-strengthening benefits, which sound like exactly what my skin needs.

Pyunkang Yul – Intensive Repair Cream

Star Ingredients: Ceramide NP, peptides, turmeric root extract, Japanese cornelian cherry extract, peony sap and bark extracts, shea butter, macadamia seed oil, glycerin

The Promise: A rich yet quick-absorbent cream largely formulated with naturally derived ingredients, the formula is designed to provide intensive nourishment to all skin types. Shea butter and macadamia seed oil soften and hydrate skin, while ceramides amp up skin’s resilience. An extra infusion of peptides provides an anti-aging boost.

The Low-Down: Having consistently heard good things about Pyunkang Yul, I had high hopes for this cream. However, it wasn’t instant love between me and the product. At first, I found the texture too thick and buttery, and I wasn’t used to the satin finish. As my skin adjusted to the rich formula, I grew to appreciate how it managed to be uber-nourishing without clogging pores.

Most of all, I’m sold on its hydration benefits, which effectively banished dry patches on my skin, resulting in a smooth and more revitalized appearance. At the end of the trial, my skin also felt a lot calmer and looked less red. At the moment, I can’t gauge how potent its anti-aging properties are, but if my healthier-looking skin is anything to go by, I’m hopeful about seeing such effects.

make p:rem – Safe Me. Relief Intensive CP Cream

Star Ingredients: Oat kernel oil, ceramide NP, 5% panthenol, dill extract, hyaluronic acid

The Promise: Packed with plant-derived oat ceramide and skin-soothing panthenol, and formulated free of fragrances, essential oils and alcohol, this cream aims to protect, strengthen and hydrate dry and sensitive skin. Purportedly, its moisturizing and protective properties can last up to 72 hours.

The Low-Down: Compared to Pyunkang Yul’s thick cream, this moisturizer comes in a milkier consistency. Having grown used to the Intensive Repair Cream’s rich formula, I was initially worried that make:prem’s cream would be lacking in hydrating power, but there was no need for worry. Not only did this cream feel uber-comfortable on my skin, it also supplied a similar nourishing power as Pyunkang Yul’s cream, although the effects were less noticeable at first. However, as evidenced by my skin’s continued health throughout this period – decreasing oiliness, redness and breakouts − it was worth the wait.

No product is perfect, and I find that due to its comparatively lightweight formulation, the Safe Me. Relief Intensive CP Cream cannot suitably double as a night cream. For nighttime use, Pyunkang Yul’s Intensive Repair Cream performed better when it comes to delivering a plumped up, hydrated finish in the morning. At the same time, I’ll keep reaching for make p:rem’s cream in the daytime due to its comfy texture.

Anua – Heartleaf 70 Intense Calming Cream

Star Ingredients: 70% heartleaf extract, ceramide NP, panthenol, adenosine, glycerin

The Promise: Anua’s moisturizer is designed to soothe, strengthen and hydrate skin in equal measure. Besides hero ingredient heartleaf (houttuynia cordata) extract, a mix of panthenol, adenosine and ceramide all work to produce more resilient and wrinkle-free skin.

The Low-Down: Coming in a considerably thicker consistency than Safe Me. Relief Intensive CP Cream, the Heartleaf 70 Intense Calming Cream exhibits impressive soothing power courtesy of its high heartleaf content, which contains flavonoids with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. After a week of usage, together with Anua’s Heartleaf 77% Soothing Toner (which I’ve previously reviewed along with five other products from this brand), I found that a lot of my facial redness had abated. Out of all three, the moisturizer from Anua was the most effective in tamping down irritations.

While its hydrating powers were solid rather than wow, they were fully adequate for spring. However, as the product left a slightly sticky residue, I’ll refrain from slathering it so liberally over my face in the future.

The Final Verdict:

All three creams pass the test for being non-aggravating on my sensitive skin while packing solid hydrating power. What’s more, none of them come with strong fragrances! Pyunkang Yul’s Intensive Repair Cream was most effective at rescuing my dehydrated skin, living up to its name in delivering potent nourishment. For slow, steady but impressive results, I recommend make p:rem’s Safe Me. Intensive Relief CP Cream, which boasts a lightweight and comforting texture. If I need to eradicate redness and irritation, I would reach for Anua’s Heartleaf 70 Intense Calming Cream, which gave my skin the chance to rest and reset.

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