Kelly Driscoll

Skincare going more than skin deep…

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Laneige Cream Skin Refiner Review


We all have those K-beauty brands that are close to our heart. A few for me are Benton, Cosrx and surprisingly Laneige. I say surprisingly because it was a brand that was a bit of a letdown for me when I first tried it years ago, early in my skincare journey.

Laneige was a brand that I lusted over for a long time and was certainly a little pricier than my staple faves from Benton and Cosrx. I researched and wishlisted for a long time before taking the plunge, and it just wasn’t that great; not bad, just not great.

But Laneige still holds my imagination, my fascination, maybe because it reminds me of my newbie K-beauty days when everything was so new and exciting.

I’ve recently started to explore Laneige products again and I’ve been impressed. And today I want to share my review with you on one of the most popular Laneige products in recent times: Cream Skin Refiner.

My Skin Type: Combo/Dehydrated/Sensitive

Product provided as press sample from Laneige USA

What in the World is a Cream Skin Refiner?

I must admit, the name had me super confused. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Laneige Cream Skin Refiner is a 2-in-1 product that is like an entire bottle of moisturizer melted down into a toner. This claims to fortify your skin while delivering deep hydration and strengthening your skin’s moisture barrier.

So, I understand it as:

Cream = moisturizing capabilities, some even say this replaces moisturizer in their routine (more on that later).

Skin = a well-known term for toner in K-beauty. Skin refers to the light feeling of a toner (like a second skin) and it also can mean to create a new or better skin since many toners can prep and refine skin.

Refiner = To make better! This can also refer to Cream Skin’s ability to strengthen your moisture barrier.

My second question after the name was, “what’s the texture of a moisturizer melted into a toner…!?”

Screen Shot 2019-07-21 at 7.48.22 PM

It’s a surprising texture to say the least, because it’s totally runny, watery and thin, just like a regular toner would be! This absorbs into the skin quickly like a toner but once it’s absorbed it fills your skin with deep nourishment and moisture.

Before even seeing this texture your mind might think, emulsion! And I totally get that because it certain is the closest skincare cousin to a product like this, but it has some major differences in my mind. First, this is much thinner than a traditional emulsion. Most emulsion products are like a runny lotion consistency and this most certainly is more watery than that. Second, is that emulsions are generally designed to be used at the end of your routine, prior to moisturizer and after serums. Laneige Cream Skin, on the other hand, is designed to be ordered at the beginning of your routine.

What Ingredients Make Cream Skin Special?

INGREDIENTS: Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Polyglyceryl- 10 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Propanediol, Disodium Edta, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Tocopherol.

Free from alcohol, fragrance and essential oils, this is truly a sensitive skin and barrier friendly, mild ingredient list.

The star ingredient is a Laneige exclusive ingredient called white tea leaf water. Sounds great but doesn’t really tell us what it is or what it does!

White tea leaf water is actually modified green tea leaves! As you may know, Laneige is owned by parent company Amore Pacific, well known for their love and use of green tea in their skincare products. Amore Pacific owns private green tea gardens on Jeju Island, specifically for use in their products, including Laneige Cream Skin.

The green tea used in this product is specially grown in the shade to modify the green tea into a white tea leaf. The white tea leaf is extracted by a cold brew process, one drop at a time.

Cold brew makes me think of coffee. Everyone really raves about cold brew because it tastes better, smoother and less bitter than regular coffee. Cold brew coffee really allows a lot of the great flavors to come out of the bean.

And that’s no different here. The cold brew extraction process used by Laneige allows the extracted white tea leaf water to retain the maximum amount of amino acids. That’s why they turned the leaf white in the first place, by the way, for the amino acids. White tea leaf actually contains 150% more amino acids than regular old green tea.

Attempting to catch the fluidity in action!

Why Amino Acids? And How Does That Help My Moisture Barrier?

150% more amino acids sounds good but are hard to get excited about when you aren’t really sure what amino acids can do for you.

Amino acids are the building blocks of peptides and are a skin protein. This means that they are crucial to supporting your skin. Amino acids are naturally found in your body and are considered a natural moisturizing factor, NMF.

We do know that NMF’s are an important puzzle piece when it comes to a healthy functioning moisture barrier. Amino acids are considered an NMF because they can help bind a lot of water to the skin and help with hydration retention.

The benefits of amino acids in skincare are more hydration, they can improve the texture and elasticity of skin, they also help strengthen skin and will contribute to overall skin health inside and out.

Amino acids, interestingly enough, have also shown benefits similar to those of antioxidants. They have protective and restorative benefits for skin. It’s also interesting to note that Cream Skin Refiner already contains antioxidants in the form of the white tea leaf water (green tea is well known for its antioxidant properties) and the addition of tocopherol, or vitamin E!

How do You Use Cream Skin in Your Routine?

Cream Skin can be used 3 ways in your skincare routine.

1. Toner

This is the obvious choice – after cleansing use Cream Skin Refiner.

For my dehydrated skin, I didn’t find that Cream Skin delivered the deep hydration I seek at the beginning of my routine, so I like to layer a watery and hydrating toner before (think Keep Cool and Soothe Bamboo Toner). One layer of Cream Skin was more than adequate to satisfy and balance my skin.

Two layers was helpful if my skin was feeling a little on the dry or irritated side. When layering up Cream Skin, the moisturizing capabilities definitely build, but this isn’t something that would work for the 7 skin method, in my opinion. As you layer it up, the nourishment and richness build up and I personally found that three layers was my maximum.

Since this is really about deep moisturization, I did find that Cream Skin has a slightly rich finish on the skin that wasn’t bothersome, but could turn a bit sticky on you if you decide to go in for more than one layer.

2. Special Care Mask

You can make your own DIY toner mask with Cream Skin to create a quick, targeted pick-me-up for your skin. I found this particularly effective when my skin was feeling a little stressed, overheated from too much sun or just overly dehydrated and irritated.
Soak 5-layer cotton (Selena Cotton YesStyle*) in Cream Skin, then place on your face for a 2-3 minute mask. This works similarly to a sheet mask, delivering the Cream Skin deeper into your skin to create an effective and quick masking session.

Laneige also sells Cream Skin in a ready to use mask pack called Cream Skin Quick Skin Pack (YesStyle*)

3. Mist

You can easily decant some of your Cream Skin Refiner into an empty bottle to use as a refreshing and nourishing mist. This is cost effective but depending on your mist bottle could be a little messy. Laneige sells Cream Skin Refiner Mist (YesStyle*) which solves this problem with a very fine mister, perfect for the unique Cream Skin formula.

Misting Cream Skin is beneficial for a few reasons: this method can deliver a thin and uniform layer of Cream Skin that would cut down on some of the rich finish. Misting can also work over makeup to create a dewy, glass skin finish. Misting in the middle of the day can help perk up dehydrated or dry skin.

I personally didn’t find misting Cream Skin to be super beneficial, but I’m not a big mist fan in general, so keep that in mind!

My Experience and Thoughts:

If you couldn’t tell by now, I really do love this product. The first night I used it, it stopped me in my tracks with its soothing and nourishing relief. I’m not used to feeling so much balance and comfort on my dehydrated skin so early in my routine (you’ll find me speeding through the first half of my skincare routine in a frenzy to get hydration and moisture on my parched skin).

Here’s some things I noticed about Cream Skin:

This saves me time and simplifies my skincare routine.

When starting to use Cream Skin I was playing around with what combination of products works best together to hydrate, moisturize, soothe and protect my skin. I naturally found myself taking products *out* of my routine when using Cream Skin! Wow! I’m an avid ten-stepper so this was truly a game changer for me. Cream Skin easily took the place of an additional essence, serum and sometimes facial oil in my routine!

An easy routine that still delivered all I needed for my skin would look like:

A few layers of hydrating toner, 1-2 layers of Cream Skin and moisturizer! (Don’t forget eye cream and sunscreen!)

This did not replace my moisturizer!

One of the biggest claims about Cream Skin that I hear is that it’s so deeply nourishing and moisturizing that it can replace your moisturizer!

I didn’t find that to be the case for my skin. My skin is prone to hydration loss throughout the day (TEWL) so I look for a final layer that is protective enough to lock down my skincare and hold in hydration. And Cream Skin just doesn’t have that occlusivity that would protect my skin. Nor should it. As a toner that comes early in the routine, occlusivity would impact the absorption of anything you might want to put on top of it.
I do think that Cream Skin could function in this way for normal, combo/oily and potentially oil skin types.

There is most definitely a finish on your skin

Cream Skin can get a little sticky on you.

As mentioned before, but bears repeating, is that Cream Skin can get kind of sticky and even borderline greasy, especially when layered up. I actually didn’t find this detrimental to my experience, especially since I did apply moisturizer over it, which completely neutralizes that stickiness. I also want to note that it never pilled on me at all or impacted other layers.

Who Would Benefit Most from Using Cream Skin?

Dehydrated skin will definitely benefit from the balance that Cream Skin brings. I also think that sensitive skin, sensitized or irritated skin and those suffering from a weak or damaged moisture barrier function will be served best by this product.

Besides those skin conditions, I think dry skin and combo/dry skin types will love and benefit from this the most. Combo/oily and true oily skin types, NOT suffering from irritation or dehydration, will probably benefit from this the least, but are also most likely to enjoy this as a moisturizer so take it with a grain of salt and always remember that YMMV (your mileage may vary)!

Quick Word About the 2 Versions of This Product:

Laneige Cream Skin recently launched at American Sephora stores this summer and there have been some packaging tweaks. The formula is exactly the same, but I’d like to shed some light on the differences so you don’t think you might have received a fake!

Korean Version: Called Cream Skin Refiner, this comes in a frosted glass bottle.
American Version: Called Cream Skin Toner and Moisturizer, this comes in a frosted plastic bottle.

Cream Skin Refiner 150ml YesStyle*
Cream Skin Quick Mask Pack YesStyle*
Cream Skin Refiner Mist YesStyle*

Product provided as press sample from Laneige USA
*Indicates use of affiliate links that provide a small commission to help run this blog.

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