Kelly Driscoll

Skincare going more than skin deep…

Recent Posts

Essential Oil Free K-Beauty Swaps

Having sensitive skin isn’t always easy. You must be careful when introducing new products and you must be diligent with ingredients lists, avoiding those ingredients that can flare up your skin.

For my sensitive skin, one of those ingredients that must be avoided is essential oils. It’s been a long and winding journey to figure out what was causing my skin so much grief, but I now know that essential oils and my skin just do not mix. And that means I’ve been working, slowly but surely, to replace and eliminate those products in my skincare wardrobe that contain these oils.

Isolating those products wasn’t hard (although it was time consuming!), but some of these products were well loved by me and seeing them go isn’t easy!

Which is why I have compiled this list of some old favorites that contain essential oils and what are worthy EO-free swaps!

1. Purito Buffet Serum – Hydrating and Soothing Serum



Why I loved it: This serum is jam-packed full of centella extract (49% to be exact) and is very soothing and calming for skin. This also has some other goodies including some skin regenerative peptides, panthenol and adenosine. This serum claims to be an all-in-one (buffet) serum to calm, hydrate and fight fine lines and wrinkles.

I definitely experienced soothing and calming from this serum. I didn’t notice much firming or anti-wrinkle benefits from this, but I also didn’t really expect to (I expect this from active ingredients like vitamin C, retinoids or high percentages of niacinamide).

I also really appreciated the texture of this serum. It has a lightweight gel consistency that absorbs quickly, hydrates skin and works super well in a multi-layered routine.

Ingredients: Centella Asiatica Extract (49%), Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Glycereth-26, Carbomber, Carbomer, Sclerotium Gum, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Caprylyl Glycol, Panthenol, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Alteromonas Ferment Extract, Pancratium Maritimum Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Ceramide NP, Sodium Hyaluronate, Asiaticoside, Asiatic Acid, Madecassic Acid, Palmitoyl Hexapeptide- 1 2, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-7, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-10

Deal Breakers: Bergamot and lavender oils.

Purito Buffet Serum 60ml $20 Yesstyle*

The Swap: Keep Cool and Soothe Serum


Particularly a great swap if you love the soothing benefits of Purito. This serum has a similar gel texture that’s super hydrating on the skin and awesome for all skin types.

The calming benefits come from 66% bamboo extract which has a lot of similar benefits to centella. Bamboo extract has an excellent soothing benefit for skin (hence the name of this serum) plus it’s got a high amino acid content which makes it an excellent skin hydrator (amino acids are a natural moisturizing factor, after all). Bamboo is fantastic for acne-prone skin since it has wound healing and anti-inflammation benefits. If that wasn’t enough, bamboo also has some anti-aging benefits with lots of antioxidant protection and support of the skin’s collagen structure.

If you’re really missing the centella, this also contains 4% of highly concentrated centella, which imparts the slightly amber hue of this serum.

I find this is a very worthy swap; the soothing of this serum is real and I love the texture here. Plus this doesn’t contain essential oils, which we know can cause sensitivity issues down the road that would negate the immediate calming effects of any product.


Ingredients: Bambusa Vulgaris Water, Water, Butylene Glycol, Centella Asiatica Extract, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, 1,2- Hexanediol, Panthenol, Cellulose Gum, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Allantoin, Polyglutamic Acid, Madecassoside, Sodium Hyaluronate, Asiaticoside, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Forsythia Suspensa Fruit Extract, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Thuja Orientalis Extract, Pinus Densiflora Leaf Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylicacid Copolymer, PVM/MA Copolymer, Disodium EDTA

Highlights: Essential oil, fragrance and alcohol free. Bamboo water and extract, centella extract, madecassoside, asiaticoside, and panthenol.

Keep Cool and Soothe Serum 50ml $25 Yesstyle*

2. Cosrx Balancium Comfort Cream – Nourishing Ceramide Cream



Why I loved it: Super comforting and nourishing for dry and/or irritated skin. Creates a protective layer of moisture while helping to boost barrier function. This cream features 10,000ppm of ceramides (roughly 1%) and also has a high amount of centella water. Barrier goodies niacinamide and panthenol make an appearance here too.

I really liked how this cream felt on my skin, it has an almost ointment-like texture to it that melts down like butter on the skin. This is very emollient and nourishing but does leave a bit of a shiny finish on skin and it can take a while to fully absorb. (Review)

Ingredients: Centella Asiatica Leaf Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus(Sunflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Betaine, 1,2- Hexanediol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Ceramide NP, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sucrose Distearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Dipropylene Glycol, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Kernel Oil, BeesWax, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone/VinylDimethicone Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Asiaticoside, Asiatic acid, Madecassic acid, Cassia Obtusifolia Seed Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil

Deal Breakers: Bergamot oil.

Cosrx Balancium Cream 80ml $26 Yesstyle*

The Swap: Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream

DSC09129-01This cream contains the Amore Pacific patented Ceramide Skin Complex which is pseudo-ceramides (lab made) delivered to the skin in an encapsulated technology. When you swipe this cream across your skin you will notice little white flecks which are capsules containing the ceramides. The purpose of creating this technology is to help deliver the ceramides deep into the skin.

The texture of this cream is definitely superior to the Cosrx cream in my opinion. This is closer to a traditional medium-weight cream texture and while it’s beautifully emollient, it absorbs into the skin very quickly! This cream also has no shiny or greasy finish to it, making it an easy choice for the morning!

This is a much better ceramide cream and more than worthy of replacing the Cosrx, plus it’s a better value as you get 200ml (140ml more than Cosrx) for about $6 less!

DSC09164-01Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Stearic Acid, Cyclopentasiloxane, Palmitic Acid, Behenyl Alcohol, Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide Mea, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Magnolia Biondii Flower Extract, Cholesterol, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Extract, Lactobacillus/ Soybean Ferment Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, C14-22 Alcohols, Glyceryl Caprylate, Dimethiconol, Mannitol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Silica, Arachidyl Glucoside, Arachidyl Alcohol, Acrylates/ Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polysorbate 20, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Propanediol

Highlights: Essential oil, fragrance and alcohol free. Ginseng extract, soybean ferment

Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream 200ml $20 Yesstyle*500ml size Yesstyle*

3. Iunik Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum – Brightening Propolis SerumDSC09253-01

Why I loved it: Contains 70% propolis extract which is a fabulous ingredient to nourish, hydrate, soothe and brighten skin. Propolis is a bee byproduct that can make your skin glow with health. This also has 12% sea buckthorn fruit extract which is prized for its high vitamin C content.

Love the hydrating, silky and never sticky texture of this serum. I noticed a fantastic brightening benefit from this serum and it definitely picked my skin up when it was very dull and lifeless. (Review)

Ingredients: Propolis Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Extract, Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Methylpropanediol, Niacinamide, Dipropylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Betaine, Glycosyl Trehalose, Honey Extract, Beta-Glucan, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Allantoin, Carbomer, Arginine, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Adenosine, Dipotassium, Glycyrrhizate, Pentylene Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Centella Asistica Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Punica Granatium Fruit Extract, Ficus Carica (Fig) Fruit Extract, Morus Alba Fruit Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Nut Extract, Caprylyl Glycol

Deal Breaker: Bergamot Oil

Iunik Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum 50ml $17 Yesstyle*

The Swap: Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich EssenceDSC09244-01

This essence contains 63% propolis extract plus 10% royal jelly and 10% honey! The texture is somewhere between a thick essence and a thin serum and, probably due to the royal jelly content, this has a light moisturizing feel on skin. This absorbs quickly, but due to the higher honey extract content, you might feel a slight tack on your skin after this dries. However, this is completely alleviated after applying your next skincare layer and shouldn’t be a concern.

I’m really enjoying this propolis essence and it really feels like an upgrade from the Iunik, rather than a swap. This formula feels richer on my skin, it’s jam-packed full of beneficial ingredients and you can’t deny that the packaging does elevate the entire experience!

Ingredients: Propolis Extract, Honey Extract, Royal Jelly Extract, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Glycerin, Beta-Glucan, Lactobacillus Ferment, Saccharomyces Ferment, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium Edta, Carbomer, Arginine

Highlights: Essential oil, fragrance and alcohol free. Two fermented ingredients, beta-glucan and portulaca oleracea extract which is amazing for hydration, antioxidant protection and wound healing.


Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence 50ml $25 Yesstyle*

4. Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence – Light and Quick Absorbing Sunscreen

DSC09178-01Why I loved it: Chemical sunscreen with very photostable filters Uvinul T150 and Uvinul A Plus. This is rated SPF 50 with PA++++. The texture of this sunscreen had me shook on day one. It’s so light and airy, weightless on the skin with no white cast. I particularly love how this absorbs into the skin quickly with no dry time! (Review)

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Butylene Glycol, Dibutyl Adipate, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, 1,2-Hexanediol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Silica, Cetearyl Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Panthenol, Beta-Glucan, Disodium EDTA, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Adenosine, Sodium Hyaluornate, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, Allantoin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil

Deal breakers: Chamomile and orange essential oils. Orange oil and citrus oils in particular can actually make skin more photosensitive (vulnerable to sun damage), making it an extra yucky ingredient to include in a sunscreen.

Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence 80ml $22 Yesstyle*

The Swap: Purito Centella Green Level Unscented SunscreenDSC09209-01

This sunscreen solves all the compromises I’ve had to make for sunscreens. This is a chemical sunscreen that is SPF 50 PA ++++ and uses the same filters that are found in Klairs sunscreen. This is so light and hydrating on the skin with zero white cast – and it has no dry time! The finish of this sunscreen is much more universal than the Klairs. Klairs has a dewy finish that can make someone downright shiny. The Purito has a neutral finish that does not add dew to the skin or mattify it, which I appreciate. (Review)

For me this is a great swap because it has no essential oils or photosensitizers in it, plus it has a high amount of antioxidants coming from centella and vitamin E! Antioxidants can help boost the UV protection of your sunscreen, especially from damage done by UVB rays. DSC07278

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Glycerin, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Acrylates Copolymer, Silica, 1,2-Hexanediol,Niacinamide, Dibutyl Adipate, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Cetearyl Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Sorbitan Olivate, Glyceryl Stearate, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Centella Asiatica Extract (4315ppm), Madecassoside, Asiaticoside, Madecassic Acid, Asiatic Acid, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Hyaluronic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol

Highlights: Essential oil, fragrance, alcohol and silicone free.

Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen 60ml $14 Yesstyle*

(code KELLYDRIS saves 5% for new customers [2% for returning] on your next yesstyle order)*

*indicates use of affiliate links that pay a small commission to help support this blog.



One response to “Essential Oil Free K-Beauty Swaps”

  1. I am so happy you are doing a post on this as I try to use skincare products that are free of alcohol, fragrance, and essential oils. Really enjoy your blog. Keep it up. I also check out your youtube channel, but usually I prefer reading.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: