Galactomyces ferment filtrate is a yeast and byproduct of fermented sake and is said to reduce pore size, hydrate, brighten and nourish the skin, reduce oil production, reduce blackheads, increases absorption of other products into the skin and provide antioxidant benefits. Niacinamide is said to improve skin texture, strengthen the skin barrier, reduce inflammation. fade hyperpigmentation and regulate oil production. Panthenol, glycerin, butylene glycol and sodium hyaluronate are humectants. 1,2-Hexanediol is a preservative and a moisture-binding agent. Betaine balances hydration. Allantoin soothes the skin. Adenosine soothes and restores skin.
Directions: After cleansing and toning, apply a small amount to the face and pat into the skin. Follow with moisturizer.
I have oily/combination skin, hyperpigmentation, redness and blackheads. I used the galactomyces essence for 4 months, morning and evening; one to two pumps for the face and neck.
This essence has a thin, watery-gel texture that applies very nicely with good spreadability. There is no scent. I tried it a few times with no moisturizer to see how it performed on its own in terms of hydration (with how oily my skin is and depending how moisturizing a toner or essence is, I often don’t need a lotion). This essence absorbs quickly, but leaves a dry, smooth, tacky feeling on the skin for about an hour until my face gets a bit of its normal oil. I don’t really find the galactomyces essence hydrating and need to add a moisturizer. I’ll use a light serum or lotion; the Cosrx snail essence on its own provides enough hydration.
After the first couple days of use, I got some whiteheads on my cheekbones and pimples on my neck (which are unusual spots for breakouts for me), but these disappeared after a couple more days and did not recur. After one week, my T-zone got less oily throughout the day and after 2 weeks, my skin seemed brighter. Noticeable benefit seemed to stop here, however. I continued use for a total of 4 months.
Other than some brightness and oil reduction/balance, my skin didn’t really feel or look different or improved, with no reduction to the hyperpigmentation, texture, fine lines or blackheads in particular. I would not repurchase.
The Hydrium Watery Toner has 6 types of hyaluronic acid for long-lasting hydration. Glycerin is a humectant. 1,2-Hexanediol is a preservative and moisture-binding ingredient. Panthenol (also known as B5) has moisturizing, regenerating and anti-inflammatory properties. Allantoin is soothing to the skin.
Directions: After cleansing, use a cotton pad to swipe away any cleanser residue, pat on the skin with fingers or cotton pad, mist on the skin throughout the day when skin is feeling dry, or soak a cotton pad and let sit on dry areas for a few minutes like a sheet mask. I like to use these toner mates.
I have combination skin, more on the oily side in the summer, and prone to congestion. I have dry areas as I am using Retin-A. I have been using the Hydrium toner in the morning and evening after cleansing for a couple months now. I apply to a cotton pad and swipe over the skin to get rid of any cleanser residue and then pat the toner on the skin and mist with mineral water.
The toner has a water-like consistency and no scent. It applies smoothly and absorbs quickly. There is no sticky or tacky feeling on the skin. The skin feels hydrated and soothed; I would not say that it looks dewy, however.
I generally like the Cosrx Hydrium Watery Toner, particularly for hydration. If looking for a toner that is more calming and soothing to the skin, while providing moisture, I would recommend the Soon Jung Relief Toner (which I will likely go back to after I run out of the Hydrium Toner). I like mixing the Relief Toner with The Ordinary’s Marine Hyaluronics.
E-Rase by Drunk Elephant is a micellar water with a milky texture that claims to gently and thoroughly remove makeup, sunscreen, pollution, dirt and bacteria from the skin (no rinsing needed) without causing sensitivity or irritation and makes the skin feel clean and soft.
To remove oil, dirt and makeup at the end of the day, I usually use The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser. I have not used a micellar water previously, so have nothing to compare Drunk Elephant E-Rase to, but I see the Bioderma and Garnier micellar waters being used a lot online that are much less expensive than E-Rase.
E-Rase has a micellar blend, gentle surfactants that attract and capture dirt, debris and pollution which are then wiped away; a ceramide blend that helps soothe and balance moisture of the skin and protects against water loss; watermelon oil that soothes, moisturizes and provides a protective barrier; vitamin E and plant oils.
Directions: E-Rase can be used as a cleanser and makeup remover. Shake before use and gently smooth over face, eyes, and lips with a soft cotton pad, holding for a few seconds on heavily made-up areas. Do not scrub, tug or rub the skin. E-Rase can be used anytime, and in between cleanses. No rinsing needed.
Going through some Instagram comments, Drunk Elephant says that E-Rase, if not rinsed, will not break down any actives or prevent absorption of actives and other products applied on top (this was my worry; if I use a serum or oil-containing product after E-Rase that the micelles would attract and break down some of the product). According to Drunk Elephant, it can be used before a traditional cleanser or after (similar to how I would use a toner, though E-Rase is not marketed as a toner and if I remember correctly, Drunk Elephant feels toners are unnecessary). They say not to skip the usual nighttime cleanse as an important step to remove makeup, product, pollution, oil and bacteria (so I gather this means E-Rase is more of a light or first-step cleanser not meant to replace a regular or thorough (double) cleanse routine).
E-Rase is a white, slightly thick-ish, slippery liquid with a smooth texture and no scent. It does not feel heavy or greasy when left on the skin and does not leave a film. Throughout my review of this product, E-Rase is not drying or irritating; the skin feels soothed and lightly moisturized and has not caused breakouts, blackheads or congestion.
I purchased E-Rase mainly for my kids to get them interested in skin care (they don’t particularly like splashing the face with water and love the name Drunk Elephant), but wanted to try it for myself as well. I have oily but dehydrated skin prone to breakouts and congestion. I have used E-Rase for 10 days thus far, trying it a few ways (morning cleanse, evening cleanse when not wearing makeup, as a makeup remover before my usual evening cleanse, before and after working out and as a toner/moisturizer). I apply with Klairs Toner Mates. The textured pads do not absorb much product and are great at helping remove makeup and debris, and the sponge pads dispense product back to the skin and can be held over the eyes or areas of heavy makeup to help dissolve and remove product.
Above, I cleansed the face and neck in the morning with E-Rase. I was surprised at the dirt accumulated on my face while sleeping and my skin gets pretty oily over night. My skin does not feel oily after using E-Rase, so it works well to remove oils. In the after photo above, there is no residue or film over the skin and the redness looks calmed down (though may be due to difference in lighting). The skin feels soft and lightly moisturized where I do not feel the need to use another moisturizer (my skin is oily and the weather hot at the time of this review).
Drunk Elephant does not advocate cleansing the skin in the morning (other than with water), however, the above is a good indication for why I want to. I usually use NIOD Sanskrit Saponins as a morning mask/cleanse.
For the last couple mornings, I have been cleansing with Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Exfoliator, which makes my skin shiny, tight and dry, so I have been applying E-Rase as a moisturizer which has been soothing and hydrating and makes the skin soft.
I use E-Rase before working out to cleanse off any makeup and sunscreen, and then after to get rid of sweat, dirt and oils.
For the above photos, I used E-Rase as a makeup/sunscreen remover in the evening, shaking product on to the textured Klairs cotton pads and sweeping over the face, as I wanted to see how easily makeup was removed. I held the cotton pads over the eyes and lips for a few seconds to help with removal. This is a light, everyday makeup. Products used:
I used four cotton pads, applying E-Rase to each, and swiped a toner over the face for the fifth. There was still a bit of makeup residue, indicating, as mentioned by Drunk Elephant, that a second cleanse is needed. E-Rase takes off the mascara well. There is a bit of eyeliner around the bottom lashes and a bit of lip color left. The face makeup and sunscreen were taken off well. E-Rase is not irritating to the eyes. Touching the skin, I do not feel any makeup or sunscreen residue. Using E-Rase this way uses quite a bit of product and a number of disposable cotton pads (I should have used both sides). With a full coverage, heavy makeup even more product and cotton pads would need to be used. My skin was also a bit red and irritated using this number of textured pads, particularly as I have been using Retin-A in the evening.
For the above photos (using the same sunscreen and makeup products), I patted E-Rase all over the face using one Klair’s sponge pad (alternatively, I could pat it on the skin with my fingers) and let sit for about 15 seconds, swiping off with the textured pads (cleanse 1, 2 and 3). For cleanse 2 and 3, I applied more E-Rase to the pads. Dabbing product on the face first with the fingers or the sponge pad worked better to cleanse the eye and lip makeup and was less irritating to the skin.
Finally, I tried E-Rase as a I would a cleansing balm, applying to the face and massaging in for 30 seconds, concentrating on the eye and lip areas, then rinsing. Most of the product seemed to be absorbed into the skin as I was massaging. While rinsing, I could still feel the sunscreen on my face. As shown in the photo above, after rinsing with water, I swiped toner over the face to see how clean the skin got. If I cleanse this way again, I would apply more E-Rase to a cotton pad and swipe over the face, as there was still quite a bit of makeup left and I could still feel sunscreen residue on the face (not really unexpected as E-Rase is not made to emulsify as a balm would, but needs to be wiped away).
E-Rase would be handy to have while traveling or camping when unable to take along a whole skin care routine (but a screw lid with a small hole at the top of the bottle would be preferred, I foresee the pop top opening in a bag).
Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water is soothing, moisturizing and does not leave a film on the skin. It is not drying or irritating. It is relatively versatile, used as a makeup remover, cleanser, toner and moisturizer and works very well at softening and removing clay masks. It does remove makeup, however, not as well as a cleansing balm or oil would, needing multiple cotton pads and an excess amount of product (I was impressed by its ability to remove eye makeup, however). I prefer E-Rase to Drunk Elephant’s Slaai cleansing balm.
I probably would not use this as my main daily makeup remover (I prefer The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser), but would consider purchasing again for camping trips, for those mornings or evenings when I am in a hurry and do not have a lot of time to do a whole routine, as a quick refresh before and after working out and in a minimal routine as a toner/moisturizer.
Laneige Cream Skin Refiner (also known as Cream Skin Toner and Moisturizer at Sephora) is a light-weight two-in-one toner/moisturizer liquid that preps and hydrates the skin in one step. This is for all skin types (according to Sephora’s website, however, on the bottle (from Sephora) says for normal to dry skin) and claims to soften and deeply moisturize the skin.
Cream Skin contains glycerin and butylene glycol, humectants; meadowfoam seed oil, an emollient, softening and occlusive ingredient; glyceryl caprylate has moisturizing properties; propanediol enhances absorption and has hydrating properties that can leave a dewy finish on the skin.
Directions: After cleansing, morning and evening, shake into the palm of the hand and pat into skin until absorbed. Can apply with toner pads. For extra dry skin, layer product by reapplying or soak toner pad and leave on skin for a few minutes, then pat into skin.
I have an oily T-zone/combination/dehydrated skin prone to congestion and blackheads. Cream Skin is a liquid formula, a little thicker than water, and has no scent. I’ve been using Cream Skin for about a month, on the face and neck, around the eyes and on the lips, applying with Klairs Toner Mate 2-in-1 Cotton Pad (I find if I pat onto the skin with my hands, I use too much). For the first couple uses, I was applying too much and it left my skin quite shiny/tacky. My skin does not feel oilier when using nor did I get breakouts. It leaves a smooth, dewy finish on the skin (as seen in the above photo) and my skin feels so soft. It does not feel heavy on the skin, but I can feel it to the touch. If I apply other products to the skin, particularly light gel treatments like Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, Cream Skin needs to dry for a bit (about 5 minutes) before applying and even then my skin looks shinier and I’m not sure that other treatments are being fully absorbed. (Update May 26) – I just started using Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence. I used once 5 minutes after applying a very little bit of Cream Skin Refiner and the essence was a bit shiny on the skin and the skin felt plump and moisturized. The next day I applied the essence after a normal toner and it absorbed into the skin leaving a sort of dry stickiness, then a smooth layer after a few minutes; so I’m pretty sure the Cream Skin is blocking some absorption of other products.
Cream Skin moisturizes very well and protects from water loss. After a few hours the dewiness disappears, but there is a soft protective layer on the skin until I cleanse at the end of the day. I also use this product on the back of the hands in the evening.
When my skin is very dry, for instance, after a hot shower, Cream Skin makes my skin immediately hydrated, whereas before I would have to use a toner, hyaluronic acid and a cream, and even then, the skin would still feel/look a bit dry. With tretinoin use, my skin will get dry and flaky, I will get dry patches around my mouth and nose and sunscreen and makeup will stick on these dry areas and make the skin look worse, but with Cream Skin makeup and sunscreen apply very nicely.
Laneige Cream Skin Refiner is moisturizing for oily and dry skin, with one layer in warmer months, and I would use multiple layers in winter. I will not need to purchase a separate moisturizer. This has become a favorite and I will definitely repurchase; I just hope that other products layered over Cream Skin are being absorbed.
As a side note, Cream Skin Refiner is available on chuusi.ca and mikaela-beauty.com for a bit cheaper than at Sephora, with fast shipping. There is also a mist version available that I might try on dry areas of the body (I would love a body version of Cream Skin).
Tretinoin (retinoic acid) also known as Retin-A (prescription only) is a form of vitamin A in cream or gel form used for the treatment of acne, surface wrinkles, scarring and can help hyperpigmentation by increasing cell turnover on the skin and stimulating collagen production. Retinoic acid is more aggressive than retinol. It comes in a couple different strengths; I’ve been using the 0.05% cream. I do not like the gel formula; it does not seem to work as well.
Directions: This is a product the skin needs to get used to. It can be used once a week for a few weeks, then twice a week and so on, working up to once a day. It can be applied mixed with a moisturizer as the skin gets acclimated. Use at night. Cleanse the skin and let thoroughly dry (about 20 minutes). Apply a pea-sized amount and layer over the skin. Avoid eyes and lips. This makes skin photosensitive and sunscreen should be used during the day.
Side effects can include redness, irritation, dryness and peeling. To prepare the skin for using Retin-A, one can consider using a retinol first; I’ve used this from The Ordinary.
I was first introduced to Retin-A a few years ago when I used the Obagi Nu-Derm system and have used it on and off since then. I have oily skin that is prone to breakouts. I have hyperpigmentation and old acne scarring. For this review, I used in the evening every second day for a couple weeks, went up to once a day for the next 10 months and about every third day for the last month, for a total of 11 months. Depending on how often I use it, the tube lasts about 6 months; I usually use for 6 months, take a 3- to 6-month break and purchase again. I do not use it with a moisturizer, but after cleansing the skin I use a hydrating toner mixed with The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics, then let the skin dry completely before applying the Retin-A. I do not follow with anything else. If I want to use an AHA, BHA or vitamin C, I use these in the morning. I try to avoid applying Retin-A in the crease beside the nostril; the skin peels and stings.
Retin-A has a medicinal scent, and is absorbed immediately and immediately makes the skin feel dry to the touch, like all the oil has left the skin. This evens out after a while. In the morning, my forehead seems much more oily than usual.
After two applications the skin started flaking, and continued (while diminishing) for 2 to 3 weeks. Once in a while, I’d get a bit of peeling around areas of movement on the face; the mouth and eyebrows. I use the gentle Daily Exfolipowder from Amarte followed by Laneige’s Cream Skin to help with the flaking.
In the before photo, there are large pores in the middle of my forehead that had diminished by 3 months. The complexion looks more even. Fine lines are less noticeable by 11 months.
In the before photo, my skin looks rough and congested with large pores and hyperpigmentation from sun damage. There is noticeable improvement in the texture and brightness of the skin. Pores look smaller. There is some fading of the dark spots. My skin feels very smooth.
I got a cluster of breakouts by the jaw around 3 months. Had I not been using Retin-A at the time, those breakouts would have caused postinflammatory hyperpigmentation that takes a very long time to fade on its own. In general, while using Retin-A, I got a minimal breakout here and there and those healed quite fast. The patch of pigmentation and congestion on/under my cheekbone has faded.
In the before photo here, I had some fine lines around the orbital bone (very minimal crow’s feet) which are gone.
I was hoping for more fade of the freckles caused by sun damage after the 11 months, but some spots have faded and lighter spots have disappeared. For quick reduction in spots, I like getting photofacials.
The level of irritation and skin reactivity will be different for everyone when using Retin-A. When I first used it a few years ago, any product I would put on my face (including water) would sting and cause redness for a few seconds. Using it now, as my skin is used to retinols and acids, I get peeling, but no redness and no stinging. My sister tried Retin-A (she has a very different skin type to me) and got redness, pain and a burning sensation lasting hours after application.