welcome to SKINCARMA!

These are the musings of a skincare junkie + writer + brand guru with 25+ years of product wisdom put into action to demystify skin care. 

You can change your skin’s destiny.™


I know it may seem like I use something like 87 products in my skincare regimen — with sunscreen, make that 88 in the morning. But the truth is, it’s more like 7, 8, maybe 10 tops — including a cleanser, toner, a couple serums, eye care and moisturizer. In summer, it’s not a matter of how many products you use, but that they’re light. Hey, the lighter the better. Even my skin can’t handle a facial oil in the summer as my skin just doesn’t need that kind of heavier oil-based moisture. It’s a rather simple concept: dry skin absorbs more moisture, oily skin absorbs less.

As skin changes with the seasons, skin care should too. All my beloved facial oils have been moved to the bottom shelf much like all my favorite hoodies and sweatshirts are packed away in storage 13 floors down. (I guess that’s what makes you a New Yorker. I do miss them, though!)

I miss this hoodie, which I’ve now packed away in storage like a good New Yorker does.

I miss this hoodie, which I’ve now packed away in storage like a good New Yorker does.

So, in summer and even on warmer spring days, I go light. Gel-creams are usually a smart, effective way to deliver both quenching water-based hydration and lightweight oil-based moisture to the skin when temps climb. Funny, that’s not how conventional skincare marketing has trained us to think though is it? Moisture and hydration are essentially interchangeable. In fact as a skincare copywriter, very rarely, if ever, have I made a distinction between hydration and moisture on a product label. It was only when I started blogging about skin care, informed by a deep immersion into Korean skin care and the philosophy behind K-Beauty, that I understood the difference. As a rule, it’s best to think of hydration as water-based and moisture as oil-based. With that understanding, you can imagine your skin care routine as bookended — that is, hydration at the beginning of the routine and moisture at the end.

At the heart of a K-Beauty skincare regimen — and any regimen that’s focused on skin health — hydration is the key. Water-based hydration needs to absorb the deepest into the skin’s layers where skin holds its water. That’s why a well-formulated hydrating toner is applied as the first step in a healthy skin routine. And it’s also why a low-molecular weight Hyaluronic Acid serum should always be applied next. As a humectant, it holds the water in place. Fast forward a few serums later — serums like Vitamin C, Retinol, Niacinamide and maybe peptides — and you get to the oil-based products. The heavier oils in the formulas don’t penetrate the skin very deeply and perform an occlusive function by locking everything in that’s been applied earlier.

So I thought I had it all figured out when this new, super innovative product from Korea blew it all up.

Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer


Laneige’s new Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer is a hybrid product that literally combines the hydrating benefits of a toner with the moisturizing benefits of a moisturizer — the two bookends in one. The “Cream Skin” name itself may seem odd until you learn that the Korean words for toner and skin are the same. What they mean, essentially, is a cream toner or milky toner.

Cream Skin is inspired by the latest trend out of Seoul called “skip-care.” I’ve incorporated some really solid skincare habits from several K-Beauty trends — including my beloved 7-Skin Method, which I blogged about here. The whole K-Beauty 10-step regimen has, of course, transformed skin health across the globe, including my own! And while I’ve passed on the snail mucin (call it what it is: slime!) trend, most Korean skincare crazes are worthy. On skip-care, there’s an excellent article by Byrdie beauty writer Faith Xue titled, Korean Millennials Are Following a New Skincare Trend Called Skip-Care. She says that the skip-care trend is “about using fewer products without sacrificing results when it comes to hydration. If you’re used to a skincare routine that covers the bases of moisturizing, balancing, brightening, and anti-aging, then skip-care means that you’ll find products that do one or more of those things in one step.”

Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Cream Mist is one of several “Skin-Care” innovations.

Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Cream Mist is one of several “Skin-Care” innovations.

These interesting milky toners like Laneige’s Cream Skin and Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Cream Mist are popping up all over Asia. They’re the first of these trendy slimmed down, “skin care diet” products to hit the US market. Apparently Koreans, the originators of the 10-step K-Beauty regimen, don’t have time for ten steps any more. I guess they’re exhausted by all the layering — sometimes I’m exhausted by it too! So, to meet the demands of on-the-go consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen-Y teens, brands are combining steps — in this case Laneige combined toning and moisturizing.

There’s no reason to believe you couldn’t effectively blend hydrating and moisturizing ingredients before now. It’s just that Korean skin care has long focused toning on deep hydration in a single step so there hasn’t been a demand for it. And, of course there’s the bookending effect I mentioned earlier.

“Skip-care is a skincare method that allows you to identify the essential ingredients for your skin and avoid the use of unnecessary products for a simpler, yet proper, skincare routine.”

- AmorePacific Research & Development
Each bottle of Cream Skin contains an entire jar of moisturizer!

Each bottle of Cream Skin contains an entire jar of moisturizer!

So what is Cream Skin really? Well, it’s a super light, milky liquid formulated with what Laneige calls its proprietary Cream Blending Technology “to melt a cream into a toner in pursuit of developing a hydrating skin refiner that makes the skin well-moisturized at the very first step of skincare routine.”

And then there’s this:

Each bottle of Cream Skin contains an entire jar of moisturizing cream!


It’s a relatively tight formula with just 15 ingredients in all — including high levels of humectant Glycerin and moisturizing Meadowfoam Seed Oil. The choice of meadowfoam oil to carry the moisturizing burden is an interesting one. According to my skincare muse Paula Begun, Meadowfoam Seed Oil is a “non-fragrant, edible plant oil originally developed as an agricultural crop in the 1950s. It functions as an emollient and softening agent in skin- and hair-care products. This plant oil is exceedingly stable because it is primarily composed of long chain fatty acids.”

While there is a small amount of antioxidant Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (aka green tea) and Tocopherol (Vitamin E) — this is by no means an antioxidant powerhouse. I think the most interesting ingredient in Cream Skin is the Inulin Lauryl Carbamate — which may give the formula its power to more deeply moisturize skin in the hydration step. According to Cosmetics & Toiletries, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate has the ability to “emulsify high amounts of oil and wet several types of solid ingredients, such as pigments and fillers, in water to create either high-viscosity emulsions or fluid ones.” And that’s how you get a milky toner to both hydrate and moisturize!



So, does Cream Skin work? That is, does it replace a moisturizer by combining two steps into one?

Over the last couple of days, which haven’t been notably hot but kinda just right, I’ve been forgoing a moisturizer and essentially using Cream Skin as intended at the beginning of my regimen, followed by my serums and, in the morning, sunscreen. I certainly haven’t felt dry — but didn’t expect to. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to put my Wayskin Skin Analyzer moisture meter to the test. It’s the same device I used to measure the levels of moisture content in my skin during the La Mer-Vaseline Skincarma Challenge a few months ago.

I took three measurements each day and I can honestly say it works as intended. The first measurement was on bare, freshly cleansed skin. The second was taken about 30 seconds to a minute after applying Cream Skin — to give it time to absorb. And the third measurement was about 30 minutes to an hour later (depending on how distracted I was!). As you can see from the screen shots below, my skin was quite moisturized and remained so.

I used my Wayskin moisture meter to test out Cream Skin’s abilities to moisturize my skin.

I used my Wayskin moisture meter to test out Cream Skin’s abilities to moisturize my skin.

I think the Koreans may be onto something here. They’re certainly the experts in skin care. Aside from that creepy snail slime thing, ya gotta trust a good K-Beauty trend!




The Ingredient List of the Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer:

Water / Aqua / Eau, 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

Orpheus misses this purple hoodie, too!

Orpheus misses this purple hoodie, too!