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 chill in Fort Greene Park every Saturday morning thinking about skin care.

I chill in Fort Greene Park every Saturday morning thinking about skin care.

So I’m supposed to be chillaxin in sunny Florida this weekend, but with a hurricane bearing down on the state, Florida ain’t so sunny — or appealing. That’s okay, I’ll just bring my own sunshine here at home!

Nature has a funny way of doing what it wants, doesn’t it? Mother Nature is stubborn like that. But nature is also a magical thing. I love sitting by myself in the tranquility of Fort Greene Park every Saturday morning, just being. Most people don’t know that Fort Greene Park was Brooklyn’s first park and the brainchild of Frederick Law Olmsted, the renowned landscape architect of New York City’s ionic Central Park — one of the greatest public spaces in any city in the world. So, a two-minute walk up the block from me, I can revel in my own little natural oasis, thanks to a genius named Fred.

I think about a lot of things in the park, including skin care. And I love that more and more, we’re harnessing the best of natural ingredients for organic, clean and natural skin care that actually performs. Finally, there’s natural skin care that I actually want to use. For most of my life, all-natural skin care had the stigma of not really doing much of anything. (Hmm…I could say the same thing about expensive anti-aging treatments. They don’t do much of anything either!)

For the longest time, natural products were for “granolas” — a term for the grungy, organic-everything lovers that I picked up during my 15 years in Los Angeles.

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It was during those years in LA that I first discovered — and fell in love with — skincare products and really began looking at skin as a delicate organ that just needs a little TLC every day to look, feel and act healthy.

Primera is a part of a wave of new, clean Korean skin care.

Primera is a part of a wave of new, clean Korean skin care.

But just as organic and natural felt distant and trendy back then, the concept of “clean beauty” feels so now. Clean beauty? That just seemed to come out of no where. As if everything that came before it was dirty beauty. Really, I think the clean beauty trend is just about bringing authenticity to natural skin care. It’s not enough any more to put a few botanical extracts into a product and call it good for your skin. The toxins, the ingredients in skincare that are truly unhealthy, matter just as much.

As a skincare aficionado, I’m all about Korean skin care and K-Beauty. Korean beauty traditions have taught me so much about my skin and how to preserve and maintain my skin health. But it’s only been in the last six months that I’ve seen a clean K-Beauty trend emerging. Brands like Whamisa, Hanyul and Primera — all Korean skincare brands — seem to be leading the way.


I first discovered Amore Pacific’s Primera when a good friend returned from a trip to Seoul with bags full of skincare treats. Nestled among the oddities was a collection of serums and moisturizers made from seeds and beans. I thought, Hmm that’s weird. Its star ingredients are extracts of beans and seeds?

I dug a little further and discovered that Primera’s formulas center not around the extracts per se but the point at which the extracts are drawn from the plants. All the Primera formulas are powered by active ingredients extracted during the seed germination process. Germination is the brief period of time in the lifecycle of plants when the seeds burst forth with concentrated energy to promote growth and develop into a seedling. It’s such a unique angle for an entire skincare brand — and certainly not something I’ve seen before. I love science!

The Primera formulas are clean, simple and rely on scientific innovation to deliver something that all human skin can benefit from — ranging from the most sensitive types to the most tolerant. If you suffer from especially irritated skin or extreme sensitivity, Primera may be exactly what your skin needs.


Primera Alpine Berry Water Cream

I was expecting something different when I first unsealed the Primera Alpine Berry Water Cream. For some reason, I thought it would be more of a gel-cream. I think I was thrown off by the inclusion of the word “water” in the name.


It’s not watery at all. It just refers to the inclusion of Alpine berry water. Funny, I often notice that Sephora renames products they find confusing or think aren’t concise enough for their demographic. A close look at this product’s label and you’ll see that Primera called it something like Alpine Berry Watery Intensive Cream. It’s kind of all over the place. Sephora simplified it as Alpine Berry Water Cream.

So, now that that’s out of the way, the Primera water cream is thicker than I expected. Which also means it’s more nourishing — something I’ll want and need during the cooler fall days and weeks ahead while sitting in the park!

Alpine Berry Water Cream is a “dewy cream that sinks in instantly while providing lasting hydration and nourishment.” Sephora’s words, not mine. In fact, I don’t think it sinks in instantly at all. And that’s the point. It helps to seal in everything applied before it — like my 87 humectant and vitamin serums! That prevents evaporation and enhances absorption so the actives go where they need to go: into your skin.


The clean Alpine Water Berry cream has both Glycerin and Squalane in very high amounts — likely at or near 10% of the formula. Further down the INCI are both Cocoa Seed Butter and Artemisia Princeps Leaf Water — commonly known as mugwort. Artemisia is a hot ingredient in Korean skin care these days.

Artemisia, or mugwort, has played an important role in Chinese acupuncture for more than 3,000 years. I recently reviewed the Hanyul Pure Artemisia Watery Calming Cream in a blog article about my picks of super lightweight summer moisturizers here. In it, I mentioned that mugwort “is used in moxibustion, a process where mugwort leaves are gathered into sticks or cones the size of a cigar, and then burned over an acupuncture point to help release energy.” Apparently, the extract from Mugwort also has the ability to soothe irritation, much like another Asian skincare powerhouse botanical, Centella Asiatica.

The Primera Alpine Berry Water Cream is good, clean stuff!


Primera Miracle Seed Essence

While I didn’t notice any of those intriguing seed extracts in the Alpine Berry cream formula, there’s plenty in the Primera Miracle Seed Essence. In fact, 93.1% of the formula is Lotus Seed Extract. That’s a whole lotta lotus!

Primera says its concentrated essence “helps to visibly smooth texture, improve tone, increase hydration, and help protect from environmental stressors at the same time.” Hah! Are they implying that their silky, watery toning essence is all you need if your concerns are texture, tone, dehydration and antioxidant defense?

Surely not!


No matter, I love this clean, simple formula. Comprised of a mere18 ingredients, it’s super lightweight and, unlike the aforementioned Alpine Berry cream, does absorb instantly into the skin. I have to assume that the first ingredient, water, is actually Nelumbo Nucifera Germ Extract infused water —more commonly referred to as lotus water. While there isn’t all that much online about the true benefits of lotus water, I imagine it’s quite nourishing in the skin — and likely a solid antioxidant botanical.

More intriguing to me is the fact that Niacinamide is also high up in the list. Though Miracle Seed Essence is unlikely to contain any more than 2-3% of the skin-brightening vitamin, it’s still great for the skin and makes this a solid toning essence. Lower down the INCI is Saccharomyces Ferment, a popular fermented active derived from yeast. With its high content of minerals, amino acids, humectant beta glucan and vitamins, I wish that were much higher up in the formula.


Alas, Miracle Seed Essence is a nice, clean, silky, lightweight treatment that’s easily layered into a skincare routine — immediately following a toner and before any water-based serums. I also like using it in between water-based serum steps to rewet skin and aid absorption of serum actives.


Primera 10-Seed Nourishing Modeling Mask


Okay, this one really threw me off. I’ve done my share of “modeling” aka rubber masks and had generally written them off. I used to have a significant stash of them under the bathroom counter in the old apartment. While I was packing for the move to Brooklyn I thought, Oh hell no, I ain’t taking these!

So I gave them all away.

Fortunately, I didn’t swear them off completely because the Primera 10-Seed Nourishing Modeling Mask is actually different — and no where near as stupidly messy as most. It’s got a super high content of seed oils (ten of them apparently!) that make it much richer, more nourishing, and less rubbery. Primera’s 10-Seed Complex is claimed to “nourish and replenish nutrients to the skin.” I’m down with that.

Of course, as a rubber mask, it seals all that nutrient-rich goodness in the skin so you walk away feeling like you did something good for yourself rather than feeling like you made a massive mess of the bathroom sink.

Watch me go for it here:

I hope you’ll give Primera a look-see! And I want to give a huge shoutout to Kosame Beauty for hooking me up with these Primera treats. Please check their website out. It features some of the best Korean skincare brands — with several of the most iconic K-Beauty products out there. Plus, you can save 15% off all Primera products with code SKINCARMA15.

Okay guys, I’m off to the park…




I almost never finish a glass of wine. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I almost never finish a glass of wine. 🤷🏼‍♂️

The Ingredient List of the Primera Alpine Berry Water Cream:

Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Bis-Hydroxyethoxypropyl Dimethicone,Caprylic/Capric/Myristic/Stearic Triglyceride, Sucrose Polystearate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Urea, Methyl Trimethicone,Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate,Glyceryl Stearate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Stearic Acid,Palmitic Acid, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodiumacryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Cetearyl Alcohol, Artemisia Princeps Leaf Water, Fragrance / Parfum,Xanthan Gum, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Glyceryl Caprylate, Tromethamine,Ethylhexylglycerin, Sorbitan Isostearate, Disodium Edta, Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Fruit Extract, Arachidicacid, Myristic Acid, 1,2-Hexanediol, Tocopherol, Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Leaf Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean)Oil.

The Ingredient List of the Primera Miracle Seed Essence:

Water, Propanediol, Nelumbo Nucifera Germ Extract, Niacinamide, Glycereth-26, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Methyl Gluceth-20, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Citrate, Adenosine, Disodium Edta, Sodium Hyaluronate, Saccharomyces Ferment, Potassium Hydroxide, Acetic Acid.

The Ingredient List of the Primera 10-Seed Nourishing Modeling Mask:

Oil Essence:
Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Polyglyceryl-3 Cocoate, Algin, Trihydroxystearin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Calcium Sulfate, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Powder, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Powder, Punica Granatum Seed Powder, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Salvia Hispanica Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Seed Oil, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tetrapotassium Pyrophosphate, Gardenia Jasminoides Fruit Extract(Gardenia Florida Fruit Extract), Tocopherol, Maltodextrin, Dextrin, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Flower Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract.

Moisture Ampoule:
Water, Propanediol, Algin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Glucose, Glycereth-25 Pca Isostearate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil.