It’s winter and I’m on Accutane, aka. the wildly drying acne medication that’s so powerful it just might change my skin for the rest of my life. My skin is so dry and depleted that it squeaks when I wash it with WATER.
There isn’t much you need to know about my history, but it might be important to mention that as a child, I kept putting keys in light sockets. I really thought I was going to discover the lock that fit random keys sitting in my house, so off I’d go: find a new key, into the light socket to try to unlock something amazing, boom! electric shock. I didn’t actually enjoy the electric shock (it was terrifying), but I was so curious that I couldn’t resist the possibility of discovery. It’s like I was born with all of the adventure genes and zero fear genes, which has carried over into adulthood.
Which is how I managed to break my face by trying to spot treat a zit with benzoyl peroxide while on Accutane. Like, bp is cranked up to maximum dry and irritating on oily skin, why I needed to spot treat with it on Accutane skin, I don’t know. Anyway, I broke my face, that’s what you need to know. I was chapped, dry, a total mess. And that’s when I got an idea: it was time to get out the cream I thought I’d never be able to use and give it a go.
It turned out to be exactly what I needed.
Cosrx Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream Review
About the brand: Cosrx is a no-nonsense Korean skincare brand that focuses on proven ingredients, good formulations, and affordable prices.
What it is: a thick, buttery face cream that sinks in pretty well given the richness.
Where to put it in your routine: in the cream slot (uhh). Need a basic outline of when to use your products? Here you go:
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/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Asiaticoside, Asiatic acid, Madecassic acid, Cassia Obtusifolia Seed Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil. CosDNA analysis.
Ingredient breakdown: the formula is rich with ingredients that help skin get hydrated, glowy, temporarily a bit plumper, and flexible. This cream is loaded with fatty alcohols (fatty alcohols ≠ simple alcohol, which can be drying — fatty alcohols are powerful emollients that skin tends to like), oils, beeswax, and some watery ingredients like calming Centella Asiatica Leaf Water (making up 50% of the formula) that make Balancium a really well-rounded-feeling cream for something so rich. The star of the show is, of course, skincare community darling ingredient ceramide, added at a rate of 10,000ppm. Is that the ~right~ amount of ceramide? No idea, I don’t have the qualifications to tangle with the science side of skincare, but I do know that whatever is in this cream took my skin from rekt to glowing and healed in three days.
There are ingredients that could give some skincare fans pause. Palm oil has been rejected by some skincare fans for ethical and environmental reasons. Bergamot Fruit Oil is an essential oil that can be photosensitizing above a certain concentration; I haven’t experienced a problem, but also I am just a historian with one skin and my main tool is a cell phone. I’m less stressed about the Bergamot Oil: it probably is there to make the formula smell like something other than plastic, but I’d love to see the palm oil replaced in a future reformulation.
As always, the most important thing when reviewing an ingredient list is knowing your own skin’s likes and dislikes, knowledge that unfortunately takes ages and a lot of money to figure out. I’m happy not to see stearic acid in this list while a reader might click out in anguish upon spotting an essential oil in the mix.
What type of skin might like this: I had a kinda unique experience with this cream. I first tried it in July around release day on normal-to-oily summer skin and I was a little bit horrified with myself that I’d dropped $26 on something totally inappropriate for my skin. THEN I whipped it out while months deep into Accutane with winter approaching and I had the opposite reaction: the cream took my face from literally chapped and cracking to smooth and glowing in a few days.
Is your skin more or less fine and riding strong into winter? I don’t think this is the cream for you, even if your skin is dry — unless it’s not responding to other products. Is your skin screaming and in need of an emollient bailout? Yeah, this is the STUFF.
Despite my skin woes, I only wear Balancium at night because it’s more like a buttery ointment than a day cream. Don’t get me wrong, it dries down pretty well for a cream with major skin-fixing power, but it’s still too much to have on my face once I have some humactant layers, a sunscreen, and maybe a foundation in the mix.
I find that Balancium adds so much to my utterly depleted skin that I don’t need something hefty during the day: my skin rides an emollient wave even if I do my old oily skin routine during the day.
Packaging: Cosrx really nailed the packaging. It’s plastic tube that’s thick enough not to run the risk of tears or punctures, but it’s flexible enough to allow for easy squeezing. The substantial cap makes sense and I haven’t had any experiences where the packaging has caused frustration. The whole thing feels really substantial, which is nice given the higher cost.
Smell: it has a light scent that seems kind of like a creamy lemon to me, and it fades almost instantly upon application. The smell likely comes from the Bergamot Fruit Oil.
Price and value: $26, which is a bit higher than most Cosrx products, but it’s a big tube and I don’t feel like the brand got cheap with the ingredients. The tube weighs in at a hefty 80g/2.82oz, which was daunting when I tried it in summer and thought I’ve never make it through the tube ahahah. It feels like a very fair deal to me.
Is it a dupe for DR. JART+ Ceramidin Cream? I think I tried a sample of Ceramidin on my natural, oily-to-normal skin and went meh, so I have no idea. The cream textures look similar, but the ingredient lists seem quite different, so I don’t think Cosrx was trying to create a dupe — I wouldn’t go into a purchase thinking that the formulas will be the same, but they are meant to treat the same skin types. At $48 for 1.69oz/50ml of Ceramidin versus $26 for Balancium (80g/2.82oz), I’d give the Cosrx a try unless Ceramidin is your unshakable HG.
What’s good: if your skin is fucked in terms of dryness and cracking, this cream might help unfuck it. The ingredients are rich, the tube is big, the packaging is exactly right.
What’s not good: if your skin isn’t fucked up in some way, I just don’t know that this cream is going to feel that astounding to you. Given that I have legendarily dry Accutane skin right now and can’t even wear it during the day, I doubt that it could be most fans’ day and night cream, even in winter.
Should you buy it: if you have a skin problem like painfully dry winter skin, chapping, cracking, or eczema, I think Balancium deserves a test. If you have normal or oily skin, I’d skip it. If you have dry skin with a routine that’s keeping you hydrated and comfortable, consider skipping it.
Will I repurchase it: if I manage to finish the tube before winter and my course of Accutane are over, I’m going to need another tube. After that, I’m just not sure what my skin will be like, but I doubt I’d have the major dryness, depletion, and chapping needed to use up another giant tube of this cream.
Other cream reviews
- Shiseido WASO Clear Mega-Hydrating Cream
- A’pieu Madecassoside Cream (great budget-friendly choice for most skin types)
- SN Plant Stem Cell Moisturizer Goddess Cream (my all-time fav for oily-to-normal skin)
- Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Blooming Cream
- Su:m 37 Centenica 1909 Cream
- Primary Raw DoYou Soy Milk Facial Cream
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