Many lust after it, sometimes solely on the basis of its pretty packagings.
Many revere it for being nothing short of a skin miracle worker, sometimes solely on the basis of Peach and Lily telling them that it is so.
Peach and Lily is an American online retailer, who... well... is responsible for making Cremorlab so popular and lust-worthy among western K-beauty fans. (Western, because Cremorlab is also sold in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and online in a few other places, like Australia).
If you listen to Peach and Lily, you might be excused for believing that Cremorlab is huge in Korea. It's not. Not even close. It's rather unknown and fairly unpopular. It's stocked in local stores, but it's not that easy to find.
It is sold by Lotte Duty Free now, no doubt, in response to the wants of foreign visitors.
Lotte Duty Free
Needless to say, Peach and Lily sells Cremorlab at highly imaginary prices. Being the only distributor in the US and with lots of artificially created buzz about the brand (look at any article mentioning P&L and the word "Cremorlab" won't be far behind), it's understandable they can charge as much as the market is willing to pay. And it seems that the market is willing to pay a lot. A whole lot.
So imagine my surprise when a friend said that Skingarden in Tokyo stocked Cremorlab. AND that they were having a sale. Of course, I immediately begged her to pick up one of each, whatever they were, for me.
See? I so bought into the hype I wanted everything, sight unseen, patch untested. Because it was supposed to be so awesome, right?
I mean if P&L tells us so, it must be true, right? After all, if it wasn't, they wouldn't be charging so much money for it, right?
I got my Cremorlab goodies, squealed with excitement, and started using them.
But while I expected unicorn tears and pixie dust from such a highly hyped brand, the reality was a lot more mundane. Cremorlab was OK. But nothing special.
Full review of everything, apart from the sunblock, is HERE.
It's a solid, basic skincare brand. With the key word here being "basic". What makes it stand out from the pack are the package design esthetics. But is it worth paying Peach and Lily prices for pretty boxes and minimalistic jars? Well, that's for you to answer.
At Skingarden in Tokyo every item cost less than (the equivalent of) 15 dollars, with many as low as 10 dollars, with a couple even lower.
It was like a Peach and Lily sample sale but without the madness.
But even by Tokyo sale standards, those were pretty incredible prices. Makes you wonder just how much Cremorlab products are REALLY worth.
Last week I had to go to Tokyo quite unexpectedly, and of course wanted to see if the Cremorlab sale was still going on.
It was. Many products from the original lineup were gone, but there were still a few left.
One of them was today's contestant (which I didn't get in the original "friendly" haul).
Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF50+ PA+++ UVA/UVB Protection T.E.N. Cremor(not sure which part of this mess is the actual product name, so I'm just throwing out here everything that's on the box).
See what I mean? It IS a pretty box.
I have a thing about sunscreens. I see a new sunscreen, and like a well trained Pavlovian dog, I reach for my wallet. It's become an involuntary reflex. And that's exactly how it went down last week at Skingarden. Veni, vidi, VISA, as the ancients used to say.
In the photos above I already took it off, but each box was securely sealed in plastic. Yay for ensuring that all products were kept away from fingers itching to open them at the store and test without later buying anything. See Peach and Lily? That's how it should be done!
By Japanese sunscreen standards this tube of Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF50+ PA+++ is positively HUGE! There's 60 ml of product inside.
Now, whoever thought that putting grey print on a black tube was a good idea is an idiot. And that's a pretty gentle way of expressing my feelings.
My friend was a lot more to the point - "this idiot should be shot, I can't read this crap," she mumbled as the kept turning the tube to the sun to catch more light in order to be able to read the blurbs on the back.
Take a look for yourself:
And I really had to crank up the exposure in this photo to make the text visible.
Still can't read it?
Ok, this is what it says:
T.E.N. Thermal Water from Geumjin
"T.E.N. calcium to magnesium ratio is 1.6:1, which is a golden ration that brings the best absorption to the body. With the colloid, T.E.N. in red wine color is rich in rare minerals. It provides the skin with intense nourishment and helps maintain a moisture balance to keep it soft and youthful."
The same is printed on the box, but with a spelling mistake.
Very unhelpfully, there is not much on the internet I could find about this mythical "red wine color" mineral water, and the only English search results that came back were links to Cremorlab and Cremorlab resellers. Big surprise here, LOL.
So let's see what Cremorlab has to say about it.
Wow, it's positively magical.
I googled Gangwon Province (here's the link to the official provincial website - Gangwon Province) and it's indeed famous for its hot springs. But no word anywhere (in English) on the magical Cremorlab mineral water.
So let's take a look at the Cremorlab site to see what else they have to say about it.
Now, I must say I absolutely despise the Cremorlab website. It's all image based. All!
Yeah, they do have an English language version (well, sort of, only selected parts are in English), and a Chinese version. But that's not enough. I don't want to be limited by the site design. For example, if you click on the "Store" tab, it gives you the list of Watsons and Olive Young stores in Korea where you can purchase Cremorlab products. But if you are a foreigner and can't read Hangul, you're shit out of luck. The entire list is image based and you can't copy it into Google translate.
Wow! What a great way to win new customers! Well done, Cremorlab!
OK, back to Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF 50+ PA+++.
It claims to be "nourishing, highly effective hydrating, highly effective protection, for all skin types". Their words, not mine. That's what it says on the box.
As my product was purchased in Japan, Cremorlab went to the trouble of printing an entire Japanese language version box. Some brands just slap on a sticker in Japanese and call it a day. Not Cremorlab. It printed a whole new country-specific box.
What a great way to cut costs and save paper! Amazing! Awesome for the environment, too. After all, I wouldn't expect anything less from a brand that describes its philosophy as:
- Healthy Life,
- Pure Beauty,
- Clean Environment, and
Dunno, maybe in Korea they have a different concept of "clean environment" and wasting a mountain of paper is considered a good thing?
(Ok, rant over.)
Back to Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF50+ PA+++.
The tube opening was protected by a sticker. Brownie points here. I like to know that the product has been left untouched by human hands.
The consistency is a lot more liquidy than I would like. It would have worked much better in an airless pump.
It has a vague citrusy smell that is not too overpowering. It doesn't linger too long.
The product takes ages to dry. Let me repeat it - ages. Centuries. Whole millennia.
But when it does eventually dry, it is deliciously non-sticky and fairly matte. And leaves no white cast. The skin feels soft. It worked well under makeup. It managed fine in 38 degree heat.
However, from now on, I am downgrading it to a body block. I'm going to use it on my arms and legs only. Why? Just a minute.
When I bought it, I quickly scanned the ingredient list. It's printed in Japanese on the box. I was glad to see that "Ethanol" wasn't one of the top ingredients. What I didn't notice at that time was that "Alcohol Denat." was listed further down.
Here's the entire ingredient list for T.E.N. Cremor Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF50+ PA+++ in Japanese:
I looked at it and thought to myself "Well, that's odd."
I checked the ingredient list on that Korean cosmetic appli, Hwahae... whatever the name of it is.
I screenshot it for your convenience:
Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF 50+ PA+++ ingredient list as seen on Hwahae:
(click on it for a larger view)
And it is different. Very different from what the Japanese box says.
We already know that Korean manufacturers have different ingredient listing standards than the US.
Tracy from Fanserviced-b did a whole blog post explaining those differences - South Korean vs US cosmetic ingredient list order differences.
Japan follows the American pattern.
Ratzilla said so before on Twitter, but there were still some people who were doubtful, and who assumed (incorrectly) that Japan and Korea had the same labeling standards.
You can compare the differences for yourself.
For your convenience I translated the Japanese list and plugged it into CosDNA. I used CosDNA's own Japanese support function and manually looked up the entries that were missing.
Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF 50+ PA+++ in CosDNA according to the American (and Japanese) ingredient list order.
Another blogger (sorry, don't remember who right now) already noticed that Cremorlab ingredient lists for the same product differ significantly depending on who provides them.
Myself, I tend to trust the Japanese version. And the Japanese version says that while it's an effective sunblock, it's not really something I'd like to keep using on my face.
As an aside, I expected better from a company that lists "Pure Beauty" as its brand philosophy.
And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I am planning to do similar ingredient showdowns for all Cremorlab products I own.
I paid the equivalent of US$8.00 (give or take a few cents) for this sunscreen. And in my opinion it's worth exactly that much.
T.E.N. Cremor Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF50+ PA+++ is a good, basic sunscreen, if you don't mind Avobenzone and denatured alcohol.
And here's the reason for the massive sale at Skingarden:
But by the looks of it, I'm going to finish it sometime around September. Because it's so liquid, it goes super fast.
Stay tuned for more Cremorlab reviews.