Friday, August 7, 2015

Cremorlab Sun Protective SPF50+ PA+++

Cremorlab is a Korean skincare brand that generates a lot of mixed emotions.
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.

image source: 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.

(both images -

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!

(Rant over)

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
  • Humanism
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.


  1. You have a Pavlovian thing for sunscreens? Can we be friends???

    LOL. I actually got this sunscreen a while ago (not yet opened) but I tried at the store and was pretty impressed with the way it dries, for some reason the tester I tested looks less liquidy than yours in the pic, so it's like a cream consistency without being thick or watery. I quite like it. I got it at the price twice as yours though tbh - and i caught it on sale (otherwise would have paid tripled). Am looking forward to using it though!

    Have you used anything from Supergoop?

    *off to dig other SPF reviews on your blog now*

    1. Hi Jenni!
      Friends!!! YAY!!! :-)
      Actually, I realized that if I shake the tube quite vigorously, the contents become more creamy.
      I'm not familiar with Supergoop.

      *off to google it right away*

  2. You're so spot on about all the hype around cremorlab and peach and lily. P&L overcharge and hype up a lot of kbeauty products, like Mizon, that would be considered bargain bin products in Korea. It's so refreshing to read a post like this!!! Often times I roll my eyes when I see so many American beauty bloggers going crazy over like the cheapest kbeauty lotions that I would never put on my face!

    1. Exactly! I totally agree with you.
      Cremorlab is a decent brand, but it's wholly average and absolutely nothing special.

    2. Ladies, im curious, what brands in your opinion would be "all the hype" in Korea? (known and well-loved by koreans)

    3. Jenni, in what price range and for what age?

    4. No particular price range - both from the drugstore side to the high end side?

      I'm just curious coz i've never been a fan of Kbeauty but it seems that what people rave outside Korea is quite a different story than those raved by koreans...Am intrigued in the real picture, from the lower end to the higher end of the price scale, if possible? haha!!

    5. What's raved by Koreans - look at the ads and celebrity endorsements - that's what popular.
      Higher end - surprisingly, lots of western products, and high end Korean brands. What I call "legacy" brands - the ones that started it all - Sulwhasoo, sum37, Hera, etc.

  3. I'm finding this to be sadly true with a lot of Western retailers. Each has their golden child and charge an arm and a leg for it. This reminds me. You picked up some Whamisa products some time ago, no? Have you gotten around to using them? Definitely curious to see what you think!

    1. I wanted to post a review, but Skin and Tonics just did her excellent piece on the Whamisa toner, so I thought it's best to wait a little bit :-)

  4. I totally agree with you about Cremorlab. So far I've tried their masks which are way overpriced on Peach and Lily, and I have the Mineral Treatment Essence, which although it feels nice... is really nothing special and I can't attribute anything positive going on with my skin to using it.. But that bottle is damn pretty.

    1. I'm glad someone agrees :-) I got a couple of hate mails over this entry. hahaha!
      I mean it's an OK brand. But, really, nothing earth shattering. Just your basic, garden variety skincare. P&L must be laughing all the way to the bank.

  5. Niewiele z tego zrozumiałam, ale "veni, vidi, VISA "- kupuję i będę sprzedawać dalej ( oczywiście, z informacją o Autorce, coby nie naruszać ustawy o prawach autorskich; tylko, błagam, nie żądaj tantiem) - pozdrowienia Ewa.

    1. No alez przeciez to nie moje! To antyczni tak mawiali, czyz nie? :-)
      No i wiem, wiem, musze wrzucic polskie tlumaczenia. Ale one tyle czasu zabieraja... Buuu...

  6. Tak, oczywiście wiem, że to słowa Cezara, ale nie słyszałam ich w tak znakomitej, uwspółcześnionej wersji,która moim zdaniem, pozwala nadać naszym wydatkom odrobiny humoru - łatwiej się klika, "kiedy mamy wieniec laurowy na głowie " ( płakać będziemy później - gdy zobaczymy zestawienie miesięcznych operacji }. A co tłumaczeń - to mam świadomość, że zabiera to mnóstwo czasu - może zamieszczałabyś tylko adnotację po polsku - np.warte zachodu" , hm, raczej chyba "wschodu" , lub coś w stylu " jestem na tak" z resztą sobie poradzimy, wujek Google, słownik Pons i damy radę- Ewa.

    1. Klikanie z wiencem laurowym na glowie to moja specjalnosc :-)

  7. There are, actual tears in my eyes laughing at how different the price is. I just checked Lotte's Cremorlab page and everything has gone down in price by $1. Exchange rate maybe? But still, it's not a high end brand. It's not popular, nor particularly special from the trickle of reviews coming out. I'm still curious about the products, but I no longer have any real expectations other than being nice to use.

    Still, lovely packaging. Though you're right, I can't actually understand who thought gray on black would be a wonderful idea!

    1. It's a decent lower- to mid- range brand. It seems solid, but it's nothing special. I'd put it in the same price and effectiveness category as Innisfree or Nature Republic. That sort of basic no frills stuff.

  8. Thank you for your honesty, it was refreshing reading this : )

    1. Thank you! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this review!

  9. So glad I was pointed to your blog, you are now officially a new huge source of info for my Asian beauty wish list! :-)

    1. Thank you! If there is anything specific you'd like me to write about, please let me know! :-)

  10. Załatwiłaś mnie psem Pawłowa. xD
    Filtr całościowo jest ładnie opakowany. Szkoda, że bardziej nie porywa.

    A nadmierne zachwalanie produktów (czy też marek), które są tak naprawdę takie sobie zauważyłam jakiś czas temu. I tak np. kosmetyki dedykowane nastolatkom (czyli tanie, delikatne w działaniu i efekcie w makijażu) są tak bardzo zachwalane, że można pomyśleć, że są nie wiadomo jak dobre. I w ogóle azjatyckie, więc trzeba brać. A potem jest rozczarowanie. :)

    1. Sa tanie marki, ktore maja solidne produkty. Ale lansowanie taniej marki jako cos ekskluzywnego jest smieszne. I jak widac, nie tylko polskie sklepy internetowe sa w tej dziedzinie mistrzami.

  11. Thanks for another honestly critical review and for linking to our P&L sample sale post :) Yeah, Cremorlab (and May Coop and others) seem hyped up for the Western market since I never see them mentioned on Korean YouTube videos or blogs. That's why I'm glad I'm getting the chance to try them at way cheaper than P&L prices! I'll be satisfied if they're just good at moisturizing :D --Angela

    1. Angela, your P&L sample sale story was hilarious! And the stickers!!! I waaaaaant!!!
      Yep, it moisturizes. Plenty :-)

  12. Reading both the ingredients list, I can tell that its not for me hahaha (lavender and witch hazel extracts don't do justice on the skin) although I do love a matte finish. Still on the hunt for the perfect physical sunscreen. Heard of the hyped shiseido one but it contains too much alcohol.

    1. Try NOV Perfect Shield. Physical only, meant for sensitive skin.

  13. This by far, in my new venture through KB, was thee BEST! I feel as the westerner, and everything is hype. So far everything I have purchased, has gone back.

    I'm so glad someone mentioned above what I'm about to ask as well. In Korea, what exactly are the brands that are raved about as far as anti-aging. I feel like what is being brought and hyped up to in America, is nothing but hype

  14. Thank you so much for the honest review. I'm South Asian looking for a new regime and decided to stay away from Western brands and try Korean. Well, I fell for the Peach and Lily hype and you are right. Overpriced and basic. Everything is going back and I'm continuing my search. Please should you know of any mid range brands that are great for 30s combo, antiaging skin please send me the info. Thanks a mil!

  15. Did you ever try any of the other Cremorlab products? I'm curious what they are like.

  16. An extremely helpful post. Confirmed many of my observations about Peach & Lilly and Cremolab.

  17. What would be a good sunscreen for 23 year old?


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