I decided to take a small plunge (really, more like stick my toe in the water) and try the Laneige Water Bank Gel Cream EX. Laneige is enjoying a growing presence in outside of South Korea, namely North America and Europe. Asian beauty addicts in the U.S. in particular can now party it up in Target’s beauty aisle with the Laneige Water Bank line of products, various emulsions and serums, and the increasingly popular Laneige BB Cushions—which I may finally give a shot when the tradewinds blow this humidity away. Unless I melt into a puddle of sweat first. Anyway, that’s not what this is about.
Let’s check out what Laneige wants us to think. Some snippets from laneige.com‘s description:
- “Skin moisture rises to 153%* and skin temperature lowers by 2.4°C* instantly upon application.
- Winter Cypress Polysaccharide extract helps to soothe flushed and irritated skin while controlling excessive sebum for shine-free skin all day long.
- …Non-comedogenic moisture cream suitable for even sensitive skin.”
- “Use after Essence and Eye Gel.”
- Label: “for normal to combination skin types”
As some of you might know, though, we should be wary of the term “non-comedogenic.” Plus, test results in controlled settings can only translate so well in real-life. We’ll see how these claims fare!
On their website, Laneige highlights the following ingredients as part of their “Secret recipe”:
- hydro ion mineral water – “penetrates the skin to revive dormant moisturizing genes”
- quinoa extract – “protects the skin from dryness and damage”
- olive squalene – “reinforce the lipid barrier in the epidermis”
- tilandsia extract – “plays an important role in hyaluronic acid synthesis in the dermis” (PubMed data on hyaluronic acid)
Some buzzwords, some plausible scenarios. Here are the other ingredients, from Cosdna. Those with 1 or higher “Acne” or “Irritant” value, as well as a red “Safety” value, are bolded:
Water, Butylene Glycol, Betaine, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Trisiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Beta-Glucan, Magnesium sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Cocamide mipa, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, C12-16 alcohols, Glycogen, Glutamic Acid, Glyceryl oleate, Dimethiconol, Lysine HCL, Mannitol, Menthoxypropanediol, Behenyl Alcohol, Serine, Sodium Polyacrylate, Sucrose, Stearyl behenate, Citrulline, Alanine, VP/VA Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Calcium Citrate, Threonine, Palmitic Acid, Polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate, Polysorbate 20, Propanediol, PCA, MEA-laureth-6 carboxylate, PPG-5-laureth-5, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide MEA, Histidine HCL, Triethanol amine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer
*Note that these values do not indicate universal truths. The amount of ingredient actually in the product, as well as the product’s overall formulation, greatly affect the potential for irritation. Not everyone will be sensitive to these bolded ingredients, and you may be sensitive to ingredients that are not bolded. Every individual’s skin may react differently. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
With my oily skin type and the recent deathly-humid weather, I decided to use this as a final moisturizing step in my PM routine because of its silicone ingredients and, well, it says “Gel Cream” on it. The product is somewhat thin and quite light; it goes on like a smooth criminal. It’s like patting a silky, liquefied cloud-pudding onto your face. Heavenly! On a humid evening, it feels a little sticky at first. Give it a few minutes to sink in, and it’ll be fine. As an occlusive moisturizer, it is certainly lightweight. It does its job helping my previous essence and serum sink into my skin. It certainly wasn’t suffocating with lots of silicone, like my sad experience with Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream. Please excuse my dry arm skin as I demonstrate the Gel Cream’s texture:
After about a week of PM use, my face felt a bit plumper and more hydrated than usual when I woke up. As usual, though, I had greasy skin when I woke up. I should probably address that, but I’ll do it sometime in the future… While it didn’t make me greasier than usual after my AM routine, it didn’t seem to help “[control] excessive sebum” either, like Laneige claims. I still needed to use blotting paper midday. I prefer using this in the PM, or as part of a shorter AM routine (i.e. just the Gel Cream). Although it might be better when the humidity eases up!
Laneige’s claim that the olive squalene would “reinforce the lipid barrier in the epidermis” is hard to prove outside of a lab, though my skin’s slightly increased plumpness is evident of the gel cream’s moisturizing power at work in one way or another. My skin had already mostly recovered from being dehydrated-oily in the past, too, so I really can’t attest to that claim being true. As for “non-comedogenic,” while it’s an unreliable term in the skincare industry, I can attest to the Water Bank Gel Cream’s thin gel texture and, hey, no extra grease or acne for me. Everyone is different, though.
Oh, and instantly lowering skin temperature by 2.4°C? You feel it, but only for an instant, alright. Laneige’s test results may not take into account that the gel cream will warm up quickly if it’s applied using the fingers. And the gel cream will warm up from your skin’s temperature. Besides, you will likely spread it on your face too quickly to fully appreciate the low temperature. There may be some merit in leaving this in the fridge for a while before use, but that’s the case with almost any moisturizer. The cooling effect is, well, cool but fleeting. Just like my soul.
I know this is important for some folks. The scent is pleasant with floral notes, comparable to “shower-fresh” and “powder-fresh” fragrances. For me personally, it reminds me of something I’ve smelled before, but can’t quite remember…! The scent disappears after a few minutes. I might not recommend this for those whose nosy-wosies are sensitive to fragrances in general, but for everyone else, it’s perfectly fine. The scent adds a luxurious feeling to the end of my PM routine. Mmmm.
I ordered 10 samples of this product on the RoseRoseShop website for under $2. For my fellow Americans, it’s available online and in-store at Target. At around $30 for a 50 ml jar, this might be considered to be around mid-price range. Sometimes, you might find it as the “Laneige Water Bank Gel Cream” without the “EX” part. According to a makeupalley.com review, the “EX” version is new (as of 2015). However, Cosdna only seems to list the product without the “EX.” As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a real difference aside from the name. I might be excessively fixating on this. Once I confirm the reason for these slightly different names, I’ll update it here!
If pitted against products with comparable ingredients (especially in the “Western” market), and if it fits your budget, I think the $30~ full-sized jar is a great value. Don’t forget that heavenly texture and luxurious fragrance!
I agree with Laneige: I highly recommend this for normal and combination skin types. It’s worth a shot for oily skin as well, but it might not work well for all oily folks’ AM routines; we might do better with a more mattifying daytime moisturizer. For me personally, it provides excellent moisture without adding greasiness or heaviness at all, like the description claims, but it also doesn’t help much in controlling oiliness.
This product may not hit all of its promised points. However, it certainly lives up to the “Water Bank” in its name, and has a decent value. All in all, my current main goal isn’t more hydration, but I would purchase this again if it was.
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Have you tried this product before, or anything else from Laneige’s Water Bank line? Still looking for your perfect moisturizer? Let me know what you think!