One Amazon Shopper Said This Under-$20 Korean Moisturizer Replaced All the High-End, Pricier Creams She’s Tried

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There’s something so satisfying about finding a skin-care formula that really works. This is especially true when it costs under $20 and is beneficial enough to replace more expensive products. According to one Amazon customer, the ETUDE SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream ($15) did just that.

"I rarely leave reviews but I had to leave one for this...After trying several high end brands (La Mer, Charlotte Tilbury, Glam Glow, Peter Thomas Roth), [reading] the reviews on numerous websites on this one, [I] decided to give it a go. It’s only been three days & already my face has a significant difference," one customer writes.

Another says, "This is my favorite moisturizer, and I have tried quite a few ranging from inexpensive to very pricey. This can be viewed as a less expensive alternative to the Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream and in my opinion, it’s even better. It’s super moisturizing and makes my skin feel so soft; it’s not heavy at all. I also like how my skin still feels fresh and moisturized when I wake up in the morning." This echoes the first review, proving that this $15 cream goes up against some of the most luxurious brands in the biz.

With some of the most trusted and coveted formulas in skin-care, K-beauty leads the way in creating impressive and high-quality products for a fraction of the price. And, while we appreciate a good review, we wanted to know more about why the ETUDE SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream received such rave feedback from shoppers. So, we did what we always do and asked top dermatologists for their insights on the formula’s ingredients and why it’s such a stand-out product for thousands of Amazon shoppers.

So, what's the big deal about this moisturizer?

The ETUDE SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream is a $15 formula that promises to balance the skin’s oil production and moisture levels, soothe the complexion, and keep breakouts and skin irritation at bay. One key reason why this K-beauty moisturizer yields such stellar results can be chalked up to its ingredients list. The lineup includes powerful ingredients with star players such as shea butter, panthenol, and Madecassoside.

According to Dr. Mary Alice Mina, MD, FAAD, double board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, shea butter is a natural ingredient that has been used for centuries because of its skin benefits. “Shea butter contains fatty acids like cetyl esters and triglycerides and oils like linoleic acid, which help lock in moisture and maintain a healthy skin barrier,” she explains. Additionally, Dr. Mina says the antioxidants—which include vitamins A, E, and F—in shea butter can also help improve skin health and repair oxidative damage from sun and pollution.

Panthenol might not be as obvious as shea butter, but it’s actually a precursor of pantothenic acid, which Dr. Mina notes is actually provitamin B5. This ingredient is “a powerful humectant for the skin, which strongly binds water and helps decrease water loss across the skin barrier,” says Dr. Mina. She adds that this helps lock in moisture and is especially amazing for those with chronically dry skin, or skin during cold, dry months. Panthenol is also incredibly soothing with skin-healing properties, says Dr. Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, a double board-certified dermatologist and editor at DermBoard. He notes that it’s frequently used in products for baby skin in Europe because of these benefits(!!).

Madecassoside is a plant-based ingredient that is derived from the Gotu Kola plant, which has been used medicinally for its many health and beauty benefits. “It has many clinical studies to show that the active compounds—madecassoside being one of the most important—have anti-inflammatory and healing properties,” says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, a board-certified dermatologist. She adds that this ingredient has become more and more common in skin care because it can target barrier repair as well as irritated or sensitive skin, or skin that has been damaged by procedures like chemical peels, micro-needling, and ablative lasers.

Ingredients aside, this K-beauty moisturizer is also renowned for its hypoallergenic formula, which is another reason why it promotes such rave-review-worthy results. According to Dr. Skotnicki, a hypoallergenic formula can be incredibly beneficial to the skin because, contrary to popular belief, allergy comes with repeat exposure. “If you use products with suspect allergens repeatedly over time, you increase your risk of becoming allergic to them,” she explains, noting that these allergens often include natural and synthetic fragrances, some plant-based ingredients, formaldehyde, and methylisothiazolinone preservatives. When a product says it is hypoallergenic, Dr. Mina says that typically means it is safer for someone with sensitive skin or those with eczema to use.

With that said, Dr. Tonkovic-Capin says you still need to be careful with introducing new skin-care products to your routine, even if they are hypoallergenic. “Using a hypoallergenic moisturizer reduces but does not eliminate the risk of allergic reactions,” he explains. It is recommended that new products are tested on the inside of the wrist before applying to the complexion.

In addition to its hypoallergenic formula, this Korean moisturizer also includes a low pH balance, which Dr. Mina says is also noteworthy, since “a moisturizer with a slightly lower pH is good because it helps our skin maintain its normal pH.” She explains that a neutral pH level is 7 and the skin has a mildly acidic pH between 4.7 and 5.75. The ETUDE SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream has a pH of around 5.5 which is ideal for supporting skin health.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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