Review: Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream

The product featured in this post was provided for review by W2Beauty. All opinions and recommendations in this post are my own unless otherwise noted. Learn more about my rules for store partnerships by checking out my sponsorship policy and sponsor list.

Like many other kids, little-girl me was fascinated with my mom’s beauty rituals. My mom was a Total Badasswho, unlike me, had no qualms about not fitting in. In our homogeneous and conservative Midwestern town, she stood out: She got her fashion ideas from Vogue and her hair and makeup inspiration from Sheena Easton. And every night, all that vibrant and perfectly applied makeup had to come off. She took her makeup off with the Pond’s Cold Cream. I remember watching her massage it into her face, the fragrant white cream darkening and turning muddy with makeup before she tissued it off.

Cold cream worked great for my mom, but even after I got seriously into skincare, I avoided it. Nostalgia worked against me here, since I associated it with older women. But when Alice from W2Beauty contacted me to offer my choice of a few products for review and I noticed Primera’s cleansing cream on the site, I figured it was time to give this classic cleanser format a chance. If nothing else, I figured, taking my makeup off with cold cream at the end of the day would be a nice way of reconnecting with my memories of my badass mom.

Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream
Crazy to think that someday this sleek packaging will look just as dated as a 1980s jar of Pond’s Cold Cream does to our eyes now.

Purpose: Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream is a mild, moisturizing non-foaming facial cleanser formulated to remove makeup and other impurities and clean skin.

Best suited for: Dry or dehydrated/dry skin; mature skin; skin that is sensitive to surfactant cleansing ingredients.

Do not use if: You are sensitive to fatty (moisturizing) alcohols, botanical extracts, coconut oil derivatives, or anything else in the ingredients list.

When and how to use: Scoop a generous amount of product from the jar and spread over dry face. Massage for 1-2 minutes or until any visible makeup is dissolved. Rinse or tissue off. Follow with a water-soluble second cleanser if desired.

pH: ~5. I used the Holy Snails pH testing method of applying product to the strips in exactly the same state that the product would go onto my face, which in this case means straight from the jar, undiluted. Receipt is below.

pH test of Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream
I am going to start buying stock in pH strip manufacturers. These things are great.

I was actually a little weirded out about testing the pH of this product. Since it works as a makeup-removing first cleanser and feels rich, I’d assumed it was an oil-based product and therefore impossible (and unnecessary) to home test. I realized that the Smooth Cleansing Cream is actually water-based when I looked at the ingredients, however, and after some encouragement from a fellow blogger, I gave it a shot. I still think it’s strange to test a cream, but it did show a change on the pH strips–here’s a shot of one of the strips I used, compared to an unused pH strip.

pH strip comparison

So. 5. Nice.

Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream ingredients:  Water, cetyl ethylhexanoate, butylene glycol, propanediol, isopropyl palmitate, pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate, hydrogenated poly(C6-14 olefin), cyclopentasiloxane, cetearyl alcohol, octyldodecanol, hydrogenated vegetable oil, camellia sinensis leaf extract, brassica oleracea italica (broccoli) extract), melia azadirachta extract, borago officinalis extract, brassica oleracea gemmifera extract, helianthus annuus (sunflower) extract, vinis vinifera (grape) leaf extract, gossypium herbaceum (cotton) extract, beta-glucan, citrus limon (lemon) peel oil, citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot) extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) extract, triticum vulgare (wheat) sprout extract, fragaria vesca (strawberry) leaf extract, phyllanthus emblica extract, myosotis sylvatica flower/leaf/stem extract, beeswax, polysorbate 60, PEG-100 stearate, poloxamer 184, polysorbate 80, sorbitan stearate, carbomer, tromethamine, glyceryl caprylate, ethylhexylglycerin, glycerin, propylene glycol, stearyl behenate, polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose disteardimonium, hydroxypropyl bispalmitamide MEA, inulin lauryl carbamate, polysorbate 20, dimethicone, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol (English ingredients kindly looked up for me on the Hwahae app by the always awesome Tracy at Fanserviced-B)

CosDNA analysis

Notable ingredients: Normally, I don’t want to spend too much time discussing the ingredients of a cleansing product, since they are meant to be washed off, but cleansing creams are a little bit different. Products like the Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream are formulated so that they can be tissued off rather than rinsed or washed away. Doing so will allow the remaining residue to moisturize skin. So let’s take a look at these ingredients.

CosDNA flags a handful of the Smooth Cleansing Cream’s ingredients as potential irritants and acne triggers. While I don’t consider the site anywhere near infallible or authoritative (there’s no way to be when it comes to skin, which is very individual and YMMV), I do think it’s worth pointing out that the Smooth Cleansing Cream lists coconut oil-derived isopropyl palmitate fairly high in the ingredients list, along with hydrogenated vegetable oil and cetearyl alcohol. Now, don’t get confused by the cetearyl alcohol. This is a fatty, moisturizing alcohol rather than a drying alcohol like ethanol. People in the skincare forums I frequent self-report a sensitivity to fatty alcohols often enough that I want to make sure you’re aware that one is present here.

With that being said, there are some pretty awesome ingredients in here as well. Like many other K-beauty skincare products, Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream contains a nutritious smorgasboard of antioxidant-rich botanical extracts with additional calming, anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant properties. In fact, looking at the ingredients, I’d be happy to try this product out as a straight moisturizer. Which, as you’ll see below, I did, in a way.


I may not have used cold cream for many years, but I still remember the way it feels. Thick and silky, Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream has the luxurious texture I’m looking for, and something about its soft herbal fragrance is just right for a cold cream, too.

Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream review
I love a nice silky cream. The texture just makes me happy.

The smooth, emollient texture of Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream is perfect for a cold cream. It allows me to massage the product around my face for as long as I need to without any friction, rubbing, tugging, or dragging. When I chose to forego a second cleanser, simply wiping or rinsing the excess cleansing cream off my face, I did feel a slight film of residue, but my face didn’t look or feel dirty at all. Instead, it felt like I’d patted in the tiniest amount of moisturizer, leaving my skin soft and comfortable but clean-feeling. I tissued the cleansing cream off for four consecutive nights to see if I would break out. I have the kind of skin that rarely does, but that will break out pretty much immediately if it comes into contact with anything it doesn’t like. To my relief, no blemishes formed. I don’t think I’d use this without a second cleanser full time (if for no other reason than because I want a super-clean surface for all of the actives in my evening skincare routine), but if I were to, say, get really drunk and not want to go through my entire routine, I’d be perfectly comfortable using this to clean my face and then passing out (or listening to Taiwanese oldies and crying for a couple of hours, then passing out). I don’t get that drunk more than a few times a year, but it’s always good to have a workable option around for when it happens.

Arguably more importantly, Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream does a great job of cleaning off makeup. In my experience, it’s just as effective as my mom’s old Pond’s. Let’s take a look.

As usual, I tested the cleaning power of this product by first tarting up the back of my hand with a layer of hard-wearing Biore Perfect Milk sunscreen and a bunch of makeup.

Primera cleansing cream review
In case you’re curious, that eyeshadow swatch is Memebox’s I’m Eye Shadow in #PG300 Berry Mix Shine, which I adore and wish I could wear without looking like an opiate addict strung out after a weeklong bender.

I then scooped out some Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream and put it on my hand.

Primera Smooth cleansing cream test
You want to be generous with this product.

A minute or two of massaging was all it took to loosen up and lift away my hand’s impromptu party face.

Removing makeup with Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream
As you can see, it’s easy to tell when the product has done its job.

I first tissued the product off so that I could show how skin looks if you choose the waterless way of cleansing with it.

Makeup removed with Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream
As you can see by the matte finish, wiping without rinsing won’t leave you greasy or shiny. What you can’t see is how soft and moisturized the back of my hand feels.

I then massaged another dose of product onto the back of my hand, but this time, I rinsed it off instead.

Rinsing off Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream
The slight hydrophobic quality of the skin here shows the invisible film of cream left behind after rinsing.

Either way, my skin looked and felt fresh and clean. When I use the Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream as a first cleanser, meanwhile, its moisturizing properties help to keep my TretFace from feeling stripped even if the foaming cleanser I use afterwards is a little drying, as the one I’m testing now happens to be. This is important. For people with very dry or dehydrated skin, even oil cleansers can be stripping, making double cleansing a challenge. I think the Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream could be helpful for such situations. Using the Smooth Cleansing Cream as a first cleanser and following up with a foaming second cleanser also eliminates residue concerns for those who don’t want their first cleanser to stick around.

During my time with the Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream, I did notice one major weakness. Until very recently, I always relied on my first cleanser to remove my eye makeup as well, figuring that there’s no point having an additional point makeup remover around when cleansing oil can do the job just fine. Can’t do that with this product. It stings and burns my eyeballs pretty badly, making it useless for getting eyeliner and mascara off. Luckily, I was recently gifted some silicone-and-water biphase point makeup remover, so I’ve been using that before I begin my double cleanse. If you wear eye makeup and want the Smooth Cleansing Cream, make sure you have a separate method of cleaning your eye area. Not a huge deal–I’ve learned that taking my eye makeup off before I start my PM skincare actually makes my evening routine a little easier– but something to consider.

Conclusion: I’m kind of embarrassed that I let an irrational prejudice keep me from trying cream cleansers for so long. Primera’s Smooth Cleansing Cream is pleasant to use, an effective makeup remover, and in a pinch can serve as a simple but complete skincare routine. Even someone who enjoys the evening skincare ritual as much as I do occasionally gets drunk or just needs a break, so I appreciate the convenience factor. Oh, and using the product really did transport me back in time to my memories of my mom. I sometimes felt like we were taking off our makeup together when I used this. If she were still around, I would totally send her a jar, and she would totally love it.

Just make sure you don’t get it in your eyes.

Rating: 3.7/5

Rating scale:

1 – This should be taken off the market.
2 – Caused me some problems; would not buy again.
3 – Meh. Neither great nor bad.
4 – Pretty good. Would buy again unless I find something better.
5 – I’ll never be in the market for a replacement unless this one is discontinued.
Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream review

Where can I buy Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream?

I received Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream from W2Beauty, where a hefty 250ml jar is currently $24.53.

© 2015 unless otherwise noted (copyright and sharing policy)


6 thoughts on “Review: Primera Smooth Cleansing Cream

  1. When I used to do amateur theatre, I always used Noxema Cold Cream to take off the extremely thick layer of stage make up – this post is bringing back many memories for me too! If W2Beauty will ship the North, they will be getting my money soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the review! I’d had my eyes on this for a while – but now I’m conflicted! I want to switch out my Banila Co. Cleanser for this once it’s empty, but despite some of its weaknesses, the Banila one never burned my eyes. What to do…! I’ll have to start point-removing too! :’D

    Liked by 1 person

  3. By the way what eye makeup remover do you use? I use the Kiss Me Heroine because it goes with my mascara and I can just pick it up at the store. I also need to track down this fairy drops stuff I keep reading about…

    Liked by 1 person

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