Review: Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence, aka Mermaid Potion

If mermaids were real (but not fish-faced Lovecraftian monstrosities), would they have nice skin? They’re always luminous beauties in the stories and legends, of course, and would benefit from the skin benefits of seaweed and possibly other marine substances too, but at the same time, you’d think they probably get a fair amount of sun exposure out there in the ocean, and all those crashing waves probably make quick work of even the most water-resistant sunscreen. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, since mermaids aren’t real. But if mermaids were real and had access to online ordering of Korean beauty products, I bet some of them would have a few bottles of Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence tucked away in their skincare wardrobes.

Affiliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*).

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence skincare product
Finally, living within walking distance of the ocean comes in handy!

Purpose: Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence claims to smooth and moisturize skin while fighting signs of aging.

Best suited for: All skin types, but especially combo-dry and/or dehydrated skin.

Do not use if: You are sensitive to botanical extracts, fragrance, or anything else in the ingredients list.

When and how to use: After cleansing and any toner or first treatment essence steps but before any heavier serum or ampoules, apply one or two pumps to face and neck. Pat in and continue with the rest of your skincare routine.

“Activates the skin’s hydration power” by um…hydrating it.

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence ingredients:  Sea water, butylene glycol, glycerin, squalane, butylene glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, citrus unshiu peel extract, orchid extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, camellia japonica leaf extract, achillea millefolium extract, adenosine, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, xanthan gum, tromethamine, polysorbate 20, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance

CosDNA analysis

Notable ingredients: Sea water is the first on the list here, and according to Jolse, where I bought this product, the Jeju Lava Seawater Essence contains 84.5% of it. I’m sure that to many people, this just means the product is packed full of water, and they might indeed be right, technically, but since I have a well documented thing about sea water and other ocean ingredientsand am good at magical thinking, having such a high concentration of sea water excites me. It’s actually the reason I chose this essence over the line’s Deep Essence, which is probably more suited to my skin type but only contains 73.8% sea water. In my mind, sea water may be at least a little superior to plain water thanks to the micronutrients left behind by whatever algae, seaweed, and other ocean organisms once called it home. Anyway, my skin responds well to marine stuff. And I love the ocean.

Of course, I’m not going to just go slapping a bottle of sea water on my face. The Jeju Lava Seawater Essence also contains glycerin, a common but highly effective humectant and possible skin-repairing agent; squalane, a skin-identical barrier-repairing ingredient that is excellent for improving moisture retention but is sometimes derived from shark liver oil; and the anti-aging ingredient adenosine. And since this is an Innisfree product, it also contains Jeju Juice, which is what I like to call the particular blend of botanical extracts found in pretty much all Innisfree products. The fruit and floral extracts that comprise Jeju Juice provide a dose of antioxidants to help fight cell-damaging free radicals that can prematurely age skin.

Overall, the Jeju Lava Seawater Essence boasts a far shorter ingredients list than most other Innisfree products I’ve tried, as I mentioned in my first look at the product. It doesn’t look like a super powerful wrinkle basher, but that’s what I use Curology for. I bought this product to try as a simple hydrating essence with some barrier-supporting abilities.

Review of Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence
And because I found I could not resist the really, really, really pretty packaging.


This one gets put in the Better Than Expected! category. Also the Probably Gonna Get It Again! box.

Winter has ended. That doesn’t improve the life-sucking dryness of the SoCal air where I live (in fact, it’s probably dryer now that our “rainy” season is about over), but it does force changes to my skincare routine. Rising temperatures mean heavy layers will become intolerable even though my tret-addled skin still needs plenty of hydration, moisture, and general support. I’ve already swapped a lot of thicker serums out for lighter essences, like this one. The hope is that the right essence (or, more realistically, combination of essences) will help my skin stay its juiciest while providing antioxidant protection but without also suffocating my face.

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence is a lightweight and extremely slippy essence that glides like a leaping manta ray smoothly over my skin, then sinks in without a trace like that same manta ray when it dives beneath the waves. It smells much better than manta rays, though. The Jeju Lava Seawater Essence has a subtle herbally-lavender scent with a hint of the ocean, almost exactly the way Innisfree’s magnificent discontinued Eco Science hydrogel masks did (the scent also reminds me strongly of Aveda Shampure, which was my HG cosmetic smell for years). Subtle is the key word here. Unlike many products from this brand, the Jeju Lava Seawater Essence isn’t overly fragranced. In fact, the scent is so nice that I wish it were just a little stronger or more lasting–but with skincare fragrances, better to err on the side of subtlety than to go too far in the other direction.

And what happens once the product sinks into my skin?

It’s pretty great, actually, especially on days when I’m running short on time and can’t pack on too many layers. A pump or two of product makes my skin feel drenched with hydration and lastingly refreshed from within and silky and nicely plumped on top. Imagine a microscopic view of the upper layers of your skin, thinned out a bit by prescription tretinoin and occasional exfoliants. Now imagine little emollient molecules settling into the cracks and crevices between the cells, filling in any spaces and thickening up that protective layer so that hydration stays put beneath the surface while the surface feels its best. It’s a nice effect that I definitely missed on the days when I chose to skip this step to see whether I felt the same without it. As an added bonus, the Jeju Lava Seawater Essence is entirely watery without a hint of oiliness or greasy residue; my skin might be able to take a bit more richness, but for oilier complexions that still need a hydration boost and some barrier support, the consistency of the product seems close to ideal.

Innisfree logoThe smaller details of the product seem worth mentioning, too. Innisfree’s essences come in generously portioned 50ml airless pump bottles. The pump mechanism is sturdy and mess-free, and airless pump bottles help to preserve the effectiveness of the antioxidant ingredients in the product by preventing exposure to air. Some might complain that the bottle should be opaque to keep light out as well, but I personally prefer the transparent plastic, since it lets me see exactly how much product I have left. I like to reorder things in a timely fashion instead of freaking out when I realize I’ve used it all up. I’m about halfway through the bottle after over a month of use, and 3 months shouldn’t be long enough for the antioxidants to lose their goodness.

Conclusion: Innisfree Jeju Lava Seaater Essence isn’t an all-kill Holy Grail product. It doesn’t brighten or reduce redness as far as I can tell, nor will it provide a noticeable insta-firming effect on skin that’s started to lose elasticity. Then again, there are other product types better suited to producing those kinds of effects. For hydration and lasting moisture retention with some bonus texture help and antioxidant protection, I find the Jeju Lava Seawater Essence pretty exceptional. The mild fragrance and quality packaging make it a pleasure to use, too.

Rating: 4/5

Rating scale:

1 – This should be taken off the market, or this failed at its one primary job.
2 – Caused me some problems or doesn’t work very well; 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.

Where can I buy Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence?

I had a hard time finding Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence when I first noticed it, but it’s become more easily accessible recently. You can buy it for:

What’s your favorite spring/summer skin hydrator?


18 thoughts on “Review: Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence, aka Mermaid Potion

    1. It’s hard to do a direct comparison as the Booskin is a toner and this one is more of a hydrating essence. I use both in the same routine very frequently! If you can only have one, go with the Booskin if you just need a basic softener/toner and go with this one if you need moisture retention and barrier repair.


  1. How does this compare to the Scinic and Shara Shara aqua ampoules? I think at least one of those has seawater in it, and as I’m testing them I’m curious to see how they compare.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prefer this one by quite a lot. Those ampoules are nice and I put the Iceland Water in my rotation pretty often (I ran out of the Aqua ones a while ago) but I find this one is more useful for my purposes because it is more focused on barrier repair and moisture retention rather than brightening (which I don’t really need any more of in my routine since I have tretinoin and Snowshark). So while they’re all nice and all about a 4/5 product for me, this one suits my needs better.


  2. I am so excited for this review. I’ve been really good and haven’t bought it since getting a major case of the grabby hands from your first impressions. I trust your opinion, so this is totally worth giving a shot now that I know it wasn’t a massive fail for you.


  3. Ohhh really interested in this after reading! It sounds perfect for my combo skin, I’m always after hydrating layers that sink right in. I lost interest in Innisfree for a long time, but they currently have a few makeup/skincare products grabbing my attention…thanks for the review!


  4. Thanks for the review!!! I have the Moistufull Booskin and the Scinic snail AIO. I’m thinking I need something to satisfy my need for beach air…😏


  5. Hi, I really love your blog and how informative it is. And a few weeks ago I read your review of the Scinic Snail AIO Ampule and I decided to buy it; but now when i apply it my skin tingles (almost like burning) an gets hot, and now that I’ve used it for about a week, my face is red and dry, like I’ve gotten a sun burn or something. Do you think I’m allergic to it, or is this normal and will go away with long term use?


    1. Butting in to say that definitely sounds like a bad reaction! I would take a break from it to see if your skin gets better . Do you have any known allergies, maybe to dust mites?


      1. I’m not allergic to dust mites, and not to anything on the ingredients list either. I stopped using it but now my skin is feeling super dry and irritated, especially around my nose and lips and it takes 3X the moisturizer to make my skin feel calm, and even that doesn’t last more than a couple of hours. I have sensitive skin, but now it’s sensitive AND DRY 😥


  6. I bought the Deep Essence and it doesn’t seem to be hydrating much for my crazy dry skin. A bummer because it smells so fresh and clean. I’m taking it on vacation with me to the tropics. Maybe seeing the ocean will awaken some kind of magic. 😐

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review! They featured this in an episode of Beautiology 101, where Innisfree just magically used the Jeju water the mom found right away in their new products, haha. That show is an obvious commercial, but it’s a cute little k-drama/comedy all about beauty so it’s pretty irresistable.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I would assume that Innisfree being Innisfree the squalane is the plant derived kind and not the shark derived squalene that would tie me up in knots in terms of usage, but I’ve noticed they tend to put “free of animal products” on the packaging as well. Did you happen to notice this? It’s probably the only thing stopping me from raiding the mermaid’s beauty cabinet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not seeing it, but then again I don’t read Hangul and there’s a fair bit of that on the packaging as well 😐 I made the same assumption as you but didn’t want to come right out and say it of course.


  9. Came for the ingredients! Great reviews! I got mine at they are selling at $26 with free worldwide shipping~


  10. Heyoo, since you described it as an awesome hydrating essence, mermaid fantasies aside, how do you think it compares to the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum which is also a hydrator?


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