May 21, 2019 update: The Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream has been discontinued, but together we can bring it back! Soo Ae has offered to bring my favorite barrier-strengthening, all around nourishing, day- and night-appropriate moisturizer back if they receive 5,000 pre-orders for it. To make it easier to reach their goal, they’ve also taken 50% off of the retail price for the pre-sale. Order it here or read on to find out why I love this cream so much after all this time. And please share this post far and wide–we can make this happen!
Originally published September 7, 2015
So let’s talk about moisturizing creams.
Moisturizers are one of the most basic and foundational elements to any skincare routine. Whether you’re reading this from the bottom of the Asian cosmetics rabbit hole or the skincare shelves at your local CVS, you most likely know what moisturizer is and what it does. And you most likely don’t give it much thought. I know I didn’t…until I started using prescription tretinoin. Now I’m all about the creams. This series of three reviews will showcase my three favorite moisturizing creams, the ones that have kept the notorious tret-induced dryness and flakiness at bay so far, helping my skin stay soft and comfortable despite the prescription-strength assault on its moisture levels. Let’s start with my number one: Soo Ae Freeset Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream!
Purpose: Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream is a moisturizing cream.
Best suited for: Normal, dry, and dehydrated skin.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to glycols, cetyl alcohol, jojoba seed oil, shea butter, olive oil and olive oil derivatives, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: As the last step in your skincare routine, smooth a small amount over face, neck, and upper chest.
Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream ingredients: Water, hydrolyzed collagen, diisostearyl malate, cyclopentasiloxane, butylene glycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, glycerin, glyceryl acrylate/acrylic acid copolymer, propylene glycol, glyceryl stearate, triethylhexanoin, oleyl oleate, portulaca oleracea extract, niacinamide, glycereth-26, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, 1,2-hexanediol, ethylhexylglycerin, donkey milk (1%), squalane, pyrus pyrifolia (pear) fruit extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, sanguisorba officinalis root extract, centella asiatica extract, cavvinum angustifolium (blueberry) fruit extract, acanthopanax senticosus (eleuthero) root extract, phellinus linteus extract, inonotus obliquus (mushroom) extract, simmondisa chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate, hydrogenated olive oil decyl esters, tri-C14-15 alkyl citrate, shea butter, PEG-100 stearate, dimethicone, dimethiconol, hydrogenated polydecene, hydrogenated lecithin, ceramide 3, sodium carbomer, cholesterol, potassium C11-15 alkyl phosphate, ceramide 2, phytosphingosine, polyacrylate-13, polyisobutene, polysorbate 20, panthenol, beta-glucan, sodium hyaluronate, allantoin, adenosine, chlorphenesin, disodium EDTA, fragrance
CosDNA analysis flagged a surprisingly small number of ingredients for such a long ingredients list. Only cetyl alcohol, a very common moisturizing “fatty” alcohol, scored higher than a 1 for either acne or irritation.
Notable ingredients: For me, the donkey milk was the key attraction of this product. As some of you already know, I love the Soo Ae Donkey Milk Aqua and Healing masks. They were my introduction to the moisturizing, nourishing, reparative properties of donkey milk. And I was a little taken aback to see the donkey milk content of this cream listed at a measly one percent, though I give the brand a lot of respect for disclosing the percentage, rather than attempting to imply that this cream contains more donkey milk than it actually does.
Luckily, donkey milk isn’t the only thing this cream has to offer. Skin-repairing, barrier-supporting ingredients like caprylic/capric triglyceride and squalane make an appearance. So does niacinamide, which stimulates the skin to produce more of its own lipids while also contributing brightening effects. A bevy of brightening and antioxidant extracts fill the middle of the list. And, most excitingly, the ceramides, cholesterol, and other fatty acids in this product provide all the components needed for an ideal skin barrier fixer. While we can’t tell whether those components are present in the ideal ratio, their presence is a promising start.
Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream has a faint powdery/floral fragrance, definitely there but by no means overwhelming, and an…interesting texture. Neither thick nor thin, it’s soft and non-oily, with an oddly pleasant slimy quality to it. I say that in the most loving way.
As you scoop it out of the jar, it has a tendency to pull into long strings like very evenly melted cheese. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good photo of this, though if you follow my Snapchat (username: mommasharkus) you may have seen it in action.
Thanks to its slippy texture, the cream smooths on and spreads out extremely easily. I was surprised and happy to find that it doesn’t feel greasy at all on my skin, as many moisturizing creams do, and that it sinks in quickly–so quickly that I often layer two coats of this onto my face before I go to bed at night. It does leave a slight film, but not a suffocating one. It makes my skin feel like it’s gained an extra moisture barrier on top of my natural moisture barrier. In other words, it feels like a good thing. In the morning, I wake up to even, bright, and deeply moisturized skin.
That’s not a placebo effect, either. I’ve made it a habit to take my skin’s moisture levels right before bed and right after I wake up whenever I’m testing a new cream. According to my digital skin analyzer, my skin tends to max out at about 57% water, so I shoot for that in my evening routine. Several of my creams have allowed my skin’s water content to drop by ten percent or more overnight, a real disappointment. The Soo Ae donkey milk cream allows my skin to retain almost all of the moisture I go to bed with. My average drop in water when using this cream is only 3%. That’s pretty incredible. Now that I’m using tret, moisture retention has become extremely important to me. It’s easy to add extra hydration to my skin, not so easy to make it hang around through the night (or day).
Speaking of day, Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream is the only one out of the three creams in this series that I’m comfortable using in the morning as well as at night. Over it, my usual sunscreen dries down almost as quickly as it does when I’ve moisturized with a lighter product. And under the ultra-drying, alcohol-heavy Biore Perfect Milk sunscreen–which takes my skin’s moisture levels down at least ten percent when used over a lighter moisturizer–Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream allows my skin to retain almost all of its hydration, just as it does at night. I was beyond impressed at the end of my first day using this under Biore Perfect Milk. My face wasn’t parched at all, as I’ve come to expect by about 5pm. It felt soft and plump all the way to my double cleanse at the end of the day.
My neck is very prone to overexfoliation and dryness, far more than my face. On top of all its other good points, the Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream heals up that itchy tightness the fastest and most thoroughly of any other cream. On its own, that would be enough reason to keep it around. As it stands, it’s just another good point in what I’ve come to realize is my holy grail cream.
Conclusion: I wish this cream could stay around forever. It’s turned out to be my perfect rich cream for summertime. It’s light enough to wear under sunscreen and makeup but nourishing and occlusive enough to overcome very arid weather and prescription tretinoin. I do wish it contained more than just one percent donkey milk, but whatever’s in it is more than enough for me. With that being said, this cream’s biggest flaw may be its inaccessibility.
Where can I buy Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream?
Soo Ae Donkey Milk 3D Moisture Cream has been discontinued, but you can help bring it back (and get your hands on a jar from a fresh new batch!) by pre-ordering it at half price here at the Soo Ae New York website.