Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed a pretty serious addiction to gel creams. I generally have at least a couple of gel creams open and in active rotation in my everyday skincare routines, because now that my skin is fully adjusted to my very high (0.14%) Curology tretinoin prescription, I don’t need heavier creams for day. I sometimes even prefer gel creams to richer moisturizers at night. And gel creams are everywhere these days. In fact, COSRX just launched a new one, the COSRX Balancium Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream.
One of my favorite product types, from one of my favorite brands? Of course I’d want to review it. I’ve had the new product in my hands for a while now. I’m ready.
The product featured in this post was provided at my request by the brand. This post may contain affiliate links, which enable me to earn a small commission on purchases made by clicking the links. Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk(*).
But first, for those of you newer to what’s good in skincare these days…
What is a gel cream?
To define the term, I’m just going to quote my own book*, where I defined gel creams in the Normal Skin section of the moisturizer chapter:
The water and humectant content in gel creams tends to be higher compared to its fatty content than in traditional cream moisturizers, and gel creams often use more silicones than oils or plant butters for their emollient content. This makes them more lightweight than creams, though with the ability to provide a significant amount of moisture. Skin that is dehydrated but not too dry often does well with gel cream moisturizers.
My skin is normal these days but does best with lots of hydration, so gel creams work very well for me.
COSRX Balancium Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream Review
The Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream is a new addition to COSRX’s Balancium line, which launched with the Balancium Comfort Cream back in 2018. (Despite having almost opposite skin types and concerns, both my good friend Tracy at Fanserviced-B and I came to the same conclusion about the Balancium Comfort Cream. We found it unremarkable or even unsuitable when our skin was in good shape but wonderfully replenishing when our skin was already suffering–in her case, from Accutane use, and in my my case, from eczema flare-ups.)
Like the Balancium Comfort Cream, the Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream contains ceramides and centella asiatica extract, a combination that should theoretically help restore and strengthen a damaged skin barrier while calming and healing irritation. Unlike the Balancium Comfort Cream, the Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel offers these potential benefits in a much lighter base and with additional effects added.
Purpose: The COSRX Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream is a lightweight moisturizing product that claims to help repair and strengthen damaged skin barriers while cooling and soothing irritation.
Best suited for: Normal to oily skin types.
Do not use if: Your skin has issues with silicones, fatty alcohols, tea tree oil, fragrant essential oils like bergamot and rosewood, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: Apply after any toner, essence, and serum steps in your morning or evening skincare routine (or both). If using in the morning, let it dry down for a few minutes before proceeding to sunscreen and/or makeup. (If you’re unsure about what order to use products in your routine, my book or this blog post may help.)
COSRX Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Squalane, PCA Dimethicone, Phenyl
Trimethicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Polyglycerin-3, Dipropylene Glycol, Ceramide NP, Betaine, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hydroxyacetophenone, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sodium Polyacrylate, Xylitol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Polyisobutene,
Polyquaternium-51, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Disodium EDTA, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sorbitan Oleate, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Menthyl Lactate, Ethyl Menthane Carboxamide, Methyl Diisopropyl Propionamide, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Centella Asiatica Leaf Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Water, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Tocopherol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, Panthenol, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Ceramide NG, Ceramide NS, Ceramide AP, Ceramide AS, Ceramide EOP
Notable ingredients: So let’s talk about ceramides.
Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids that play a central role in the integrity of the skin barrier, helping to “waterproof” skin so that it retains its natural moisture and more effectively repels external bacteria and other irritants and contaminants. The importance of ceramides to skin barrier function is why you’ll find them in pretty much any product marketed as barrier-repairing, including COSRX’s Balancium line.
Ceramides themselves aren’t necessarily the key, however. There’s research suggesting that specific ratios of ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids work more effectively to repair a damaged barrier. With most commercially sold skincare products, we can’t know the ingredient ratios. But we can at least look for the presence of all three types of ingredient. The original Balancium Comfort Cream does not contain cholesterol. The Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream does, and it also contains phytosphingosine, making it more likely (on paper) to accelerate barrier repair.
Back in the brand’s early days, COSRX was known for the simplicity of its formulas. As the brand has expanded both its reach and product lines, however, it’s stepped away from its old minimalistic formulation philosophy. Alongside the ceramides, cholesterol, and phytosphingosine in the Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel, they’ve also added squalane, betaine, allantoin, and panthenol. These ingredients are well supported for anti-inflammatory, anti-irritation, and general protective effects. Tea tree oil, aloe leaf juice, and centella, ginger root, and licorice root extracts provide more potential calming power. Peppermint extract and derivatives contribute the cooling effect touted in the product’s name.
I remember being disconcerted by the fact that the Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream was scented. It was the first fragranced COSRX product I’d tried (and might have been the first one to contain added scent!). Like that product, the Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream is fragranced. Bergamot and rosewood oils give it a soft, vaguely citrusy scent. It’s not strongly fragranced, and I find the smell pleasant, but I agree with those of you who’ve pointed out that putting fragrance in products marketed for sensitive or damaged skin is an odd choice.
(Seriously, why? I feel like I see fragrant essential oils in a lot of supposedly sensitive skin-friendly products, when actually fragrant EOs are often irritating, even if they come from plants that are supposed to be calming.)
Anyway. The scent isn’t a problem for me, but keep it in mind if you suspect it could be for you.
If you’ve used a few gel creams, then you’ll know that it’s a surprisingly diverse category. Some gel creams are so watery and lightweight that they barely count as moisturizers. For example, I wouldn’t recommend the COSRX Hydrium Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream* for any but the most oily skin, because it will disappear right into skin and barely leave a trace behind. Mizon’s classic Snail Recovery Gel Cream* feels more substantial, but in a siliconey way, leaving a smooth surface without adding much moisture; for me it’s almost like a light makeup primer rather than a moisturizer. On the other end of the spectrum in both price and effects, Amorepacific’s Time Response Skin Reserve Gel Creme* has that distinctly silky, hydrating gel cream consistency but packs a remarkable amount of hydration and emollient moisture into a little smear of product. (It’s $450, so it’s a good thing it really is special.)
COSRX Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum but leans more towards the highly moisturizing end of the genre.
It’s thick, dense, and smooth, with a substantial feel to it. I found the cooling effect noticeable but mild. On my skin, it just feels refreshing, like a touch of cool water, rather than minty in the way that a stronger menthol product would. (As someone who often uses White Flower Oil* or even Tiger Balm* on my temples and forehead when I get headaches, I’m intimately familiar with the havoc that a higher dose of menthol can wreak on skin.)
The Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream provides exactly enough moisture to keep my skin supple and happy on a normal skin, normal humidity day. It comes through well when my skin is feeling drier than usual due to the weather or a little too much exfoliation, too. I’ve been exfoliating a little more than usual lately due to plans to review a couple of peeling gels in the next few weeks, and although peeling gels are among the mildest exfoliants around, using them almost every day in an effort to find my personal limit means that my skin has been feeling thinner than usual. I haven’t gone far enough to cause serious damage to my barrier (yet), so I can’t speak to how well this moisturizer would heal up more severe problems, but I’ve found it reliably comforting when my skin is edging into the danger zone. As a bonus, it does calm my occasional mild irritation and sensitivity well.
Since this is a lighter product, I most often use it in the morning, under sunscreen. Despite being on the more moisturizing side for a product of this type, it dries down quickly and completely for me, with no sticky residue, making it super convenient for a rushed morning routine.
Like the Mizon snail gel cream I mentioned earlier, the Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream has a fairly prominent silicone component. The silicones allow it to act almost like a hydrating primer–it looks and feels great under sunscreen and makeup. Unlike the Mizon snail gel cream, however, the moisture this product provides lasts all day; I don’t feel dry by the time I’m ready to do my evening routine.
Overall, I’m a fan. I’ve found myself reaching for the Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream more often than most of my other daytime moisturizers. It’s got the right amount of moisture for my skin, seems to provide some extra support for my skin barrier when I’m being a bit hard on it, and plays well with other products both underneath and on top. I still think adding fragrant essential oils to a “repairing”-type product isn’t the best move, since that will disqualify it for many people whose skin barrier damage makes them more sensitive to those types of ingredients, but I’m glad that isn’t a problem for me.
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 COSRX Comfort Cool Ceramide Soothing Gel Cream?
This product just launched, but you can already find it at: