Back in the summer of 2018, I had fallen madly in love with all things K-Beauty. I started with all of the classics, Tony Moly, Innisfree, Nature Republic, Missha, and Acwell. But one brand took me by surprise by taking a more simplistic and sensitive skin focused approach to one of their lines, and that was Etude House and their Soon Jung products.
Honestly, they still stand out as one of the first (if not THE first) K-Beauty brands to embrace the mild pH/irritant-free craze that kicked off around that time, and continues to be focused on that mission even today. It’s no wonder this line of products has stayed relatively unchanged from a formulation and branding perspective. Etude House got it right and was pretty ahead of the curve, and the Soon Jung line is just as relevant three years later.
I used their pH 5.5 Relief Toner and 10-Free Moist Emulsion back then with a lot of success, but I haven’t worked anything from the Soon Jung line into my routine since late 2018. So, when I had the opportunity to retry not only those two staples but two other products from the brand, I knew it was a perfect opportunity to pull together a brand review. Let’s dive into all things Soon Jung shall we!
Etude House Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser
What better place to start than the Etude House Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser. This pump-to-foam water cleanser is all about gentle cleansing while still removing any impurities that oil cleansing might leave behind. As with all of the Soon Jung line, the ingredients list is rather short. Gentle/coconut-based surfactants and combined with water, glycerin, panthenol, madecassoside (one of the core ingredients of the entire Soon Jung line), green tea leaf extract, and a couple of texturizers/preservatives are all that you’ll find here.
Pump style foam cleansers are some of my favorites since they don’t usually contain potentially harsh surfactants to get that creamy lather, the pumping action takes care of that (something I really love about the Holy Snails Kadi Cleanser as well). Just 2-3 pumps of product is enough to get a rather dense and long lasting lather. I tend to take my time massaging the pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser in to get all around my face, neck, and ears. Using this cleanser alongside a cleansing tool (I use a Foreo) was also fantastic!
Once rinsed, my skin is always left feeling soft, refreshed, and thoroughly cleansed. All without dryness or stripping (if anything, I did notice a very slight reduction of redness on days when my skin was feeling overworked). Most of the cleansers I use these days have a pH of around 5.5, so I was worried initially that this cleanser (while geared towards sensitive skin) may be too harsh for me. But, Soon Jung never lies (haha) and I had no issue with this one.
I ended up stepping up my usage of this product to twice a day and haven’t looked back (I typically start my testing using a cleanser once a day and then moving to two times if I fall in love!). It plays nicely with everything else in my routine, cleanses/rinses wonderfully, and never upsets my skin. The Etude House Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser really is the epitome of a universal/gentle K-Beauty cleanser. Approachable for all skin types, effective, and affordable. This one is a must try!
Etude House Soon Jung Hydro Barrier Cream
The second product from the Etude House Soon Jung line to make it into my routine was also one that I had not used before. The Hydro Barrier Cream is a lightweight/medium weight gel-leaning cream that calls to the core of Soon Jung, hydration and skin barrier support.
Etude House carries a few different moisturizers in this line, and I believe this Hydro Barrier Cream is the most lightweight of the bunch. Featuring a super absorbable (and even layerable) consistency, the formula is packed with excellent ingredients including panthenol, allantoin, madecassoside, skullcap root extract, and green tea leaf extract. Essentially, this cream takes that keystone blend of hydration and soothing ingredients, and puts it into a moisturizer that is suitable for combination/oily skin types.
I L-O-V-E the texture and feel of the Soon Jung Hydro Barrier Cream. It offers just enough from its emollients and texturizers to feel as though it is locking in hydration, while still being breathable and even slightly cooling upon application. That cooling in addition to the mild soothing effect has saved me on days when I’ve over-exfoliated or have just been out in the cool/dry/fall weather a bit too long.
This formula is without oils, butters, or more nourishing emollients, so those with particularly dry skin may want to reach for the 10-Free Moist Emulsion and it’s high concentration of squalane (we’ll get to it haha!). But, for something a bit lighter and perfect to layer underneath a nourishing sunscreen, it doesn't get much better than the Soon Jung Hydro Barrier Cream. Oily+Sensitive skin peeps rejoice!
Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner
Alright, moving on to the third product from the Etude House Soon Jung line to make it into my routine this fall, we have the pH 5.5 Relief Toner. This one, this one right here is a classic haha! Being the first Etude House product that I had ever used (back in 2018), this was like a long-awaited reunion between two loves, my skin and this watery dream!
Just like the other products covered in this review, the formulation here is really simple and focused on hydration/soothing. Water, glycerin, panthenol, madecassoside, green tea leaf extract, some texturizers, and preservatives are all that are here in this super lightweight/watery formula. The feel and application of this toner is just so approachable and rather basic in the best of ways.
Layering the pH 5.5 Relief Toner is something that I look forward to each morning and evening. Just a small splash, pat-pat-pat, and then repeat until my skin is dewy and super hydrated. The madecassoside helps to bring down redness and irritation brought on by over exfoliation, weather, and sun exposure. Leaving this toner in the fridge to snag after a long day outside/in the elements was such a treat, that cooling sensation blended with the gentle calming is really second to none.
Taking things a step further, I ended up decanting this toner into a small mist bottle to take with me on the go. Spraying just a bit before sunscreen reapplication really helped to keep the hydration and soothing going throughout the day! The Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner quickly became the lifeblood of my fall/winter transition skincare routine by imparting so much hydration and mild soothing with the added bonus of antioxidant power. I wish they sold this stuff in gallon sizes haha!
Etude House Soon Jung 10-Free Moist Emulsion
The final product from Etude House Soon Jung to make its way onto my skin, welcome the 10-Free Moist Emulsion! Slightly thicker and more emollient than the Hydro Repair Cream (while still being layerable and comfortable on the skin), this moisturizer amps up the moisture-locking properties with a bit of squalane and a slightly richer feel.
This emulsion was one of the very first moisturizers I used when diving into the world of K-Beauty. I remember loving the simplistic formulation that once again focuses on hydration and skin support. All of those wonderful Soon Jung ingredients are here including panthenol, madecassoside, and green tea leaf extract.
While not soaking in as quickly or as watery as the Soon Jung Hydro Barrier Cream, this emulsion leaves just enough of a layer behind to offer a stronger amount of nourishment for those with drier skin. However, my combination skin and I are loving this result as the weather turns cold. I would still consider this a lightweight moisturizer compared to heavier night creams and balms, but there is just enough weight from the 10-Free Moist Emulsion to keep my skin hydrated and soothed overnight.
Just two pumps from the generously sized bottle is enough for my whole face in the AM and PM. However, I took to “slugging” my skin with this layerable moisturizer on nights when my skin was feeling particularly dry or irritated. Bumping the application amount to 4+ pumps allowed me to really slather my skin in the stuff (good thing the bottle is so big!) and allow it to absorb for about 15 minutes before heading to bed.
Waking up after using the Etude House Soon Jung 10-Free Moist Emulsion in this way, I noticed an increase in initial bounce and firmness to my skin. Rather than feeling a bit drained and sallow, my skin looked like I had completed my AM skincare routine already. Since there is a focus on non-irritating/acne triggering ingredients here, I didn’t have to worry about breakouts or clogged pores from this rather intense treatment step.
Etude House Soon Jung Final ThoughtsWell there you have it! Four Etude House Soon Jung products all wrapped up into one review. It has been nearly two months in the making but I’m so happy that I was given the opportunity to revisit some old favorites from the line as well as experience some new offerings. Soon Jung truly exemplifies what K-Beauty has to offer in the “clean beauty” space, and dare I say they were first to the party? These products continue to deliver quality, performance, and value while still flying relatively low on the radar of newer skincare enthusiasts.
If you haven’t given the Soon Jung line a try in a long time, or are totally new to the product lineup, I highly suggest you give them a try! Those with sensitive/normal-dry skin will really appreciate the gentle formulations and layerable textures. For us combination/oil skin types, the Hydro Barrier Cream alongside the cleanser and toner might be your best bet.
You really can’t go wrong with Soon Jung, and I’m excited to see what other products from this staple brand land on the Glowie Co. site in the future!