Horse Oil, Skincare, & a Review of the Famous Guerisson 9 Complex Cream
The first thing you should know before I get into this Guerisson 9 Complex Cream Review is that I get more excited when hearing about a weird new skin care ingredient than I do about almost anything else. Did a food scientist suddenly discover that chocolate cake actually makes you lose weight if you just add more butter and chocolate? That’s cool, I guess. Did a chemist discover that toucan saliva may stimulate collagen synthesis? OUTTA MY WAY! I gotta get my hands on a toucan saliva serum, RIGHT NOW!
It’s not that I’m on a desperate quest for eternal youth. My skincare philosophy is not about trying to find some magic potion that will make me look twenty-five forever; it’s about ensuring my skin is always in the best health it can be in for my age. My attraction to unusual ingredients actually comes from a place of wanting my skincare products to be just as fun as they are effective, and you know what? The weirdo ingredients are fun! And every once in a while, one of them works!
So, in theory, I should have been really excited about horse oil, which has soared in popularity as a skincare ingredient in Korea this year. But I wasn’t excited. I was troubled. And “troubled” is decidedly unfun. The reason I was put off is that horse oil is a byproduct of the horse meat industry, meaning it comes from slaughtered horses. I’m not a vegan, or even a vegetarian. I eat steak and I love fine leather goods, so it’s a bit hypocritical for me to feel this way. But to someone like myself, who lives in a part of the world that does not have a horse meat industry, the idea is shocking. Horses are wedged solely in the “companion animal” compartment of my brain, right alongside dogs and cats.
To be clear, I pass no judgment on the fact that horse meat is a popular dish in many countries throughout Europe and Central Asia. I hear it’s pretty delicious actually, and if, in my travels, I’m presented with the opportunity to try it, I would consider it. But rubbing horse oil on my face in the name of beauty? I feel guilty just thinking about it.
But not guilty enough to not try it, it turns out. My curiosity eventually reached a tipping point and I picked up a couple of jars of the highly acclaimed Guerisson 9 Complex Cream, which is the horse oil product that inspired the ingredient’s immense popularity.
The Guerisson 9 Complex Cream brand also has a bit of a complicated history. It’s manufactured by a company called Claire’s, but just as its popularity began to soar due to an endorsement by actress Lee Ha-nui, another manufacturer, IM; Beauty (note: that semi-colon is not a typo, it’s just a weird company name), emerged to file its own trademark, and dispute the validity of the original Claire’s trademark application. Both Claire’s and IM; Beauty claim to have invested the research and development for the Guerisson 9 Complex Cream product. The legal battle continues between the two companies, and until it’s resolved, both companies will continue to manufacture the Guerisson 9 Complex Cream, though there are reportedly some differences between the two formulas. As for me—I decided to err on the side of Claire’s for my purchase. The Claire’s cream is the one that shot the product to fame, and they also filed the original trademark. If new information emerges that proves IM; Beauty is the rightful owner of the trademark and the formula, I’ll keep an open mind, but until that happens, I’m personally declaring Claire’s the true original.
As if that didn’t complicate my purchase decision enough, there was also the issue of counterfeit Guerisson 9 Complex Cream products to consider. Despite the genuine product’s extremely reasonable price point, the market is absolutely flooded with fake versions of this cream, which contain unknown (and potentially dangerous) ingredients. The counterfeit creams are abundant enough that there are several online resources dedicated solely to identifying counterfeit versions of the Guerisson 9 product. In some instances, the sellers carrying the fake product don’t even realize what they have isn’t real. Thankfully, Memebox carries the Guerisson 9 Complex Cream, and it is the genuine article. Memebox has the budget and staff to enforce the vetting process necessary for weeding out shady suppliers, so I trusted them as my purchasing source for this review. There are also a few long-time K-beauty sellers on eBay who I can confirm are selling the genuine Guerisson 9 Complex Cream. I am sure there are more out there, but my advice is this: check the seller reviews, do a Google search for real vs. fake Guerisson 9 Complex Cream, and be vigilant if you purchase this product.
What is it?
Guerisson 9-Complex Cream is a moisturizing cream that promises to rejuvenate, smooth, and soften skin while lightening hyperpigmentation and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Purified water, Glycerin, Shea Butter, Horse Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Niacinamide, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Olivate, Beeswax, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Sorbitan Olivate, Cyclohexanone Siloxane, Sodium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Snail Slime Filtrate, Bixa Seed Oil, Titanium Dioxide, Peppermint Leaf Extract, Apple Mint Leaf Extract, Sage Leaf Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Lavender Flower Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Chamomile Extract Leaf, Monarda Didyma Leaf Extract, Betaine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Hydrated Silica, Disodium Stearyl Sulfosuccinamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Fragrance, Centella Asiatica Extract, Green Tea Extract, Ligularia Fischeri Extract, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Soybean Oil, Human Oligopeptide-1, Lecithin, Astaxanthin, Xanthan Gum, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Boswellia Serrata Resin Extract, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA, Octyldodecanol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Ceramide 3, Phenoxyethanol
Here’s the thing about this ingredient list: it’s really beautiful, especially for someone with dry skin. Even without its horse oil headliner, the Guerisson 9-Complex Cream is like an all-star reunion cast of many of my favorite antioxidant-rich plant oils and extracts, brighteners, scar lighteners, and barrier strengtheners.
First, let’s take a look at the star ingredient:
There is a lot of chatter about the healing properties of horse oil around the internet, and though that may be true, I couldn’t find any specific studies on its wound healing abilities. The other positive horse oil attribute that often gets mentioned is its easy absorption rate due to a fatty acid structure said to be similar to that of human sebum. I decided to take a closer look at this.
Interestingly, the only information I could find on the fatty acid structure of horse oil was in one of a cluster of studies done back in the 50s comparing the structures of various animal fats, including human fat. Human sebum, by the way, is comprised of fat with a little keratin and cell debris (added for flavor!), so I figured this was about as close as I was going to get. According to those studies, horse fat does have a closer structure to human fat than that of the pig, sheep, rat, and cow. But you know what’s even closer in structure to human fat than horse fat? Dog fat. The more you know, I guess?
Now for a look at just a few of my favorite ingredients in this formula:
If you’ve ever read my article regarding the importance of pH and the skin’s moisture barrier, you’ll understand why I love seeing ceramide as an ingredient in any skincare product. Ceramides are a family of lipid molecules that occur naturally on their own in healthy skin, and in conjunction with our skin’s natural lipids and keratinocytes, they form a protective outer barrier that helps to keep bacteria out and water in. Ceramides in skincare products can help repair a weakened barrier or strengthen a healthy barrier, especially when combined with fatty acids such as those found in the many oils contained in this formula.The addition of cholesterol to this cream’s ingredient lineup would have made the ceramide content even more beneficial, but I’ll take what I can get when it comes to ceramides.
Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that works well for overall brightening, lightening hyperpigmentation, and acne. This is a well-documented skincare ingredient. One study even showed it to be effective for reducing fine lines in addition to treating redness and hyperpigmentation:
Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance
Dermatologic Surgery, 2006
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
This ingredient is actually a newer form of antioxidant vitamin C. It’s far more light and air stable than L-AA (the most effective form of vitamin C), though it doesn’t pack as powerful a punch. It’s significantly less likely to be irritating though, so that’s good news for those with sensitive skin. It’s been shown to exhibit anti-acne effects in concentrations of 1% and higher due to its antibacterial activity.
I’m grouping the Human Oligopeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Oligopeptide together for this summary, even though there are differences between the two. But generally speaking, oligopeptides, often marketed as EGF (an acronym for Epidermal Growth Factor) in skincare products, are molecules that are used in medicine to help treat wounds and burns, assisting in the regrowth of skin. They work by increasing cell growth, and in addition to helping with cell and blood vessel growth, they also play a role in collagen and elastin production.
There were no major red flags to report according to COSDNA, though soybean oil did score a 3 as a potential acne trigger.
Guerisson 9 Complex Cream comes with cylindrical outer package that was clearly inspired by Hermés. Inside the outer package is the jar that contains the actual product. The jar itself is adorned with a label bearing the signature Guerisson 9 horse head, and a rather elaborate gold-toned lid embossed with the product name.
The cream is a very light, buttery, yellow. The texture of the cream appears firm but yielding.
Guerisson 9 Complex Cream smells fresh and citrusy. People have likened it to lemon zest, but I think it smells almost exactly like grapefruit. The scent of oil is also faintly detectable, but the citrus fragrance dominates.
I applied a pea- to hazelnut-sized amount of cream as the last step in my skincare routine in the evening, and second to last step of my routine in the morning. In the morning I followed up with my sunscreen, and in the evening I occasionally followed up with a sleeping pack.
Guerisson 9 Complex Cream is very rich, but spreads easily and was readily absorbed by my skin. There was a very slight tackiness to the finish immediately after application. The tackiness wasn’t bothersome or noticeable unless I looked for it, and disappeared anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes after application. In the morning, I thought it might pose a problem for makeup application, but it didn’t. Once I applied my sunscreen, only the finish of the sunscreen was evident, and I was able to apply my makeup as usual.
I used Guerisson 9 Complex Cream for about 2 months, and in terms of performance, I really liked it. It was richly moisturizing, made my skin look luminous, and it didn’t break me out. It also wore surprisingly well under makeup, which I did not expect given the richness of this cream. I found it especially soothing on an occasion when I went a little overboard with AHA, and in general, I found it to be very effective in terms of calming redness and irritation. My skin is already bright thanks to the many other lightening products my routine lineup (AHAs, vitamin C, retinoids, azealic acid), so I can’t really speak to this cream’s brightening abilities. Same goes for hyperpigmentation — the few tiny PIH spots I had did lighten during my usage of this product, but because I’m using so many other power lighteners, it would be silly for me to credit the Guerisson 9 with that gain.
In addition to using it on my face, I also used Guerisson 9 Complex Cream on a patch of eczema that appeared on the back of my hand. I found it to be not only soothing, but also healing—that eczema patch was gone within days.
I do think Guerisson 9 Complex Cream would be too rich for someone with oily skin, unless they wanted to use it as an occasional sleeping pack. Someone with combination skin might be able to enjoy this cream, especially if their dry patches were especially bothersome.
As well as it performed, I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy using it because I felt guilty about liking it. I was never able to get beyond my horses-as-companion-animals state of mind, and consequently, each time I used the Guerisson 9 Complex Cream, I felt a little bit like Cruella de Vil.
I find it commendable that there is a viable use for this by-product — pragmatically speaking, the fewer parts that go to waste in any farming industry, the better. I could make my peace with horse oil intellectually, but emotionally speaking, even though it performed very well, Guerisson 9 Complex Cream could never be a staple in my routine.
Who I think would benefit from this product:
• Normal, dry, and some combination skin types who would like rich, occlusive moisture in their routine
• People suffering from dehydrated skin or a damaged moisture barrier
• People who regularly deal with redness or sensitivity
• People who don’t have complicated feelings about the origin of horse oil
Pros & Cons
Skin & Tonics Rating
|B+||20/20 Efficacy||11/20 Ingredients||20/20 Application||18/20 Wear||18/20 Packaging|
|Total: 87||Rating system details »|
Where to Buy
|Memebox Dedicated to bringing you the latest in Korean beauty trends and product||$20 ($17 w/ coupon)||Use code MAKEUPLOVE at checkout for 15% off your order!||buy|
|eBay Cosmetic.Love||$10||Ships free from Korea.||buy|
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