Skin & Tonics : Skincare Guides & Product Reviews

Skincare guides & product reviews for hydration lovers & the moisture barrier obsessed

Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam Review

I’m back from my mountain vacation, and just in time too – on the morning I left, I squeezed out the last of the product left in my travel size tube of Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam. I panicked a little before realizing I’d be coming home soon, where I have multiple full size tubes of this cleanser placed strategically throughout my bathroom.

Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam

The Primera brand is new to me – I only discovered this cleanser because Alice slipped a travel size bottle of it in with one of my W2Beauty orders. I fell in love with this cleanser the moment I tried it, and desperately searched for more information about Primera. Sadly, that information isn’t readily available in English, but I was able to ascertain that Primera is one of Korean cosmetic giant Amore Pacific’s brands. Its claim to fame is that it contains lots of natural, organic ingredients, similar to the Origins brand here in the US. I’ll be posting some photos below this review that Alice was nice enough to snap for me of the Primera store in Seoul. Unsurprisingly, that store looks like heaven to me.

Now, on with this review!

What is it?

The Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam ($29) is a foaming cleanser, as the name suggests. In my Asian skincare routine, I’ve been using it as the second cleanser during my double cleansing step. This cleanser promises to gently and thoroughly remove impurities and debris, while making tired skin clear and bright.

Ingredients (special thanks to Lindsay for the translation!):
purified water, glycerin, stearic acid, myristic acid, PEG-32, potassium hydroxide, lauric acid, cocamidopropyl betaine, watercress extract (0.012mg), nicotinamide, green tea, lotus extract, timber bamboo sap, cowslip extract, peppermint leaf extract, tail flower/leaf/stem extract, drumstick tree seed extract, lemon balm extract, yarrow extract, lady’s mantle extract, (common) mallow flower/leaf/stem extract, plum extract, glyceryl stearate, disodium EDTA, lauryl glucoside, lactose, lecithin, microcrystalline cellulose, butylene glycol, ceteth-20, cetyl alcohol, sucrose, steareth-20, ethanol, corn starch, xanthan gum, chromium hydroxide green, phosphatidylcholine, PEG-100 stearate, PEG-14M, PEG-200 hydrogenated glyceryl palmate, PEG-75 stearate, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, PEG-90M, hydrogenated lecithin, sodium benzoate, lemon peel oil, bergamot fruit oil, lavender oil

This ingredient list is really a mixed bag. Let’s take a look at the good stuff first – there are plenty of interesting actives in this cleanser. Some that peaked my interest include:

Watercress Extract – This ingredient is the namesake for the Cresswhite cleanser. Watercress contains a variety of beneficial skin nutrients, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and most notably, carotenoids. Carotenoids have been shown to protect against oxidative damage, making it a nice ingredient to use after sun exposure. (Here’s a study)

Niacinamide – It’s listed as nicotinamide in this ingredient list, but it’s the same thing. I promise. Niacinamide is a hydrating, brightening, anti-inflammatory ingredient that has been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Green Tea – Green tea is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps with redness reduction (including redness caused by rosacea) and has also been shown in studies to improve skin elasticity and inhibit the aging process. The benefits of green tea are heavily documented – for example, in this recent study, which shows it to be an effective anti-wrinkle agent, and this study, which shows it to be especially effective for skin improvement when combined with lotus extract (as it is in this cleanser’s formula).

Timber Bamboo Sap – The thing that makes bamboo sap so interesting is it’s silica content. Silica (not to be confused with silicone, which is an entirely different substance) is naturally produced by the human body and helps keep our skin, hair, and nails healthy. As we age, we produce less of it, but using it as a topical treatment helps keep skin moist, healthy, and bright.

Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam

Now for the bad news – there is a plethora of irritants and acne triggers in this cleanser. According to COSDNA, some of the biggest offenders include Lauric Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Ethanol, and one of my biggest nemeses – Cetyl Alcohol. Strangely, this cleanser has not broken me out at all, even though I have acne prone skin and a known sensitivity to Cetyl Alcohol. I suspect that this is because it’s a product I’m immediately washing off my face, as opposed to moisturizer, which remains on my face for a sustained period of time. The flip side of this is that in the same manner that the bad stuff isn’t on my face long enough to cause any problems, the good ingredients probably aren’t on my face long enough to see any significant improvements from this product alone.


As mentioned previously, I use Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam as my second cleanser in my double cleansing ritual. I squeeze out about 3-4 peas worth of product, and massage it into wet skin. When the product comes out, it’s thick, creamy, white, and speckled with tiny, blue capsules that burst as I rub the product around my face. The capsules are said to contain some sort of beneficial liquid. This is rather gimmicky – I mean – I’m not really sure why the beneficial liquid isn’t just emulsified with the rest of the product. Still, I have to admit, the capsules are sort of fun, and if I hadn’t spent so much time trying to get them all to burst, I wouldn’t have discovered my favorite thing about this cleanser: about 30-40 seconds into massaging it around, this cleanser suddenly seems to increase in volume and density. It’s magic, I tell you!

Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam

Once the foam has entered its “dense” state, I generally massage for another minute or so. This might seem excessive, and maybe it is – but it feels so good, I often just space out during this process, enveloped in a daze of luxury. I snap back to reality eventually, and when I do, I just splash the cleanser off with water and it quickly rinses away.

Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam

After 15 seconds of massaging this cleanser, it looks like your standard cleansing foam.

Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam

After 30 seconds of massaging this foam, it suddenly increases in density, creating a smooth, creamy layer of cleansy heaven.

You can see that my hand is visibly brighter after rinsing the cleansing foam away. This effect is temporary.

You can see that my hand is visibly brighter after rinsing the cleansing foam away. This effect is temporary.

The packaging is plain, but pretty and functional. It’s a large squeeze tube, with minimal but elegant labeling.

This stuff smells like fresh Meyer lemons, you guys! It’s the very best kind of lemon scent – there is nothing remotely resembling furniture polish here. It just smells fresh, clean, sweet, citrusy, and perfect. I love the way this cleanser smells. I wish I could smell it all day, every day, but I’d definitely get a lot of side eye at work if I sat at my desk holding a cleanser container under my nose.

I’ve been using this cleanser for close to 8 weeks. It is moisturizing enough that my skin doesn’t feel tight at all after cleansing, but it’s “clean” enough so that I also don’t feel any residue left behind. There is definitely an immediate, short-term brightening effect. I’ve strayed from this cleanser on a couple of occasions, and I could see a slight difference in facial brightness after getting out of the shower. Long term, it’s possible that it’s helped with brightening, but it would be difficult to gauge because of the long-term brightening effects I get from my other skincare products.

Overall, I’m a big fan. It’s not an ideal ingredient list – I certainly wish it contained fewer irritants and acne triggers. But it thankfully hasn’t actually caused any acne or irritation for me, and the smell, texture, and non-drying cleansing performance keep me reaching for it again and again.

+ Non-drying
+ Effective Cleanser
+ Short term brightening effects
+ Smells amazing (like lemons!)
+ Luxurious texture
+ A little goes a long way

– Difficult to find for non-Korean residents
– Expensive
– Ingredient list contains multiple acne triggers and irritants

Skin & Tonics Rating:

Performance: 5/5 – Cleanses without drying, smells amazing, temporary brightening effect

Quality: 3/5 – The formula smells and feels luxurious, but beware if you have very sensitive skin – the ingredient list does contain a number of acne triggers and irritants

Value: 3/5 – $29 is really pricey for a cleanser. This cleanser is nice, but it’s a luxury item. There are many far less expensive cleansers available that have few to no irritants or acne triggers. That said, the Primera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam is a real treat to use, so it’s a worthy occasional splurge for me (though, my bathroom is practically littered with the stuff right now).

Overall: 3.7/5

Where to Buy

This product is hard to find! Luckily, W2Beauty carries it, where it retails for $25. I have yet to see it available in any other shop that ships to the US.

If you’d like to try this cleanser, you can use my sponsor code 025605 when you sign up at W2Beauty and get a $5 voucher toward your purchase.

The Primera Store

If you live in Korea, you’re lucky to be in such close proximity to the Primera store! I would love to visit this place. Here are some of the photos Alice snapped for me:

Primera Store in Seoul


Primera Store in Seoul


Primera Store in Seoul


Primera Store in Seoul


Primera Store in Seoul


Primera Store in Seoul

This sink is the heart of the store – it’s there so customers can try the product and rinse them off.


This post contains affiliate links. Shopping these links helps support this site! Full disclosure

Share this:

11 comments onPrimera Cresswhite Brightening Cleansing Foam Review

  1. That store is gorgeous! Thank you for introducing us (me) to yet another new Korean skin care brand. Are there any other Primera items you’re eyeballing right now?

    • Kerry

      I’m glad you asked! I have tried out one of their sun creams and plan to review it soon. I also have a couple of other Primera items in my possession, but haven’t been brave enough to stop using my Benton stuff long enough to test them yet! I am working myself up to trying out their Treesap Prime Serum and their Treesap Prime Cream. I wanted to pick up the Alpine Watery Berry Sleeping Mask too, which is supposed to be a Vitamin C + Moisturizing treatment, but it was sold out everywhere at the time. I’m determined to get it at some point, since sleeping mask products are so easy to integrate with an existing skin care routine.

      • Sleeping masks are definitely of interest to me…the more masks, the merrier, in my opinion (seeing as I use a soothing/moisturizing post-mask mask when I’m dealing with something drying, usually clay-based).

        This treesap thing looks very interesting. God, I love weird ingredients!

  2. Too expensive for my cheapskate tastes. xDD Thanks for including Alice’s pictures of the store, though. I’m always fascinated by photos from Korea. <3

    • Kerry

      Yes, I love seeing photos like this. Although, they do make me want to go on a trip to Seoul, which would be significantly more expensive than this cleanser! 😀

  3. I have walked past this store several times in Myeongdong here in Seoul and went in once. Everything was too expensive for me and I never heard of the brand before. I may stop by again to take another look. Thanks for the review.

    • Kerry

      Hey Liz! I’m so envious that you live so close to it. This store is high up on my list of places I’d like to visit in person!

  4. I traveled in Korean 2 weeks ago, and when i walked in Myeongdong, i saw this shop and fell in love with it. I try 2 Primera products, the peeling (soft but good) and the eye cream (really good!). Since this time, i try to find desperatly a on line shop to try an buy other products of this brand…

    • Kerry

      I’m so envious that you were able to visit a physical store. This is definitely on my destination list for when I finally visit S.Korea!

  5. charlotte

    Hi Kerry, do you know PH level for this foam cleaner?