Primary Raw Doyou Soy Milk Ferment Essence Skin Review

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Disclosure: This is a press sample kindly sent from I selected the product, and am not compensated for my views. No affiliate links are used. If you are curious about my policy on press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, please see my disclaimer and policies.

I'm writing this review with a bellyful of green tea and soy to get myself *in the mood* and it's working!

Usually, when I've used products for over a month, it means I've cleared the honeymoon stage of the relationship, and I'm able to clearly see its flaws, but this one is a looker, with a lot of personality, that ultra-cares for your skin so expect some incoherent gushing and a lot of fangirling in the next few paragraphs.

This is a product I fell in love with at first sight about 1 month ago when it made its way onto the Cupidrop website. It had already secured a spot on my 'essences to try' short list when Cupidrop (bless their hearts) approached me to see if there was anything I wanted to try from their recently launched lines.

Primary Raw Doyou Soy Milk Ferment Essence Skin (130 ml)

Primary Raw is a boutique skincare brand that began in 2014 with the launch of its original soy milk cream. Its brand philosophy is to use 'primary' ingredients (soy) and serve them up 'raw', meaning they don't want to do too much to the natural ingredients incorporated in their products. (Submitted for your consideration: there's a certificate listed on their website that signifies their commitment to natural ingredients. I've yet to look into what that means.) They're also committed to using 'safe' ingredients and being eco-friendly. Important for us as consumers to keep in mind, especially due to certain egregious offenses as discovered and discussed by Vanity Rex.

The product I was sent is an "essence skin" which in K-beauty speak, means it is a 2-in-1 essence and toner (skin means toner). 

In the West, toners usually serve the purpose of finishing off the cleanse, by picking up the last traces of makeup and cleanser, while shrinking pores, often used by those with oily skin and larger pores. 

In the East, there are multiple categories of toners, one of which is the "hydrating toner", which is how I'd actually classify this product. These toners are more suitable for those with dry or sensitive skin as they serve as the first light layer of moisture and hydration. The lingerie of skincare if you will... Actually, this particular product is thick enough to serve as a standalone essence, so it's probably most accurate to call it the Under Armour of skincare.

This product promises to brighten, revitalize, hydrate, tighten pores, and strengthen the moisture barrier. It features fermented rice bran extract, hyaluronic acid, camellia seed oil, copper peptides, green tea extract, gingko biloba, fermented soy milk, vitamin e, shea butter, panthenol, and soy beans, and ceramides.

It comes with 130 ml of product in this fluted glass bottle packaging with a twist off metal cap. It's not NOT vase material. The product dispenses out of a small opening resembling that of a salad dressing container. There's a plastic stopper included.

The amount of product you get is on the high side for an essence. Most essences range from 60 ml to 150 ml.

The essence skin itself is a thin, watery fluid that contains a milky suspension of soy milk and rice bran particles. When swirled it looks like skim milk. It smells like a melange of baby powder and yogurt. The scent is very noticeable so if it would offend you I'd steer clear.

The essence also comes with a 'coin mask' which is just a dehydrated sheet mask bunched up so small it looks like a coin. Very thoughtful, and useful for testing purposes, as I'll explain in a few.

For scale. I haven't gone anywhere recently, just strangely, I don't have any useful coins lying around.

The rice bran water separates from the rest of the essence after awhile, so you'll need to shake the bottle before each use. After cleansing, shake out 4-5 drops and apply to face and neck. Pat into the skin until completely dry. If you would like to use it as a toner, you can also use the product on a cotton pad and swipe it over your face.

Normal to Dry skin; Dull or Aging skin, potentially Sensitive skin types.

It contains any personal acne triggers or irritants. Please patch test all products. 

INGREDIENTS Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Dipropylene Glycol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, copper Tripeptide-1, Triethylhexanoin, Camellia Sinensis Leaf extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Lactobacillus/Soymilk Ferment Filtrate, Glycine Soja (soybean) seed Extract, Peg-40, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tropolone, Panthenol, Butyrospermum, Parkii(Shea) Butter, Soy Isflavones, Sodium citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Ceramide 3, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (bergamot) Peel Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Juniperus Oxycedrus Fruit oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Geranium maculatum Oil.   (COSDNA Analysis)

There's been a lot of hype around fermented ingredients. Supposedly they're as great for your skin as fermented foods are for your digestive tract. The thinking behind this is that as the enzymes break down the raw ingredients, the particles get smaller and easier for the skin to absorb and digest. 

This led me to question... well pure alcohol is a ferment, why is alcohol denatured seen as potentially damaging to the skin while in general ferments are not?

So I reached out to an expert, Stephen from

The gist is that alcohol is just one of the products of the fermentation process. Other fermentation byproducts (usually 'ferment lysates') used in skincare are high in nutrients. Read the full answer at the link provided above.

On to an ingredients roll call:

Fermented rice bran extract - Rice bran on its own has a brightening effect. It's an ingredient that has long been used in Asian skincare. When fermented, rice bran is 'stewed' with lactobacillus bacteria and/or saccharomyces yeast. The result of this process is this fermented rice bran extract. How is this different from sake? Sake uses rice while discarding the bran.

Sodium Hyaluronate - The sodium salt version of hyaluronic acid, one of the most common and heroically effective humectants (read: hydrators) out there.

Camellia Japonica Seed Oil - an emollient (moisturizer), antioxidant, with a high oleic acid content.

Copper Tripeptide-1 - a class of amino acids that is not yet proven but supposed to help with fighting aging.

Green Tea Extract - a source of polyphenols (antioxidants) that protect skin from photoaging.

Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract - a source of flavonoids (more antioxidants) that also protect skin from photoaging.

Fermented soy milk extract - "Do-you" in Korean means soy milk, so I consider this the hero ingredient, though it is kind of far down in the ingredients list. Soy containts isoflavones which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It fades hyperpigmentation and protects skin from photoaging. When fermented with Bifida (a class of bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract), the fermented doyou has shown ability to stimulate hyaluronic acid and collagen production. This particular fermented soy is NOT fermented with bifida, but rather lactobacillus, for reference. I can't help to think there might still be some "hyalucollagal" benefit to its topical application. [Beautypedia overview][The study on hyaluronic acid and collagen]

Soy Isoflavones - see above.

Panthenol, Shea Butter, Ceramides - Very moisturizing. This is the stuff of dreams for people with dry skin like me. Shea butter is a common emollient, same with panthenol (vitamin B5). Ceramides are substances already present in the skin. All of these will serve to spackle the holes in one's moisture barrier.

I can't wait to talk about when I put all of this stuff on me.

Butylene glycol and hydrogenated castor oil register low on the scale.

None. There are some citrus and fragrant plant oils which could be sensitizing in some cases.

Hydrogenated castor oil, tocopherol acetate (vitamin E).

Top Left: The coin mask. Top Right: Hydrating the coin mask with essence. Bottom Left: The mask is not the most pleasant. Bottom Right: Pulling my best Bill Murray..."For a good time, make it Primary time"

Like I mentioned earlier, I tested this product for the full 4 weeks, since it contains a brightening claim, but I didn't need to, because each time I use this product, my face automatically brightens a tone or two. The effect is very similar to that of the Miguhara hyalucollagen moisturizer I reviewed a few months back, where I really thought the product was leaving a white cast, instead of penetrating into the skin, whipping some melanocytes into shape, and scolding them to darken no more...

But, considering that some of my smaller, lighter freckles and sunspots have lightened, I do attribute some 'brightening' from within to this product.

This product does also make good on its claim of refining pores. I can see a difference on days when I have and have not used the essence skin in my routine. But to make sure the Primary Raw made good on this claim, I decided to use the coin mask to flood and treat the problem zone and see if the pore tightening effects were material.

The coin mask itself could definitely be better. It's completely meh - when hydrated with even a ladle full of product, it maintains an annoying crinkly affect, but the fit is not so bad. But the results man, the results... When I used the coin mask, it was apparent that the essence skin could tighten pores with the best of them.

The last claim made by the brand is around hydrating and strengthening the moisture barrier. It does a fair job at this. I'm guessing if you're reading this blog, you're interested in or practice a Korean style skincare routine that does not end with one lightweight moisturizer like this one. This is a more than decent hydrating toner and essence, in fact,


There are some aspects about this product that I think may turn off some people. The scent for example... It also KILLS if it gets into your eyes. I must also mention that the product is not well-preserved, leading me to store it in my refrigerator. But for me these factors are nowhere near dealbreakers, which is why it earns a rating of...

1 2 3 4 4.5 5 (1/2 mark lost for scent)

Make sure to take advantage of their active discount codes and free shipping over $50!
They also give epic sample service. In past hauls, I've received entire routines in sample packet form of brands like Kicho, CosRX, and A-True.

Do you use toners? Essences? What is your favorite type of either product?

P.S. Don't forget to join my giveaway, ending November 21st!

Disclosure: This is a press sample kindly sent from I selected the product, and am not compensated for my views. No affiliate links are used. If you are curious about my policy on press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, please see my disclaimer and policies.


Jenny said...

Eep I was looking at this exact product on cupidrop wondering if it was any good, so thank you for your review! I love anything with rice bran extracts, so I have a feeling this essence and I will get along just fine. And maybe it's just me but the scent you described sounds kinda amazing! Haha

Jenny //

Joan Lee said...

Jenny, thanks for the comment! I just updated the review but I wanted to let you know it is not well preserved in case that affects how much you want this! It's really great I hope you like it if you do try it out! And the scent I don't mind, it's just strong!

Fräulein Schnee said...

The packaging is so simple and beautiful! Really like that point. It is also nice that it comes with a compressed sheet mask. And products containing Fermented ingredients are generally on my love-list.

Joan Lee said...

Yes, I'm definitely repurposing this bottle some way so how! It is very beautiful. The sheet mask was a really nice touch. Yay, ferments!

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