The Bizarre Korean Ingredient That Changed My Life

When I embarked on a journey to uncover the hidden gems in Chinatown beauty supply shops across the country, I challenged myself to resist the temptation to crack open any tube, jar, or bottle before photographing my findings to share with you all, but there was one alluring product that I just couldn’t resist. Enter Guerisson 9 Complex Cream.

It wasn’t the in-your-face bright orange packaging or the persuasive skin-correcting spiel that the saleswoman gave me. Nor was it the sweet-smelling—not overwhelming—fragrance that left the jar that had this particular cream calling my name. In fact, it was just one key ingredient that had me ripping the box apart like a kid on Christmas morning. The mystery ingredient? Horse oil. And as it happens, it’s the latest phenom to hit the Korean skincare market and is quickly making its way to the States.

Unlike the more self-explanatory oils that I’ve come to love (coconut! olive! almond!), horse oil isn’t born from a plant, fruit, or nut. Instead, it stems from the fat of a horse. “For centuries in China and Japan, pure horse oil and horse oil products have been used for treating burns, cuts, inflammation, skin diseases like eczema, and even muscle pain,” says California-based dermatologist and author of Asian Beauty Secrets (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013) Marie Jhin, MD. “The oil is derived from the fat of horses and contains high levels of alpha-Linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid (EFA) that cannot be produced by the human body.” Dr. Jhin says EFAs help create a protective barrier that is antioxidative, antimicrobial, and reduces water loss through the skin. In other words, it’s got the properties your skin needs for an even, glowy complexion. “The fatty acid composition of horse oil is very similar to our human sebum, making the oil able to deeply penetrate the skin without feeling greasy.”

My curiosity started off with a dab on the back of my hand and soon evolved into a full coating of the dense cream all over my face—morning and night. And eventually, my skin couldn’t live without it. Within a week of daily use of Guerisson 9 Complex Cream my face was softer, more hydrated, and the typical blemishes at my temples and jawline were minimal. However, skipping just one of my daily applications triggered instant dryness and two days without my fix caused breakouts in those same pesky areas.

It’s official, my skin is hooked and at just $20 a jar, I’d reserve a permanent spot for it on my vanity because affordable products that keep my skin clear and happy can be hard to come by. However, I can’t ignore the concerns about the bizarre beauty ingredient. Though I’d try just about anything (anything non-invasive, that is) for the sake of beauty, I’m conscious of the footprint my beauty habits are leaving on our earth. According to Beauteque, a site that offers a range of Asian beauty products and its own eponymous product line, extraction of the oil is not harmful to the horse. “Horse oil in cosmetics only uses fat abstracted from underneath the mane on a horse’s neck, and the horse is not killed or harmed during the process,” it reads on the site’s blog. “Once the fat is taken, it is then refined down to an odorless, colorless oil that has no additives in its purest form.” Unfortunately, I haven’t found studies to prove this statement to be true, but I promise to continue searching and will update this post as soon as I get the 411.


Until then, tell us: Would you try a product that features horse oil as its key active ingredient? Let us know in the comments, below.

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  • Angie
    Posted at 23:12h, 04 November

    Just bought a small pot to try on my feet as they are really dry, will see how it goes

  • Brenda Garcia Jaramillo
    Posted at 14:08h, 03 May

    I’ve never heard of Horse oil before! I have to ask my Korean-American friends about it now to see if they use it too

  • Reggieanne Rey Rey
    Posted at 14:06h, 29 April

    Just came back to California from a trip to the Philippines. Seoul, Korea was my layover. Horse oil is popular. Found the cream and masks at a cosmetic store in the airport. Snail products are also big.

  • ATWBeauty
    Posted at 01:28h, 26 August

    Im so glad you guys like this post. Let us know if you find it in Korea. xox

  • Lyndsay Green
    Posted at 23:49h, 29 January

    Thank you for your feedback, Jennifer. I hear ya!

  • Lyndsay Green
    Posted at 23:45h, 29 January

    I’m so sorry for the delay, Crystal! And thank you for the sweet message! Yes, being a part of the Around the World Beauty team is pretty, well, beautiful.

    I actually purchased the Guerisson 9 Complex Cream from a shop in Chicago’s China Town. Good news, though—you can buy it online! You can find it at several sites through a simple search, but I’d say the most reliable retailer would be MemeBox. Hope that helps!

    P.S. Email us about your trip to Korea. We’d love to hear all about it!

  • Jennifer Charm
    Posted at 18:24h, 09 January

    Not unless the cruelty free assertion was proven

  • Crystal Garcia
    Posted at 04:55h, 03 January

    Where did you purchase this product in Korea? Looking to pick one up while I’m here!

  • Crystal Garcia
    Posted at 04:53h, 03 January

    I love that you’re following your passion. This is an awesome idea. I’m in Korea for the next two weeks. Where did you buy this product so I can get some myself?

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