Holika Holika Real Skin Finish Review (Oily/Combination aka “Purple” Variety)

Today I’m going to finally post my Holika Holika Real Skin Finish review. This is a product that I’ve recommended to a few people across the internet, and it was the first Holika Holika product that I tried and loved – so you could say that this product is entirely responsible for starting my love affair with the Holika Holika brand!

I’ve seen a lot of confusion over just what, exactly, the Real Skin Finish is even meant to do for your skin. Well, it’s kind of a multi-purpose product. It functions as a makeup base, a CC cream, a brightening product, a sunscreen, and even manages to give you some hydration as well. There are two varieties available: the purple is meant for oily/combo skin types, and the pink is meant for people with dryer skin. I have the oily/combo skin variety, so that’s what I’ll be talking about today. If you’re interested in the pink version, Muse posted a good review here.

There is also a “premium” version of this product with higher SPF and some other ingredients, but I don’t have it so I can’t really give you any honest comparisons.

holika holika real skin finish

Let’s start with the fact that the container is soooo freaking cute! It’s a shiny lavender plastic tub (I know, not really hygienic, but as this stuff is pretty thick I kinda understand why, I guess) with possibly the prettiest Butterfly-emblazoned cap that you’ve ever seen. Witness:

butterfly cap

Cute, cute, cute. I will note that it appears my camera washed out the pale lavender a bit – it’s looking pretty pink in some of these photos. I expect it has to do with the shiny/reflective plastic that’s on the cap, making it a little hard to get a true color. It’s definitely a pastel lavender IRL, not light pink.

open cream

The cream itself is a very, very pale pinky-lavender, really almost white. However, don’t worry – it blends easily and won’t make you look like a mime or anything! Like so many Asian “whitening” products, this relies on the sunscreen ingredients to give you a slight white cast for the brightening effect. If you use too much and don’t blend it well, you’ll look a bit pasty, so you do need to take care and make sure that you don’t go overboard! It’s for this reason (and the sub-par SPF 25 rating) that I’d recommend you still use another, stronger sunscreen product if you plan on being in sunlight – depending on your skintone, you may not be able to use enough of the Real Skin Finish to get the full SPF 25, and even then, SPF 50 is really a better choice. However, on overcast days when I know I’ll not be going outside (or when I’m on a nocturnal schedule and I’ll be indoors), I do sometimes just leave my SPF at this product since it should be sufficient for days when my sun exposure is so limited.

Obviously, since this has sunscreens and those can be very clogging for most people, you’ll want to wash this off with a good makeup remover or oil cleanser at the end of the day. Even though it feels really hydrating, don’t be tempted to use it as a night cream!

Click the read more for swatches and a full review!


Here’s a swatch on my hand. I’d say that this is about 2/3 of the amount of product I’d use on my face/neck, but I didn’t want to go overboard since I was going to blend it on my hand and wanted you guys to get a better idea of how the proper amount of product would look after application.

This product does give some added hydration courtesy of ingredients like Glycerin, Evening Primrose Oil, Rose Oil, Borage Oil, and Sunflower Oil, and I feel like my skin tries to drink it up pretty quickly – so I dot it as if I were applying a BB cream, dabs on chin, neck, cheeks, forehead, and nose. Then I blend from there, which allows me to divvy up the product evenly without any area hogging the product.

I always feel like my skin is really plumped and nourished when I use this finisher, and it does have Niacinamide which can potentially help to heal discolorations, improve skin texture, and encourage a healthy skin barrier.

This product DOES contain some potentially problematic ingredients:

Ethylhexyl Palmitate is a fatty acid ester can be clogging for people, but for others it’s simply an emollient.

Triethanolamine can trigger breakouts for people who are sensitive to it – myself included – but luckily it seems to be present in a small enough concentration that it’s not bothering me. I suspect that if I used this product in a thicker layer, it might be more troublesome, but as-is it doesn’t seem to cross that line for me.

Evening Primrose Oil can likewise irritate and clog some people, but others absolutely adore it. This is really a YMMV ingredient as I’ve heard so many people reporting really varying reactions, from “omg EPO cured my acne!” to “omg EPO made my face explode into breakouts!” so if you’ve never used EPO before, please patch test this product!

Beyond that, we have the usual suspects of Stearic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, and Butylene Glycol – ingredients that are incredibly common in cosmetics but just don’t react well for some people’s skins.

Here is the full ingredients list:

Water, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, Titanium Dioxide, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethylhexyl salicylate, Dipropylene glycol, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Niacinamide, Isoamyl p-methoxycinnamate, Homosalate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Neopentyl glycol diheptanoate, Methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, Silica, Octocrylene, Polysorbate 60, Glycol stearate, Triceteareth-4 phosphate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, PEG-100 Stearate, Aluminum hydroxide, PEG-2 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Dimethiconol, Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Isohexadecane Propylparaben, Xanthan Gum, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Polysorbate 80, Disodium EDTA, Oenothera Biennis Oil, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia Water, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water, Iron Oxides, Aesculus Hippocastanum Extract, Alcohol, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Rosa Gallica Flower Extract, Red 33, Blue 1, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid

For a thorough breakdown of each ingredient’s role and any possible warnings, here is the CosDNA page for this product.

The texture of this product is thick and creamy, and it leaves your skin with a soft, hydrated, dewy look and feel. So if you like a matte face, this may not be ideal for you, or you may want to stick to using it solely as a brightening base pre-makeup.


Here’s my hand after I blended in that swatch of the Real Skin Finish. You can see that, since I didn’t use too much and I blended it well, my skin doesn’t look ghostly – rather, it just looks a bit more lively and hydrated. That’s the brightening and dewy effect that I mentioned. It’s not greasy, rather, your skin looks well-moisturized and I feel like I appear more well-rested when I use this finish.


A side-by-side, before-and-after comparison, for your convenience (click to zoom in). As you can see, as long as you don’t go overboard with the amount that you use, this isn’t a super dramatic transformation type of product – it’s just about blurring, perfecting, and subtly brightening.

This does work well as a pre-makeup base – it can make your BB or foundation apply more smoothly and last slightly longer than it would otherwise. There’s also that brightening effect, so you can mix it under or with a BB to give your BB a more dewy texture or slightly lighten/brighten the color.

I use my Real Skin Finish both ways – sometimes I just wear it alone if I’m not going anywhere, simply because I like the dewy, soft finish it gives and it just makes my skin feel so nice and nourished when I’m wearing it. Under makeup, I do still prefer my Tony Moly Latte Art Milk Tea Morning Pack Primer, but that’s entirely clear so on days when I’m feeling more run-down and need some energy in my skin, I’ll reach for this as a base instead.

It does apply easily over makeup, though I’d use it before any setting powders… I guess that’s kind of obvious. Just warm it up in your hands, dab evenly, and patpatpat and you should be good to go without disturbing any makeup underneath the finishing cream!


You can probably tell, but I really like my Holika Holika Real Skin Finish. It’s the first “finisher” that I’ve ever purchased, and I’m very happy with how it performs. I do suffer from skin that can look really tired even when I’ve had enough sleep/water, so this is kind of a cheat product for me to help make my skin look a bit more lively. It’s also really useful to make slight edits in BB texture or shade, when necessary, by mixing the two together. And most importantly, I just love how my skin feels when I have the Real Skin Finish on – nourished, hydrated, comfortable, soft, and dewy. It’s a really fantastic-feeling product to wear!


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November 17, 2014
This looks really great! There are not many Asian cosmetics that specify skin type, so that's interesting to see. I don't wear cc cream a lot, but I think putting this in one of these DIY cushions would be really cool.
November 17, 2014
Ohh this sounds like it would be lovely for creating a dewy base! ^ ^ www.thedailydollyblog.com

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