January 2016 Birchbox Review #6: IPKN Flash Cream Radiant Primer

Get ready to get your glow on.

If you’ve been following the spring makeup launches, then you may have noticed that almost every single brand has launched a radiant finish primer. This isn’t a coincidence. K-Beauty has been offering these types of primers for several years. And what Korea does, we copy several years later. K-Beauty is all about having luminous skin, which is why they’ve been so innovative over here.

The matte finish has been the way to go in the US until very recently, when highlighting, strobing, cushion foundations, and the “dewy” look became all the rage. Granted, there is still definitely a place for the matte finish in makeup, but you can’t deny that dewy is where it’s at.

Birchbox’s Korean Beauty box wouldn’t have been the same without including one of these radiant primers: the IPKN New York Flash Cream Radiant Primer (USD $28.00, full size). The price point puts it in the mid range. It’s way more expensive than drugstore products, but not quite as expensive as the luxury makeup brands. For almost $30.00, I expect great results.

You can see how strong the glowing finish is just from a swatch.

The ingredients seem fine over all, but I would note that there is some fragrance and citric extract. If you have very sensitive skin or know you don’t react well to these ingredients, then be careful before using. I didn’t have any negative reactions to the primer, but it’s still worth pointing out.

Also, keep in mind that this primer does have SPF in it, so if you don’t react well to SPF or if you’re going to be photographed with flash photography this won’t work for you.

The primer itself comes out of the tube looking white and shiny. It’s a little intimidating, but trust me when I say this blends out onto the skin very well. In order to give you a face visual, I’ve taken some pictures before and after using the primer without any foundation.


This side of my face doesn’t have any primer on. (Feel free to ignore my eyebrows, which clearly needed some tweezing.)
This side shows the primer after blending.

You can tell in the pictures that the side with the primer has a slight glow to the skin that the other side does not. You can also tell that the primer does not have a pore minimizing or blurring effect. This is by no means a pore refining primer. For that, you’ll want something that’s silicone based. This “perfects” your skin by making it appear more hydrated and luminous. They’re two different techniques that give different, but beautiful, finishes.

Personally, I was really happy with the finish of this primer. This was great for my winter skin, which tends to be a lot drier. In the winter, I’m combination normal/dry (normal t-zone, dry everywhere else). It helped especially on the cheek and under eye area, where I tend to be dry. However, I can absolutely say that I wouldn’t be able to use this primer in the summer, when my skin is normal/oil (oily t-zone, normal everywhere else). It would emphasize my t-zone, plus the oil I produce would break down the primer. If you have very oily skin, you don’t want to use a luminous finish primer as it’ll just emphasize the oil in your skin and enlarged pores.

It did perform really well and helped keep my makeup in place. I combined this with the L’Oreal Lumi Cushion (I’m the shade N4), which is my favorite drugstore cushion foundation, and got a really beautiful glowing (without looking oily) finish. I would still recommend using powder to help lock in the foundation.

I went through this primer really quickly and was sad when it was gone. But, I do have two possible dupes. Both area cheaper than IPKN, so they make work for you if you want a luminous primer without the $30 price tag.

The first is NYX’s Born to Glow Illuminating Primer (USD $13.99). I haven’t used this but have seen other bloggers and vloggers pointing it out as a dupe. They did comparisons and it does have a very similar finish to IPKN, though I’d point out that it’s not quite as strong of a luminous finish. It also has more of a “pore blurring” effect, because NYX does use silicone, and contains no SPF, making it more photograph friendly. Still, it was a very close dupe.

The second is actually my everyday primer, Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Primer (USD $13.99). It does contain silicone, though it’s not as heavy as pore blurring primers like Benefit’s Porefessional. I save those primers for special occasions. Neutrogena’s is very similar to IPKN (it also contains SPF), but it’s not quite as intense in its luminous finish. It’s like IPKN but taken down a notch. I don’t mind this, because I can always play up the luminosity with the right foundation or highlighter. Plus, it’s half the price.

So will I repurchase IPKN? I might, but not until the fall/winter when my skin begins to dry out. I don’t like blowing my money on primer, so I may just stick to Neutrogena. It’s a more luminous primer that I can use year-round.

Who should buy this? Probably people: 1) with normal/dry skin; 2) who want a very luminous look; 3) and are looking for an every-day primer that does not contain any silicone.

Rating: 5/5. Despite the high price point, this primer exceeded my expectations. It gave a beautiful, if intense, luminous finish to the skin and kept my makeup in place all day. Sensitive skin peeps should note the citric extract, fragrance, and SPF. Those with very oily skin will want to avoid this. However, this is a really nice welcome to the primers available in the US.

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