Julep DD Creme Ingredients Review and Analysis: Is It Really Different?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

So Julep has decided that BB creams are so old hat, and consumers aren't going to raise an eyebrow at a CC cream either. So what's a marketing team to do? That's right - move to the next letter of the alphabet and double it! Hence, the DD cream was born. And as you might expect, every blogger and emagazine laps it up, and Julep gets a lot of press even before the product is launched. All bodes well, so the marketing team thinks, "Ha! Gotcha suckers! Fall for a change in two letters in the product name! We'll all be getting great bonuses this year! Muahahaha!"

Not even launched, and all the hype already...(Image source from Julep website)

Okay, I kid. The above is just my "artist's impression", as they call it, of how the Julep DD Creme (note the tres posh spelling - the English word for "cream" apparently isn't enough to justify a high price tag, so "creme" it is). But I came to the conclusion that Julep's DD Creme is probably more a marketing-driven effort than any technological breakthrough because there is fundamentally no big difference between the ingredients in Julep's DD Creme, and the existing products already out in the market. It really is the same old stuff, just rebranded.

By now most of you will know that my blog is somewhat notable for its disdain of some BB/CC/what-have-you creams. And this is because when I looked at the main ingredients in 15 BB creams, I found no significant benefit beyond that of hydration and sun protection - but these are already features in existing products, such as tinted moisturizers and the like, despite very hyped-up advertising. The Julep DD Creme also seems to be getting quite alot of hype, for no apparent reason at all, other than that it's a "DD" cream. Just take a look:

Beautysets - Julep DD Creme Hype
Who knew changing just two letters of a product name would get you so much hype?

Which is why I always like to look at a products ingredients, where possible. After all, if the main ingredients in Julep's DD Creme are not significantly different from what is already out there in the market, then why should we pay more for it? You know how my analysis works, so I won't go into it in detail (I explained it previously in my BB creams ingredients analysis), but basically we look at the main ingredients, and see whether they live up to their billing. This isn't a full-blown analysis of every single ingredient, of course, but it is a quick useful analysis that will give you an overall feel for the product's function, texture, and any primary skincare benefits. Alright are we ready? Let's go!


To answer that question, we'll need to head to the ingredients list, as always. In my original BB Cream ingredient analysis I looked at the first 10 ingredients, but since we're looking at just one, we have the luxury of looking at the first 15 ingredients, although honestly it wouldn't change our analysis even if we didn't. The Julep DD Creme lists as its main ingredients the following:

Active Ingredients: Octocrylene (2.7%), Avobenzone (3.0%), Octisalate (5.0%), Homosalate (2.5%).
Inactive Ingredients: Castor (Ricinus Communis) Oil, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycerin, Glyceryl Behenate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Hexyl Laurate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Isododecane, Magnesium Sulfate, Microcrystalline Wax, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, etc.

Let's see if the ingredients live up to the hype... (Image source)

This basically is just an occlusive moisturizer (Castor Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil), with silicones and other ingredients to improve the product texture and function as emollients (Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Glyceryl Behenate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Hexyl Laurate, Isododecane, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate). Ethyl Macadamiate isn't a silicone but is often used as a substitute for one, and also performs a similar function. Ethylhexylglycerin is the fifth ingredient in the list, and functions both as a conditioning agent and preservative, although a couple of studies have shown that it can provoke sensitivity in some skin types. Magnesium Sulfate is usually added in cosmetics to thicken the product. Now, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin is an interesting one - it is often added as an emollient or mask-forming agent, but it also smells nice (it is apparently the main active ingredient in Febreeze). So if you get a tube of Julep DD Creme and it smells a little like Febreeze, you know why!

So as you can see, there isn't much in the Julep DD Creme's main ingredients that is truly groundbreaking or particularly unique, skincare-wise. Sure, this will deliver hydration to the skin, and it will provide some sunscreen protection, but for the most part, the product is formulated like a tinted moisturizer or a lighter foundation - designed to glide on the skin and feel nice on the skin, but not much else. Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38 is included outside of the top 15 ingredients (it just misses the mark at the 16th ingredient), and this is one of the "two patented anti-aging ingredients decrease the appearance of pores and fine lines" that Julep is advertising. The second one is Phenylethyl Resorcinol, a whitening ingredient found in whitening and brightening products. To give credit where it is due, the good thing about the Julep DD Creme is that both Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38 and Phenylethyl Resorcinol are likely to show some effect on the skin even at the low concentrations they are included, although how much effect is questionable, in my view. Otherwise, this is not all that much different from what is already available on the market - looking at the ingredients list, I'm just not that convinced that this is anything really new.


As a matter of fact, yes there are! Now that we've established what's in the Julep DD Creme, let's turn our eyes to the other products that are likely to be similar. I actually found a few, so let's start!

1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Flawless Tinted Moisturizer

Active Ingredients: 3% Avobenzone, 7.5% Octinoxate, 5% Octisalate
Main Ingredients: Althaea Officinalis Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ethyl Macadamiate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Glyceryl Behenate, Hexyl Laurate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Isododecane, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, etc.

Very similar ingredients, with minor modifications to make the product more plant-sounding. Nice. (Image from Anastasia site)

When I read the ingredients list for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Flawless Tinted Moisturizer, my first though was, "Wow, nearly product twins!" You can see for yourself how similar the two are. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Flawless Tinted Moisturizer has some plant extracts and a different set of sunscreen filters, but other than that, the core ingredients are really all the same, even down to the order of the ingredients. Thus, the two products are likely to be pretty identical.

In fact, a closer scrutiny of the ingredients shows that the similarities go down even further down the ingredients list (the Anastasia product also has Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Microcrystalline Wax, and so on) right down to the active ingredients! That's right, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38 is also found in the Anastasia product, too. I suspect these two products will be virtually identical - the Anastasia version might feel a little lighter as the castor oil is further down the ingredients list, after the silicones and not before as in the Julep version, but I imagine the differences are not very many. The real difference is just in the product name - one is a plain ol' tinted moisturizer, the other is a fancy DD Creme.

Now on to the second Julep DD Creme relative:

2. Kamamak Cosmetics BB Cream SPF25

Kamamak Cosmetics is an indie brand, so admittedly I don't know too much about their products (some of their colour cosmetics look pretty nice on their website), but take a look at their BB Cream!

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, 3.0% Homosalate, 2.5% Octisalate, 5.0%, Octocrylene, 2.7%
Main Ingredients: Water, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Ethyl Macadamiate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Silica, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Isododecane, Microcrystalline Wax, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Hibiscus Abelmoschus Extract, Squalane, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Tocopheryl Acetate, etc.

Another extremely close product, both in form and functionality.

Yet another product almost-twin! Kamamak Cosmetics has added silica and has decreased the concentration of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, probably to make the product feel lighter, but otherwise, the product is very similar, right down to the order of the ingredients. The sunscreen filters are also exactly the same. Again, not much to indicate significant difference between the two products.

Again, just like the Anastasia Tinted Moisturizer, if you look further down the list, you'll see more of the same ingredients appearing too (Magnesium Sulfate, Hexyl Laurate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Glyceryl Behenate, and so on). Also, our two favourite active ingredients make an appearance: Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38 is obvious as it is in the first 15 ingredients, but Phenylethyl Resorcinol is also found in the product after the first 15. So in summary, other than perhaps a slightly lighter feel, there is nothing to distinguish Kamamak's BB Cream from Julep's DD Creme - the main difference is just some sly marketing, changing "BB" to "DD". In fact, if anything, I'd be inclined to pick Kamamak's BB Cream over Julep's version, because it looks like it might be more lightweight, and because the Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38 seems to be present in a higher concentration (but the latter is difficult for us to tell as we don't know the exact percentages). Another thing: at $18 a pop, the Kamamak BB Cream is half the price of the Julep DD Creme. Ahh, the power of marketing. Well, Julep is in good company though, as Anastasia's Tinted Moisturizer, despite not having the fancy "DD" label, is also not cheap at $30. Either way, you're probably overpayinig for the Julep one.

Now, let's move on to something really interesting: a third product twin!

3. Auraline Beauty Private Label Cosmetics BB Cream

This should be interesting. Auraline Beauty Private Label Cosmetics, as the name suggests, is a private label cosmetics manufacturer. This means that if I wanted to manufacture my own Musicalhouses brand of makeup, I can ask them to make it for me, and put my logo on it. I could use either their standard ready-made formulas, or I could modify their formulas a little to my preference. Or, if I was one of the big MNCs with my own R&D team I could even come up with my own formula entirely, and just tell them to manufacture it to my specifications. I could also use their standard packaging, too, or I could change it up. While this might seem like cheating to consumers, it shouldn't come as a surprise to those who are a little more savvy, because after all this practice is quite commonplace. It works for both the brand and the private label company, because the brand is saved the hassle and cost of running a factory, and gets to devote its resources to the real crown jewel activity (which would be marketing), while the contract manufacturer gets to enjoy economies of scale.

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, 3.0% Homosalate, 2.5% Octisalate, 5.0% Octocrylene, 2.7%
Main Ingredients: Water, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Ethyl Macadamiate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Silica, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Isododecane, Microcrystalline Wax, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Hibiscus Abelmoschus Extract, Squalane, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Tocopheryl Acetate, etc.

Near-identical formula from a private label cosmetics manufacturer, oh my! (Image from Auraline website)

The first thing you'll notice is that the ingredients are exactly the same as the Kamamak BB cream. I've listed only the first 15 here to keep the post from being long, but if you look up both products on their respective website, you'll see that the whole list is entirely the same. Coincidence, or some sort of indication that maybe Auraline is Kamamak's contract manufacturer? It could be possible, but the evidence is of circumstantial, so we can't know for sure. I guess there's always some chance that the Kamamak's BB Cream isn't made by Auraline, but even if that's the case, I expect the two products to be extremely similar.

Since this is nearly identical to the Kamamak BB Cream, exactly the same things that were said about the Kamamak BB Cream can be said about the Auraline Beauty Private Label Cosmetics one - the ingredients list is very similar, right down to the order of the ingredients, and even the active ingredients are the same. And I'd prefer Kamamak/Auraline over the Julep one.


I'm glad you asked! This raises a very interesting question - are Julep and Anastasia also working from the same formula that Auraline Beauty (and Kamamak Cosmetics) is using? Well, when I did a cursory google, I found that this group of Julep DD Creme-like products was actually very unique - there were no other tinted moisturizers, foundations, it BB creams I could find that had a similar combination of ingredients, which is a little odd, given the vast number of tinted moisturizations, foundations, BB, and CC creams there are out there. In particular, the combination of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil and Ethyl Macadamiate so high up in the ingredients list seems to be absent in all other products I checked. This makes it all a tad strange to me. If these products were students in a class, and if I were the teacher, my first thought would be that these small group of students must be copying each other's answers! To give an analogy, it's like receiving three or four answer scripts that are all extremely similar and have the same weird mistakes, when the rest of the class has a different set of answers, and although there are variances in the scripts, noone else has those same weird mistakes. Just to show you what I mean, take a look at the graph I did up for you guys. I know, I know, a graph on a beauty blog? What am I, some kind of nerd? YES!

The graph is a way for you guys to visually compare how identical the ingredients in other similar products were to the group of Julep DD Creme-alikes. Like I mentioned earlier, I couldn't find any other products that had Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil and Ethyl Macadamiate together in the first 15 ingredients, so I went ahead to find the next best thing - products that had either one or the other, and products that didn't have either but also had high concentrations of the other top ingredients in the list (Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycerin, Glyceryl Behenate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, and so on). I picked out the top 10 most similar products for this. And based on how many of those ingredients they had, and how high up the ingredients list they were, I plotted this graph. I ignored the sunscreen ingredients, because sunscreen filters are all regulated and thus are very standardized.

dd creams comparison
Even the closest products I could find aren't really similar to the Julep DD Creme-alikes. Makes it look a little suspect...

Basically, the further rightward the product is on the graph, the more similar it is to the Julep DD Creme-alikes based on the presence of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil and Ethyl Macadamiate. As you can see, none of the other similar products I searched for had both these ingredients - the closest was Sephora's Tinted Moisturizer, which had one, but not both, ingredients. And, the further upward the product plots on the graph, the more similarities it has to the Julep DD Creme-alikes based on the other main ingredients, sans Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil and Ethyl Macadamiate. As you can see, there are some products that have greater similarity, such as the Hourglass products, but even the closest products I could find aren't all that similar.

So the evidence is circumstantial, but several things give me pause. These are the facts I am looking at: 1) More than one near-identical product formulation exists, 2) One of the near-identical product formulations is owned by a private label cosmetics company, and 3) There aren't really any other similar formulas out there other than the Julep DD Creme-alike family (indicating that it's not likely that somehow all three/four companies just ended up with near-identical formulas by chance, otherwise other companies would be doing the same too, and the scatterplot would be more random-looking, with points in all quadrants). In light of these facts, my hunch is that they are all possibly working off the same base formula (maybe supplied by Auraline?), and some brands tweaked the formula a little, while some others choose to use the formula with no modifications.

Fun fact: Did you know Julep's founder and CEO, Jane Park, used to be a Starbucks executive? (Image source)

In fact, if you look a little closer at Julep's operations, it seems very unlikely that they would be manufacturing or even formulating their own products. After all, Julep the company currently employs only 130 people, which is not large enough to have a R&D team that will help you pump out 52 new products and 186 nail colors in 18 months. By comparison, a large MNC like L'Oreal who does their own R&D, employs around 3,500 R&D staff, out of a total 70,000 headcount, and rolls out 500 new product launches a year. So the numbers don't quite stack up to me. How can a small startup running a tight ship launch so many products, when a large multi-national that has been in the business for over 100 years needs more than 500 times the headcount to produce just 14 times more new products per year? My sense is that with 130 people, which would include managers, administrative and marketing staff, and manicurists etc. that work in the physical Julep nail parlour, it doesn't seem that Julep would have any headcount dedicated to manufacturing or formulating its own products. More likely, they would tap on a contract manufacturer to supply the necessary base formulations and manufacturing expertise, leaving them free to concentrate on running their parlours and the online retail side of their business.

That said, before Julep sends their lawyers after me (it's been done before, this brands suing bloggers for saying stuff they don't like thing), let me caveat that this is just my hypothesis, and it is hard to prove it in a definitive manner, short of actually knowing who Julep or Anastasia or Kamamak source their tinted moisturizer or BB cream (or DD Creme, in Julep's case) from. I mean, the only way we'll know for sure is if we somehow see an invoice from Auraline to Julep or a client for manufacture of the DD Creme product. But I hope that you, my readers, can appreciate that this isn't some rash conclusion I made up on the fly - it is really the result of deliberate analysis and research, so that I can share something more meaningful with you, beyond regurgitating the hype out there.


So anyway. After this really long analysis, comparison with other products, and even a graph (OMG! A graph in a beauty blog!), what can we say about the Julep DD Creme? Well here are our reasonable conclusions:

1. The Julep DD Creme isn't actually all that much different from existing products on the market.
Yup, we easily found three other extremely similar products that are touted as normal tinted moisturizers or supposedly less-advanced BB creams, including one standard formula from a private label cosmetics company. The fact that Julep's DD Creme is so similar to these other products is very strong indication that the "DD" label is indeed, just marketing and not a fundamental change in product. I've also voiced my suspicion that Julep is indeed sourcing from some sort of private label manufacturer above, so I won't go into further detail.

2. The Julep DD Creme will provide mostly moisturization and sun protection.
Just like other BB creams we've looked at in my BB creams ingredient analysis, the main benefit provided by the Julep DD Creme is that of miniaturization and sun-protection. This shouldn't be a surprise, since the Julep BB Creme isn't actually any different from an existing BB cream or even tinted moisturizer. The addition of Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38 and Phenylethyl Resorcinol might help improve your skin, but this is assuming that the products are in high enough concentration to work. It's nice to have, but I personally wouldn't buy the product just for those ingredients.

3. The Julep DD Creme may trigger sensitivity reactions in some skins.
While the Julep DD Creme should be fine for most skins, the relatively high concentration of Ethylhexylglycerin means that some people's skins could be sensitive to it. If you do demonstrate any sensitivity reactions, e.g. redness, this might be a likely culprit.

4. There are cheaper, and quite close, alternatives to the Julep DD Creme.
Of all the near-identical products we looked at, the Julep DD Creme is the most expensive, at $36 a pop. Anatasia is next, at $30. And Kamamak is the cheapest, at just $18, or half of Julep's price! There's unfortunately no way to tell what Auraline would charge - they are a contract manufacturer, after all, and don't sell directly to consumers, but it will probably be quite a bit below $18, otherwise Kamamak Cosmetics wouldn't make any money from selling them at that price. Yup, I do think that given the existence of near-identical alternatives for cheaper, we would be overpaying for Jule's DD Creme. Tsk tsk, Julep, tsk tsk.

So with all that said and done, should you run out to get your hands on one? Well, despite the rave reviews I've read by bloggers and beauty websites (who were mostly given the product free for review anyway), I'm afraid nothing in the product makes me believe that the DD Creme is anything special. But, if you've tried and liked the Kamamak BB Cream or the Anastasia Beverly Hills Flawless Tinted Moisturizer, then you will probably like the Julep DD Creme as well. Just don't buy into the hype that it is any different from existing tinted moisturizers and BB creams, because it is not.


  1. I always love it when you get your Sherlock on. More gals should get Sherlockian more often.

  2. Love your blog, especially for your common sense and critical note! Also amazing post :)

  3. Man. You do know that ilu so much for this right? RIGHT?

  4. Great contribute - much thanks!

  5. Fabulous deconstruction! Helpful as always and it just proves that consumers should be wary of buying hyped products.

  6. Fabulous deconstruction! Helpful as always and it just proves that consumers should be wary of buying hyped products.

  7. Thank you for a very informative and helpful article on the latest beauty fad...so vital for informed decision making.

    keep up the good work.

  8. Oh my god. Your blog has been blocked from Facebook. I was trying to share this article with a friend and I couldn't. You can probably thank Julep for getting you censored. Julep can kiss my ass I am so seriously done and over with them now. Censoring a blogger for their research is going too damn far.

    1. @krankenheim: Thanks for your concern and for sharing my post! Facebook has had issues with my blog for awhile before this post was put up, so I doubt that Julep had anything to do with it. Facebook sometimes disables sharing links to blogs that are classified as "spam", and my blog is apparently one of these, although I have no idea why it is classed as such, because my blog content is definitely not spam, and I don't run any ads or plug-ins that are spammy! (And yet the real spammy blogs with TONS of ad plug-ins get through, sigh, FB.) I've contacted FB about this but of course, I've never gotten an answer. If you want to share my post, you can change it e.g. musicalhouses@blogspot.com/ and ask your friend to subsittute the "@" with the right symbol "." when she copy-pastes the address.

      Julep never responded to my post or contacted me regarding it, so I'm guessing that they probably aren't even aware that this post exists. I don't think they have anything to do with my blog on FB. But thanks for your concern - it's readers like you that keep me writing :)


Thank you for commenting! I read each and every single comment! If you ask a question in your comment, please check back to this post, as I will reply in a comment to this post as well :) Please note that comments with soliciting links to shops or websites will be removed. Thanks!


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