August 23, 2016

May Coop Raw Sauce Review

As promised, here’s my review of the May Coop Raw Sauce, which has become a k-beauty classic. It’s a much buzzed-about product known for giving the skin a radiant glow. But did it live up to the hype?

May Coop Raw Sauce 1.35 oz bottle

Disclosure: This product was purchased by me, with my own money. This post does not contain any affiliate links.

This product is marketed as a “toner, emulsion, and essence in one” (Peach&Lily). While the muti-tasking benefits are great, it does make it kind of difficult to figure out where to put it in your routine. Since I use a lot of actives and didn’t want anything to interfere with the pH, I used it after I finished all of my actives, but before any serums or moisturizers.

One of the most unique and interesting aspects of this product is that it uses maple sap in place of water. Waterless skincare has been a lowkey trend (as in, it never really took off in the main stream you probably haven’t heard of it  /hipsterjokes), especially in Korea, for a while now. The idea behind it is that waterless skincare is able to cut out an ingredient (water) that doesn’t really do much for the skin in favor of higher amounts of active ingredients or other liquids that have additional skincare benefits, in this case maple sap. Maple sap is known for having a high antioxidant content, as well as the ability to absorb into the skin quickly due to a smaller molecule size, according to Peach & Lily. I couldn’t find any scientific studies to support the claim that the molecules are smaller, thus making them absorb faster. Additionally, all of the studies I found on acer mono sap were based on ingestion, not topical use, which makes them kind of useless to evaluate any claims about a skincare product. Bummer.

As I was going over the ingredients list for this review, I noticed something a bit concerning that I haven’t seen anyone else mention. First, let’s take a look at the ingredients. Then, I’ll explain which one concerns me and why.

Ingredients via Peach&Lily:

Acer Mono Sap, Alcohol, Glycerin, Peg-8, Sea Water Maris Aqua (sea Water), Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Water, Betula Alba Bark/leaf Extract, Castanea Sativa (chestnut) Bark Extract, Olea Europaea (olive) Fruit Extract, Pinus Sylvestris Bark Extract, Ribes Nigrum (black Currant) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Vitis-idaea Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (grape) Fruit Extract, Triticum Vulgare (wheat) Flour Extract, Oryza Sativa (rice) Extract, Zea Mays (corn) Germ Extract, Glycine Soja (soybean) Seed Extract, Oryza Sativa (rice) Bran Extract, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methylparaben, Carbomer, Arginine, Panthenol, Creatine, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Fructan Powder, Disodium Edta, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Parfum, Sodium Hyaluranate, Ci 15510

You thought I was going to say alcohol didn’t you? Nope! It doesn’t actually concern me, and I’ll explain why. Alcohol gets demonized a lot, but ultimately I’ve never found it to be a problem in my skincare, nor have I found enough research to convince me to avoid products that contain alcohol. Alcohol can be drying, true, but it’s also important to the formulation of many products because it helps the excess product to evaporate from the skin, enhances penetration of ingredients, and acts as a solvent, which means that it helps to dissolve the other ingredients when the product is being made. Without alcohol or an alternative solvent, a lot of ingredients wouldn’t break down properly, and instead of nice, smooth, silky formulas, you’d end up with a bottle of chunky (likely unstable because the ingredients wouldn’t be equally distributed) goo. Think of it like trying to make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese without any milk to dissolve the cheese powder. Unless you have a skin condition or are particularly sensitive, there’s really no reason to freak out about a little alcohol. If a product smells like a distillery and stings your skin, that’s a different story. I don’t know what the alcohol concentration is in this product, *briefly considers trying to set it on fire a la Tracy from FanServiced-B* but it never stung my skin, even when it was at its most sensitive and damaged point.

The ingredient that does concern me is Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate,* also commonly listed as Octinoxate. Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is a UV filter, which is why it caught my attention. What’s a UV filter doing in a product that’s not intended for sun protection? Turns out it’s there to protect the ingredients from degrading in the sunlight, which makes sense since the bottle is clear. However, when I was trying to figure out why Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is in this product, I discovered several sources that indicated that Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is an endocrine disruptor. Translated into plain English, this means that substances such as Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate act similarly to the body’s natural hormones and can potentially confuse it, causing a disruption in hormone production and/or behavior. Why does this matter? Well, hormones are pretty important. They aren’t just related to sex characteristics and libido, they’re also significant players in the management of metabolism, fertility, immunity, and are crucial to the proper development of a fetus, among other things, according to PBS.

My next question, and probably your next question too, was does this apply to topical use? The answer is yes, it does. Since Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is most frequently used in sunscreens, there have been several studies performed on the effects of topical use. Octinoxate absorbs into the skin rather easily, as do most active ingredients used in chemical sunscreens (as opposed to physical sunscreens, which sit on top of the skin), causing them to have a greater effect on the the body than most topically applied products do. However, and this part is pretty important, Octinoxate has only been found to cause endocrine disruption in larger amounts than you’re probably going to apply of a toner/essence/emulsion. You’re unlikely to experience endocrine disruption from anything less than a full-body application repeated over time, as indicated by Manova, von Goetz, and Hungerbuehler (2015). The only people who should be concerned about Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate in small doses such as this are pregnant or nursing women, and products containing Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate should not be used on young children (Maipas & Nicolopoulou-Stamati, 2015). This is because the endocrine-disrupting effects are more likely to have a negative impact on the development of fetuses and young children (Maipas & Nicolopoulou-Stamati, 2015).

So if this product is unlikely to cause you any harm, why am I mentioning this? First, because the potential side effects of this ingredient are something I was unaware of until I started writing this review. Chances are, many of you are unaware of it too, which brings me to my next point. People deserve to know what’s in their personal care products, along with any risks associated with them. I’d wager that most of us have no interest in diving into academic research papers, and even if we are interested, there are often paywalls, forcing us to rely upon click-baity articles written by people who are just regurgitating other click-bait articles. I’m lucky enough to be able to access academic journals through my university, so when I have questions like this and a bit of spare time, I’m happy to go wandering around in the rabbit hole.

Finally, I don’t want this information to come across as alarmist in any way, and I especially don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about “chemicals.” The whole anti-chemical thing is something I’ve been seeing a lot of in the skincare community lately, and it drives me absolutely bat shit crazy. EVERYTHING IS CHEMICALS. Water and air- two things I think we can agree are pretty crucial to our very existence- are chemicals. Everything on the periodic table of elements- chemicals. Just like there are healthy foods and unhealthy foods, and a myriad of kinda-maybe-healthy-ish foods in between, there are just as many varying degrees of chemicals that are helpful or harmful in differing quantities and circumstances. So, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to the reason why most of you are probably here: to hear about how this product worked for me.

My Experience:

You guys get a bit lucky with this one because my skin type actually changed while I was using this product. When I first started using it back in the winter, not only was I suffering from seasonal dryness, but I’m almost certain that my moisture barrier was compromised, leading to skin that was both oily, and dry/flaky. Fun times, y’all, fun times. Later into the spring and early summer, which is around the time I finished this bottle (June, maybe), my barrier was beginning to heal and become a bit oiler, but I was still suffering from the occasional bit of dryness, especially if the weather changed suddenly. When my skin was at its driest, I was thoroughly unimpressed with this product. I was under the impression that it would give my skin tons of hydration and a nice, lasting glow, but alas, it only gave me a glow on the surface. I guess I was expecting it to improve my skin overall so that my skin was in a state that would allow me to have an actual lit-from-within glow rather than a glow that was the result of having a product on my skin. That being said, it did give me a really nice glow, so as long as you understand that the glow will go away when you remove the product from your face, then you might like this. I’d compare the effect to the Papa Recipe Bombee Honey sheetmasks, but with far less of a moisturizing effect.

The texture of the product is slightly thicker than water, but not quite what I would describe as syrupy. It absorbed easily into the skin and didn’t leave a sticky or oily residue. The scent is a fresh, slightly sweet and earthy scent. It smells a bit like plants, but not any specific plant that I’m aware of. The packaging is a thick, frosted glass bottle with a plastic wood-effect cap. The product is dispensed through a hole in the top of the bottle that is approximately 2 to 3 millimeters in diameter. While the bottle feels luxurious and is certainly very photogenic, the glass bottle does mean that there’s a greater risk of breaking it. I definitely wouldn’t recommend travelling with it.

Final Thoughts:

I wouldn’t recommend this for very dry or oily-dehydrated skin types, but I would recommend it for normal to mildly dry skin. Since I didn’t find this product to be particularly hydrating for my skin when it was dehydrated, I don’t really see the point. You’ve already got surface oil, so you don’t really need the glow, and it’s not doing anything for the dehydration. Skip it and grab some of the Papa Recipe Bombee Honey sheet masks instead.

If you’re normal/combo to mildly dry, on the other hand, I think you’ll quite like this. When my skin was changing from dehydrated to combo, I went from not liking this product at all to feeling like I would miss it when it was gone. At that point, I had realized that it was a purely superficial glow, but that was fine with me when my skin was in better condition overall.

Oily skin might like this as a lightweight moisturizer, especially in the summer months. I think if you have oily skin, this would be plenty of hydration for you, though I’m not sure you’d enjoy the glow. It’s not extreme by any means, but it is noticeable.

Would I repurchase it? At this time, no, though I wouldn’t completely rule out a repurchase in the future. I have a long list of other essences I want to try before I repurchase anything. Also, I just don’t really find I have a need for it at the moment.

Finally, I want to address the Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate one last time. All of the studies I read (there were more than what I’ve cited below, those are just the studies that directly contributed to the information in this post) indicated that there is no cause for alarm with a product such as this, that you’re only using over a small portion of your body. It also makes me feel better that I didn’t find any scientific evidence to the contrary, they all reached the same conclusion. So yes, I am recommending this product to appropriate skin types, but I’m doing so having looked into the safety of the ingredient in question. I would still use this product myself, but maybe the presence of Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate still makes you squeamish, and that’s ok. My goal is to provide information so that you can make the decisions that are right for you. As I mentioned above, products containing Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate shouldn’t be used on small children, or by women who are pregnant or nursing. Everyone else should be fine with minor exposure 🙂

Man, I really thought this was gonna be a short and simple review, but this got out of hand pretty fast. Pfft, thanks  Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate >.<

Thanks for reading!

xx Cristine

Where to purchase:

1.35 oz $14 Sephora | Peach&Lily |

5.07 oz $43 Sephora | Peach&Lily |



Maipas, S., & Nicolopoulou-Stamati, P. (2015). Sun lotion chemicals as endocrine disruptors. Hormones, 14(1), 32-46. doi:10.14310/horm.2002.1572

Manová, E., Goetz, N. V., & Hungerbuehler, K. (2015). Aggregate consumer exposure to UV filter ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate via personal care products. Environment International, 74, 249-257. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2014.09.008


*My discussion of this ingredient is in no way meant to slander or defame May Coop or May Coop Raw Sauce. My purpose in discussing this ingredient and the potential side effects is purely for the spread of scientific information and creating better informed consumers. Plz don’t sue me, thx.
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  • Down the rabbit hole I go – Keisha's Beauty Blog

    […] searching for reviews of the Raw Sauce, I found this one which actually explained why there’s sunscreen in it. Also, quoting studies in your review? […]

    June 9, 2019 at 9:10 am Reply
  • maria litvin

    Thanks for your review. I have a mature dry skin and mildly sensitive. I bought it and used it a while ago. It didn’t do much for me , maybe a little glow, I stopped because I the alcohol smell was a little too much. I insisted, and a week ago and gave another try, using it everyday in the morning. Again, it is not for me. Tonight was the last time and without knowing your great research I still made my decision.

    March 4, 2019 at 7:59 pm Reply
    • Cristine

      Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you. I think you made the completely right call. Thank you for commenting! Hopefully your feedback will help other people to decide whether or not this product is right for them 🙂

      March 4, 2019 at 10:31 pm Reply
  • Smita Maruti

    Hi Cristine! I’m new to your blog and I have to say, thoroughly impressed with the amount of research and time you’ve taken to write this really detailed review. So many times I’ve tried to research specific ingredients only to find (as you said) an obstacle somehow. Funnily enough I was researching octinoxate and other chemical sunscreen ingredients just yesterday, and found websites tooting the exact same conclusions and summaries as you found, except I didn’t find any detailed, transparent studies! A great read, thank you. Smita – Melbourne, Australia.

    January 12, 2019 at 5:42 pm Reply
    • Cristine

      Thank you so much!

      January 13, 2019 at 10:43 am Reply
  • Kalin

    I agree, this is a really helpful review. I have been looking all over for info on raw sauce and there are so few sources, so thanks for writing!

    April 5, 2018 at 9:01 pm Reply
    • Cristine

      Thank you so much Kalin! I’m glad it was helpful!

      April 5, 2018 at 10:17 pm Reply
  • Dana (@goodredherring)

    I just wanted to say that this is such a helpful post! I was looking for reviews on Raw Sauce when I came upon your blog, and the scientific research you’ve included is both helpful and easy to understand, which I really appreciate.

    February 7, 2018 at 7:34 am Reply
    • heyits9_wp

      Thank you so, so much Dana!! So happy to hear that it was helpful and easy to understand! 🙂

      February 8, 2018 at 10:15 am Reply

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