Top 18 Best Japanese Anti-Aging Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 – Tried and True!

Top 18 Best Japanese Anti-Aging Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

We might not be able to prevent aging altogether, but we can still age gracefully. That feels like the consensus here in Japan, where anti-aging skincare is popular and constantly evolving. As time goes by, our skin undergoes certain changes–hormones are thrown out of balance, certain functions are dulled–and serums that you used once may no longer be as effective.

So which serums a) target the signs of aging and b) will actually work for you? In order to answer that question, we ordered the 18 most popular anti-aging※1 serums※2 from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited a skincare specialist and had her compare the following:

  1. Hydration
  2. Application

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese anti-aging serums, essences, and ampoules.

※1 エイジングケア: anti-aging (lit. aging care), which, in this article, refers to products meant to moisturize mature skin

※2 美容液: serums, essences, and ampoules (all three are basically the same product, just with different concentration levels of active ingredients)

Table of Contents

Introducing the Expert Who Lent Us Her Knowledge

This time around, we borrowed the expertise of a skincare specialist, who’s a well-known face both in magazines and on the web.

Aiko Kawakami
〈Aiko Kawakami〉

Skincare Specialist

She's a skincare specialist who's got over 20,000 consultations under her belt. She approaches skin with a combination of scientific evidence and experience, using her knowledge of dermatology and cosmetic ingredients to help women become even more beautiful, down to their fingertips.

She's the representative of the board of directors over at ANSEM (Association of Nail & Skin Experts Maestro) and an instructor at the JCLA (Japan Cosmetic Licensing Association). She's also made numerous media appearances.

What Exactly Does an Anti-Aging Serum Do?

What Exactly Does an Anti-Aging Serum Do?

The main thing an anti-aging serum does is hydrate. Dehydration is said to be one of the biggest culprits behind the various signs of aging. And it’s not just the wrinkling and the sagging; when your skin is dehydrated, its natural barrier gets worn down, which in turn leads to hyperpigmentation and acne.

Furthermore, as your skin ages, it loses its ability to hold on to water. When your skin starts losing its firmness and elasticity, when spots and dulling start to become apparent, is when you need to pay attention to hydration more than ever. When it comes to anti-aging, the most important thing is to use products that help with water retention.

That isn’t to say that other things, such as ingredients that help firm up skin or prevent age and sun spots, aren’t important–they are. But they’re more like the cherry on the sundae. At the end of the day, the first question you should ask yourself is, “Does my anti-aging serum keep mature skin properly hydrated?”

Aiko Kawakami
Skincare Specialist
Aiko Kawakami's comment
When it comes to anti-aging, the most important thing is keeping the stratum corneum—the horny outer layer of skin—moisturized. It wouldn't be too much to say that the key to anti-aging lies in the extent to which you can stave off dehydration.

How to Choose a Japanese Anti-Aging Serum, Essence, or Ampoule – Buying Guide

There are a whole lot of anti-aging serums out there. Let’s talk about how to narrow down the choices and find one that’s right for you.

① Look for Something Hydrating

Look for Something Hydrating

As we’ve already mentioned, the first thing we want you to check for is hydration. We’re not exaggerating when we say that, simply by making sure your skin doesn’t dry out, you can eliminate or ameliorate many signs of aging. The following are examples of effective moisturizers:

  • Ceramides※3: Hydrates your skin and helps restore its natural barrier
  • Hyaluronic Acid※4: Known for water retention
  • Proteoglycans: Glycosylated proteins. Provides hydration and elasticity

In particular, proteoglycans have enjoyed tons of popularity in recent years. The poster child of proteoglycans would be aggrecan※5, found in articular cartilage. That’s would explain why it’s highly elastic. It has exceptional water retention. It also been experimented on and proven to help with collagen synthesis–truly a superstar when it comes to anti-aging.

Aiko Kawakami
Skincare Specialist
Aiko Kawakami's comment
As for other hydrating ingredients, glycerin and BG come to mind. Then there's fruit cell culture extract, taken from apples, as well as sugars like trehalose and sugar squalane, which have the ability to attract and retain water.

※3 セラミド: ceramides

※4 ヒアルロン酸: hyaluronic acid

※5 アグリカン: aggrecan

② Then Look for Other Ingredients that Target Your Concerns

It’s not only hydration–there are a whole host of other benefits an anti-aging serum can offer you. Below, we introduce a few of the most common woes of aging, as well as ingredients that target those areas.

Ingredients Said to Work on Spots and Dullness

Ingredients Said to Work on Spots and Dullness

With age comes blemishes and lackluster skin. The following are ingredients meant to prevent that.

  • APPS: A vitamin C derivative that has the ability to permeate into skin. Brightens skin and fights off wrinkles.
  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate※6: A stabilized vitamin C derivative. Reduces melanin in the skin and suppresses its production.
  • Kojic Acid※7: Inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme that catalyzes the production of pigments.
  • Fullerene※8: Suppresses melanin production. Also said to help with hydration and reducing crow’s feet.

※6 アスコルビルリン酸Na: sodium ascorbyl phosphate

※7 コウジ酸: kojic acid

※8 フラーレン: fullerene

Ingredients Said to Restore Firmness and Elasticity

Ingredients Said to Restore Firmness and Elasticity

Another thing: as your skin matures, it loses suppleness and gains wrinkles. The following are ingredients that are said to smooth out skin.

  • Retinol (Vitamin A)※9: Helps with skin elasticity. Also reduces dullness and the appearance of spots and wrinkles.
  • Pine Extract※10: Strengthens lymphatic vessels. By doing so, also keeps skin from sagging.
  • Astaxanthin※11: A red pigment. Lightens the skin and reduces wrinkles.
  • Acetyl Hexapeptite8※12: Relaxes facial muscles, reducing face contractions. This, in turn, helps with sagging and expression lines.

※9 レチノール (ビタミンA): retinol (vitamin A)

※10 マツエキス: pine extract

※11 アスタキサンチン: astaxanthin

※12 アセチルヘキサペプチド-8: acetyl hexapeptite 8

③ Look for a Serum with a Pleasing Texture and Scent–and is Also in Convenient Packaging

Look for a Serum with a Pleasing Texture and Scent--and is Also in Convenient Packaging

With skincare, consistency is key. Even the best anti-aging serum in the world will be of no help if you don’t use it every day. That’s why it’s important to find a formula that smells and feels good, wrapped up in packaging that’s easy to use.

Serums vary in density. They can be lightly or heavily scented or have no scent at all. As for packaging, you can find serums in tubes or bottles with either a pump or dropper. This kind of stuff all comes down to personal preference, so make sure you find something you like.

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

Now to introduce the 18 most popular Japanese anti-aging serums that we ordered and the process by which we tested them.

{The Products We Tested}

  1. Beauty Mall Premium APPS + E Fullerene Serum (ビューティーモールAPPS+E(TPNa)フラーレン 美容液)
  2. RISOU Repair Gel (リソウリペアジェル)
  3. Sofina Lift Professional EX (ソフィーナ リフトプロフェッショナル ハリ美容液EX)
  4. Dr.Ci:Labo Super White 377VC (ドクターシーラボスーパーホワイト377VC)
  5. Melano CC Medicated Blemish Prevention W Vitamin Serum (メラノCC 薬用しみ 集中対策 Wビタミン浸透美容液)
  6. POLA B.A Prislumina Serum (POLA B.A セラム プリズルミナ)
  7. SHISEIDO Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate N (SHISEIDO アルティミューン パワライジングコンセントレートN)
  8. Albion Upsurge Solution (アルビオン アップサージ ソリューション)
  9. Elixir enriched serum (エリクシール シュペリエル エンリッチドセラム)
  10. MUJI Aging Care Moisturising Essence ( 無印良品 エイジングケアプレミアム美容液)
  11. MAIHADA KATSUJUN Lift Essence (米肌 活潤リフトエッセンス)
  12. HAKU melanofocus V 45 Whitening Serum (HAKU メラノフォーカスV 45 美白美容液 )
  13. SK-II Genoptics Spot Essence (SK-II ジェノプティクス スポット エッセンス)
  14. ORBIS Lift Bright Essence (オルビス リフトブライトエッセンス )
  15. NOV L&W Lift Essence (ノブ L&W リフトエッセンス)
  16. ASTALIFT Essence Destiny (アスタリフト エッセンス デスティニー)
  17. Cosme Decorte Whitelogist Bright Express (コスメデコルテ ホワイトロジスト ブライト エクスプレス)
  18. Kobayashi Seiyaku Keshimin Essence (小林製薬 ケシミン美容液)

We then tested for each of the following things:

Test ①: Hydration
Test ②: Application

Test ①: Hydration

Hydration

First, we looked at hydration–the key to anti-aging.

We applied pearl-sized drops of serum to our arms. We then used a moisture analyzer and compared the state of our skin before application to its state eight hours after application.

The Big Takeaway: Hydrating Serums Contained Sugar Derivatives or Antioxidants

The Big Takeaway: Hydrating Serums Contained Sugar Derivatives or Antioxidants

The serums that proved to be most hydrating usually contained antioxidants–such as Vitamins A and C, as well as tocopherol–or sugars–such as rhamnose or sugar squalane–as ingredients. Sugars in particular are great at absorbing and holding on to water.

Other anti-aging serums that were effective contained ascorbic acid, ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), and apple fruit cell culture extract. To summarize, we found that ingredients that either prevent oxidation or are effective humectants have a positive effect on your skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Test ②: Application

Application

Next, we looked at how well each serum applied.

We gathered staff from several departments and had them test each product. They then shared their impressions on how the formula felt and smelled, as well as how convenient the packaging was.

The Big Takeaway: We Liked Serums that Felt like Lotion and Smelled like a Field of Flowers

We Liked Serums that Felt like Lotion and Smelled like a Field of Flowers

As for texture, we preferred products that were a bit dense, as opposed to thin and watery. They felt and usually proved to be more hydrating. They were a bit tacky, but they also seemed to do more to plump out the skin and smooth out wrinkles.

As for smell, we found that most anti-aging serums do have classy, subtle fragrances. Our favorites tended to be those with light, floral scents.

The Final Verdict: Top 18 Best Japanese Anti-Aging Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online

Now to introduce the 18 best Japanese anti-aging serums, essences, and ampoules available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from D to A+.

Just keep in mind that these products are not guaranteed to produce all the results we talked about above. If you do choose to buy any of these products, be sure to double-check the official description and purported benefits.

※Prices are as they were at the time of this article’s publication. They may fluctuate depending on when and the site on which you purchase the product.

18. ORBIS Lift Bright Essence

ORBIS Lift Bright EssenceORBIS Lift Bright Essence

Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Visit ichibankao for more details

Visit YesStyle for more details

Price: $37.53

Is a Bit Sticky, but Leaves Your Skin Smooth and Supple

This serum was practically odorless. It was thick, so skin was a bit tacky after application. As for ingredients, it had retinol and ursolic acid, which work to bring elasticity back to skin, as well as burnet extract, which is an antioxidant. However, it wasn’t hydrating, so supplement with a good moisturizing cream or face lotion.

Cosmetic Ingredients Ceracute®, Hydrogenated Retinol, Ursolic Acid B, Burnet Extract Benefits Improves Skin Elasticity
Hydration D Application B
Overall Score D

17. ASTALIFT Essence Destiny

ASTALIFT Essence DestinyASTALIFT Essence Destiny

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Visit Kirei Station for more details

Price: $50.62

Permeates through and Absorbs into Skin, Restoring Elasticity. However, is Sticky and Low on Hydration

This serum features FUJIFILM’s own Nano-Resveratrol EX, said to encourage cell turnover and leave skin supple. The formula was thin, light. The only thing was the sticky residue it left behind; sure, it felt like the serum was helping our skin retain moisture, but we didn’t enjoy the sensation of being wrapped in what could only be described as membrane.

Cosmetic Ingredients Nano-Resveratrol EX, Nano-Astaxanthin, Nano-Lycopene Benefits Improves Skin Elasticity
Hydration C Application D
Overall Score C

16. Elixir enriched serum

Elixir enriched serum

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $68.31

Might Not be for You if You’re Picky about Scent. Hydration isn’t Amazing, Either

This one was packed with cosmetic ingredients, but it was still lacking in hydration. However, it was lightweight and didn’t leave skin tacky. It had this very light, almost coconuty smell that reminded us of cosmetics that came out about 10 years ago.

Cosmetic Ingredients Satsuma Mandarin Peel Extract, Mangosteen Bark Extract, Inositol, Soapberry Extract, Turmeric Extract Benefits Improves Skin Elasticity
Hydration C Application D
Overall Score C

15. NOV L&W Lift Essence

NOV L&W Lift EssenceNOV L&W Lift Essence

Visit NOV for more details

Visit ichibankao for more details

Visit Kirei Station for more details

Price: $65.00

Has a Bunch of Active Ingredients, but Still Doesn’t Hydrate

It was denser in texture, but it didn’t leave behind any sticky residue. Skin felt soft and plush after application. However, even though this ran the whole gamut of ingredients–from ingredients meant to deal with dark spots and dullness, to those that restore elasticity, to those that hydrate–we didn’t quite get the results we were hoping for.

Active Ingredients Ubidecarenone, N-Acetyl-L-Hydroxyproline, α-Glucosyl Glycerol Solution, L-Ascorbic Acid 2-Glucoside Benefits Prevents Spots and Dullness, Improves Skin Elasticity
Hydration C Application B
Overall Score C

14. MUJI Aging Care Moisturising Essence

MUJI Aging Care Moisturising Essence MUJI Aging Care Moisturising Essence

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Visit MUJI for more details

Price: $24.00

Feels Light on Skin, but Hydration Falls Short of Expectations

MUJI’s anti-aging serum’s been called a great find and a steal. We liked that it wasn’t tacky, and the light scent wasn’t unpleasing. However, if you have dry skin, you may find that it doesn’t hold on to enough moisture. In addition to humectants, MUJI featured ten all-natural cosmetic ingredients, so it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing what it does for your skin.

Cosmetic Ingredients Propanediol, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Jojoba Seed Oil, Soluble Collagen, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Polyquaternium-51 Benefits Adds Moisture
Hydration C Application B
Overall Score C

13. MAIHADA KATSUJUN Lift Essence

MAIHADA KATSUJUN Lift EssenceMAIHADA KATSUJUN Lift Essence

Visit Amazon for more details

Visit YesStyle for more details

Price: $150.90

This May Feature Rice Power Extract No. 11, but Hydration is Barely Decent

This featured the much lauded Rice Power Extract No. 11, but it was far less hydrating than expected. It was dense and wet and left skin a bit tacky. It also smelled slightly of rice, most likely thanks to the rice bran and fermented soybean juice. It’s one to try if you believe strongly in rice as a cosmetic ingredient.

Cosmetic Ingredients Bacillus/ (Rice bran extract/ Soybean extract) Fermentation Liquid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyglutamic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Water-Soluble Collagen, PEG-150 Benefits Improves Skin Elasticity
Hydration C Application B
Overall Score B

12. SHISEIDO Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate N

SHISEIDO Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate N

Visit Amazon for more details

Visit Shiseido for more details

Visit Sephora for more details

Price: $70.00

Subtle and Refreshing Fragrance. However, Thick Texture Leaves behind a Sticky Residue

We thought this smelled like Shiseido, toned down and refined. There were a lot of supposedly hydrating ingredients in the serum, but the overall formula was less moisturizing than you’d expect, earning only a C. It was also thick and took a long time to set, so you shouldn’t get it if you hate feeling sticky.

Cosmetic Ingredients Trehalose, Sodium Carboxymethyl Beta-Glucan, PEG/PPG-17/4 Dimetyl Ether, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Glycerin, Ectoine, Xylitol Benefits Retains Moisture
Hydration C Application A
Overall Score C

11. Albion Upsurge Solution

Albion Upsurge SolutionAlbion Upsurge Solution

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Visit YesStyle for more details

Price: $111.17

Has a Relaxing, Elegant Scent. If Only It were a Bit More Hydrating

Everything, from the gentle fragrance to the sleek packaging, made us feel like we were at a classy spa, earning Albion’s serum an A for application. There were plenty of ingredients meant to moisturize skin, soothe irritation, and tamp down pigmentation. However, after testing, we found that we would’ve appreciated more and longer-lasting hydration.

Cosmetic Ingredients Tocopherol, Royal Jelly Extract Benefits Prevents Rough Skin, Spots, & Fine Lines; Retains Moisture
Hydration C Application A
Overall Score C

10. Kobayashi Seiyaku Keshimin Essence

Kobayashi Seiyaku Keshimin EssenceKobayashi Seiyaku Keshimin Essence

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $9.86

Prevents Blemishes with the Help of Vitamin C Derivatives. Doesn’t Hydrate, Though

This formula contains a lot of whitening ingredients, such as L-Ascorbic Acid 2-Glucoside and Glycyrrhizin Dipotassium, which means it should work on hyperpigmentation, dullness, and redness. However, it might not be moisturizing enough for dry skin.

Active Ingredients L-Ascorbic Acid 2-Glucoside, Glycyrrhizin Dipotassium, Tocopherol Acetate Benefits Prevents Spots, Dullness, and Rough Skin
Hydration C Application C
Overall Score B

9. Cosme Decorte Whitelogist Bright Express

Cosme Decorte Whitelogist Bright ExpressCosme Decorte Whitelogist Bright Express

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Price: $124.56

Feels Extremely Light and Absorbs without a Trace. Might Not Provide Enough Hydration for Dry Skin

We liked the packaging. It felt as smooth and light as silk, so it’s a good one to try if you find most serums unpleasantly sticky. It offered only decent hydration and may not be enough for dry skin or during dry months.

Active Ingredients Kojic Acid Benefits Prevents Spots
Hydration B Application B
Overall Score B

8. Melano CC Medicated Blemish Prevention W Vitamin Serum

Melano CC Medicated Blemish Prevention W Vitamin SerumMelano CC Medicated Blemish Prevention W Vitamin Serum

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Price: $8.68

Feels like an Oil but is Surprisingly Not Sticky

This was like oil in a tube, though it didn’t leave any sticky residue on our skin, unexpectedly. The formula revolves around vitamin C and is supposed to work not only on pigmentation, but acne as well. It didn’t do much in the way of hydration, but this is a good product to use if you’re looking for something that specializes in blemish prevention.

Active Ingredients Ascorbic Acid, Tocopherol Acetate, Glycyrrhizin Dipotassium, Isopropyl Methylphenol Benefits Prevents Spots & Dullness
Hydration B Application A
Overall Score B

7. POLA B.A Prislumina Serum

POLA B.A Prislumina SerumPOLA B.A Prislumina Serum

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Price: $185.46

Takes a While to Set, but Pumps Hydration into Skin, Leaving it Soft and Dewy

This had the slick texture of a face lotion, and skin felt dewy after application. It took a while to absorb, but once it did, moisture reached deep down into our skin.  However, water retention was only average. You can weigh that against the packaging that looks like it’s from a modern art museum and the delicate floral scent, and decide whether this product is worth the price.

Active Ingredients Ascorbic Acid 2-Glucoside Benefits Improves Skin Elasticity, Prevents Spots
Hydration B Application A
Overall Score B

6. Sofina Lift Professional EX

Sofina Lift Professional EXSofina Lift Professional EX

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $45.63

Restores Your Skin, Leaving It Soft and Plush. Has a Relaxing Floral Scent to Boot

This serum contained multiple ingredients meant to restore elasticity, the most notable being acetyl hexapeptite-8. The final result should be plush, supple skin. We also loved the subtle floral scent and dewy texture (no residue!). The only complaint we had was it didn’t keep skin hydrated for as long as we would’ve liked.

Cosmetic Ingredients Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Ginger Root Extract, Horse Chestnut Seed Extract, Fucus Extract, Amidinoproline Benefits Improves Skin Elasticity
Hydration B Application A+
Overall Score B

5. Dr.Ci:Labo Super White 377VC

Dr.Ci:Labo Super White 377VCDr.Ci:Labo Super White 377VC

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Price: $43.80

Hydration is Only Average. Texture, However, Makes It Easy to Target Problem Areas

Hydration wasn’t anything special. However, this serum came out to a thick cream, which made it easy to target and apply product to specific areas.

Some of our volunteers weren’t enamored with the design of the packaging. However, we liked that there was a little window on the back that told you how much product you had left. (Once a black bar appears on the bottom, it means you have about 25 pumps left.)

Cosmetic Ingredients Nano W377, Raw Vitamin C Benefits Prevents Spots and Dullness
Hydration B Application C
Overall Score C

4. RISOU Repair Gel

RISOU Repair Gel

Visit Rakuten for more details (Japan only)

Price: $125.92

A Hydrating Serum where All the Ingredients Serve Some Kind of Cosmetic Purpose. Is Quite Sticky

This formula contained no water–it was 100% cosmetic ingredients. It targeted wrinkles and pigmentation. We also had no complaints about hydration. But, seeing as the main ingredient was glycerin, this product turned out quite sticky.

Cosmetic Ingredients Ascorbic Acid, Rhizopus / Fermented Rice Extract Solution, Hesperidin, Licorice Root Extract Benefits Improves Skin Elasticity and Glow, Prevents Spots and Dullness
Hydration A Application C
Overall Score A

3. Beauty Mall Premium APPS + E Fullerene Serum

Beauty Mall Premium APPS + E Fullerene SerumBeauty Mall Premium APPS + E Fullerene Serum

Visit Rakuten for more details (Japan only)

Price: $78.06

Features Fullerene and Targets all the Signs of Aging. Doesn’t Really Feel like a Serum, for Better or Worse

This was watery in texture and left behind only a light residue. But what really got us was its use of apple fruit cell culture extract, which proved to be exceptionally good at attracting and then holding on to water. We weren’t that happy with the packaging, however; it didn’t look like 8000 yen (~$80) and precious serum dripped from the opening.

Cosmetic Ingredients Fullerene, Apple Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Trisodium Ascorbyl Palmitate Phosphate, Ubiquinone, Ascorbyl Glucoside Benefits Prevents Spots, Improves Skin Elasticity, Retains Moisture
Hydration A Application C
Overall Score A

2. SK-II Genoptics Spot Essence

SK-II Genoptics Spot EssenceSK-II Genoptics Spot Essence

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Visit Sephora for more details

Visit SK-II for more details

Price: $225.00

Love the Sleek Packaging. No Complaints about Hydration, Either

The texture was on the denser side, but it absorbed quickly into skin, leaving behind almost no residue. It featured a bunch of SK-II’s patented ingredients, and hydration was solid. We had only the slightest bone to pick–the dropper it came with was pretty unique, so it may take a bit of time getting used to.

Active Ingredients Nicotinic Acid Amide W, D-Pantothenyl Alcohol Benefits Prevents Spots and Rough Skin
Hydration A Application B
Overall Score A

1. HAKU melanofocus V 45 Whitening Serum

HAKU melanofocus V 45 Whitening Serum

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $77.61

Hydrates and Protects against Blemishes. You Just Have to Get over the Slight Tackiness

This serum contained 4MSK and m-Tranexamic Acid, both of which are whitening ingredients–so you can be sure this will work to prevent age spots. On top of that, it earned an A+ for hydration. That’s what anti-aging serums are all about–fending off the signs of aging while hydrating your skin.

It was a bit tacky, so we weren’t wild about how it applied. It was also basically scentless, though some found it a bit medicinal. Still, if you care about results over application, then this is a good one to try.

Active Ingredients 4MSK, m-Tranexamic Acid Benefits Prevents Spots, Retains Moisture
Hydration A+ Application C
Overall Score A

The Difference between “Cosmetic Ingredients” and “Active Ingredients”

The Difference between "Cosmetic Ingredients" and "Active Ingredients"

In the tables above, you probably noticed that we list the “cosmetic ingredients” of some products and the “active ingredients” of others. Why’s that? Both in Japan and the US, serums that aim to merely beautify and alter appearance are labeled as cosmetics. Their main ingredients are usually not present in high concentrations and are called “cosmetic ingredients.”

On the other hand, serums that are meant to change bodily functions are labeled as drugs. Their main ingredients are present in higher concentrations and function like medicine (though, rather than curing anything, they are meant to prevent things, like the production of melanin). These ingredients are called “active ingredients.”

Summary

We consulted a skincare specialist, purchased the 18 most popular anti-aging serums, essences, and ampoules, and tested them all.

Everyone ages in different ways. There are some signs of aging you may be able to accept and others you want to ameliorate, so it’s important to choose a serum that targets your specific needs. Just remember that a lot of skincare is preventive and not curative, and anti-aging care starts early.

Well, at the bottom of it, the best thing you can do for your skin is lead a healthy lifestyle–eat well, sleep well, exercise, and moisturize. And then, when you’re looking for a little extra insurance in the form of an anti-aging serum, be sure to keep what we talked about today in the back of your mind.

Original by Yukina Matsuda; Translation by Jasmine Li

  • Top 26 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019
    Winters in Japan can get really dry, especially with offices running their heaters, full blast, at what must be a million degrees (not pointing any fingers, but). Times like these, you need a little extra moisture. Especially because one of the secrets to keeping your skin young is to keep it hydrated. Japanese cosmetics companies caught wind of this and–lo and behold–the market’s swamped with moisturizing serums. Great, but that makes it all the more difficult to tell which formulas will work for you and which… not so much. To save you some guesswork, we ordered the 19 most popular moisturizing serums from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited a skincare specialist and had her compare the following: Hydration Application This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese moisturizing serums, essences, and ampoules※1. ※1 美容液: serums, essences, and ampoules (all three are basically the same p

  • Top 26 Best Japanese Whitening Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019
    It’s a buzzword in Japan: translucence※1. It’s similar to Korea’s glass skin–skin so pure that it’s nearly transparent, resembling layers of frosted glass. In order to respond to that aesthetic, cosmetic companies–both drugstore and high-end–here have been coming out with scores of whitening※2 serums, essences, and ampoules※3. As always, it’s difficult to tell what kind of skincare is effective and what isn’t. That’s why, this time around, we ordered the 26 most popular whitening serums from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited a skincare specialist and had her compare the following: Hydration Application This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese whitening serums, essences, and ampoules. ※1 透明感: translucence (lit. transparency; used to describe glass skin) ※2 美白: whitening (in this article, that refers to the tamping down of hyperpigmentation and the production of melanin, t

  • Top 28 Best Japanese Toners to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!
    We don’t know when it started, but Japanese women are known–have been known for a while–for beautiful skin. And walking around Tokyo, you can’t help but think “where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.” While there’s no one factor that makes one’s skin what it is, we’d hazard a guess and say skincare is important. The Japanese skincare routine has quite a few steps. There’s cleansing; then the first step after cleansing is toning. To help you ease into Japanese skincare, we ordered the 28 most popular toners※1 from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited an specialist and had her compare the following: Application (How It Feels on Skin) Hydration This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese toners. We also consulted our specialist about skincare–for example, we asked about how to properly put on toner and the order in which we should apply toner, lotion, and essences. We share all this information at the

  • Top 25 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!
    Last time, we talked about toners. Now, we move on to the next step in the Japanese skincare routine: moisturizers and face lotions※1. Face lotions are important–they are, if you remember, the lid that seals your toner in. And, just like in America, in Japan, we have our high-end and drugstore brands, our revolutionary products and dupes. We thought it was high time someone separated the wheat from the chaff. That’s why we ordered the 25 most popular moisturizers and face lotions from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited a skincare specialist and had her compare the following: Hydration Application This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese moisturizers and face lotions. We also talk about the difference between lotion and cream at the very end of the article–be sure not to miss it. ※1 乳液: moisturizer / face lotion Introducing the Expert Who Lent Us Her Knowledge This time around, we borro

  • Top 12 Best Japanese Foundations to Buy Online 2018
    It’s one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s a trending question on Quora. Why do Japanese women have such beautiful skin? A lot of it starts down at the roots: skincare, diet, genes. However, some of it is surface level stuff: makeup and, specifically, foundation. And out of all the foundation that’s out there, liquid–high-end and drugstore–is prized because it’s both versatile and hydrating. So in order to tap into those beauty secrets, we ordered the 12 most popular Japanese foundations from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also consulted three experts, who looked for the following: Finish Ease of Application Coverage This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese liquid foundations. Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge This time around, we borrowed the expertise of hair and makeup artists Rika Fujiwara and Mutsuki, as well as the former fashion retailer and Instagrammer Chie Kato. [expertprof

  • Top 14 Best Japanese CC Creams to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!
    Foundation is so yesterday. Nowadays, in Asian beauty, all you hear about is alphabet cream: AA, BB, CC, DD, so on and so forth. CC cream is more a skincare product than a cosmetic; it usually functions as a color corrector and primer, though its properties can differ by brand. Depending on who’s making it, CC cream can be all sorts of shades and do all sorts of things. So which products are actually loved in Japan and which are dupes? To answer that question, we ordered the 14 most popular Japanese CC creams from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also consulted three experts, who looked for the following: Finish Ease of Application This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese CC creams. Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge This time around,  we borrowed the expertise of hair and makeup artists Rika Fujiwara and Mutsuki, as well as the former fashion retailer and Instagrammer Chie Kato. [expertprofi

  • Top 16 Best Japanese BB Creams to Buy Online 2019
    We’re obsessed with flawless skin here in Japan. Beyond just looking good, we want our skin to actually be good–naturally healthy and free of blemishes–so it makes sense that BB cream, which is makeup and skincare in one, would have firmly taken root here. We’ve got a lot of brands, like Sekkisei, and a lot of formulations. So you’re probably wondering which BB creams are actually popular and which work. In order to answer that question, we ordered the 16 most popular tubes of BB cream from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited two experts and had them compare the following: How Well It Spreads Coverage Finish Longevity This is how we tested and found the most exceptional BB creams. Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge This time around, we borrowed the expertise of hair and makeup artist Rika Fujiwara and Instagrammer Chie Kato. Invalid Short Code. There is not profile. Please write expert_id = hikaku9 comment.
    Sorry, but What’s BB Cream Again? In J

  • Top 38 Best Japanese Lip Balms to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!
    If eyes are the windows to your soul, your lips are the shape to its voice. They’re worth taking good care of, especially because they’re tender and prone to aging, just like the rest of your skin. And in Japan, as in America, lip balm is cheap and plentiful, so you’ve plenty of choices–choices between brands, as well as between medicated, tinted, or organic balms. So which balms are worth your money and which aren’t? To answer that question, we ordered the 38 most popular lip balms from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) and tested for the following: Hydration Application This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese lip balms. How to Choose Japanese Lip Balm – Buying Guide We’ll get into how we tested and compared all the products, but before that, we want to introduce three things you should look out for when picking out a Japanese lip balm. ① Choose Only after You’ve Learned the Differences Between Drugs, OTC Drugs, and Cosm

  • Top 14 Best Japanese Body Moisturizers to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True
    Browsing a Japanese drugstore is like panning for gold. You’re there looking down the aisles and everything seems like silt until you finally find a gem–a body lotion that hydrates (possibly even more than a high-end brand), low price tag, no shady ingredients. The task is fun but time-consuming, especially if you don’t read Japanese. And even if you do, do you really want to go through all of those katakana-ized chemical names? We certainly don’t. But we did. To save you headache (and a trip or ten to the drugstore), we ordered the 14 most popular body moisturizers from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) and tested for the following: Fragrance Hydration Application This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese body moisturizers. How to Choose a Japanese Body Moisturizer – Buying Guide We’ll get into how we tested and compared all the products, but before that, we want to introduce three things you should look out for when picking o

  • Top 7 Best Japanese and Korean Cushion Foundations to Buy Online 2019
    Cushion foundation is like the precocious child of liquid and powder foundation. It covers and moisturizes, and yet it’s fast and portable, well-suited to rushed makeup routines in the morning. It was born in Korea, but soon caught on all over the world–and Korea’s close neighbor, Japan, wasn’t going to miss out on the fun. Lancome and NARS have their own much beloved versions of cushion foundation, but it’s worth talking about brands that come from this part of the Pacific. So we ordered the 7 most popular Japanese and Korean cushions from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also consulted three experts, who looked for the following: Finish Ease of Application Longevity This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese and Korean cushion foundations. Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge This time around,  we borrowed the expertise of hair and makeup artists Rika Fujiwara and Mutsuki, as well as the for