I remember when I first got into asian skincare I was mystified by their concept of a toner. My whole life a toner had meant a harsh/alcohol ladden liquid that left my skin nice and dry. However, the idea of a light moisturizer really intrigued me. After some research I learned that the Hada Labo toners were some of the best selling products in Japan. After reading that of course I had to head over to my local Mitsuwa marketplace and snatch up the Hada Labo arbutin super hyaluronic acid toner!
The toner has an extremely liquidy and runny texture, application should be quick or it is guaranteed to run down your hands. I use about two drops, and I find that this more than enough leaves my face saturated. Once rubbed/patted in it remains quite sticky for a couple minutes until finally it dries down to do a light moisturizing finish. On oily skin, the stickiness may last a while longer, but on my sister’s dry skin it absorbs extra fast and leaves her feeling nice and refreshed.
I love the ingredients list on Hada Labo’s arbutin (the original also has a great formula) toner due to its simplicity. The list is comprised of only 13 ingredients, which is scant compared to most moisturizers. The formula has no scent, making it perfect for people with sensitive skin. The list consists of several very simple/light moisturizing ingredients and preservatives, most of which come back with a 0 on cosdna. The major players in this formula are hyaluronic acid and arbutin. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that attracts water from the air to your skin, it is also touted for its ability to quicken wound healing. There is also some buzz around the fact that it may help with wrinkles however, this effect has not been proven! Arbutin on the other hand, is a melanin inhibiting agent derived from hydroquinone, meaning it helps lighten up any spots/discoloration on your skin. Research on arbutin is also a bit iffy, since not enough research has been conducted on trying to figure exactly how much arbutin must be in a product to help lighten up discoloration.
Considering how simple the ingredients list is, it may come as no surprise to you that the Hada Labo arbutin toner is not an incredibly moisturizing treatment. On its own, it does not do much to help combat dryness (especially that caused by retinoids). However, when combined with other heavier moisturizers and creams it really excels and potentiates their moisturizing effects. I have been using this toner on and off for around 3-4 months and never in that time period has it ever broken me out!
One thing I will complain about though is that one thing this toner does not do well is the so called “whitening”. When I use this toner on its own without any other more powerful whitening serums I see absolutely no lightening of my acne marks. Which, is a shame because considering how simple and gentle this formula is, it would be awesome if it helped lighten PIH as well.
My final words…
The Hada Labo super hyaluronic acid toner is a very basic introductory product into the asian skin care world. It works great when mixed with other products, is gentle, and cheaper than many other options. However, it does not have many bells and whistles making it subpar compared to other formulas out there. I would recommend this toner mainly if you have little to no skin issues you need to fix (or alternatively, if you don’t react well to fragrance) or if you’ve just started out trying asian skincare products and do not know where to start.
It is definitely a good formula, but I will most likely not be repurchasing in the future as I crave something that is better at evening out my skin tone.
Hada Labo Arbutin Toner