If you’re new to Asian skincare, the term lotion may be confusing as in the West, the term lotion has equated moisturizer for a long time. In Asian skincare, a lotion is a lightweight moisturizing layer, sandwiched between your toner/essence and serum/ampoule/oil/moisturizer. They come in various consistencies, from a very liquid, essence-like quality, to more viscous and can utilize any number of active ingredients to try and tackle, well, whatever it is you want your skincare doing for you.
Case in point: Hada Labo Gokujyun is a very popular (and in the West, a cult classic) lotion from the drugstore in Japan. It prominently features hyaluronic acid as its active ingredient of choice. Erborian Yuza Double Lotion is from Korea, and features the yuza fruit, which is a citrus fruit, from Jeju island. Both are called lotion, but vary in how they look and feel (and of course, what they claim to do).
Note: I have only used the Hada Labo lotion in the ‘premium‘ variety as, for an extra 100 yen or so (less than $1 USD) I could upgrade to five (5!) different types (molecular weights) of hyaluronic acid. How could I say no?
How each lotion looks/feels on the skin
The Hada Labo lotion is clear and has an interesting slip to it. I don’t notice any scent in mine (mine is from here in Japan, so I don’t know if that’s the same for exports). It takes about 3 drops, which come out of the bottle easily, and it absorbs quickly into my skin, and my skin doesn’t feel sticky afterwards. Like most Japanese products I’ve tried, it doesn’t leave an emollient or greasy feeling to my skin once it’s absorbed.
The Erborian Yuza lotion is a two-part lotion; it contains oil, and needs to be shaken before using it to emulsify everything. It has a light, citrusy scent that I personally enjoy, and which goes away pretty quickly. It is more watery feeling than the Hada Labo and is opaque and white. In fact, it comes out of the bottle quite fast, maybe because of the thinness of the formula, and is tricky to not go overboard with. Once on the skin, it absorbs quickly, and maybe because of the oil, leaves the skin with a slicker feeling than the Hada Labo lotion (it feels like you’ve applied a beauty oil, if that makes sense).
Ingredients and Claims
Here is a link to Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium lotion’s ingredient deck (in English). It uses glycerin and, like stated before, five different hyaluronic acid ingredients. Hyaluronic acid is used for moisturizing, but specifically it’s a humectant. That means it pulls water out of the air and delivers it, ever so gently, to your skin. If you live in a humid climate (like, you know, all of Asia), this is a really, really fantastic thing. If you live in Siberia and it’s winter, the amount of water in the air is pretty negligible, making it a rather useless product. Also, if you’re a paraben avoider, listed last in the Hada Labo ingredient deck is methylparaben.
Here is a link to Erborian Yuza Double Lotion’s ingredient deck. It uses oils to hydrate the skin and the yuza extract (plus a couple others) to brighten. No parabens, but fragrance is listed for avoiders of those.
My personal thoughts on the lotions
The Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium runs around $10 USD and is readily available in Japan (like, grocery store, drug store, pretty much everywhere with a roof and a cash register will carry it). It is lightweight and doesn’t make me feel greasy. I don’t personally get the “WOW” cult classic status of it, but I think it will be a very useful product in my skincare arsenal, especially when summer rolls around.
The Erborian Yuza Double Lotion costs $36 from Sephora. It’s definitely not as readily available here in Japan. I really love this product. It plumps my skin and makes it feel very moisturized, but also doesn’t make it greasy-feeling or looking. I enjoy the scent quite a bit. If I still lived in Alaska, this would be in heavy rotation year-round for me.
Final thoughts; I like both products, and they both moisturize, but in very different ways. And they are both called lotion. So let that be a lesson learned. In skincare, particularly in Asian skincare with the seventeen billion steps and products, don’t let the product’s label be your guide.
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