Brightening your skin with Naruko – Unboxing Beauty

Brightening your skin with Naruko – Unboxing Beauty

Once again, I am BACK with another Naruko review ~ Naruko is one of my favorite skincare brands and it is pretty much due to two things, the Miracle Essence and their Tea Tree Line.   This time, I am featuring a product from their am+pm line along with a recap of the Miracle Essence as both of these products have been great for  helping to clear up and brightening my skin. 

I have tried a lot of Naruko (see reviews here) ~ Naruko is a Taiwanese skincare brand that is very popular in its homeland!   Thankfully, I can purchase it at their Naruko USA or Naruko Canada stores ~ Those are pretty much the same store, but just have USA dollars in the USA store and Canadian dollars in the Canadian store. You can use CouponCode0527  promo code to save 10% off your orders at either Naruko Canada or Naruko USA I don’t make any commissions off the code, this is just a thank you for my readers. I received both of these products complementary from Naruko in exchange for a review.

Skin Type/Concerns: Oily, blemish prone, dehydrated, aging, hyper-pigmentation, fine lines/wrinkles, pores

I received these products complementary to review and was not paid.  All reviews are my own honest opinion and  I never have been asked to write copy for a brand.  This blog post might contain promo codes, affiliate and referral links, which using my links will help generate a small commission that helps support my blog at no extra cost to you.

am+pm Total Brightening Renewal Treatment Mandelic Acid 5%  Yes, total BRIGHTENING.  Look at these ingredients!  5% of almond-derived mandelic acid, one of the most gentlest of all of the alpha hydroxy acids (AHA),  due to its larger molecular size.  It doesn’t irritate your skin like glycolic acid does and was discovered back in 1831 by a German pharmacist ~ Mandel is German for almond. Mandelic acid is more gentle, so effects will not be immediate, but it is safe to use for long terms and will help refresh your skin over time. This will gently exfoliate the surface of your skin, removing excess oil while providing natural anti-bacterial benefits.   Mandelic acid is also safe for people with darker skin tones as well.  

5% gluconolactone is derived from glucuronic acid, which is a sugar acid and it is suitable for sensitive or mature skin.   It functions like an AHA and will help improve your skin’s texture by aiding in cellular turnover, unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells.  Recent studies show it might be effective in treating blemishes, due to some anti-bacterial properties.  PHA will help refine and smooth your skin, while providing anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits ~ again, similar  to AHA, but PHA can used by people with rosacea and atopic dermatitis.  PHA’s also hydrate your skin, as they are a humectant ~ but because they are a humectant, you need to make sure that you apply an emollient or occlusive product over it.

My favorite skin brightening acid makes an appearance here ~ 3% tranexamic acid.  This is a  synthetic amino acid derived from lysine, this ingredient is one of the more powerful topical ingredients to reduce hyper-pigmentation.  It is also extra gentle, non-irritant, reduces melanin (dark spots), an anti-inflammatory and is safe for all skin types. Another AHA is in here with milk-derived lactic acid, another great ingredient to help exfoliate dead skin cells, excess oil and other debris, while  brightening skin tone, moisturizing and firming your skin. Tried and true niacinamide and licorice are anti-inflammatories and help to even out skin tone and reduce post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Niacinamide is also an antioxidant that helps with pore care as well. 

Glycosaminoglycans contain glucosamine and glucuronic acid.  This ingredient increases hydration as if efficiently bind themselves to water, resulting in firm elastic skin.  It can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by plumping up your skin. Why am I mentioning glycosaminoglycans?  Because this has 10% hyaluronic acid as its second ingredient and HA is a glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).   Anti-inflammatory panthenol helps cellular renewal and is an effective moisturizer as it is a natural humectant, retaining moisture and hydrating the skin. It also is a good lubricant on the skin, making skin look soft and smooth.  

Ingredients: Water, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid (10%), Butylene Glycol, Mandelic Acid (5%), Gluconolactone (5%), Tranexamic Acid (3%), Propanediol, Arginine, Sodium Lactate, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Phenoxyethanol, Lactic Acid, Sclerotium Gum, Fragrance,  Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate , Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract  cosDNA


This comes in a nice white glass bottle with a glass pipette to apply the watery clear serum.  This has a slight bitter herbal medical scent, but I chalk that up to the acids and fragrance in here.   The serum has a pH level of a 4, making it an effective acidic treatment, but this doesn’t sting my skin at all.  I use about a dropper full for each time I use it. 

This does go on a bit sticky, due to the 10% hylauronic acid, but that sticky feeling does go away when it dries down.  However, the hydration doesn’t dry up  ~ my skin is so soft and supple when I use this.  I use this both in the morning and night (am-pm!) and in the morning, I still see that my skin has a nice clear glowing look.   My skin overall looks nicer and more fresh, which is a nice surprise, as my aging skin can look a bit dull and greasy looking.  I found that this does help brighten my skin overall, but I haven’t seen the lightening of hyperpigmentation ~ but I will take a nice bright looking skin tone over a dull, tired looking skin tone!

 I do think this is a great daily treatment, as the percentage of mandelic acid (5) and pH level (4) means that this has a free acid percentage of 1.04.  The FAV (Free Acid Value) translates how effective your acid treatment will be – all AHA’s provide moisture, so this serum at 1.04% FAV provides increased hydration and will have mild exfoliation benefits  (resources at the end of the blog review).  However, I do believe with the addition of the tranexamic acid, gluconolactone, lactic acid and niacinamide, this serum will provide more exfoliation benefits than if we just relied on the mandalic acid FAV.   I enjoyed this treatment SO much that I purchased an additional two more when Naruko was having their BOGO sale in July.   Just with any acid treatments, remember to wear sunscreen!  


I originally wrote this in 2017, and once again, I am repeating my review here.  This is my Holy Grail of FTE’s and I don’t mind having multiple reviews on it!  Naruko La Creme Face Renewal Miracle Essence is a First Treatment Essence (FTE) and is also known as First Essence, Treatment Essence  and/or Treatment Toners ~ these are very watery concentrated formulas with fermented ingredients, very nutrient-enriched and it preps your skin, while providing benefits that will help reduce/prevent fine lines and wrinkles, dull and uneven skin tones.   These are boosters and provide an instant shot of hydration and nutrients to your skin and prep your skin to accept your other skincare products.

Some of the more famous first essences are SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and Missha impossible long name Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence.  I have used other FTE by Benton, Swanicoco and Goodal, among others.  This Miracle Essence is made with natural ingredients originally from Taiwan and it will help rejuvenate your skin, along with cellular renewal and bring a radiant glow back to your skin.  This has an intense concentration of fermented proprietary formulas.

It contains 94.9% of Ystract™, an anti-oxidant blend of amino acids, vitamins and minerals which will help inhibit melanin production ~ the dark spots ~ help reduce hyper-pigmentation and aid in cellular renewal.  It is known for hydration and will keep your skin moist, smooth, bright and firm.  Ystract is actually fermented rice extract or lees, and is produced from Nantou, Taiwan.  Rice ferment filtrate is a byproduct from making sake.  It contains more than 100 amino acids, organic acids, saccharides, vitamins, nucleic acids and esters. Rice ferments, diluted with water, has been used for centuries in Japan as part of a skin care routine, due to its moisturizing abilities from kojic acid. It also will suppress the performance of melanin so that hyper-pigmentation is reduced and your skin tone is brighter.  Ferulic acids, a powerful antioxidant, are also found in lees and it helps absorb UV light, which helps prevent skin aging.

Due to its own natural alcohol content, Ystract  is an astringent and also contains antibacterial properties to help control blemishes.  This also has rice bran extracts in it and that is obtained when rice is polished and it comes from the hard outer layer of the rice seed and contains 15 to 20 percent oil. It has a vast amount of lipids and contains phytic acid, squalene, vitamin E, phytosterols and ferulic acids, which help eradicate free radicals and it contains 44% of omega 6 and 2% omega 3 essential fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation.   More fermented goodness in yeast extracts, which will keep your skin moist and will repair your skin while helping protect it, as well as providing oil control and brightening effects.

Actuat E60™ is a blend of 60 natural botanic ingredients, which many are used in Traditional Chinese/Asian Medicine. Many of these ingredients have been researched extensively and studies produced to prove their skincare benefits ~ such as skin tone brightening licorice and mulberry, soothing and anti-inflammatory centella asiatica and chamomile, anti-oxidant and anti-aging ingredients of green tea, ginseng, peony and ginger~ and these are just to name a few!  These ingredients will help with brightening,  hydrating, firming and toning of your skin.

To help with gentle exfoliation, there are two ingredients in here that specifically serve that purpose ~ Papain is an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacteria enzyme derived from papaya. It will exfoliate your skin without irritation by gently loosening dead skin cells and removing them from your skin. Pineapple is rich in anti-oxidants, vitamin C and amino acids. It also contains manganese, which aids in strengthening your connective skin tissues. Pineapple helps keep skin elastic and firm as it aides in collagen production and is also an anti-inflammatory, helping reduce redness and swelling from blemishes. Pineapple is also a gentle exfoliator as it contains bromelain, an enzyme similar to papaya’s papain. This helps remove excess dirt, dead skin cells and oil, leaving your face fresh and clean. Pineapple can also reduce hyper-pigmentation and fine lines, due to the vitamin C content and leaves your skin hydrated, soft and supple.

Ingredients: Ystract™ (94.9%) (oryza sativa lees extract), purified water, alcohol, glycerin, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, propanediol, yeast extract, sodium lactate, achillea millefolium extract, actinidia chinensis (kiwi) fruit extract, aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) extract, alchemilla vulgaris extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, ananas sativus (pineapple) fruit extract, arctium lappa root extract, arnica montana flower extract, artemisia umbelliformis extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, centella asiatica (gotu kola) extract, chamomilla recutita flower extract, chondrus crispus (carrageenan) extract, citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel extract, corallina officinalis (algae) extract, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, dioscorea opposita (wild yam) root extract, epilobium fleischeri extract, equisetum arvense (horsetail) extract, equisetum hiemale (horsetail) extract, gingko biloba leaf extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licoric) root extract, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, jobs tears (coix lacryma-jobi) water, kalanchoe pinnata leaf extract/kalanchoe spathulata leaf extract, ledebouriella divaricata (fang feng) root extract, leontopodium alpinum (edelweiss) extract, malva sylvestris (mallow) extract, mentha piperita (peppermint) leaf extract, melissa officinalis (lemonbalm) extract, morus alba (mulberry) root extract, narcissus tazetta bulb extract, oryza sativa (rice) bran extract, panax ginseng root extract, papain, peony (paeonia suffruticosa) root extract, peucedanum ostruthium (masterwort) leaf extract, pisum sativum (garden pea) extract, plantago major seed extract, polygonum cuspidatum extract, poria cocos extract, pueraria lobata root extract, rhodiola rosea extract, rosa damascena flower water, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, sakura (prunus yedoensis) leaf extract, salvia officinalis (red sage) leaf extract, sambucus nigra (elderberry) flowers, saxifraga sarmentosa extract, scutellaria alpina flower/leaf/stem extract, snow fungus (tremella fuciformis) extract, thyme (thymus serpillum) extract, tilia cordata (linden) extract, triticum vulgare (wheat) protein, undaria pinnatifida (wakame/seaweed) extract, veronica officinalis (common speedwell) extract, vitis vinifera (grape) fruit extract, willow (salix alba) bark extract, zingiber officinale (ginger) root extract, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, soy amino acids, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate cosDNA

Naruko Miracle Essence comes packaged in a highly reflective silver box which is sealed.  All of Naruko’s boxes are sealed and do not have any inner seals with the actual product.   The bottle is made from clear, frosted glass with a bright silver cap and has some flowers etched on it. This has a pin hole applicator, which just means you gently tip the product out of the bottle and it will gush out of the bottle if you are not careful.  I use my hands to pat this essence onto my skin but you can use a cotton pad.

This is a very watery essence ~ in fact, I would think it is water except for the scent. Which is sake.  This smells like sake and no fruitiness, like the Kikumasamune Skincare Lotion.  This scent doesn’t bother me one bit ~ in fact, I am always wondering what would happen if I DRANK my Miracle Essence!  However, I do know that some people don’t like sake scents, so don’t worry, the scent disappears quickly.  This has a pH level of 4, so it is acidic and will exfoliate your skin.  It does absorb into my skin quickly with no sticky residue and  leaves my skin feeling refreshed and hydrated.

This product has been a game-changer in my skin care routine ~ my skin  looks more radiant, more brighter and it has faded some more recent dark spots and pigmentation.  My face doesn’t look as oily when I use this and in fact, my face has a glow-y look right after I apply it ~ not dewy or greasy, but a nice glow ~ very fresh looking. This has been part of my skin care routine for years now and I always keep a back up so I am not without it.    

Final Thoughts and Where to Purchase  

If you are willing to spend a little bit more money on your skin care products instead of purchasing really inexpensive so-called brightening products, I do recommend both of these.  Naruko is such an unrated skincare brand here in the West and I really think that they make some of the best skin brightening products out there.  If you wait for sales, you can really get great deals and stock up on the products.  

Naruko USA and Naurko Canada ~  Save  10% by using my promo code of  CouponCode0527  either Naruko Canada  or Naruko USA.  I don’t make any commissions off the code.   All prices are in USD

Naruko USA offers flat rate shipping of 14.99  for orders under $74.99 and free shipping for orders over $75+USD.   Naruko Canada has free shipping with orders over $100 CAD.  Check out my other Naruko reviews too ~ you might find your next HG product! 


[ products received complementary ]