Para português, clique aqui.
Hello! Another week is ending and another review has come. This time it’s the review of a multi-purpose product that works as anti-aging, whitening and anti-acne.
I received two products from Narüko to try and review with my own and unbiased thoughts. If you follow me on Instagram, you might know which products I’ve received, but if you don’t know, here they are.
[PORTUGUÊS mais abaixo] _____ _____ I just received these babies from @narukous💕😍 Rachel was so kind to send me them. I cannot wait to use them! ⚠Naruko [ampm] Total Brightening Renewal Treatment Mandelic Acid 5% 30ml ph4.0: With the highest active concentration (in Mandelic Acid range), this treatment has a progressive and significant effect on lightening the skin tone and reducing dark spots. This serum contains 23% of active ingredients, being 5% mandelic acid, 5% gluconolactone + sodium lactate, 3% tranexamic acid (😍) + niacinamide, 10% hyaluronic acid… also contains vitamin B5, licorice, arginine, and 7 essential oils. It seems to be a promising product.💕 ⚠Naruko [ampm] Mandelic Acid Skin Renewal Brightening Mask: Lightens skin tone, refines texture, reduces pores and softens fine lines. Seems to be very good too!😄 Contains mandelic acid, tranexamic acid, arginine, Salix alba bark extract, betaine, allantoin, Licorice, aloe vera, fermented Aureobasidium, hyaluronic acid, 7 essential oils, bisabolol, calendula extract and an extract of a fruit… It is the mask sheet with the best ingredients I've ever had.😍 Thank you very much, Rachel and #Naruko!💞 _____ _____ Recebi da super gentil Rachel, da Naruko, esses dois produtos: ⚠Naruko [ampm] Total Brightening Renewal Treatment Mandelic Acid 5% 30ml ph4.0: "Com a maior concentração de ativos, esse tratamento tem efeito progressivo e significante em clarear o tom da pele e em reduzir spots escuros." Esse serum contém 23% de ativos, sendo 5% de ácido mandélico, 5% gluconolactona + lactato de sódio, 3% ácido tranexâmico (😍) + niacinamida, 10% ácido hialurônico… contém também vitamina B5, Licorice, arginina, ácido lático e 7 óleos essenciais. Parece ser um produto promissor.💕 ⚠Naruko [ampm] Mandelic Acid Skin Renewal Brightening Mask: Clareia o tom da pele, refina a textura, diminui os poros e suaviza as linhas finas. Parece ser muito boa também! Contém ácido mandélico, ac. tranexâmico, arginina, extrato da casca do Salix alba, betaina, alantoina, Licorice, aloe vera, fermentado de Aureobasidium, ácido hialurônico, 7 óleos essenciais, bisabolol, extrato de calendula e extrato de uma fruta. TY, Naruko!💞
AM+PM Total Brightening MA 5% and a pack containing 5 Mandelic Acid Skin Renewal Brightening Masks.
It looks very promising and is targeted to treat what a lot of people have trouble with: hyperpigmentation and acne. But does it really work? Keep reading and you’ll find out what I think about it!
If you want to find out a bit more about the brand, below you will find an informative picture explaining. The picture tells everything so I will let it speak for itself.
If you don’t want to read it, just keep rolling.
Ok, now let’s go ahead.
AM+PM Total Brightening Renewal Treatment Mandelic Acid 5%
So this product is like a serum supposed to treat signs of age, dark spots and acne.
It contains 23% of actives and it’s the most concentrated product from AM+PM line. There’s an informative picture bellow.
The key ingredients are 10% of hyaluronic acid, 5% of mandelic acid, 5% of gluconolactone (a type of PHA) and the maximum concentration of tranexamic allowed by DOH, 3%. It also contains a lot of good skin benefits ingredients such as arginine, sodium lactate, niacinamide, panthenol, licorice extract and more.
I asked the lovely Rachel, from Narüko, if she could give me the concentration of some ingredients and she did: Sodium Lactate 2%, Niacinamide 1%, Panthenol 0.5% and Lactic Acid 0.3%.
Below you will find the full ingredient list.
Purified Water (Aqua), Hyaluronic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Mandelic Acid, Gluconolactone, Tranexamic Acid, Propanediol, Arginine, Sodium Lactate, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Lactic Acid, Sclerotium Gum, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Essential Oils of Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus), Marjoram (Origanum Marjorana), Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris), Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea), Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) and Hoo Wood (Cinnamomum Camphora), Phenoxyethanol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
Analysis of the ingredients
Purified Water (Aqua): Solvent;
Hyaluronic Acid (10%): A water-binding ingredient that has the ability to fill the spaces between collagen and elastin. It is used for moisturization because it can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water;
Butylene Glycol: Skin conditioning agent;
Mandelic Acid (5%): An AHA made from the extract of bitter almonds, also known as amygdalic acid, shown to be an effective alternative to other AHAs. Unlike glycolic acid, mandelic acid is light-sensitive and must be packaged in an opaque container to remain effective. Mandelic acid has larger molecules than most of the AHA but it is less irritating to the skin and can still deliver the same anti-aging, accelerated cellular turnover rate, increase the collagen production and get rid of dead skin cells that AHAs traditionally provide;
Gluconolactone (5%): A new generation of AHAs, called polyhydroxy acids (PHAs), was discovered that provide similar effects as AHAs but do not cause the sensory irritation responses that can limit the use of classical AHAs. PHAs have been found to be compatible with clinically sensitive skin, including rosacea and atopic dermatitis, and can be used after cosmetic procedures. PHAs provide additional humectant and moisturization properties compared with AHAs and can enhance stratum corneum barrier function, therefore increasing the skin‘s resistance to chemical challenge. Most PHAs also possess antioxidant properties. PHAs such as gluconolactone or lactobionic acid may be used in combination with other products, ingredients, or procedures such as laser and microdermabrasion to provide additional benefits to therapy or to enhance the therapeutic effect.
A 12-week controlled-use study was done to compare the anti-aging effects between gluconolactone and glycolic acid. Caucasian women with mild to moderate facial photodamage were enrolled in the study. They were instructed to discontinue use of all products on the face 3 to 5 days prior to study initiation, expect for their regular cleanser and “glamour” products. The PHA regimen consisted of gluconolactone 4% day lotion containing SPF 15 (pH 3.8) and a gluconolactone 10% night cream (pH 3.6). The AHA regimen included glycolic acid 8% day cream with SPF 15 (pH 3.8) and a glycolic acid 8% night cream (pH 3.7).
Only 2 statistically significant differences between the regimens in anti-aging benefits: sallowness showed greater improvement with AHA use at week 12 only (AHA, 17. 1%; PHA, 12.4%), and pinch recoil showed greater improvement with AHA use at week 12 only (AHA, 13.5%; PHA, 10.2%). The PHA regimen was better tolerated than the AHA regimen. Stinging and burning were significantly worse for subjects in the AHA treatment group at both week 6 and 12, and degree of sensitivity was rated worse for the AHA regimen as well. The study showed the enhanced mildness of PHAs and their equivalence in providing anti-aging benefits compared with an AHA regimen.
Tranexamic Acid (3%): In recent times, tranexamic acid claimed to have whitening effects especially for ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation including melasma.
A study made with 50 Iranian patients was performed. They used two formulas on each side of the face. Formula A with 3% of tranexamic acid, and Formula B with 3% of hydroquinone + 0.01% dexamethasone. The patients used each solution twice a day on each side of the face for 12 weeks. The patients were advised to avoid excessive sun exposure, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher in the morning, and reapply the sunscreen every 2h (I advise you to do the same, whether you’re using tranexamic acid or not. UV rays are dangerous, people!).
After 12 weeks, the results were calculated. Only 39 people finished the study. The MASI (Melasma Area and Severity Index) score of the baseline and all reassessment visits after treatment with tranexamic acid and hydroquinone + dexamethasone are shown below.
The mean MASI score of the baseline in the tranexamic acid group was 31.68 ± 10.32 while after 12 weeks it reached to 10.76 ± 9.43. Furthermore, in hydroquinone + dexamethasone group it was 29.52 ± 11.72 at baseline and after 12 weeks it reached to 10.48 ± 7.84.
Below you can check the before and after 12 weeks of a patient’s face side treated with 3% of tranexamic acid.
The erythema, skin irritation, xerosis, and scaling were the side effects of tranexamic acid, which were reported by patients. No GI (nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain) and serious complaints were seen with tranexamic acid. In addition, patients reported erythema, skin irritation, dryness of the skin, scaling, hypertrichosis, and inflammation as the side effects of hydroquinone + dexamethasone as you can see below.
Significant side effects were noted for hydroquinone + dexamethasone compared with tranexamic acid (I expected that).
The aim of the study was to compare the safety and efficacy of topical solution of 3% tranexamic acid with a topical solution of 3% hydroquinone plus 0.01% dexamethasone in the treatment of melasma. In this study, it was shown that the tranexamic acid is as effective as the cumulative effect of hydroquinone and dexamethasone in the treatment of melasma while it is safer than the gold standard of melasma treatment, hydroquinone.
Another study made with 23 women with melasma was done. The exclusion criteria were pregnancy/lactation, the presence of other skin disorders on the face, use of any aesthetic medical procedures or depigmenting agents on the face within 1 month prior to the study, and use of tranexamic acid within 3 months prior to the study.
They were advised to use an emulsion containing 2% of tranexamic acid and a nonwoven fabric mask immersed in skin lotion containing also 2% of tranexamic acid. The emulsion was meant to be used twice a day to the whole face and the mask three times a week, for 12 weeks. Sunblock was uniformly provided and the use of commercial cosmetics was restricted.
Compared with baseline values, the degree of pigmentation and the extent of erythema both showed improvements in 22 of the 23 patients after 12 weeks of topical tranexamic acid application and there was a significant reduction in MASI (Melasma Area and Severity Index) from baseline to any follow-up point. The improvement was significant between baseline and week 4, and between weeks 4 and 8. Below you can find pictures of three patients.
A limitation of this study is that there was no placebo control group. More data need to be obtained from large double-blinded controlled studies. In addition, most of the participants had mild melasma with MASI <5, suggesting that topical tranexamic acid appears to be helpful for those with mild melasma.
The conclusion of this study supported by a grant from Shiseido is that topical tranexamic is effective as a treatment for melasma and the immunohistochemical study identified suppression of ET-1 as a possible mechanism underlying the action of tranexamic acid on melasma.
Propanediol: It can enhance the absorption of ingredients. It can be derived naturally from corn or also synthetically. It has hydrating properties. It is well-tolerated and not likely to cause sensitivity;
Arginine: A semi-essential amino acid that is produced naturally by the body. It mainly functions as an antioxidant that helps build collagen production, when applied topically. Orally, it can speed up wound healing;
Sodium Lactate (2%): Sodium lactate is the natural salt derived from lactic acid. It is naturally produced in the skin. It works an exfoliant, a pH adjuster, a humectant and also preservative;
Niacinamide (1%): Niacinamide is an effective skin lightening compound that works by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes. It improves the stratum corneum barrier, decreases transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Also, niacinamide is well tolerated and isn’t subject to oxidation. If you are interested in learning more about this compound, you can check A Review of the Range of Effects of Niacinamide in Human Skin;
Panthenol (0.5%): This study showed that Panthenol-containing formulations (1.0% and 5.0%) produced significant decreases in TEWL (transepidermal water loss) after 30-day applications.
Panthenol has been reported to produce a number of skin benefits. In particular, Panthenol promotes wound healing, helps restore damaged epithelium, reduces itching and inflammation, improves skin hydration, reduces transepidermal water loss, improves skin roughness, and more. It is not entirely clear how panthenol achieves all these effects. Most likely, much of it is due to conversion of panthenol to vitamin B5 (aka pantothenic acid), a component of coenzyme A, which has multiple metabolic functions in the body: aid in cellular energy production; metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates; synthesis of fatty acids, steroids, glucose, acetylcholine and so forth (Source);
Lactic Acid (0.3%): An AHA extracted from milk. Most forms used in cosmetics are synthetic because it is easier to formulate with and stabilize. In a formula with the correct pH (pH between 3 and 4) and in concentrations 5-12%, it exfoliates the surface of the skin by breaking down the material that holds the dead skin together. It can cause sensitivity but this isn’t common and can be minimized if the formulation has soothing ingredients;
Sclerotium Gum: It’s a polysaccharide produced through a fermentation process and can be used to reduce the level of oil required in some formulas. It has natural skin soothing and smoothing properties;
Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract: Used as skin-whitening, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizer. It contains licochalcone, chalconoid which controls oil production and helps soothe acne-prone skin. It contains glabridin, a prenylated isoflavonoid that has been associated with a wide range of properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, skin-whitening and more .
Glabridin is a unique compound possessing more than one function; not only the inhibition of melanogenesis but also the inhibition of inflammation in the skins . Even though glabridin is one of the most studied licorice flavonoids, there’s still a lack of studies about its biological effects. Licorice also contains glabrene and isoliquiritigenin, compounds that may work as tyrosinase inhibitors (skin-whitening) .
-  Phytochemistry and biological properties of glabridin;
-  The inhibitory effect of glabridin from licorice extracts on melanogenesis and inflammation;
-  Glabrene and isoliquiritigenin as tyrosinase inhibitors from licorice roots;
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil: Lavender essential oil is used in a wide range of both cosmetic and therapeutic settings, and oils from a variety of lavender species have been demonstrated to have a range of biological activities. Lavender oil (primarily L. angustifolia) has been found to be active against many species of bacteria and fungi (LisBalchin et al., 1998; Hammer et al., 1999). It has also been suggested that essential oils, including lavender, may be useful in treating bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics. For example, L. angustifolia oil was demonstrated to have in-vitro activity against both MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis) at a concentration of less than 1% (Nelson, 1997a).
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) Essential Oil: Possibly antimicrobial and antiseptic properties;
Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) Essential Oil: Possibly anti-inflammatory;
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Essential Oil: Possibly antimicrobial;
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) Essential Oil: Possibly antifungal;
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Essential Oil: Possibly antioxidant, astringent;
Hoo Wood (Cinnamomum camphora) Essential Oil: Fungistatic;
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate: Preservative.
Too many essential oils?
Guys, I’m gonna be serious with you, I was scared when I checked the composition of this product and saw so many essential oils (especially camphor essential oil). I haven’t tried anything like this before. Seven essential oils? I think Chinese medicine uses a bunch of essential oils, am I right?
My face is resistant, I’ve used so many ingredients. But yet I am a newbie with essential oils. I thought my face would react bad to these essential oils, but thankfully nothing bad happened! I think their concentrations are really low.
Acne triggers according to Cosdna
Butylene Glycol is the only one. It strikes 1 out of 5.
Irritants according to Cosdna
Safety according to Cosdna
All of them are green flagged and strike 1 out of 9, except for Sodium Lactate, Lactic Acid and Phenoxyethanol which strike 4 out of 9. Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate strikes between 4 and 9.
It comes in a 30mL drop-counter regular bottle. The bottle is made of ceramic (I think).
It’s a small, not heavy and cute bottle. Nothing special about its design.
Texture and scent
The texture is very liquid, to the point that you will have to consider:
- Since the texture is very liquid, if you pour it on your fingers it will slide down between your fingers and you will lose the product. You can opt to pour it into the palm of your hand;
- When you open the bottle, you will have to wait for the first drop to fall because sometimes it falls “on the way to your face/hand” (I already lost about 5 drops of product because I opened the bottle and immediately took the drop-counter to my face);
- The best way of using it that I found was waiting the first drop to fall and then take the drop-counter directly to your face (forehead, cheeks and chin or nose). But please, DO NOT touch the drop-counter on your face, this is not hygienic! I’ve seen so many YouTubers doing it and it’s not cool.
The product isn’t sticky and it is completely absorbed into my skin. In my opinion, it doesn’t leave a shiny/oily finish.
It smells plant-y and sometimes it reminds me of rosemary but I am not sure. It’s very light and it doesn’t bother me. Actually, I even like it.
How to use
If you’ve read the informative picture from Narüko’s website that I put in the beginning, you saw that they advise you to use it when your face is clean and before lotion. Since this product is pH dependent, I advise you to use it after an acidic pH watery product like for example a face toner or Essence. For your information, I use this product right after Neulii AHA Vita Serum (check review here), which has a pH of 3.8.
The pH of Neulii makes my face more acidic, leading to a better performance of Narüko’s Mandelic Acid. If your face cleanser product has a high pH (higher than 5.5) I highly advise you to use a low pH toner or whatever before Narüko MA, ok?
Anyway, I want you to have this in mind: if you want a better exfoliation, use a pH decreasing product before. We are talking about acids, the pH is more important than the concentration. Again, the pH of this product is around 4, which is good.
A few days ago I had a supreme beast growing on my nose and it was so painful. But I was happy, you know why? Because I can’t imagine what would have happened if the monster had grown on my cheek, for example. I would have a huge scar at the same place, right now. Below you can see the monster.
This picture was taken on May 15th.
It doesn’t look as bad as I said, does it? But it was an internal and painful pimple. I decided to pop it when I realized it was the right time. Actually, I just stretched the skin around it and the (DISGUSTING THING COMING UP) white/yellowish thick liquid came out. I don’t like to touch a pimple because I can make it worse, so I always stretch the skin around it when I think it’s the right time.
Bellow, there is a picture of the dark spot it left.
This picture was taken on May 21st. The quality is very bad, sorry. My phone is pretty old. But you can see how dark it was.
It left a very hyperpigmented spot. Terrible… But thankfully it’s fading.
The picture on the left was taken on May 28th and the right one was taken on June 1st.
As you can see above, the dark spot is fading.
I can not attribute all the results I had to Naruto Mandelic Acid because my routine also has some whitening actives. But there’s NOT a single product I use on my face that contains tranexamic acid or gluconolactone and I really felt that this dark spot, which in my opinion was very strong, is disappearing very quickly. So yes, this product is doing a great effect!
From what I’ve experienced, this product really helped my skin a lot. In addition to doing a dignified exfoliation and optimal moisturizing (10% hyaluronic acid, love it!). It contains ingredients that have been proven to help lessen skin blemishes (dark spots and acne) and wrinkles.
Its texture is super fluid but it still manages to moisturize the skin very well.
At no point did I feel that this product irritated my skin. I expected at least some itching, but thanks to gluconolactone, which is an acid that exfoliates the skin without harming, I had no side effects.
About the essential oils, I was afraid my skin would react in a bad way, but if you pay close attention, you’ll find that all ingredients below lactic acid contain less than 0.3% concentration each. That is, the formulation of this product was very well thought out and I greatly admire this.
I am proud to give it 5/5 and I also say that Narüko is one of my favorite brands so far!
Thank you very much, Rachel, for sending me this “maravilhoso” (as we say in Portuguese) product.
If you are interested in this product and/or line, you can check it by clicking here. I don’t get any commission if you buy or click the link.
I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty!
This product was sent by Narüko Boutique. ALL the opinions are of my own and the review is 100% honest, like all of my others reviews I’ve written here and on Instagram.