Review: Rohto Hadalabo Gokujyun α 3D Retinol Firming & Lifting Milky Lotion

I had previously tried samples of random Japanese beauty products, but with the incredible variety of Korean skincare, I hadn't really thought that I would need to start exploring the Japanese market. That is, until my father's wife gave me a generous decant of the Rohto Hadalabo Gokujyun α 3D Retinol Firming & Lifting Lotion, which she had grabbed one day when she felt in the mood for some eBay adventures. That is possibly the most hydrating (vs. moisturizing) toner I have ever tried in my life, and I immediately knew that I was in trouble, and had just found a new addiction. As the decant was running out, I knew I needed it in my life. So, I hopped on eBay, and grabbed a bottle of the Rohto Hadalabo Gokujyun α 3D Retinol Firming & Lifting Milky Lotion. No, I am not obsessively repeating this terribly long product name. Do you notice a subtle difference? If you do, good for you. I certainly didn't. Let's see what really happened, and whether I am glad I can't freaking read, or I have been crying about it ever since.

Yes, I was absolutely chasing the sun in my apartment for these photos

About the brand:
Introduced in 2004, it’s the #1 face lotion in Japan, with one bottle purchased every two seconds! Hada Labo—which is translated as “Skin Lab”—is a technologically advanced Japanese skin care line researched and developed at the Rohto research facility in Japan. It is the result of more than 100 years of product development and the continued research efforts of Rohto Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd., a leading manufacturer of pharmaceutical products and cosmetics. (source)

Product claims:
Infuse your skin with moisture while locking in the hydrating power of Hada Labo Goku-jyun Alpha Lotion. Hada Labo Goku-jyun Alpha Milk provides deep, nourishing hydration, plus firming and smoothing conditioners for your face and neck. Its light texture is perfect for your daily routine. (source)

Instructions and ingredients:
Squeeze a dime-size amount into your hands and gently pat onto face and neck until thoroughly absorbed. Use twice a day after applying Hada Labo Goku-jyun Alpha Lotion. (source)

Water, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-12 Olefin), Dipropylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether, Behenyl Alcohol, Beta-Carotene, Caprylic/Capric/Myristic/Stearic Triglyceride, Carbomer, Dimethicone, Disodium EDTA, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Methylparaben, PEG-20 Sorbitan Isostearate, Phytosteryl/Behenyl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Propylparaben, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Thioctic Acid, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil

As with any Japanese product (manufactured for the Japanese market, at least,) there isn't a single word in English on the bottle, so unless you can read and understand Japanese, you're crap out of luck. Thankfully, we have RatzillaCosme, and we have the Hadalabo US website to help us figure stuff out.

Why I bought it and how I use it:
OK, the first part... I thought I had bought the lotion (which, to make things more complicated than they already are, is how the Japanese refer to a toner.) I didn't. I failed to notice the part where it is called "milky lotion." Oh, come on, the name is already like 50 words long... As soon as it arrived, I opened it (I had just run out of my decant of the lotion/toner,) and first I thought there was something wrong with it because it was obviously a lot thicker than what I had been using. Then I looked at the eBay listing again, and finally noticed the little extra word. Now, a milk or milky lotion on the Japanese beauty market is the equivalent of an emulsion in Korean skincare. "Oh, great," I thought. See, the emulsion is the one step that I am least excited about, and very rarely use. OK, so I am using one right now, and that is because when the weather is hot and summer is in full effect, I usually opt for an emulsion (vs. a cream) as the last step in my morning routine (before sunscreen, of course.)
But, otherwise, I am really meh about using an emulsion before a cream. I have normal skin (which used to be extremely oily, before switching to K-beauty products,) and it still doesn't need that much hydration and certainly not that much moisturizing.
So, I really wasn't happy about my mistake.

I use it at night, after my serums and before my night cream or sleeping pack.

As I have hinted at it before, I don't have a big skincare budget, therefore I don't have some sort of magically big skincare closet (where you rotate between products on a daily basis, if needed.) Unless a product produces negative results on my skin (which I am lucky hardly any do, but I still bump into one here and there,) I use it up, grudgingly, because it must be doing something even if I don't see or feel it. So, I added this product into my night routine, and was unhappy thinking about how long this large bottle would last before I can finally use it up.

Then, I woke up in the morning, and I couldn't believe my hands (that touched my face, that is.)

I am definitely not a member of the one-mask-a-day. Sheet masks are cool, but using one (or even two) each day gets pricey (and, once you have used better-than-the-cheapest masks around, you really don't want to go back,) plus I refuse to wash my hair every day, and I hate how it always messes it up around my face.

Why the hell am I suddenly talking about sheet masks, you may be wondering. I might have slight attention issues, but I assure you they aren't this bad. I am talking about sheet masks because when I woke up in the morning, after having used this milk/milky lotion at night, I felt exactly like I do when I sheet mask (if you have missed it, "sheet mask" has totally become a verb) at night.

It. Is. Incredible. 

When I wake up in the morning, my face feels like I have just patted some water on it. No other product I have ever tried, have ever had quite this effect. Given that I paid less than $14, shipping included, for the 140ml bottle, and using it at night, it should last me four months or more (and, I also gave a generous decant to my father's wife,) it is just so much more affordable than any sheet mask.

Recommend? Yes, yes, YES. It is like using a sheet mask at night. The amount of pure hydration (without any sort of oiliness) it provides is mind-blowing. I have normal skin and it's summertime, so I use it at night only. I think those of you with oily skin can use it the same way, too. If you have drier skin, I am pretty sure you'd love it during the daytime as well. It has absolutely no smell (other some slight Nivea body milk sort of scent to it,) so I am not worried that it would bother even those with the most sensitive noses.

Where to buy? eBay

Not to confuse anyone even further, but the video below is about the Hadalabo lotion/toner (not the milky lotion/emulsion in this review.) However, the advice can be helpful when using any sort of hydrating (not astringent or pH-balancing) toner from any brand.


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