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Best Pick: Hada-Labo Shirojyun Premium Whitening Lotion (2021 Formula)

This is the latest formula of Hada-Labo’s Shirojyun Premium Whitening Lotion and it’s a Japanese toner (or “lotion” as it’s called in Japan). This “post-cleanser, pre-serum” step product aims to reduce inflammation, prevent sunspots, and also to hydrate the skin.

Some of you might be surprised to know that I’ve never been very fond of Hada-Labo. The budget skincare brand is a lot more popular outside of Japan than within and its products are mostly “one-trick ponies”. There is nothing necessarily wrong with having just one “trick”, but they never quite seem to hit the mark for me. Lotions are underwhelming at best, moisturisers are sticky, and cleansing products leave a residue behind.

But I do like this. I feel that the Shirojyun Premium Whitening Lotion ticks a couple of nice boxes. It features tranexamic acid and dipotassium glycyrrhizate, which are the Shirojyun Premium line’s active ingredients. It also has a blend of 2 molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, an anti-inflammatory form of vitamin C (MAP), and vitamin E.

There is a common misconception that this product (and other J-beauty products with tranexamic acid) helps fade discolourations. It won’t and it doesn’t claim to do so. UV exposure causes inflammatory responses that lead to the skin producing more pigment. Reducing skin inflammation helps prevent the onset of hyperpigmentation, which is what this does. It helps prevent the future development of dark spots.

The water-light lotion gives a quick moisture-fixing without tackiness and a spot of soothing action thanks to a hefty dose of anti-inflammatory agents. Once it’s absorbed, it’s as though the step never even happened. There’s no sticky residue or added complication. It helps get skin on the right track towards a smooth and evenly toned complexion.

I’d say that the Whitening Lotion would suit just about all skin types. It’s particularly good for oilier skin and warmer weather since it’s virtually weightless. It plays well and doesn’t interfere with anything I layer over. There is also Premium Whitening Lotion Rich, which as the name implies, has a rich texture. I find it sticky for my normal skin but it might be something drier skin appreciate.

Hada-Labo Shirojyun Premium Whitening Lotion is around ¥700–800 in stores in Japan. It’s about the price on Amazon Japan as well. You can also find it online for US$15–20 from online retailers such as Stylevana and YesStyle.

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