Best Pick: Dr.Ci:Labo Aqua-Collagen-Gel

Dr.Ci Labo Aqua-Collagen-Gel, a Japanese moisturiser gel review

Do you have normal to combination skin that can sometimes feel dry on the surface? My face always feels like that in between seasons. I’m constantly on the lookout for moisturisers that can deeply hydrate my skin yet still feel lightweight and non-oily. Gels and milky moisturisers don’t pack so much a punch, moisture-wise, and some feel quite sticky on skin. On the other hand, I’m often a little weary of creams and balms, most are just too rich and heavy for combination skin.

I’m exceptionally impressed with Dr.Ci:Labo’s Aqua-Collagen-Gel range of all-in-one moisturising gels. Dr.Ci:Labo is Japan’s top-selling cosmeceutical brand, and the well-loved moisturiser is its most famous and often imitated product. The range has four types available to suit different skin types and concerns, but my favourite is the BI・HA・KU. A thick, slightly transparent gel to balance and brighten combination skin, it’s one of the rare few that actually feels (and is) deeply hydrating yet lightweight at the same time. Not all combination-skinned people want a pore-tightening gel formula or something that is light and mattifying. Some (like me), especially getting into central air conditioning months, need something more moisturising that will quench the majority of the face without making the oilier bits worse.

Dr.Ci:Labo Aqua-Collagen-Gel BI・HA・KU could be easily misconstrued, I think — any hint of the words “gel”, “fast-penetrating”, and “light” and I instantly think of something that will be watery and high in alcohol. This isn’t. The thick creamy jelly formula absorbs quickly leaving the skin feeling hydrating and soft, but not greasy or sticky in the slightest.

It contains three Vitamin C derivatives (Ascorbyl Glucoside, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, and Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate!) and Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate to brighten skin and protect against dark spots. There’re also Hyaluronic Acid, Collagen, Amino Acids, Ceramide, Coenzyme Q10, and Squalane to moisturise and strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The nutrient cocktail is nano-encapsulated to enhance and deepen absorption into the skin layers, making it more effective and also more longlasting.

I warm a small hazelnut-sized blob (mini spatula is included) between my palms and then press it onto the skin, and it really does seem to balance and perk up the skin, leaving it feeling velvety soft and smooth. Even when I use the gel quite sparingly, it still packs quite an incredible punch and worked wonders on flaky cheeks. It plumps, refreshes, and completely banishes any signs of dryness.

Those with dry (non-sensitive) skin who need something more moisturising would do well with Aqua-Collagen-Gel Super Moisture EX. It’s excellent at soothing dry, flaky skin, but perhaps a little too rich for combination T-zones, and definitely not suitable for breakout-prone skin. My tester with dry mature skin (a.k.a. my mum) gives this a huge seal of approval. (There is an anti-ageing version, too — Enrich-Lift — texture and moisture level akin to Bikaku, but I still prefer the latter.)

I can’t find anything that I don’t like about the gel — the pot is well-designed and there is protective disc and spatula inside the lid to keep product fresh — it’s a great lightweight moisturising gel that does brighten and pep-up skin. It spreads very easy, and you don’t need loads in every application to see results.

Dr.Ci:Labo Aqua-Collagen-Gel Bihaku costs ¥4,200 for 50g and ¥8,400 for 120g from Dr.Ci:Labo Japan. It is also available on Dr.Ci:Labo USA for US$55/50g and on Dr.Ci:Labo Singapore for $70 SGD/50g.

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