By Zsarlene B. Chua

I HAD previously used Hada Labo products from the core line when they were sent over from Japan by relatives, and while I remember that my skin loved the products, it was a problem getting them regularly enough to become staples so I stopped using them for a couple of years.

This is why I was excited to try the brand again and see if it works as well as I remember.

But first, a run-down of the products: we were given a trial kit and a full-size (170 ml) Hydrating Lotion during the product launch on Aug. 8, and after I tried the lotion, it was apparent that it wasn’t a toner in texture.

A toner is a product used after cleansing to remove residue from the cleaning products and re-balance the skin’s PH level to make products sink in faster, though there are several toners that offer added benefits like chemical exfoliation (those which contains Alpha-Hydroxy Acids or Beta-Hydroxy Acids) or moisturization. It is usually thin and almost watery in consistency.

Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion’s texture is thicker than that — I would hazard to say that it is more of an essence, which is usually thicker and contains more active ingredients (in this case, hyaluronic acid).

One uses the lotion after cleansing by putting an ample amount on one’s palms and spreading and patting it on the skin, letting it be absorbed for a few seconds before putting on other products.

What I love about this product is that it works really fast — you can feel your skin getting plumper and more hydrated almost immediately. I typically use one to two layers depending on what my skin needs that day. For some people, I would guess that this product can double as a moisturizer if your skin is not as dry as mine.

My skin type currently swings from dry (T-zone) and very dry (cheeks) to normal (T-zone) and dry (cheeks) so there are days where I need more moisture.

And because of my skin type, I find myself using gentler, non-stripping and non-drying facial cleansers and the Hydrating Face Wash works really well for me as my skin does not dry out immediately after rinsing, creating a good base for product absorption.

The light cream is also really good because it is lightweight and non-greasy. It applies well and moisturizes really well. People with oilier skin can use the water gel formula which is even lighter.

I have been using the products for more than a week and it simplified my routine which usually takes a minimum of six products to four (because I do a double-cleanse at night and SPF during the day).

Oh, and all I’ve used is the trial kit which still has enough product to last me another week. So I suggest buying that first and see if the products work for you before committing to full sizes. I do hope more skincare companies adopt this kind of process because it makes it easier to try and find products which work without having to shell out for full-sized products with the usually hefty price tag.

Will I be replacing my favorites with this? I’m still thinking about it because I found that in the years I’ve been taking care of my skin, my needs vary from time to time and would therefore need different products to address different needs — but I do like the back-to-basics routine I am doing with Hada Labo.