It may sound like total insanity to start tailoring one’s daily skin care routine based on the weather forecast, but, you know, it is what it is, and I accept who I am, so I’m okay with that.
Late last week, I caught a local weather forecast that predicted a very warm and dry weekend. Warm I can deal with, but I absolutely hate dry days, especially windy ones. My eyes get all dried out, my sinuses shrivel up, and my skin, if unprepared, feels like it’s about to crack and peel right off my face. Dry air does not feel good. This time, though, I got through the entire ultra-arid weekend without a single uncomfortable moment, and I owe almost all of it to my Hada Labo products.
Owned by Japan’s Rohto Pharmaceutical Co., Hada Labo is one of those skin care brands that focuses on doing one thing, and doing that one thing incredibly well. In Hada Labo’s case, that one thing is humectant hydration. Hada Labo has three distinct lines–the original Gokujyun moisturizing line in the white packaging, the Shirojyun brightening line in the blue packaging, and the Gokujyun Alpha anti-aging line in the red packaging–but the cornerstone of all three lines is hydration, in particular through the use of hyaluronic acid variants at various molecular weights, with the higher molecular weight HA forms able to attract and bind more water but less capable of deep skin penetration and the lower molecular weight HAs able to penetrate more deeply, though with a slight trade-off in hydrating effects. (For a more detailed rundown of the three forms of hyaluronic acid present in the famous Hada Labo Gokujyun lotion, check out the Skin and Tonics review.)
It’s that focus on hydration that I wanted when I heard how dry the weather was going to be. I own three products from the Hada Labo Gokujyun line, and all three of them came into play.
First up is the Hada Labo Gokujyun Foaming Face Wash, a gentle, low-pH bubble cleanser that has almost completely replaced the Missha Super Aqua Oxygen Micro Visible Deep Cleanser in my skin care routine.
Like the rest of the Hada Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid line, the foaming cleanser has a short and relatively simple ingredients list, with several humectants, few extraneous ingredients, and no fragrance, making it a promising choice for people with sensitive or reactive skin. I appreciate it for the way it thoroughly cleanses my skin without leaving it dry, tight, or itchy.
Next up is Hada Labo’s signature product, the Hada Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid lotion, which the company claims is so popular in Japan that a bottle is sold every few seconds.
The clear, slippy liquid,which should be used shortly after cleansing in your skin care routine–right after cleansing when possible and right after acids/first essences when those are used–feels like concentrated water and contains all three of the hyaluronic acid variants that Hada Labo uses. The hydration it gives is immediately visible from the first time you use it. Skin becomes softer and plumper, fine lines seem blurred, and the complexion takes on a translucent glow thanks to all the water packed into and between those cells.
Humectants like the ones that Hada Labo uses are fantastic for drawing moisture from the deeper layers of the skin up into the upper, visible layers, so if you’re well hydrated, you’ll most likely enjoy an immediate improvement. It’s important to remember, however, that humectants alone aren’t enough to keep skin hydrated, especially in dry conditions. Preventing all that lovely moisture from escaping requires some kind of emollient or occlusive final layer. When the humidity is high, I seal it all in with a dab of Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream, which is light enough to allow the Hada Labo humectants to draw in yet more water from the outside air. When the humidity is very low, however, failing to seal the hydration in with a stronger occlusive product can lead to increased moisture loss. All through that desert-dry weekend, I used Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream as my final moisturizing step before sunscreen–but any relatively heavy cream will do.
Under normal circumstances, these two Hada Labo products and the rest of my regular routine are enough to keep my skin hydrated and happy, but I had a feeling that that weekend wouldn’t be normal, so I whipped out my heaviest hydration hitter: a pack of Hada Labo Gokujyun sheet masks.
Normally, I might use a Hada Labo sheet mask once every couple of weeks, if that, or if some new product I was trying had irritated or dried out my skin. For the predicted super-dry weekend, however, I used one of these masks every single night, and every night, I wore the mask for 45 minutes to an hour instead of the recommended 10-15 minutes so that my skin could soak up every last available drop of ultra-concentrated humectant hydration.
It worked. The air was indeed ridiculously dry all weekend, and my eyes and sinuses definitely suffered, but my skin felt and looked perfectly fine and just as moist as usual.
Hada Labo isn’t fancy. Its packaging is plain (which I prefer) rather than cute or pretty (though the US-specific Hada Labo Tokyo rebranded, reformulated products do have a more feminine aesthetic). The claims are simple. But Hada Labo products just work. They do what they say they’re going to do, and for me, they do those things extremely well. Good stuff.
How do you protect your skin when the weather is plotting against it?