When it comes to skin brightening and spot fading, a couple of years with Japanese sunscreen and lots of niacinamide, AHA, vitamin C, and tretinoin have gotten my skin to where I originally wanted it to be and then some. But lately I find myself jumping at the opportunity to review products that make serious brightening claims anyway, because those are some of the easiest to verify. A side-by-side before and after will do the trick! So when Naruko Boutique USA approached me with offers of product to try, I pointed the trembling index finger of my fully activated grabby hand at their La Creme Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex. Read on for my experience and results.
The product featured in this review was provided by Naruko Boutique USA. Affiliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*).
Purpose: Naruko La Creme Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex is a 14-day treatment that claims to repair photodamage, fade dark spots, and deliver brighter and more even skin.
Best suited for: All skin types.
Do not use if: You have concerns about arbutin; are sensitive to carrageenan, botanical extracts and/or oils, papain or other fruit enzymes, or anything else in the extensive ingredients list; or do not trust your ability to dispense half of a tiny little vial of liquid into your palm without accidentally dumping the other half, 14 days in a row.
When and how to use: After cleansing and toning, shake product to mix and apply half of one vial to face. Allow product to absorb fully before moving on to the next step in your skincare routine. Use twice daily until all product is gone.
Naruko La Creme Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex ingredients: Rosa damascena flower water, butylene glycol, arbutin, tranexamic acid, niacinamide, ascorbyl glucoside, dicaprylyl carbonate, 3-o-ethyl ascorbic acid, isononyl isononanoate, propylene glycol, ethylhexyl isopalmitate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, tocopheryl acetate, butyrospermum parkii (shea) oil, salicylic acid, cyclopentasiloxane, PEG-8 isostearate, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, rosa rubiginosa seed oil, ubiquinone, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, citric acid, panthenol, ascorbyl palmitate, phenoxyethanol, bisabolol (LOL), iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, essential oils of rose (rosa damascena), rosewood (aniba rosaeodora), palmarosa (cymbopogon martini), petitgrain (citrus aurantium var. amara), alpha-arbutin, sodium hyaluronate, peony (paeonia suffruticosa) root extract, jobs tears (coix lacryma-jobi) water, polygonum cuspidatum extract, saxifrage (saxifraga stolonifera) extract, kiwi (actinidia chinensis) extract, mulberry (morus alba) root extract, alchemilla vulgaris extract, sambucus nigra flowers, triticum vulgare protein, chondrus crispus (carrageenan), snow fungus (tremella fuciformis) extract, mallow (malva sylvestris) extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, narcissus tarzetta L. var chinensis roem, cucumber (cucumis sativa) extract, dioscorea opposita (wild yam) root extract, sakura (prunus yedoensis) leaf extract, oryzanol, pineapple (ananas sativus) extract, carica papaya (papain) extract, hamamelis virginiana extract, citrus grandis extract, great burdock (artium lappa) extract, horsetail (equisetum arvense) extract, melissa officinalis extract, artemisia vulgaris extract, epilobium angustifolium extract, rhodiola rosea extract, ginger (zingiber officinale) root extract, arnica (arnica montana) extract, salix alba (willow) bark extract, leontopodium alpinum extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, chamomilla recutita flower extract, rosemary extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, ledebouriella divaricata extract, horse chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum) extract, plantago major seed extract, thyme (thymus serpillum) extract, peppermint (metha piperita) leaf extract, vitis vinifera (grape) extract, horsetail (equisetum hiemale) extract, common speedwell (veronica officinalis) extract, pisum sativum extract, salvia officinalis (red sage) leaf extract, peucedanum ostruthium leaf extract, undaria pinnatifida extract, achillea millefolium extract, linden (tilia cordata) extract, gotu kola (centella asiatica) extract, algae (corallina officinalis) extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, panax ginseng root extract, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, pueraria lobata root extract, gingko biloba leaf extract, kalanchoe pinnata leaf extract/kalanchoe spathulata leaf extract, poria cocos extract
Yes, that’s a lot of ingredients! Yup, I sure did type them all out, working from the ingredients list printed in 2-point font on the back of the box. I used one of my Gudetama sticky flags to keep track of my place in the list so that I wouldn’t accidentally skip over one or ten lines, and I checked my work again afterwards.
Notable ingredients: Judging by that monster ingredients list, Naruko La Creme Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex takes the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to skin lightening, as my friend Chel of Shark Sauce fame said when I unceremoniously pasted the entire ingredients list into a chat with her.
This product contains not just the usual suspects arbutin, tranexamic acid, and niacinamide, but also two different stable vitamin C derivatives with evidence to support their skin whitening abilities: ascorbyl glucoside and 3-o-ethyl ascorbic acid. Naruko also tackles excess melanin from the extracts angle, throwing in Job’s tears, mulberry extract (a natural source of arbutin), and licorice root, horse chestnut, and panax ginseng extracts as well. I’m not done. The Platinum Bright Longname Complex incorporates several fruit enzyme ingredients, which can brighten through a mild exfoliating action. Many of these proven brightening ingredients are also anti-inflammatory, as are the bisabolol (LOL) and a substantial number of the many, many other extracts thrown into the mix.
It’s exciting to see so many different skin brighteners in a single product, but at the same time, concerning. Are any of the key ingredients present in high enough concentrations? Do all these ingredients ingredients even play well together? I talked about it with my friend Stephen from Kind of Stephen, who observed that there’s a reason prescription topicals stick to just one or a couple of actives. Stephen, who is awesome, explained that the issue lies in whether any of these ingredients’ mechanisms of action will interfere with those of the other actives. Some could potentially enhance the effects of others, which would be great, but some could also potentially cancel out the effects of others, which is a less than desirable outcome.
I got curious enough about this to arrange for an interview with Taiwanese celebrity skincare guru Niuer, the famously flawless-skinned founder of the Naruko brand. One of the questions we hope to cover is how Naruko ensures the effectiveness of such complex formulations. The last I heard, Niuer is planning to answer some of my questions in a video, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, even if we can’t tell on paper whether all the ingredients in the product work together optimally as a whole, we can at least get a sense of the real-world results of the product when used as directed.
Before I started my two-week course of Naruko Long Name Long Ingredients List Complex, I had the “smart” idea to go a little less hard with my sunscreen than usual, just for a couple of days. Unprotected, my skin takes on color extremely quickly and holds on to it extremely tenaciously (for real, I once got tan lines from a single day at the pool that lasted for over a year). No, I didn’t run around without sunscreen this time. Obviously. But I did purposely use a little bit less sunscreen, and sunscreen with slightly weaker protection, than normal. Just for a couple of days. Just to have a bit more pigment to work with.
(I know, I know. That really wasn’t smart. But I’m not going to drive myself crazy with regret, because I already did it so what’s the point?)
Naruko La Creme Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex is packaged for use over the course of 14 consecutive days. The big flat box contains 14 little vials of product. You use half the vial in the morning and half at night. Each vial has a regular screw-on cap as well as a stopper under the cap to prevent losing an entire day’s worth of product with one clumsy move. The stoppers come in handy, because these vials are teeny and I have a tendency to knock teeny little things over right after deciding not to cap them until I finish doing something else first.
The individually packaged doses of product are a nice touch (and they’re recyclable). I’m not sure how much they actually help to preserve the product, but since the Long Name Bright Essence does contain a huge variety of naturally derived extracts that may lose effectiveness with exposure to light and air, the packaging could have a practical function.
I did find pouring out the right amount a little challenging the first couple of days. I kept accidentally dumping most of the liquid out into my hand and then angrily struggling to scoop half of it back into the vial. I suppose droppers would overcomplicate the packaging, though.
The complex itself needs to be shaken and mixed immediately before application, perhaps because adding emulsifiers to keep the ingredients together would take up precious space that had already been earmarked to hold so many extracts. Unshaken, it has a distinct white layer and clear layer. Shaken, it mixes into a thin, runny, milky liquid, a little bit denser-feeling and more slippy than water, with a lovely rose fragrance thanks to the rosewater that heads up the ingredients list. The liquid absorbs and dries down very quickly, so I had to work fast to evenly distribute it over my skin. I wished at times that it were thicker, but then again, adding more thickeners would take away room in the product that was needed for all those extracts. So I dealt with it.
Over the course of the two weeks I used the Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex, I experienced no irritation or breakouts from the product. Its immediate effects are light hydration and a mild calming effect. And after 14 days, it did have a visible effect on my skin tone. In an effort to make sure any changes I observed came from the product and not something else in my skincare stash, I blocked out a zone of my face (upper cheeks) where I made sure not to use any other products with known brightening ingredients. That zone received only hydrators, the Naruko complex, and moisturizer and sunscreen. Here’s the B&A. I mistyped the date on the “after” picture and didn’t notice until after I’d flattened the image and trashed the raw pictures. Bad Fiddy.
As you can see, my results after 14 days weren’t as drastic as the brand’s own B&As suggest, but I hope we’re all aware that real-world results pretty much never look like the before and afters in official marketing photos. I did see results, though. Being lax with sunscreen had allowed my skin to develop a little bit of ruddy color–my usual IOPE N21 cushion was actually a bit light for me when I started testing the Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex. By the end of the 14 days, my overall skin tone had lost that ruddy tan and lightened up back to my original shade. It took a little longer on the zone of skin pictured, where I didn’t use any other brightening actives, but it did happen. The parts where I used the full routine with actives and Longname Platinum Essence lost their tan rapidly.
Considering how long my skin can hold on to a tan if I’m not totally on it with SPF and PA, you can color me impressed. I also noticed a very slight lightening of some of my more superficial sunspots. It’s not much, but then again, neither is 14 days!
Conclusion: I normally don’t review a product like this without giving it at least 4 weeks to show results. The fact that the Naruko product has shown some visible change after half the time is notable to me. It makes me wonder how much more effect I would have seen if I’d stretched the product out to last for a month, which would have been doable had I only used a quarter of a vial at a time, which in turn would have been doable if I’d only used it on my face rather than face, neck, and chest. It didn’t transform me into Fan Bing Bing in 14 days, but it did give me more visible results than I’d expected when I started using it. I’ve got another box in my cart and plans to try it again, this time for longer and most likely in the weeks immediately before a certain special event that may be coming up for me.
Where can I buy Naruko La creme Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex?
What’s the most effective brightening product you’ve used?