They may not be as exciting as serums and ampoules, but hydrating toners are some of my favorite Asian beauty products. One such hydrating toner is the very clearly named Naruko Jingcheng 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer. Personally, I think we should all know from the name exactly what this thing does, but just in case you’re lost, let’s check it out!
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Naruko Jingcheng 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer Review
Jingcheng is Naruko’s prestige line. “Jingcheng” means “capital city” and evokes images of emperors and fancy ladies with bejeweled headgear (in the aesthetic of cheesy Chinese historical dramas, if you’re me and that’s what you grew up on). The products feature an herbal extract blend inspired by traditional Chinese medicine.
Purpose: Naruko 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer claims to hydrate and brighten skin while increasing skin’s ability to absorb subsequent products.
Best suited for: All skin types.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to carrageenan, fragrance, papain or other fruit enzyme ingredients, citrus ingredients, peppermint, or anything else in the (extensive) ingredient list.
When and how to use: Use after cleansing (and after any pH-dependent actives, if your routine includes those). Apply a generous amount with hands or cotton pad. Pat in or let dry slightly before moving on to the next step.
Naruko Jingcheng 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer ingredients: Water, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, polyquaternium-51, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, dimethyl isosorbide, pentylene glycol, sodium stearoxy PG-hydroxyethylcellulose sulfonate, sodium lactate, PEG-7 olivate, ascorbyl glucoside, sodium hyaluronate, sodium benzoate, aminopropyl kojyl phosphate, rosa damascena flower oil, plantago major seed extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, arnica (arnica montana) extract, artemisia umbelliformis extract, ledebouriella divaricata extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, gotu kola (centella asiatica) extract, chamomilla recutita flower extract, coix lacryma-jobi (Job’s tears) seed water, linden (tilia cordata) extract, cucumber (cucumis sativa) extract, leontopodium alpinum extract, ginger (zingiber officinale) root extract, gingko biloba leaf extract, panax ginseng root extract, vitis vinifera (grape) fruit extract, great burdock (artium lappa) extract, horse chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum) extract, horsetail (equisetum arvense) extract, horsetail (equisetum hiemale) extract, peucedanum ostruthium leaf extract, pueraria lobata root extract, kalanchoe pinnata leaf extract/kalanchoe spathulata leaf extract, kiwi (actinidia chinensis) extract, glycyrrhiza glabra root extract, triticum vulgare protein, mallow (malva sylvestris) extract, algae (corallina officinalis) extract, citrus grandis extract, carica papaya (papaya) fruit extract, pisum sativum (pea) extract, peony (paeonia suffruticosa) root extract, peppermint (mentha piperita) leaf extract, pineapple (ananas sativus) extract, rhodiola rosea extract, rice (oryza sativa) bran extract, rosemary extract, sakura (prunus yedoensis) leaf extract, sambucus nigra flower extract, scutellaria alpina flower/leaf/stem extract, chondrus crispus (carrageenan), epilobium fleischeri extract, poria cocos extract, thyme (thymus serpillum) extract, undaria pinnatifida extract, rosa damascena flower water, hamamelis virginiana extract, salix alba (willow) bark extract, mulberry (morus alba) root extract, snow fungus (tremella fuciformis) extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, dioscorea opposita (wild yam) root extract, salvia officinalis (red sage) leaf extract, alchemilla vulgaris extract, narcissus tazetta l. var. chinensis roem, saxifrage (saxifraga stolonifera) extract, polygonum cuspidatum extract, melissa officinalis extract, common speedwell (veronica officinalis) extract, achillea millefolium extract, essential oils of grapefruit (citrus paradisi), orange (citrus nobilis), iodopropynyl butylcarbamate
Notable ingredients: With an ingredient list that long, you might expect this section to be even longer, but nah. None of the many many many many many many many many herbal extracts listed are likely to be present here in substantial enough concentrations to call out on their own. What’s going on here is that this product contains Niuer‘s proprietary extract blend. I wouldn’t necessarily look to it to produce the specific effects attributed to any particular extract included. Instead, think of it more as an overall skin tonic whose primary benefits are moisturization and some antioxidant protection against free radicals, which can cause premature aging as well as hyperpigmentation.
More importantly for a product of this type is that it looks nicely packed with glycerin and hyaluronic acid, two common humectants. Humectants attract and hold water; in skincare products, they help to plump the skin and keep it hydrated. Sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid) actually appears in the ingredients twice. I assume that’s because it’s included on its own and is also a component of the extract blend.
If you’ve tried any Asian hydrating toners, you’ll be familiar with the look and feel of the Youth Activating Enhancer: a clear fluid, slightly thicker than water, with a distinctive slip. In terms of thickness, it’s about the same as Dear by Enprani Moistfull Booskin and a bit thinner than Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion.
The Youth Activating Enhancer is quite highly scented compared to most other products I’ve tried in this category. It’s a very feminine floral fragrance, which I found a little overwhelming my first few uses. The fragrance doesn’t trigger my headaches like many others do, however, so I powered through it. After about a week or so, I got used to it and find it pleasant now. Unlike some other products to which I have gone nose-blind, though, I haven’t gotten so used to the fragrance that I fail to notice it. I do always notice how it smells. It doesn’t linger, however, and layering any product on top always eliminates it completely, so eh. Not a dealbreaker for me.
Good thing, because I thoroughly enjoy the effects of this product.
Has it enhanced my activated youth? Um. I don’t think so?
What the Youth Activating Enhancer does for me is fulfill the basic functions of a hydrating toner, and then some. It’s wonderfully hydrating and plumping: I’ve used it alone under nothing but an emulsion and stayed smooth, supple, and comfortable all through an arid SoCal day. It also provides that juicy, dewy luster we look for from hydrating products, along with a healthy bounciness. I notice a definite drop in my skin’s hydration when I drop this from my routine. This is good stuff.
It’s not the only hydrating toner I’ve tried, of course. Here are some quick comparisons to others:
- Hada Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion: The Youth Activating Enhancer is more hydrating and provides more glow, but the Hada Labo may be more appropriate for sensitive skin that doesn’t always do well with extracts. The Hada Labo is very sticky to me while the Youth Activating Enhancer is not.
- Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion: Comparable hydrating and plumping effects. Again, sensitive or reactive skin that dislikes extracts would be safer with the Hada Labo, but if you can handle lots of fun ingredients, Youth Activating Enhancer is so much more fun.
- Dear by Enprani Moistfull Booskin: The Youth Activating Enhancer is more hydrating by a fair amount, while the Moistfull Booskin more noticeably increases absorption of other products. Their fragrances are similar strength, but I prefer the rose scent of the Moistfull Booskin.
- Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX: Youth Activating Enhancer is slightly more hydrating and gives more dewiness, while the Essential Balancing Water EX provides more redness reduction. And costs a lot more. I love Sulwhasoo, but let’s be real, that stuff costs WAY more.
Conclusion: Is it life-changing? No, but Naruko Jingcheng 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer is a remarkable hydrating toner. It’s enjoyable to use–I’ve happily slapped it on for over two months now, haven’t gotten tired or bored of it, and have missed it whenever I’ve dropped it from my routine to see what might happen–and it does exactly what it needs to do. Long term, it may also have some extra protective effects thanks to its TCM extracts. Also, it makes me feel like a fancy court lady whenever I use it, so that’s fun.
Rating: 3.8/5 (would be about a 4.2 if not for the fragrance)
1 – This should be taken off the market, or this failed at its one primary job.
2 – Caused me some problems or doesn’t work very well; would not buy again.
3 – Meh. Neither great nor bad.
4 – Pretty good. Worth rebuying.
5 – I’ll never be in the market for a replacement unless this one is discontinued.
Where can I buy Naruko Jingcheng 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer?
I received my bottle as a PR sample from Naruko Boutique US*, which currently sells the Youth Activating Enhancer for $19.99 with free shipping*. You might also want to keep an eye on my social media around Chinese New Year for a way to get your hands on one in a different way!
And if you’re interested in other Naruko products I’ve tried, check out more Naruko reviews here.