Review: Hada Labo Retinol Lifting + Firming Cream

July 23, 2014
At 26 years old, I’ve come to accept that I am just not getting any younger. Of course I’m far from being considered ‘old’, but I’m at an age where if I don’t seriously and consistently take care of my skin I know I’m going to regret it later on. As I mentioned before, when it comes to my skin care, I like to use as little products as possible. Using too many all at once can do more harm than good. One of the most important steps with my skin care, because of my dry skin, is moisturizing. That’s why I try to choose moisturizers that have anti-aging properties already so that my skin is hydrated while at the same time, I’m reassured I’m doing what I can to keep pre-mature aging at bay.

As I’ve always believed, Japan really does have some of the best skin care products in the world, so it was only natural for me to decide to try this Retinol Lifting + Firming Cream from one of my favorite brands, Hada Labo.


Product info:
  • Extreme nourishing cream helps to lift & firm-up skin.
  • Retinol Vitamin A helps to improve skins elasticity & refine skin to regain its youthful radiance. 
  • Hydrolyzed Collagen helps to promote skin’s firmness.
  • Skin pH balanced. Low irritation.
  • Free of fragrances, mineral oil, alcohol and colorant.

All the products in the Lifting + Firming range feature what is called Insta-3D Moisture-Lock Technology. According to Hada Labo, this is a “combination of 4 types of Hyaluronic Acid (3D Hyaluronic Acid, Nano Hyaluronic Acid, Super Hyaluronic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid) that are linked together to form a 3D moisture net that wraps your skin to lock-in moisture for continuous hydration.” There are also 2 key anti-ageing ingredients, which are a Retinol Vitamin A Derivative and Hydrolyzed Collagen.

We all know how good collagen is for the skin when it comes to anti-aging, but what is “retinol” exactly and what does it do? Simply put, “Retinol is an extremely effective cell-communicating ingredient, which means it can literally connect to almost any skin cell and tell it to behave like a healthy, younger skin cell.” (1) Aside from that, it’s also an anti-oxidant and aids in managing acne and eczema.


Hada Labo’s products aren’t packaged with fancy graphics or designs. They keep it sweet and simple. Visually, out of all the products they have, I like their Lifting + Firming range the most because of the red and gold color scheme. It almost reflects a more mature theme, doesn’t it?

The Retinol Lifting + Firming Cream comes in a durable, plastic tub and contains 50 grams of product. I like that it’s small enough to easily bring along with you when you travel and hardly takes up any space on your bathroom counter or shelf unlike most moisturizers or creams in tubs which I find to be big and bulky.

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The cream’s consistency reminds me of regular body lotion, just not as thick. It’s easy to spread along the skin and its scent reminds me of body lotion too, with a hint of something medicinal. It’s definitely not fragrance-free like is advertised. The scent is faint though and it disappears quickly.

How long it takes to absorb into your skin depends on just how much you apply. Before bed I like to apply it quite liberally so it ends up taking a while to absorb. At least 10-15 minutes for most of it to disappear into my skin. If I decide to use this in the morning, I apply a light layer all over my face and it’s mostly absorbed within 3-5 minutes. You’ll still sort of feel it sitting on your skin, but so far I haven’t had any issues when I apply my primer and makeup afterwards. Take note, this is all when I apply it in a relatively cool or air-conditioned environment. It will obviously take much longer when it’s hot and/or humid. When my skin is particularly dry on any given day, I’m forced to use a heavier layer which means I need to usually wait an extra 5-10 minutes before I can move onto applying my makeup, that’s why I tend to just use this in the evening.

Hada Labo recommends when applying to spread this all over your palms and just pat it gently onto your face, but to be honest I just stick to dotting it all over my face and spreading it around from there. Only afterwards do I gently pat to encourage my skin to absorb the product.

It’s a little difficult for me to comment on whether the product is truly effective or not because I don’t have wrinkles and whatnot yet, and my skin is still as firm as it can be for a twenty-something year old, but I can see how this can help those with more mature skin already because it is very moisturizing. Moisture is one of the keys to anti-aging after all. Whenever I use this, my skin definitely feels more smooth and supple too. True to what is advertised, it also doesn’t irritate my skin and actually helps calm it down somewhat when it’s irritated and sensitive for whatever reason. Even when my skin is so dry that it’s starting to flake and peel, this manages to hydrate just enough to get my skin back to more of a slightly dry state instead. That’s a big enough improvement to be impressive, if you ask me.

  • Simple, but sleek and classy looking packaging.
  • Highly moisturizing.
  • Absorbs fairly quickly if you apply a light layer.
  • Does not make my skin oilier.
  • Helps to calm and soothe my skin when it’s irritated.

  • Does not contain any SPF. Not a problem if you only use this in the evening like me though.

(!) I can’t remember the exact price of this, only that it was purchased in Tokyo. Sorry!

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