REVIEW | Hada Labo 肌研 – Retinol Lifting + Firming Lotion 极润紧致弹力化妆水

Hada Labo is a brand that definitely does not need any introduction not only because it is a brand that is easily available at our drugstores and e-commerce sites but also because it is a brand that has a big amount of users from all over Malaysia. They are super well known because of their lotions and their wide ranges of skincare.

I have tried and repurchased their Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Lotion a few times and now I got my eyes on their red Retinol Lifting + Firming Lotion as there are many glossy reviews that I have read.


Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Diglycerin, PEG-20 Sorbitan Isostearate, Squalane, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Methylparaben, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether, Phytosteryl / Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Carbomer, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-11, Triethanolamine, Pullulan Phytosteryl Macadamiate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate / Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Xanthan Gum, Isohexadecane, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lactobacillus / Soymilk Ferment Filtrate, Polysorbate 60, Polyquaternium-51, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Ammonium Acrylates Copolymer, Tetrapeptide-5, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Elastin

At first I thought that this contains retinol (or Vitamin A) like the most reviews state so on instagram but I guess this is the new formulation? Because I tried to look for words such as retinyl palmitate (like its old formulation’s ingredients list has) or retinyl acetate, or retinaldehyde, or even propionic acid, or even the lesser known vitamin A propionate. However, the name of the lotion is Hada Labo 肌研 – Retinol Lifting + Firming Lotion 极润紧致弹力化妆水 so I guess there is retinol somewhere?

This is the old ingredients list by the way, as according to Paris B :

Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerine, PEG-20 Sorbitan Isostearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Methylparaben, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose, Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tocopherol, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Retinyl Palmitate, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Sodium Everglades Hyaluronate, Zea Mays (Corn Oil) Thioctic Acid, Beta Carotene

On the back of the bottle it says that the three key ingredients of this lotion are:

  • Hydrolyzed Elastin – Helps to improve the skin density and elasticity to minimise the appearances of fine lines (this comes at the bottom of the ingredients list though, so I wonder if it is really efficient)
  • Hydrolyzed Collagen – Helps to keep skin visibly tighter, firmer, and more lifted
  • 4 types of hyaluronic acid – Helps to deeply hydrate skin from the surface to the inner skin layers for significantly soft, smooth, and supple skin

This lotion also contains many of my favourite ingredients which are squalane (a superb moisturiser), peptides, and pentylene glycol (moisturising ingredient). This lotion is also not tested on animals and is free from mineral oil, fragrance, alcohol, and colorant; if any of these ingredients is a concern to you.

Texture and Smell

It comes in quite a viscous texture, in which to be honest, one of the thickest toners I have ever tried.

It doesn’t have a distinct smell to it, it feels quite sticky and filmy at first

It needs some patting for it to sink in, leaving a bit of tacky residue. I use this in minimal amount because of the thickness


How to Use

The ‘lotion’ label in its name can be quite confusing to some people especially to those who are not very well-versed in K beauty or J Beauty terms. One might wonder about its type (is it a toner? Is it like an essence? Or is it more like moisturiser?) and which turn do we apply it in our skincare steps. On the Hermo website, the description states to “use twice daily after cleansing face. Apply on palms and gently pat onto skin until thoroughly absorbed.”

Why does it say to use after cleansing? Well for me, based on my reading on J-Beauty (Hada Labo is a Japanese company), ‘lotion’ generally means toner in J-Beauty glossary (while toner in K-Beauty is usually referred to as ‘skin’) so yeah, I use this as a toner but for those of you who are still confused, fret not, as this is what Hada Labo suggests:

This is to be used after exfoliating toner (mild peeling lotion) in the routine but if you do not have that or you don’t feel like using more than one toner at a time, just straightaway use this after cleansing.

As the texture is quite thick, I usually use this at night for my PM routine, but if you want to use it during the day you absolutely can, okay? Just be sure to never skip sunscreen and reapply because there is retinol (as the name suggests, even though I can’t find it in the ingredients list) in the lotion.

Oh, one more thing, I find using this with hands, patting it in, to be more satisfying and I like it better than applying with cotton pads. For hydrating toners, I always prefer my hands whereas for other types of toners such as pH balancing toners, exfoliating toners, and toners with watery texture, I would prefer cotton pads.


This is an intensely hydrating lotion so to be honest, I don’t reach for this quite often because in our hot and humid weather, I tend to keep my hydration level just sufficient enough and not that amped up, especially on a scorching hot afternoon. This is because my combination skin can get really clammy or uncomfortably sweaty when I put on a richly hydrating or moisturising texture. Thus, I prefer my toners to be hydrating but lightweight. Nonetheless, I think people with dry skin would love this.

I experience no bad reaction to this lotion such as breaking out, redness, or itchiness but this feels heavy and can make my skin quite greasy (and it is definitely not comfortable) so that is why I only use this at night sometimes, and it is not greasy that time. I notice that I will wake up with a soft, smooth, skin but that’s just that. There are still other hydrating ampoule or essence that makes me feel like that minus the heavy feels.

Besides, this lotion does not layer so well with many products (for longer routines) on my skin. It can get super uncomfortable and itchy if I use this toner in a longer routine especially with sheet mask in the routine. It seems like even though I am using this at night, it only fits in minimal routine. But I love a longer routine at night! So yeah, after three weeks of trying to incorporate this toner in my routines, I gave up. I decided to give it to my mum. Her dry skin loves this so much and that’s good news!

My rate: 3/5

Would I repurchase this? Most probably not.


Hada Labo 肌研 – Retinol Lifting + Firming Lotion 极润紧致弹力化妆水


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