Naruko La Creme & Narcissus Product Reviews

Hello, my lovely readers! I know it's been quite awhile since I posted my last review over here, but rest assured, I haven't given up on blogging! Life had just got incredibly busy/crazy, and involved working multiple jobs, getting really sick (I'm better now, though!), a broken phone and computer, and a car accident that destroyed the front of our cute little Honda Civic. Thankfully, things have normalized (for the most part), so I'm going to be reviewing some Naruko products that were sent to me by the brand. These reviews are loooong overdue - I think I've been testing these for about 4 months now, so I'm confident in my thoughts on them, at least. I absolutely adore most Naruko products I've used in the past, so I had pretty high hopes for these, to say the least. Let's dive in!

Forgive my lack of packaging for this one, it disappeared into the VOID (aka, my disorganized bedroom)

Naruko La Creme Face Renewal Miracle Essence ($90, 150ml) - In the Asian skincare world, there are generally two types of essences - traditional essences that are slightly thicker than water and are used after toners/sheet masks but before moisturizers, and thinner, more concentrated essences, usually with potent, good-for-the-skin ingredients, that are meant to be used immediately after cleansing or before any other treatment step. The latter group are known as First Treatment Essences (FTEs), often referred to as First Essences or Treatment Essences, designed to deliver a nutrient-dense burst of fermented, botanical ingredients to the skin, giving it a dose of hydration and prepping it for subsequent skincare steps. I've been using FTEs since I first stepped into the Asian skincare game almost 3 years ago, and now I can't go without them! They may not seem like a necessary step (and they don't have to be, your routine is for you and you alone), but I find that using one every time I do my routine helps keep my skin hydrated and helps my products absorb much better.

What it does, basically:
  • Brightens and lightens facial hyperpigmentation
  • Enhances skin elasticity and restores firmness
  • Smooths fine lines and wrinkles
  • Prevents dryness by providing long-lasting moisture, fortifying skin's natural barrier
  • Controls oil/water balance in the skin and eliminates the appearance of enlarged pores
  • Increases cell turnover, resulting in smoother, more supple skin
  • Restores a healthy vitality to the skin

The Face Renewal Miracle Essence is pretty much everything I want in an essence on paper; it boasts a whopping 94.9% yeast extracts from fermented rice, as well as a slew of other good-for-the-skin ingredients I'll be getting into in a bit. Their fabulous blend of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals is called Ystract; this potent bunch of ingredients helps correct post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (aka PIH, or acne scarring and dark spots) and inhibit melanin formation while aiding in cell renewal. Ystract is what we know as fermented rice extract, which contains tons of beneficial enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, saccharides, and nucleic acids. This FTE also contains fermented rice bran extract which contains copious amounts of lipids, vitamin E, squalene, and ferulic acid. Rice bran extract even has anti-aging and UV damage repairing properties, making it one of my favorite skincare ingredients! Fermented rice water has been used for centuries in Japan/Taiwan thanks to its soothing, brightening, and moisturizing effects, so you know it's good.

Also included in the 60 actives ingredients list is something called Actuat E60, a potent blend of 60 natural botanical ingredients including centella asiatica and chamomile to soothe and calm irritation, green tea and ginseng to provide antioxidant and anti-aging benefits, and papain (an extract of the papaya) to offer anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits while gentle exfoliating the skin, to name a few. It also contains tons of other fruit extracts, such as pineapple fruit extract (which acts as a gentle exfoliator rich in vitamin C and amino acids), kiwi fruit extract (rich in vitamins C and E to help fade dark spots and provide anti-aging benefits such as reducing the appearance of fine lines), and licorice root extract (to provide intense brightening/lightening of PIH). 

Ystract™ (94.9%) (oryza sativa lees extract), purified water, alcohol, glycerin, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, propanediol, yeast extract, sodium lactate, achillea millefolium extract, actinidia chinensis (kiwi) fruit extract, aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) extract, alchemilla vulgaris extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, ananas sativus (pineapple) fruit extract, arctium lappa root extract, arnica montana flower extract, artemisia umbelliformis extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, centella asiatica (gotu kola) extract, chamomilla recutita flower extract, chondrus crispus (carrageenan) extract, citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel extract, corallina officinalis (algae) extract, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, dioscorea opposita (wild yam) root extract, epilobium fleischeri extract, equisetum arvense (horsetail) extract, equisetum hiemale (horsetail) extract, gingko biloba leaf extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licoric) root extract, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, jobs tears (coix lacryma-jobi) water, kalanchoe pinnata leaf extract/kalanchoe spathulata leaf extract, ledebouriella divaricata (fang feng) root extract, leontopodium alpinum (edelweiss) extract, malva sylvestris (mallow) extract, mentha piperita (peppermint) leaf extract, melissa officinalis (lemonbalm) extract, morus alba (mulberry) root extract, narcissus tazetta bulb extract, oryza sativa (rice) bran extract, panax ginseng root extract, papain, peony (paeonia suffruticosa) root extract, peucedanum ostruthium (masterwort) leaf extract, pisum sativum (garden pea) extract, plantago major seed extract, polygonum cuspidatum extract, poria cocos extract, pueraria lobata root extract, rhodiola rosea extract, rosa damascena flower water, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, sakura (prunus yedoensis) leaf extract, salvia officinalis (red sage) leaf extract, sambucus nigra (elderberry) flowers, saxifraga sarmentosa extract, scutellaria alpina flower/leaf/stem extract, snow fungus (tremella fuciformis) extract, thyme (thymus serpillum) extract, tilia cordata (linden) extract, triticum vulgare (wheat) protein, undaria pinnatifida (wakame/seaweed) extract, veronica officinalis (common speedwell) extract, vitis vinifera (grape) fruit extract, willow (salix alba) bark extract, zingiber officinale (ginger) root extract, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, soy amino acids, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate. cosDNA Analysis

The Face Renewal Miracle Essence arrives in a sturdy, reflective silver box (which I subsequently misplaced, whoops), along with a small pamphlet explaining the product in detail. The bottle itself is positively gorgeous - a sturdy frosted glass with a reflective silver plastic cap. It has a small hole on the top of the bottle to dispense the product, so you can easily pour some onto a cotton pad to apply (I wouldn't dare waste any of this on a cotton pad, though - I only ever use my hands to apply!). 

The essence itself is very watery - I would have thought it was just water, if not for the slightly sweet scent of sake it gives off. The scent isn't overwhelming, and dissipates after a few seconds, making application quick and painless. It absorbs into the skin very quickly, providing a gentle boost of refreshing hydration while allowing me to continue on to the next step almost immediately. My skin is almost always bone dry after cleansing, regardless of the pH of the cleanser I use, so as soon as I step out of the shower, I slap some of this stuff on so my skin can feel like skin again, and it keeps my face supple and hydrated while I loaf around in a towel and watch Netflix/surf the interwebs (I almost never start my routine immediately, because lazy). 

Results: I've been using the Face Renewal Miracle Essence twice daily for about 4 months now. The FTE I was using before this was the Son & Park Beauty Water for its exfoliating and cleansing capabilities. I can definitely say that I enjoy this one even more - I've noticed a subtle brightening/glow to my skin after using the Miracle essence regularly, and my skin looks consistently radiant and healthy. It also does a great job of controlling oil production, which for me equals not only less shine, but less breakouts/congestion as well! As far as PIH goes, I did notice a marked difference in acne scarring over the four month course - my PIH was really excessive (particularly on my right cheek) when I first started using this, and after a few months, the scarring is almost gone. Whether I can attribute that to this essence or just my body's natural healing processes, I'm not sure, but I do believe it played a big part in lessening those pesky dark spots. 

Final Thoughts: As a non-oily, lightweight watery essence, this is the perfect FTE to use during the summer - and I'm already ready to purchase a backup! I've never really had great experiences with the popular FTEs that everyone seems to love; the SKII and Missha fermentation essences both broke me out terribly and made my skin look ruddy, congested, and dull. I'm so glad to have found an FTE that does what it claims, leaving me with brighter, more radiant, glowy skin and lending a hand in managing my annoying PIH. I can see this working well for any skin type. A definite thumbs up from me!

Naruko La Creme Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex ($95, 14-day treatment) - The second product Naruko generously sent me is their Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex, a 14-day treatment that promises to repair UV damage, fade dark spots/PIH, and result in brighter, more even-toned skin. Naruko seems to take a "more is more" approach to skin brightening, as these cute little vials contain not only the usual niacinamide, arbutin, and transexamic acid, but ascorbyl glucoside and 3-o-ethyl ascorbic acid as well, both of which are stable forms of vitamin C that are well known to enhance skin whitening/brightening capabilities. Also included are a lot of other botanical brightening ingredients, such as licorice root, mulberry extract (a natural source of arbutin), panax ginseng, and Job's tears, as well as other fruit enzymes (much like their FTE) that can brighten through gentle exfoliation, sloughing off excess dirt, skin cells, and oil and allowing for faster skin cell turnover. Brightening is like, priority numero uno for me, so I was super excited to see what would happen after the 14 days were done.

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. cosDNA Analysis
Holy ingredients list, batman. See what I mean about the "more is more" approach? I was initially hesitant and not very confident when I first tried this product - I'm generally weary when it comes to products with huge laundry lists of ingredients, since it's hard to really know if the ingredients are even at high enough concentrations to be effective, and I like to take a "less is more" approach when it comes to skincare ingredients, personally. Despite this, I'm not sensitive to any of these ingredients, and I figured worst case scenario, this 14-day treatment would do nothing for my skin, and I can go back to my merry life no worse for wear. Although, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little excited, considering the plethora of incredible ingredients that these tiny vials were packin'. 

So liddo! So tiny! It makes me glad I have *sort of* small hands.

The treatment comes as 14 tiny glass vials encased in a beautiful, reflective silver box. Each vial contains 1.5ml of fluid, and you're supposed to use half the vial in the morning and half at night. Each vial comes with a white screw-on cap, and a little stopper to prevent the clumsier of us (aka, me) from spilling an entire day's worth of product in one accidental move, which I'm thankful for because I drop everything. Speaking of which, I'm so glad Naruko's FTE came in such a heavy duty glass bottle, because I have dropped that thing more times than I can count...but I digress.  

The whole point of the tiny vials (as opposed to one larger container) is to help protect the product from constantly being exposed to light and air, thereby preserving it more effectively. I'm not super sure about the efficacy of that, but I can dig it. 

I kept them in this bag because the box takes up too much room on my night stand, lol. 

The vials are meant to be shaken immediately before application; unshaken, they are separated into a white layer and a clear layer. Once shaken, the mixture comes together to form a very thin, slightly milky essence, a bit thicker than water but still very easily absorb-able and dries down within a few moments. It has a divine rose scent, thanks to the rosa damascena flower water that is the first ingredient. I adore rose scents, and this one smells so natural and soothing. As difficult as it was at first to successfully tip half of the product out of those tiny vials twice a day, I eventually got the hang of it and there were *thankfully* no casualties. 

During the 14-day period, I made sure to use no other brightening products (including the FTE), and only used simple hydrating/moisturizing products. I continued to use sunscreen as usual, since I wanted to change as little about my routine as possible, as I wanted to see real-life results based on how I myself would use the product. (I never stop using sunscreen, because the UV index in Colorado is cray. Seriously. I'm offended by the sun up here on a daily basis). 

Thumb for scale. (Ignore my gross cuticles. They never look any better than this, tbh.)

Using this product was no more work than using my usual FTE; it sank in quickly and gave my skin a quick dose of immediate soothing hydration. I used this both morning and night, and at the end of the 14 days, I can definitely say I saw some results!

(A way closer shot of my PIH than I think I'm comfortable with. The sacrifices I make for blogging.)

Results - Behold: my disastrous right cheek. The above photos were taken on day 1 and day 14 of the treatment, respectively (these were taken back in March). Both unedited photos were taken at the same angle at the exact same time of day (about 8pm) in my bathroom - not the best light source, but I wanted the conditions to be as similar as possible. As far as results go, there were no miracles here. Obviously, I didn't get a ton of PIH in a matter of two weeks, so I didn't expect any dramatic changes. Fortunately, the changes I did see were pretty darn impressive for only 2 weeks. I definitely saw a change in the brightness and overall evenness of my skin tone; these effects were the most dramatic. As for PIH, a lot of the gnarlier spots I had faded significantly, and some of the lighter PIH spots just about disappeared. Not much, but pretty impressive for only 14 days. 

Final Thoughts - Am I impressed by the results? Definitely! My skin scars so, so easily; a tiny pimple will turn into a huge red mark that can last months if I don't take preemptive measures. The fact that my skin has shown noticeable change in the small amount of time that I used it speaks volumes - and makes me definitely want to do this again, perhaps for longer than just two weeks, to see what effects it could potentially have after being used for a longer period of time. Love!

Naruko Narcissus Repairing Mask ($28, box of 10) - The last product I received from the lovely Rachel over at Naruko is a box of the Narcissus Repairing sheet masks. I'd seen a couple rave reviews over on Instagram before trying them, so the bar was already set pretty high for me, in addition to the fact that I simply just love Naruko masks. The fit, results, and price is always right for me, so I was excited to try one I'd never had the chance to before. 

The Narcissus repairing masks claim to provide anti-aging benefits to the skin, and promise to strengthen, hydrate, and refine damaged skin. Outside of the usual humectant ingredients that comprise sheet masks, the ingredients in these are pretty interesting; most notably, the Narcissus Repairing Mask contains a patented botanical blend called Phytoferulin that's exclusive to Naruko. Phytoferulin contains 11 extracts, including kalanchoe spathulata extract, licorice root extract, scutellaria alpina flower/leaf/stem extract, peucedanum ostruthium leaf extract, gingko biloba leaf extract, artemisia umbelliformis leaf extract, leontopodium alpinum extract, epilobium fleischeri extract, calendula officinalis leaf extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, and camellia sinensis leaf extract. 

Purified water, butylene glycol, glycerin, sodium PCA, PEG-55, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, chlorphenesin, hydroxyethylcellulose, sodium acetate, isopropyl alcohol, cellulose, kalanchoe spathulata extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, scutellaria alpina flower/leaf/stem extract, peucedanum ostruthium leaf extract, gingko biloba leaf extract, artemisia umbelliformis extract, leontopodium alpinum extract, epilobium fleischeri extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, lactobacillus/olea europaea (olive) leaf ferment extract, quaternium-15, tetrasodium EDTA, Bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, polyquaternium-39, disodium EDTA, mentha piperita (peppermint) extract, eucheuma cotonii extract, sodium hyaluronate, pseudoalteromonas ferment extract, bifida ferment lysate, lactobacillus ferment, snow fungus (tremella fuciformis) extract, artemia extract, narcissus tazetta bulb extract, sorbitol, dihydroxy methylchromone, essential oils of mandarin, tangerine, sweet orange (citrus sinensis), ylang ylang (cananga odorata), potassium DNA. cosDNA Analysis

The fit on these pulp masks is spectacular (as per usual when it comes to Naruko masks), adhering to every curve of my face while staying put the entire time on. There was a bit of tenting around the nose area, but it wasn't a big deal (although some well-placed slits made with some scissors would have quickly solved that problem). The masks come with a plastic pearl backing, and have slits near the chin area for a more snug fit. These masks come with a ton of essence, about 25ml to be exact, and there's enough left over in the packet to apply to my neck and chest. The essence has a typical "mask" scent, clean and unoffensive. 

Results: Since I'm almost through the entire box of these masks, I've gotten into the habit of keeping them on anywhere from 40-50 minutes, to sometimes over an hour since they stay wet for so long. There's been some speculation in the AB (Asian Beauty) community that keeping your mask on for longer than the usual directed 20-30 could have negative effects; i.e., something, something, reverse osmosis, something, something, that would result in the dry mask actually pulling moisture back into the mask, thereby drying out your skin. Personally, as I'm not a scientist, I can't prove whether or not this is accurate information (if anyone knows, please send me source links!), but from personal experience, I find that there's really no difference in how long I wear my sheet mask - as long as it isn't dry. my skin only feels and looks better after long mask sessions, especially with these (of course, sheet masks are YMMV, so everyone's face is different)! They leave my skin feeling firm, plump, hydrated, and bright. The essence dries matte, without leaving a tacky/shiny residue behind. I cannot emphasize enough how much I LOVE these masks - my skin looks clear, radiant, and bright for about 48 hours, which is incredible in my world. I always feel slightly awkward when I rave about a product that was given to me by a company rather than one I've bought myself; how believable do I sound to my readers, considering there can be so much dishonestly in the sponsored blogging world? But believe me when I say this: these are a MUST HAVE for anyone, most notably those with combination or oily skin types. My skin never looks better than when I use one of these masks, and I'm already hurrying to purchase more. 

Final Thoughts: It's not everyday that I come across a sheet mask that seriously impresses me, so for that, Naruko gets some big, big points! I'm already squeezing more room in my already tight skincare budget so I can stock up on these (I'm talking multiple boxes, yo), and I've already been sticking some in care packages, because I can't help but share the sheer awesomeness that is these masks with other AB lovers out there. If I had to rate these out of 10, I'd give them a 12. They're just that frickin' good. 

These products were sent to me courtesy of Naruko free for review purposes, all opinions are my own. If you're curious about my press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, please see my disclosure policies.

Cute Polka Dotted Red Bow Tie Ribbon