Fantastic discovery made today! I have had trouble finding the ingredients list for my new Chifure Essence W and Chifure Essence VC, lugged from Japan courtesy of friend on work trip.
As I explored the Chifure Official website, I realised even the official website does not have the full ingredients list in the traditional sense, with ingredients arranged in order of concentration. The folks arranged the ingredients in a neat table by function (e.g. active ingredient > humectant > pH adjusting > solvent etc), and they listed the exact percentage for most ingredients! That’s even better than a regularly arranged ingredients list!
Chifure Essence VC (JPY 800 30g)
Active ingredients: Ascorbyl Glucoside (2%)
Hydrating ingredients: Glycerin (8%), Butylene glycol (2.72%), Trehalose solution (0.03%), Sodium hyaluronate (0.05%)
The first star ingredient is ascorbyl glucoside, an ester of ascorbic acid. This the the first time I’ve come across this ingredient since I’ve started properly researching ingredients. It is definitely one of those derivatives that are less well researched than the standard ascorbic acid, and I cannot find a resource which looks at the effective concentration as well as its penetrative ability relative to other vitamin C derivatives.
I have not yet started using this, because I was drawn by its more expensive sister below.
Chifure Essence W (JPY 1,100 30g)
The Science Part
Active ingredients: Arbutin (3%), Ascorbyl glucoside (2%)
Hydrating ingredients: Glycerin (8%), Butylene glycol (2.02%), Sodium hyaluronate (0.05%), Trehalose solution (0.03%)
Chifure Essence W is the most expensive of all Chifure Essence formulations, and the major differences arises from the addition of 3% arbutin, an effective and less toxic derivative of hydroquinone (Source). Arbutin is definitely more familiar to me and it is found in many Taiwanese and Japanese skincare products. Think the entire Naruko Apple Seed & Tranexamic Acid Black Spots Line, which is built around alpha arbutin, tranexamic acid, niacinimide and vitamin C derivatives.
The Chifure website did not state the type of arbutin (alpha / beta), but it does seem to be formulated with the effective concentration. In fact, “SCCS decided in 2016 that this ingredient is not safe to use in finished products at a use rate greater than 3%.” (Source) The 3.0% concentration above is spot on.
I haven’t found studies about the penetration of arbutin, but if it is a cousin of hydroquinone, it should have wayy better penetration ability than vitamin C derivatives, which is known to fare poorly in terms of penetration.
How it Fared
Did the Chifure Essence W do anything for my skin? Kick the sunspots in the butt? Nah… In the month that I’ve been using this, didn’t make my skin look great, but its not significantly worse than than the time when I was using Melano CC (read review), which I do consider my gold standard.
I can’t be certain because I did not take a scientific approach to my use of products. No objective, no control and hurhur squinting at my sun spots in the mirror daily is a poor way of determining if the product is working.
Another factor in my lack of proper conclusion or thoughts for this product, is that I got through the bottle shockingly quickly. I don’t even think 30ml lasts me 1.5 months. Its just a blink of the eye and I’m down to the last 1/3 of the bottle.
I can say though, that in terms of texture, it is slightly tackier than the original Chifure Essence. For the nighttime, there is absolutely no problem with layering. For day time I’d have to be more careful. There were one day i piled on a little too much in the morning, and my sunscreen (Biore UV Perfect Milk) pilled, though granted it happened for many other products, like the COSRX Snaily Serum (read review) as well.
Another complaint is how difficult it is to get hold of Chifure products in the international market / online. All of the Chifure items I own, I bought (or my lovely friends / colleagues did) at the physical MatsuKiyo stores in Japan. Amazon Jp does carry it but it is not on Prime or eligible for international shipping. When I realised how quickly I’m using the serum up, I tried really hard to find viable shopping / shipping options, but there’re none. Darn you Japanese drugstores!!
All in all, this product is worth a try. Or two or three tries. I have another friend heading to Japan for vacation in September this year, so I think I’ll be able to get a few more refills to do a proper review.