I never win anything. Raffles, student government elections, round after round of prizes at a dinner celebrating Chinese New Year, you name it, I’ve lost it. So when I was lucky enough to snag the complete set of four serums from UBUNA Beauty, I was over the goddamn moon. I’d been staring at these gorgeous vials on Instagram for months and I couldn’t wait to dive in.
Before I get into each of the four UBUNA serums, I have to tell you about when my love for J-Beauty began. I had the privilege of living in Tokyo, Japan from the start of 2014 to the end of 2016 and it was an experience that changed me forever. Japan is such a beautiful country of rich history and tradition and while I can’t say the adjustment to living so far from home was easy, it turned into such an incredible adventure I miss every single day.
During my time there, I worked with a Japanese spa and interviewed several beauty professionals for freelance gigs which helped me dive into all things J-Beauty. I loved visiting Japanese department stores like Mitsukoshi, Isetan and Matsuya Ginza to experience omotenashi (“hospitality”) first hand in the beauty department. They became safe havens for me, browsing creams, essences and serums, because a love for beauty is truly universal. The way women in Japan care for and protect their skin irrevocably changed how I take care of mine and made me curse all those rounds in the tanning bed. My skincare routine has since became a ritual instead of a chore.
I’ll do another post about my favorite J-Beauty buys soon. I could talk about Japan all day.
My minor (we called it a “specialization” with a journalism degree) was art history and by far the hardest class I ever took was an introduction to Japanese art. The symbolism, the layers of detail, the lines, the colors, it was so much to take in. When I arrived in Japan and saw how Japanese art and design had evolved first hand, it was breathtaking. The design of the UBUNA bottles was the first thing that struck me. The minimal, clean text on the bottles with their curved, pleasing shape that made them easy to hold. The boxes, printed like washi paper in delicate colors and metallic accents made opening each one feel like opening a gift. No place does packaging like Japan — every element of the user experience is considered.
I was surprised the bottles weren’t glass, considering the price, but I didn’t mind once I traveled with them. The size and design would have probably made them pretty heavy. I also prefer an airless pump like these with serums to keep them fresher longer and keep out dirt and bacteria.
All four UBUNA serums are free from heavy scents and just felt fresh on my skin. I used them along with the rest of my routine — retinol included — without any issues.
Without further rambling, here we go:
Drench Hydration Serum — I have to start with my favorite, which was included in my June empties post. In short, this is the most gorgeous hyaluronic serum I’ve ever used. It has a light, watery texture that mixed and layered beautifully with every other product in my routine and never pilled when I used sunscreen or makeup on top. The additional ceramides and amino acids always made my skin look plump, smooth and happy. I used it more than all of the others and it lasted the longest.
Re-Gen Sleep Renewal Serum — My second favorite of the four, which I used up back in April, this peptide serum has a milky texture that gets its richness from sunflower seed oil, squalane and shea butter. It also has Proteoglycan, which is a protein to help make the skin more elastic. I used this serum before my retinol and on its own and my skin always looked refreshed by the morning. Despite the rich ingredients, it never made me break out. It’s like feeding your skin and it sunk in beautifully.
Brighten Maximum Glow Serum — I’ve used plenty of vitamin C products before (with very mixed results) but this was my first with the addition of Alpha Arbutin. The serum also has a milky texture and thankfully isn’t oily at all, despite have squalane as a main ingredient. Another surprise ingredient was Ostrich Egg Yolk Extract which is said to fight the signs of aging. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell at all like eggs. While I didn’t notice any major shifting in the serious dark spots I had from some bad cystic pimples, the rest of my complexion did start to look more unified and even. It really does make your skin look brighter and rejuvenated.
Resist Anti-Pollution Serum — I say this one (also finished in June) is my least favorite for two reasons. First, it had a thicker, more balm-like texture. It absorbed well, but it was a bit difficult to combine with the other serums. Second, it’s hard to say what it did for me since I was inside all day in quarantine while I was using it. NYC is the perfect place to text an anti-pollution serum, but since I was barely outdoors, I can’t really say what the silver vine extract did or didn’t do for me. That said, it in no way disagreed with my skin and the ceramides were very nourishing. I would be interested to use it again once I’m back to traveling. I’m sure it would be excellent to apply before a flight to keep skin hydrated and block out the nastiness in the air.
I really enjoyed the experience of “cocktailing” these serums together in different ways. During the daytime, I used Drench, Brighten and Resist. At nighttime, I would apply Drench mixed with Re-Gen. But each of the UBUNA serums can be used on their own as well. Mixing them into unique combinations allows you to address whatever your skin may need that day.
Overall, I really enjoyed using these products. As expensive as they were, each one lasted me 4-6 months since I only needed one pump at a time to cover my face and neck, whether I mixed them together or not. They felt luxurious and a little pampering is good for the soul after all.
I’m definitely planning to add Drench and Re-Gen back into my routine eventually. Have you tried UBUNA Beauty? What are your favorite J-Beauty products?