Before I start, perhaps you have watched the mushroom experiment video on my Instagram. If you haven’t, it explains things in a nutshell so here it is:
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【Amazing Skin Lightening Experiment!🧪 】 Watch this little experience I did at @dr.dermed’s lab in Fukuoka, Japan. You guys know I will not promote products that I won’t use myself. This time, I flew all the way to DERMED’s birthplace, Fukuoka to explore its deep history since over a century ago, and behind-the-scenes to share with you! The secret ingredient of DERMED’s excellent skin lightening is Kojic Acid, a natural ingredient derived from Japanese sake brewing🍶. Watch how this powerful ingredient super effectively inhibits melanin production on the mushroom used in the experiment. It goes the same for human skin – Kojic Acid prevents damage before the actual melanin production, with continual use you will achieve lighter skin tone and reduction of dark spots and uneven skin tone. DERMED’s star products are available for sale to Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and UAE, other than Japan! Go check out @dr.dermed and check out their website for more! #drdermed
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What do you think? I hope I have piqued your interest enough to continue reading about a powerful original ingredient developed by DERMED, a Fukuoka-born cosmetic brand with deep history and long-established reputation in Japan.
Today, I am revealing DERMED‘s secrets to achieving youth-preserving beautiful skin, so let’s start with the story behind the brand.
Behind the Scene
If you have followed this blog long enough, you know that I am very particular about promoting skin care products. Each day, a myriad of new products and marketing gimmicks is presented to us via the media and we are all faced with advertisement overload. Having written product reviews for over 15 years now, I have always promised my readers that I will only promote products which background I know enough of, and of which I will use it on myself, and love it enough to share with everyone else. That’s my policy in regard to any product reviews.
This time, I delved deep into the roots of DERMED, as I decided to accept their invitation to visit their HQ and factory in Kyushu, Japan.
I hopped on a journey in hope to see for myself the real faces behind the products I am using and will be sharing to you all.
FUKUOKA: Sansho Pharmaceutical Head Quarters
DERMED’s products are sold nationwide via e-commerce in Japan, and the headquarters of DERMED is actually located in Onojo city, Fukuoka. The company that produces the brand DERMED is called Sansho Pharmaceutical. Everything about DERMED starts here.
There are lots of greenery within the facility compund, neatly trimmed bushes, even blooming sunflowers! I was told that it is surrounded by different kinds of seasonal plants – cherry blossom, maple leaves, etc so that there’s always something refreshing to the eyes all year round. One can really tell how much the company takes care of its employee’s wellbeing by just observing little details around the facility.
Sansho Pharmaceutical is established in 1960, but the history of the company dates back to Meiji Era, when it started as a local pharmacy by a man named Mr Jinnai, and have been devoting to developing quality ingredients from raw materials while pursuing both safety and effectiveness for 130 years since its foundation.
I had the honor to sneak into the working lab to witness with my own eyes how DERMED’s products are developed from scratch, by the hardworking professionals and employees. I actually expected a more “clinical” vibe to the facility, as the manufacture industry often has this mechanized, monotonous routine feel to it. But to my surprise, it felt to me more like a small group of enthusiastic researchers working together like a family. You see deep concentration at work, yet there are light-hearted exchanges in between too, revealing an intimate connection within the community.
Meet Mr Iga, the ingredient development specialist who has been devoting himself to developing the safest and most effective ingredients with DERMED over the past 2 decades!
(Trivia – I had a shock when I secretly found out that Mr Iga is currently 51 years old. I totally thought he was still in his early 40s!! Maybe he has been doing everything right with the ingredients, all these while haha.)
He was there to demonstrate the mushroom experiment to me. This is the behind-the-scene of the video you have just watched earlier!
I was also guided through a mini tour around the lab and learned about some of the key ingredients used in DERMED’s products.
As you can see, most of the ingredients are found in our mother nature, starting with the stellar Kojic Acid, which is derived from the process of sake brewing, and there are also rosemary extract, thyme extract, Ohhiratake (mushroom) culture solution, etc.
What I am most impressed of is that Sansho Pharmaceutical has actually developed 120 original ingredients themselves from scratch, by selecting and testing a vast numbers of natural raw materials! So you can say that the company is indeed a true expert of skin care as they have the knowledge of skin care products from step 0 until completion. That’s a huge achievement definitely not to be undermined.
Today we are focusing on Kojic Acid, a powerful skin lightening ingredient that was originally developed by Sansho Pharmaceutical and is now widely used by many major cosmetic brands within Japan and even overseas, mostly provided by Sansho Pharmaceutical.
A group shot of all DERMED’s proud members.
I even had the chance to meet Mr Jinnai, the 4th generation of Sansho Pharmaceutical, a gentleman of class and honor.
DERMED celebrates its 60th anniversary this year in 2020. We talked about the history of the brand, I also asked him about his vision and plans for the coming years, which he replied that DERMED’s goal has always been improving their ingredients to deliver even better products to the consumers. A more eco-conscious manufacturing is also in sight as part of the plan for the near future.
SAGA: Sansho Pharmaceutical Factory
The next day, I departed from Fukuoka and headed towards Saga prefecture to visit their factory in Tosu city.
This is where the products are being manufactured and packaged.
After a short briefing, I changed into their standard factory uniform, went through a very thorough sanitization before I could take a peek of the actual procedures of how DERMED products are made.
Miss Watanabe (a super pretty young lady, by the way) guided me through the factory and explained each step of the manufacturing process.
I witnessed how solutions are mixed, how containers are sanitized and how the products are packaged, every single step is carefully and manually monitored by a dedicated staff, to the minute detail – you won’t believe how strict they are with the standards of cleanliness and accuracy!!
One point worth noting is that since DERMED is only sold through e-commerce and not over cosmetic counters in departmental stores, it gives them better control of the quantity to produce, ie. they only manufacture the required amount of stock weighing between orders and inventory. This way, they can reduce wastage and make sure that their products are always fresh when it reaches the customers.
Love how vibrant the lovely DERMED ladies are, wearing their quasi-uniform mixed and matched to each individual’s personalities.
Using DERMED Myself
So we have heard the stories behind the brand and met some of the amazing staff in the company, now it is time to go back to the products.
Today I will be focusing on DERMED Whitening Cream, the brand’s special skin lightening line up.
I received DERMED Whitening Cream in May and have been using it until today, it’s been around 2+ months.
As you have already read earlier, the key ingredient in this product is Kojic Acid, a substance produced during fermentation of Japanese koji used in the brewing of sake, miso, and soy sauce.
It took DERMED 13 years to develop Kojic Acid as an ingredient that can be formulated into cosmetics and became the first one to be approved as a skin lightening active ingredient for quasi-drugs with proven effects and safety on human skin, after the revision of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act in Japan, in 1980.
As you can see from my experiment video, Kojic Acid is very effective in preventing damage before the actual melanin production.
Imagine the sliced mushroom as your skin, and “Dopa” (the pink liquid) is melanin production catalyst. The application of Kojic Acid on the skin inhibits an enzyme that enhances melanin production, thus preventing dark spots and dullness, bringing back your natural skin tone.
Let’s look at another experiment and witness the effectiveness and safety of Kojic Acid.
(image from DERMED’s website)
When we talk about whitening, many people may have an impression of the skin being discolored to a lighter tone through some sort of chemical process. It’s reasonable we are concerned about the safety of the whitening agent used.
The above experiment shows how the black goldfish turns lighter swimming in water containing Kojic Acid. Later, the goldfish was returned to a tank with water without Kojic Acid, and it turned back to its original black color.
In the scales of the black goldfish, the melanin pigment exists just like in human cells. This experiment indicates that Kojic Acid inhibits melanogenesis without damaging cells nor its function. Unlike chemical that induces incureable depigmentation, what Kojic Acid does is merely inhabiting melanogenesis. Also, note that Kojic Acid is so safe that even swum in and being ingested, it did not negatively harm the gold fish in any way, proving Kojic Acid’s safety to be used daily on human skin.
The most important moment is here! How has the product worked for me and what’s my verdict?
This photo is taken with my iPhone’s front camera, over the same background with the same natural lighting, with zero make up and zero editing. You can clearly see that many spots have lightened and there’s also improved clarity on the skin.
DERMED actually never requested for any before/after photos from me. I also don’t usually do that since it takes a long time for most products to take effect. I received the products in May and my trip to Fukuoka and Saga was in July. I thought since I had time to test it on myself before writing the review, I may as well see take some photos for my own reference.
I was quite surprised myself to actually see some result after continuous daily use of the products for nearly two months. Although I have to also honestly say that the improvement is rather gradual and mild that you don’t see a drastic difference in real life when you look at yourself in the mirror every day. So if you decided to try it, maybe you could take a photo like me before you start using the product, and see if you notice any difference on photo after 1-2 months.
This is the whole range of products I have been using.
- DERMED Balm Cleansing (a balm that melts gently on skin and dissolves and removes makeup thoroughly. This is my second favorite product of all!!)
- DERMED Premium Lotion (enhances the penetration of the active ingredients, hydrates mature skin.)
- DERMED Premium Essence (delivers the ingredients deeper into your skin, brings out your true skin color and plumps up your skin from inside out.)
- DERMED Whitening Cream (you have already heard all the good things from me about this!)
- DERMED Premium UV Base (a sun protection, a makeup base, and also a skincare that firms and brightens your skin.)
DERMED is sold nationwide through e-commerce in Japan, but now it is available to be purchased through its distributor in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and UAE.
For purchase outside of Japan, visit here: