A Bright Solution: How the Freshel Whitening Gel fixed my flaky, dull skin

For the skincare-obsessed there are, shall we say, rites of passage: first active, first “luxury” product, first “exotic” ingredient, and, perhaps as a result of all those other firsts, first time you over-exfoliate. Despite having been warned by several PV articles and every last K-beauty blog I could find, that “first” recently happened to me: my oily, naturally “chok-chok” skin became dry as a bone almost overnight, causing my cheeks to flake and my skin (which is naturally as white and pale as paper) to look dull and almost…is it possible for skin to look brittle?

I tried to add back oil into my skin with the use of heavy moisturizers but found that their heavy texture made my skin rebel even further. Whiteheads began to spring up in odd places and worsened my skin situation. The few moisturizers that did work made my skin feel better but could not return its natural glow and shine.


It was then that the PV girls intervened, passing me an odd choice of product to try: the Freshel Whitening Gel (P1,080 at Kanebo counters in Watsons and SM Beauty Stores). Known as the more affordable line of Japanese skincare juggernaut Kanebo, Freshel has been in the Philippines for quite some time now. With the Japanese being notoriously meticulous about their formulations - not to mention efficient, often combining four or five Korean skincare steps in one product - I was game to try anything but a whitening product? Could I get any paler?

The state of my face, before using Freshel

The state of my face, before using Freshel

A bit of research, however, revealed that “whitening” was perhaps a case of lost-in-translation. Featuring vitamin C (specifically, L-ascorbic acid 2-glucoside) as its most active ingredient, Freshel Whitening Gel is probably better called a brightening gel, formulated to restore luminosity to dull and discolored skin. With its veritable cocktail of moisturizing ingredients - collagen, hyaluronic acid, niacin*2, apricot extract, and kiwi extract - it seemed to be just what my poor, abused skin needed!


The product reminded me of Pond’s Cold Cream due to its jar packaging and white, translucent appearance. When swiped onto skin, however, the experience could not be more different: instead of a heavy, greasy feeling, this “gel” formula was surprisingly lightweight and absorbed quickly into my skin! While not quite a “gel,” it definitely had none of the uncomfortable sticky oiliness I’d come to associate with traditional cream formulas.

While it contained hyaluronic acid, the lotion did not sting my skin upon application, which is something I’d experienced occasionally with my HG fave, the Naruko Rose and Botanic Aqua Cubic Moisturizer EX. All along, I'd thought that was normal, so I'm glad I finally found a formula that suits my skin better!

I put Freshel Whitening Gel to the test for seven straight days. Here's the result!

After one week of usage

After one week of usage

To my relief, I definitely wasn’t whiter. Seeing as its active ingredients are vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, I honestly didn’t think I would get paler anyway. Instead, it looks like the Freshel Whitening Gel brightened my complexion, which can be perceived as looking fairer. It basically battled the dulling effect of dry skin and I definitely saw some improvement even in my skin texture. My “brittle” cheeks were noticeably more supple and finally stopped flaking under foundation!

And, while I didn’t see a marked improvement in my dark spots (they’re already quite faint though, to be honest), my skin definitely looked more luminous and refreshed overall, marking my return to the #chokchok life. Of course, I couldn’t attribute all of these miracle effects to the cream itself: being able to get more sleep thanks to cutting down on my routine probably did its share of magic as well!

If you’re looking for a product that will make you several foundation shades whiter, then this is honestly not the product for you. However, if you have dry skin, under a lot of stress, or recently made the mistake of using one-too-many exfoliants, the Freshel Whitening Gel is a refreshing skincare shortcut that’ll give your skin some much-needed moisture and brightness! I know I’ll probably keep using it, and honestly, would definitely re-purchase!

What do you do to combat dull skin? Share your favorites in the comments below!