They Say M Is Marvelous

Skincare | What has been touted as the first “true anti-ageing serum” by a Singapore-grown beauty brand isn’t mere talk. There’s magic in the M+


Jyunka M+ Fluid

If you are a regular duty-free shopper up in the sky with Singapore Airlines, and the KrisShop magazine is your preferred source of reading material and retail therapy, you may remember seeing in the Beauty Hall pages a Japanese-sounding name that offers a potion simply called Jyunka M+ Fluid. In the accompanying caption, KrisShop raved that “many call this the Rolls-Royce of vitamin C treatments”. A possibly Nippon-born name with suggestion of English automobile engineering is intriguing enough until you learn that Jyunka, although a Japanese word (純華or kanji for ‘pure essence’), is, in fact, a Singaporean brand.

What’s also remarkable is that Jyunka products sell in the region of three figures, and sits mere pages away from skincare heavyweights such as Estée Lauder’s Night Repair and SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence. Yet, Jyunka M+ Fluid is able to hold its own, seemingly unperturbed by the presence of the prominent; its handsome little bottle hinting at efficacy and radiating luxury.

The M+ Fluid is Jyunka’s star product and the first in a line of science-based skincare that parent company Laponie, distributor of European heritage and salon brands such as Maria Galland and Filorga, has been developing in the past ten years. M+ Fluid’s debut back in 2007, while relatively quiet, left a deep impression in the business of beauty simply because no one had thought it was possible to capture what it did in a bottle. The selling, too, of the formula under a local brand name by a company—36 years old to date—mainly known as a distributor of skincare brands was considered chancy.

Jennifer LengFounder of Jyunka Jennifer Leng

Unlike discoveries of miracle liquids in Japan involving accidental findings in paddy fields, the story of the 10-year-old M+ Fluid and the founding of Jyunka are a lot more prosaic. As the corporate telling goes, founder Jennifer Leng has been on a quest for the ultimate skin-soothing and strengthening formula for her hyper-sensitive and oily skin. Ms Leng’s work brings her into contact with scientists working on the most cutting-edge of research, and one of them is a Japanese individual who had been developing a stable form of vitamin C that, when applied, can reach the basal layers of the skin via an advanced delivery system.

Scientists and dermatologists know that vitamin C is beneficial to the skin, but it is notoriously difficult to stabilise and transport into the deeper layers below the dermis where it can do its regenerative and anti-aging work. Getting deep enough is like going to the centre of the earth: it’s simply hard to make the trek. The Japanese scientist, who is presumably a trade secret and hence remains unnamed, was able to encapsulate l-ascorbic acid, considered to be a superior form of vitamin C, using QuSomes, trade name for a form of liposome that are like a spherical layered cake (kueh lapis?), consisting concentric films of the lipophilic (oil-soluble) and the hydrophilic (water-soluble) active ingredients.  Without getting more scientific, this means nano-sized particles that are supposed to be able to reach further and faster down the skin to make a visible difference on the surface.

The ability to send l-ascorbic acid unadulterated to where it is needed most in the skin led to the formulation of the precursor of M+ Fluid, the Multi-Action Miracle Fluid. So thrilled was Ms Leng with her new product and so unwavering in her trust in its efficacy that she had a small batch produced in Japan—enough to yield 300 7-milliltre bottles. Although commercial packaging was not ready, Ms leng was not willing to hold back the Multi-Action Miracle Fluid and, according to her son Keefe Chie, who joined the family business to expand Jyunka’s reach, availed it in small tinted pharmaceutical bottles, all affixed, by hand, with a hastily printed label. This was sold at S$80 a pop, and it would not be unreasonable to compare the sell-out to hot cakes. “My mom started in this business because she has sensitive skin,” Mr Chie said. “She’s allergic to dust and so she’s always looking for only the best products to use and sell. Junkya is a commitment to that.”

Jyunka M+ Fluid 1st Gen to presentEvolution of Jyunka M+ Fluid

Ten years, three packaging revisions, and one name change later, the formula that Ms Leng brought back from Japan in 2007 to launch Jyunka has not received upgrades that characterise, for example, the tech world: M+ Fluid remains exactly the same colourless and odourless potion that first appeared in those tiny, brown, black-screw-capped bottles. Now a ‘secret’ of aficionados and a fave of (gasp) beauty-bloggers, M+ Fluid is hailed as a Singaporean beauty breakthrough, even if it was conceived in Japan and is now produced in France (Japan became less ideal after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011). Jyunka remains on the firmament of premium skincare lines despite the entrance of newer-comers such as Skin Inc and Dr GL.

What works in M+ Fluid’s favour is its total ease of use. If the texture of any skin treatment determines how it can convince adopters that there is indeed pleasure of use, M+ Fluid wins hands-down with its easy-to-like viscosity and lightness. Once the recommended five to six drops of the clear fluid touch the palm, they feel like oil, but when spread over the face, it has the weightlessness and the lack-of tackiness of water. The absorption of M+ Fluid into the skin is rapid and, surprisingly perhaps, the skin is matte. When a moisturizer is layered over it, the skin remains shine-free. The discernible result, even from first use, is truly rather remarkable, if not describable. After two weeks, the skin appears finer and brighter.

Ms Leng said, via a media release, that “ageing skin is a key concern that everyone faces, and our products are designed to not just heal and restore, but also to prevent and protect from deep within the skin.” While that may be read as PR persuasion, a visit to the newly opened Jyunka Concept Centre—retail space and face spa—in Pacific Plaza could illustrate that Ms Leng wasn’t merely talking. Former model Nora Tien and now Jyunka’s Business Development Manager, who was there when we visited, showed us two photographs on her smartphone. One was of her before she joined the brand and the other a couple of months after she accepted the post. “This is real,” she emphasised, “The ‘after’ is really what I look like now. I never thought this could be possible: believe it.”

Jyunka M+ Fluid, SGD344, is available at Jyunka Concept Centre, Pacific Plaza. Photos (main): Jim Sim; (others): Jyunka