Japanese skincare brand Kanebo first got my attention when it came back in 2016 with a beautiful rebrand. The entire line, which had previously languished in a crowded and increasingly internationally-exposed Japanese cosmetics market, was cleaned up and redesigned. Most notable was its packaging, a refined exercise in purity and simplicity led by Gwenaël Nicolas of the French-Japanese design studio Curiosity.

Now, Kanebo is setting its sights on another segment of the cosmetics market that Japanese brands have a firm handle on: the ultra high-end luxury strata.

Think of other brands like Clé de Peau Beauté, Sensai or Suqqu – that's the rarefied space Kanebo is looking to play in now.

The brand touts years of research dedicated to attaining six qualities it deems the hallmarks of exceptional clear skin: moisture, radiance, texture, smoothness, firmness, and brightness. To achieve this, Kanebo have landed on their secret ingredient of choice. To be fair, this isn't a new idea: many skincare lines credit a secret ingredient with the success and efficacy of their products.

Kanebo the Exceptional Cream, SGD1,800

Kanebo’s is called the Clear Botanical Complex. It's formulated with pear juice ferment filtrate, watercress extract, geranium Robertianum extract, and aqua glucoside. These ingredients combine hydration through the increased production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, and anti inflammatory benefits for a more even complexion.

There's just three products in this line, but they're enough to set you back a pretty penny.

Central to the line is The Cream, a beautifully packaged product that's priced at SGD1,800. It's got a pearlescent tub reminiscent of a marble dish and a hefty golden lid. On top of the Botanical Complex, the cream packs in mallow flower, moon peach leaf, and clove flower extracts – in addition to Vitamin E Nicotinate, an ester that combines tocopherol and niacinamide’s antioxidant and reparatory qualities.

Kanebo the Exceptional Lotion, SGD350.

The Cream is a very rich and decadent product, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone below the age of 40 or with oily or normal skin. Quite plainly, it is a hefty cream for hefty skin needs – paranoid anti-agers would be more likely to clog and break out.

Kanebo the Exceptional Emulsion, SGD550.

Next in the line is the Lotion (SGD350). This lightweight hydrator is more suitable for all skin types as it is water-based with a satiny finish on the skin. Pat it in into the face as a preparatory step for thicker products. If you have drier skin, you might consider instead the Emulsion (SGD550) which is an oil-based boost of moisture. This has the benefit of balancing your skin’s pH levels too so the rest of your products absorb better – a sure plus if you’re layering on such pricey skincare.