Naruko AMPM A30 / A40 Pore Minimizing Complex


This is why I don’t get pimples anymore. This product, right here.


If you’d seen me within the last month, you might have noticed that my skin was looking smoother and more refined. You might have noticed that I hadn’t had a pimple in a while. You might have been encouraged by the gradual fading of sun spots and dark spots. Or you probably wouldn’t have noticed, because the casual observer doesn’t look that closely at other people’s skin (thankfully!).

But all those things are true. I think I have finally vanquished acne. There, I said it. Let’s hope I haven’t jinxed myself! My skin is about as good as it has ever been since puberty. Yes, I’ve still got some sun damage and acne scarring to deal with, but I have no active acne. Not one pimple. And I haven’t had a single pimple in about 6 weeks.

The product I believe to be responsible for this drastic improvement? Allow me to introduce Naruko AMPM A30 Pore Minimizing Complex.

I bought the A30 on a whim a few months ago from Ebay. I was curious about it because it contained 3% retinol, which is a very high percentage for an over-the-counter product. Yet it seemed gentler than prescription tretinoin (the strongest form of retinoic acid), which is very effective, but infamous for causing dryness, flaking, and peeling. It seemed like a happy medium that could be effective without irritating my skin.

I had already gotten my skin drastically better since I started an Asian beauty routine, especially since I started incorporating products with vitamin C, niacinamide, and other skin-boosting ingredients. But I still struggled with a few pimples from time to time, usually around that time of the month. This product has taken me those final few steps to finally having a completely clear face.


Naruko AMPM A30 Pore Minimizing Complex Review

A30 Ingredients:

Purified water, retinol, soybean oil, lecithin, glycolipids, camellia oleifera seed oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) extract, passifora edulis seed oil, oriza sativa rice bran oil, euterpe oleracea fruit oil, theobroma grandiflorum seed butter, sodium hyaluronate, ceramide 3, ceramide 6ii, ceramide 1, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, 1,3-propanediol, tocopheryl acetate, cyanocobalamin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, niacinamide, rhodochrosite extract, D-panthenol, glycerin, propylene glycol, mannitol, octyl cocoate, cetyl palmitate, carpylic/capric triglycerides, dicaprylyl carbonate, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, sodium lauroyl lactylate, carbomer, xanthan gum, sorbitan palmitate, cetearyl slcohol, sucrose polybehenate, sodium polyacrylate, cyclopentasiloxane, acrylates copolymer, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethicone, vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethiconol, isopropyl isostearate, cyclomethicone, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, marjoram, thyme, clary sage, rosemary, ho wood, CI 14700


The A30 comes in a silver tube with a small squeeze tip that allows you to easily control how much of the retinol cream you squeeze out. This product claims to contain 3% retinol as well as other skin-improving ingredients such as vitamin C and niacinamide.

It’s a 30ml tube and comes with English instructions. I really appreciate that Naruko gives really good guidelines on how to use the product. They tell you to incorporate it gradually into your routine, every other day at first, and then slowly increasing usage to 2x a day if you don’t have irritation. Importantly, they warn you to wear sunscreen when using this cream, as retinol products are photosensitizing.



The A30 is the top tube and the reformulated A40 is the pump tube on the bottom.


Texture and Scent

The A30 Pore Minimizing Complex is a pale pink cream that feels like a medium-weight lotion. It is very smooth and silky feeling and absorbs incredibly quickly into my skin. It actually feels quite hydrating, which is not what I was expecting in a treatment product, but according to the instructions, I make sure to use plenty of hydrating products before and after the A30 complex. It has a light herbal scent that smells a little bit medicinal but is otherwise quite pleasant and fades quickly.

Be sure to patch test this cream. It’s not unusual to feel a slight tingling when applying it, especially if you haven’t used retinol before, but it shouldn’t feel like it’s burning or itchy.





I started off using this cream once every other day, alternating with the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil, which is a gentle retinol oil. For the first week or so, my skin felt a little more tender, but I didn’t experience any irritation other than that.

I applied the A30 cream AFTER essences and serums, and before cream. At first, I did this to attenuate the effects of the treatment, because I didn’t want it full-strength on bare skin. But I continued doing this because I found serums didn’t absorb quite as well after I used the A30, probably because of the emollient plant oils in the formula.

After I was using it every other day for two weeks with no ill effects, I increased usage to once daily.



I started experiencing smoother and more glowy skin immediately. But then, about 2 weeks in right when I began ramping up usage, I started getting small whiteheads and bumps in the areas where I normally break out, and I realized I was “purging”, which means that impurities that are deeply embedded in the skin start to come to the surface.

How did I know I was purging and not reacting to the product? First of all, none of the bumps were inflamed. They merely surfaced as whiteheads, eventually turned into blackheads as the skin over them sloughed away, and then either disappeared on their own or I was able to squeeze out a hard sebum plug (which I know I wasn’t supposed to do, but I couldn’t help myself!). The whiteheads/small pimples were only in areas where there were clogged pores, felt as small bumps under the skin.

After about 2-3 weeks of purging, most of the bumps disappeared and the skin under my cheekbones felt noticeably smoother. The retinol seemed to be gently causing my skin to resurface and regenerate without getting irritated, as well as preventing new clogs from forming.

I still have a few bumps and whiteheads that are surfacing and disappearing here and there, but I have had no active pimples since I started using the A30 two months ago, and I’ll take a few whiteheads over that any day! I’m also noticing that pink marks from old acne have lightened considerably.


Bottom Line

Apparently my skin loves this stuff. Smoother skin, better skin texture, no more breakouts, and lightening spots. My pores do look a little smaller, but not drastically. This works just as retinol is supposed to work, by increasing cell turnover, but without irritation. Be aware that everyone’s skin responds differently. But if you’ve been wanting to try a retinol product, but don’t want to go full-on prescription strength tretinoin, this is a great product to try. It’s effective but not harsh.

Unfortunately, if you’re wanting to go buy this product immediately, you can’t. It has been reformulated, as you’ll see below.





Reformulation to Naruko AMPM A40 Pore Minimizing Complex…

Oh boy, this has turned out to be a long story. So I was so excited with the results I got from the A30 that I tried to buy a backup tube when I was about halfway done with mine. I got a little panicky when I heard from Rachel at Naruko Boutique that the A30 had been reformulated and upgraded to the A40.

When I looked at the ingredients list for the A40, I panicked a little more, because retinol came in quite a bit lower on the ingredients list. Also, various ingredients had been shuffled around or replaced. For instance, some of the plant oils have been replaced with others, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a form of vitamin C, had been replaced with ascorbyl palmitate. Niacinamide moved up much higher in the list, higher even than retinol. One nice thing was that all of the parabens had been removed, but skin barrier-supporting ceramides had moved down the list.


A40 Ingredients

Purified water, butylene glycol, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, glycerin, cyclopentasiloxane, glyceryl monostearate, stearyl alcohol, hydrogenated lecithin, dimethiconol, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/vp copolymer, niacinamide, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, caprylyl methicone, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, polysorbate 20, retinol, dimethicone, CI 19585, caprylic/capric triglyceride, d-panthenol, phytosterols, chlorphenesin, behenyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, polyoxyethylene phytosterol, xanthan gum, tocopheryl acetate, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, sodium hyaluronate, serenoa serrulata fruit extract, cyclohexasiloxane, phenoxyethanol, lecithin, alcohol, essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, marjoram, thyme, clary sage, rosemary, ho wood, propylene glycol, pentylene glycol, oryza sativa (rice) germ oil, sodium lauroyl lactylate, hydrolyzed soybean fiber, lens esculenta (lentil) seed extract, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, lysophosphatidic acid, iris florentina root extract, lysolecithin, ascorbyl palmitate, enantia chlorantha bark extract, cyclotetrasiloxane, ethylhexylglycerin, ceramide np, zinc sulfate, tocopherol, ceramide ap, ceramide eop, cholesterol, phytosphingosine, carbomer, retinyl palmitate, potassium phosphate, haematococcus pluvialis oil, oleanolic acid


I emailed Rachel about it and she responded almost immediately, assuring me that the amount of retinol had not been reduced, in fact, it had been increased to 4%, up from 3%. So, my fears assuaged somewhat, I decided to try out the new formulation.

UPDATE: Turns out it’s actually 0.4% and 0.3%, which makes so much more sense. A kind reader pointed out that the symbol used is actually per mille ( ‰) rather than per cent (%). Thank you so much for clearing it up!

I’ve been using the A40 for over a week now with no ill effects. The A40 is a pale yellow instead of pink but has a similar herbal scent and texture to the A30. It feels slightly richer and may have a higher proportion of plant oils. My skin does feel a little more tender than before, so I think it is getting used to the slightly higher retinol content. So far, I can give a cautious recommendation that it is as effective as the A30.


Buy it at

Naruko Boutique on sale for $16.99 (it’s worth every penny)


What do you think? Is this a product you would try?


I purchased these products with my own money and I am not compensated for this post. All reviews are my honest opinion.

9 thoughts on “Naruko AMPM A30 / A40 Pore Minimizing Complex”

  1. Finally!
    I’ve been searching for a good retinol product for months, because I’m finishing up my AHAs and want to use it to help with hyperpigmentation.
    It’s great that this is gentle and that you didn’t experience any major “purge”.
    I was getting nervous when I read “Unfortunately, I you want to buy this product, you can’t” and blaming companies for reformulating perfectly good products, but glad to rea that they actually improved it!

    Also, thank you for providing the direct link, that page seems tricky to navigate.
    I just bought it while I was writing this email, thank you again for discovering this product to me. Hopefully it will work out for me too! *fingers crossed*

    1. I hope it works for you! I know, I hate when companies reformulate good products! I’ve got my fingers crossed the reformulation is just as good!

  2. Pingback: Naruko AM+PM Mandelic Acid Toner GIVEAWAY! – Graceful Face

  3. Hi! Thank you for writing this review! Just FYI though, the retinol content is given in per mille for these, not percent (symbol is‰). This means they have 0.3% and 0.4% retinol respectively, not 3% or 4% (which is probably why they did not cause you irritation). 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great review! Since it’s been a few months since then, what do you think of the A40? I can’t find the A30 anymore so would like to know if it was as effective as the A30 for you before I try it out for myself.

  5. Hi! In what order would this cream be put on in your skin care routine? (and what other products are in the skin care routine with this one?). Would this be okay to use with Stratia Liquid Gold, peptide serums/niacinamide serum,etc. or would that be too many ingredients going on face? Thanks so much! Love your blog! Very informative.

    1. I use it after my serums and before my creams. And yes I think it would be fine to use it with Stratia liquid gold and other serums. Just don’t combine it with strong acids.

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