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This Japanese innovation is changing up the skincare game

DEFENCERA from ORBIS is the first and currently the only Food for Specified Health Uses (FOSHU) oral skincare product in Japan. PHOTO: ORBIS
DEFENCERA from ORBIS is the first and currently the only Food for Specified Health Uses (FOSHU) oral skincare product in Japan. PHOTO: ORBIS

The science behind DEFENCERA’s star ingredient, DF-Ceramide, and its success in combating skin dryness

Skincare enthusiasts are no stranger to the buzz surrounding ceramides in skincare; both top and cult brands have launched ceramide-enriched skin formulations in the past year, hyping on the long list of positive effects it has on the skin.

But what is the big deal about ceramides and why does your skin need it so much?

Ceramides are basically lipids (a form of fats) that are naturally present in our own skin and are found to be in high concentrations in the uppermost layers of the skins, and it accounts for more than 50 per cent of our skin's material composition.

Think of them like grout between tiles, holding them in place and sealing the floor from any leakage - they prevent your skin from losing moisture, keeping them taut and supple. They also play an important role in the skin's barrier function, protecting it from external stimuli.

But ceramide content in the skin depletes by environmental factors such as ultraviolet rays and air-conditioning, and with physiological changes, and with it, its moisture-enhancing benefits to the skin. This was also evidenced in a  1995 research by University of California’s Department of Dermatology, which shows the correlation.

This depletion of ceramides in the skin eventually leads to dry skin - a concern that may be experienced by a number of the population.


DF-Ceramide, noted to be an extremely rare and high-purity form of glucosylceramide derived from brown rice. Only one to two grams can be extracted from approximately 1,000kg of brown rice. PHOTO: ORBIS

The science behind the “what’s next” in skincare

Fortunately, various clinical studies, such as the one published in the Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology, have shown that oral consumption of products with ceramides may have a positive effect on the skin’s moisture barrier, further increasing moisture content in the skin.

One such product in the market today is DEFENCERA, an oral skincare product that is the result of a decade-long research and development by ORBIS, a Japanese skincare brand.

The key ingredient in DEFENCERA is DF-Ceramide, noted to be an extremely rare and high-purity form of glucosylceramide derived from brown rice. Unlike ceramide creams that are applied topically, Mr Satoshi Hirakawa, the chief researcher who developed DEFENCERA and doctor of medicine at POLA Chemical Industries, says that DEFENCERA’s mode of delivery helps to boost its efficacy in delivering ceramides to the body.

He says: “Ceramides on the skin surface are extremely delicate. They run off when the face is washed. As DEFENCERA is taken internally, they reach the skin without being washed off.”

When taken internally, the moisture-enhancing effects of ceramides on the skin extends to the entire body such as the back, hands, elbows and heels, not just the spot treatment where it is topically applied.

Because of this, DEFENCERA claims to have a leg up over topical ceramide creams with its triple-step barrier action that it provides: the high-purity glucosylceramide in DEFENCERA blocks gaps between epidermal and corneum skin cells, and strengthens the outermost layer of the skin to prevent moisture from escaping.

Bucking the trend

DEFENCERA is certainly not alone in the oral skincare product segment, especially in skincare-loving Japan. 

But where it stands out against its competitors is the distinction of clinching the seal of approval for Food for Specified Health Uses (FOSHU or TOKUHO in Japan). It is the first and currently the only FOSHU-recognised oral skincare product available in the market to attain such certification.

FOSHU are the foods approved by the Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan that are allowed to indicate the formal FOSHU logo and claims on the product label for ingredients with specific functions that have been officially approved as effective to help promote consumers' health.

To be eligible for approval, the product will have to go through stringent and rigorous review processes to prove the safety and scientific evidence of the efficacy of the product claims. 

For DEFENCERA, intensive clinical studies with 400 individuals were done to show that it is designed to be effective in preventing moisture from escaping the skin by the active ingredient in its formulation, making it beneficial for users with dry skin.

Mr Hirakawa explains that because of the strict regulation, ORBIS needed a decade-long of behind the scenes work before it was ready to be unveiled to the public.

“Research and development have taken six years after ceramides were targeted. Screening for effectiveness and safety as a FOSHU has taken four years. DEFENCERA is a product ten years in the making. In this way, remarkable efforts have been put into this product,” he adds.


DEFENCERA can be consumed directly from the sachet. PHOTO: ORBIS

Complex research, simple to use

DEFENCERA comes in a powder form and is packaged in single-dose sachets.

It can easily fit into your existing skincare routine and is flexible enough to be taken any time of the day, with a meal or by itself - which makes it great for Singaporeans who prefer skincare routines that minimally intrudes their already hectic lifestyle.

The yuzu-flavoured powder also makes it more palatable for those who are not big fans of swallowing pills as it is not required to be taken with water.

Mr Hirakawa recommends taking DEFENCERA for three months for a start to see results such as improvement in skin hydration, reduction in visible fine lines, and evenness in skin tone*.

DEFENCERA is available at ORBIS in Takashimaya S.C., www.orbis.com.sg, Robinsons Raffles City, Metro Causeway Point (M Beauty) and selected Sasa stores.


Dryness around mouth and cheeks have improved after 12 weeks of continued use. PHOTO: ORBIS


Improvement in dryness of heels (L to R): Before using DEFENCERA, after four weeks of continued use, and after 12 weeks of continued use. PHOTO: ORBIS

*Results may vary among individuals. Images taken from a participant who consumed the product over a continuous three-month period. ORBIS recommends that users maintain a balanced diet with adequate nutrients.

From now till 24 October 2019, show this page at ORBIS Takashimaya S.C. to enjoy DEFENCERA at a special price of $49 (U.P. $54) per box of 30 sachets, limited to three boxes and a one-time purchase per customer. This offer is valid while stocks last and not applicable with other discounts and promotions.