Our Rating: 4 stars

I use antioxidants daily to protect the skin on my face from DNA-destroying free radicals, which cause premature aging. For the most part, my neck and décolleté receive the same skincare treatment as my face (I see far too many women with a 30-year-old face floating over a 50-year neck). However, I admit to neglecting to provide the same protection for the majority of the epidermal covering of my temple (i.e. my body). Antioxidants are not inexpensive so it’s not a product that I generally apply to my body, aside from the backs of my hands (when I remember). Thus, I was pleased to see the words “age-defying body care” on the packaging of Mirai Purifying Body Serum ($29). Mirai, which means “the future” in Japanese, is a body-care line from Japan designed to minimize signs of aging and support skin health for mature women.

I applied this serum after showering as directed. The concentrated formula requires small amounts to be applied to targeted areas of the body. “Targeted areas” can be interpreted in various ways. I was using this serum for its antioxidant properties, so I applied it to areas that would be exposed to environmental elements such as my arms, legs and feet. The “serum” is actually a lightweight lotion dispensed from an airless bottle to ensure purity and freshness. The bottle indicates several presses may be required to dispense the lotion but I didn’t find that to be the case. The lotion is very lightweight and absorbs quickly; thus, it doesn’t feel very moisturizing compared to other body creams I’ve applied post showering. However, I only had to touch the skin on my arm to feel the smoothness from the jojoba seed oil and shea butter in the serum. The formulation also contains hyaluronic acid to help retain skin’s moisture.

The major downside to this serum is the fragrance. The formulation lists natural fragrance as the final ingredient, but I would have thought it was the first! The initial time I applied this, I winced from the awful smell; kind of like wet, dead grass. I’m not exactly sure what wet, dead grass smells like but I would imagine it would smell like this serum. The natural scent is derived from the blend of botanicals in the formulation. The scent does dissipate a bit but if I applied it on my arms, I could definitely still smell it. I held my arm out for friends to take a whiff a couple of hours after I had applied the serum. One said it smelled like Jamaican food (jerk chicken). The other (who had previously had a Japanese roommate and found the scent to be familiar) said it smelled like pepper. Neither are aromas I care to wear. Earthy scents may be common in Japan, but I'm uncertain if they'll do well stateside.

Mirai claims its body serum formulation deeply moisturizes and helps to retain skin moisture; protects skin from free-radical cell damage; minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and sagging associated with decreasing estrogen levels; diminishes age spots; and controls body odor. That’s a lot for a body serum to accomplish. Mirai backs these claims with its powerhouse APG-40 formula, derived from a cocktail of active botanicals.

The APG-40 trifecta contains astaxanthin, harvested from micro algae. As Marta noted, according to one scientist, astaxanthin can eliminate free radicals 6,000 times more effectively than vitamin C, 800 times more than CoQ10, 550 times more than vitamin E and green tea, 75 times more than alpha lipoic acid, and 20 times more than beta-carotene. There is also persimmon tannin, which Mirai claims is particularly effective in eliminating body odor from hormonal changes (aka nonenal). I was unaware of nonenal; however, there is a clinical study on the phenomenon. Rounding up APG-40’s trifecta is green tea, also a powerful antioxidant with antiseptic properties.

Thus far, the formulation appeared to be a deodorizing and moisturizing free-radical scavenger. Those properties alone are good enough for me to apply Mirai’s body serum (aroma aside). However, I wasn’t convinced Mirai’s lotion would “minimize the appearance of wrinkles” and “reduce age spots.” After a bit of digging, I found astaxathin may be more than just an antioxidant. According to Fuji Chemical Industry, the anti-aging benefits for the topical application of astaxanthin have been overlooked for too long. According to the results of a 2002 study on hairless mice, researchers concluded that astaxanthin “can significantly prevent UV-induced collagen degradation, wrinkles, lipid peroxidation, sunburn, phototoxicity and photoallergy.” The same study also found topical astaxanthin reduces melanin by 40 percent, greatly reducing freckles and age spots (whitening ingredients are prized in Japan). Moreover, there is also research that suggests astaxanthin may potentially prevent UV-induced skin cancer. Further studies are necessary; however, the topical potential of astaxanthin is impressive.

I haven’t become accustomed to the body lotion’s scent and hold my breath when I apply it - it’s such a shame because the lotion is teeming with skin beneficial ingredients. I’ve been applying it solely on my legs as the aroma doesn’t travel up far enough for me to smell it. Overall, I think the skin benefits outweigh the few moments of the unpleasant scent - for the skin on my legs. I will continue to use the lotion on my legs in the summer when I tend to wear dresses daily. The serum absorbs quickly and I should be able to layer sunscreen over it. It’s nice to know that my body is as protected from the ravages of environmental elements as my face is. I’m also pleased with Mirai’s purist approach. Below the ingredients list of each product, Mirai invites you to check the safety of their ingredients by providing a link to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. That’s a rare find - as is the body serum’s fragrance.

Ingredients: Water, Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Brassicyl Isoleucinate Esylate, Brassica Alcohol, Lactobacillus/ Persimmon Fruit Juice Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Lecithin, Astaxanthin, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Prunus Domestica (Prune) Seed Oil, Palmitic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Sd Alcohol 40b, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Natural Fragrance