Dirge of Duds: Reviews of Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion & Mizon Rice Wine White Toner

Last week I posted the first in this series: Dirge of Duds: Reviews of Mizon Almighty Cold Cream, Acence Blemish Control Gel, & Good Night White Sleeping Mask, because I was determined to get through the backlog of products that I found myself unable to review out of sheer boredom.

Today I'll be knocking out a Hydrating Toner Edition, featuring one popular product and one I rarely see reviewed.  As I mentioned last week, these are more mini-reviews, where I'll provide product details, ingredients, and brief thoughts about my experience with the products.  There will be no action shots, because they're both perfectly as clear (but more vicious than) water.

left: Hada Labo Gukojyun Lotion, right: Mizon Rice Wine toner
Hydrating toners, if you are unfamiliar with them, are a very thin product that hydrates and preps the skin for later layers.  Sometimes they are also low pH to adjust the skin back down after using a high pH cleanser, but I already live a low pH lifestyle because I read one too many studies about it, and I have a routine heavy in actives and chemical exfoliants so I baby my skin.

A note on hydrating toners:

If you aren't sure where a hydrating toner would be placed in your lineup when jumbled in with your first essences and not-first-essences and serums and whatnot, you can check out Putting your products in order, including pH dependent acids for a detailed explanation, or if you want a simple visual overview, check out A Visual Guide to the Korean Skincare Routine from Tracy at fanserviced-b, which is much tidier than mine.  If you want to see the order + example products (including the Mizon Rice Wine toner), you can check out my Multi-Step Korean Skincare Routine post.

In this post:
  • Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist Review
  • Mizon Rice Wine White Toner Review
Before we start, I'd just like to add a gentle reminder that not everything works the same for everyone's skin, and that climate, your water, and the season can have a dramatic impact on how your skin reacts to products.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist Review

The much-hyped Hada Labo/Hadalabo/Rohto Hada Labo Gokujyn/Gokujyun/Gokuomgwtfbbqcabbageandbananas Hyaluronic/Hylaluronic Acid Lotion (seriously?  Seriously?!) comes in two 'flavours': 'Light' and 'Moist'.

I may have had better luck with the 'Light' version but because no one can seem to stick to a naming convention with this product (see above!!!) I was not entirely sure which one was the one I was supposed to be looking for (more reviews I'd read just said Hada Labo Goku-something Lotion) I blundered around on Amazon like a sheep without a border collie and eventually just gave up and picked the one that seemed the most likely to be a match.  That turned out to be the 'Moist' version.

The many-named, many-versioned, nomenclature-defying lotion.

Product Details:

Full product name: Uh.  Like I said above, this product has many names/spellings, but I am going to go with Rohto Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist, but don't hold me to that.  It might also be the 'Clear' version, or the 'Humidty' version (boy I wish I'd seen that one) or even the 'Deep Moisture' version.  Who knows?
Purpose: Japanese 'lotions' are usually hydrating toners, and this one prominently features Hyaluronic acid, which means it must (in my opinion) have additional hydrating/watery layers placed on top of it to avoid it sucking water out, instead of into, your skin.  More on that later.
Scent:  Nothing that I could really detect.  It has a faintly chemical smell, like unfragranced skincare.  Not bothersome; I was snuffling my palm like a dog scenting steaks long since past and I was unable to pick up much.
Quantity: 170ml, which will take quite some time to go through if you're using only a few drops at a time.
Rating: 1/5, because (spoilers) it broke me out.  It's not really it's fault, but I've got plenty of other products that feature Hyaluronic acid that did not make my face erupt in closed comedones (CCs).  It works for lots of people, though, and I'll be linking some of their reviews below.
Where to get it: If you've read multiple reviews and you're confident that your non-desert-dwelling, non-dehydrated, not-me skin is up for it, you can get it all over the place- I got mine from Amazon Prime because it was actually cheaper than ordering it from Japan + shipping.
Amazon: $15 for Prime, $13 without Prime. | Ebay: $21 with free shipping.
Repurchase:  Nope.  I'm trying to foist off decants of it onto my friends and family, because no matter how I try to use it up, my skin gets surly.


Hada Labo prides itself on its minimalist formulations, per their website:
Hada Labo emphasizes simplicity in its skin care process, removing all the unnecessary additives, colorant, fragrance and mineral oil that will burden the skin.
Unfortunately, as I've come to realize over time, ingredients aren't everything.  After I read Fanserviced-b's post on Korean vs. U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient List Order Differences, I underwent a shift in how I perceived the importance of ingredient lists, and while I still consider ingredients, I've accepted that an ingredients list is not a predictor of how something is going to work on my skin.

The Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion is a perfect example.  On paper (i.e. Cosdna), it looks great:
Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether, Disodium succinate, Methylparaben, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Succinic acid, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate
Only Butylene Glycol has a trigger score, and it's 1/5.  There were no red flags for me, and in fact all of these ingredients in a different formulation would probably be fine.  The sum really is greater (or worse) than it's parts.


Hylauronic acid, I have learned, can be a blessing or a curse.  It's a humectant, which means that it can attract water, and you'll often hear it mentioned as "holding 1000 times its weight in water" which sounds really fabulous for skincare, right?  Think of all that hydrating goodness!

There's a few problems with blindly assuming it's going to waterbomb your skincells to cure their thirst.  I was chatting with fellow nerd and blogger Holysnails, who demurrs that she's "not that kind of scientist" but is blowing my mind with her Asian skincare-focused DIY experiments, about Hylauronic acid (HA) and whether or not it's everything it's marketed to be.

As she points out, there is a question of whether HA could actually dry out your skin if your climate does not have enough moisture in the air to draw in, per thebeautybrains.com:
There is one interesting concern that has been raised about hyaluronic acid and other ingredients like glycerin that bind water to the skin: In dry climates, where there’s little moisture in the air, these ingredients may actually pull water OUT of the skin, and bring it to the surface where it can evaporate. In other words, these ingredients may actually make your skin drier. The best defense against that is to not rely on serums that are based ONLY on hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Instead, use a cream or lotion that also contains occlusive ingredients that can lock water into the skin.
Please note that TBB is not arguing either for or against this theory, merely mentioning that the concern has been raised.

The other thing that Holysnails brought up as something to consider (as she works with HA for her DIY experiments) is that in cosmetics, the HA has already reacted with the solution and theoretically has already absorbed water from the solution itself, but as of this post she was off on a research adventure to see if she can find more information about this mechanism.  For an in-depth discussion of Hylauronic acid, I'd recommend you check out her post: The More You Know: Hyaluronic Acid.

So, is it possible that my ultra dehydrated skin in the desert was being humected to death, resulting in the voracious clogged pores that swept up my cheeks and jawline like the flare of goosebumps when someone shoves a snowball down the back of your coat?  Because hot damn, every attempt to use this prodiuct, including just as an additive in DIY sheet masks, resulted in horribly clogged skin upon which I would have to unleash a flood of chemical exfoliants to wrestle those CCs to the surface.

There's nothing like managing to undo weeks or even months' worth of purging progress with a single product; let's not even talk about how long it takes hyperpigmentation to fade.  I would leave it alone for a few weeks until my skin cleared, give it another try, combine it with other things, load up on hydrators and/or occlusives after, but nope!  My skin rebelled each time.

However, that's just my skin.  Other bloggers have used, and loved, this product, such as adoredee, skinandtonics, and 50 Shades of Snail.  Then again, it seemed to cause similar issues with Holysnails.  The strange thing is, even if it was a 'humectant is trying to suck me dry like a moisture vampire' issue, I've got other HA-heavy products that my skin loved.  Who knows!  It's a skincare mystery.

Mizon Rice Wine White Toner Review

The Rice Wine White toner is one of a series of 3 booze-themed toners from Mizon, which also includes Mojito Punch Pore toner, and Tequila Shot Aqua toner.  Mmm, mojitos.

image from jolse.com

Product Details:

Full product name: Mizon Rice Wine White Toner
Purpose: A hydrating toner meant to deliver hydration + boost absorption of later layers.
Scent:  You know, if this had just smelled like alcohol, I would have been OK with that.  If it had smelled like wine, sure.  If it has smelled like rice wine, yep.  If it had smelled like rice, great.  But instead, it smelled like cheap floral perfume that could knock over a sheep at 50 paces.  It was unpleasantly strong and gave me a bit of a headache, and did not fade quickly.  
Quantity: 150ml, and I gave up trying to finish it after getting 3/4 through it by liberally soaking DIY sheet masks in it.  I gave up, because the scent made me not want to wear the mask.
Rating: 2/5, because it was hydrating, easy to spread, asborbed easily, and stank.
Where to get it: If you're undaunted and determined, you can get it from Jolse for $15 with free shipping, Amazon: $14 including shipping Ebay: $14 with free shipping.
Repurchase:  No.


I wasn't able to fine a full ingredients list anywhere, just this image which is partially blocked.  Nonetheless, you can see that Alcohol Denat is listed as the 3rd ingredient, and despite knowing that ingredients lists can be very flexible, I believe it.

image from mizonworld
If you come across a full ingredients list in English, please let me know!  I admit my general apathy towards this product has resulted in a limited attention span for ingredients-hunting.


Although I actually got this as part of a set with my replacement Mizon Returning Starfish cream and the Starfish masks, I was looking forward to it because this plenty of wine-themed skincare out there.  Why not Makgeolli (rice wine), especially if it's a brightening/whitening product that will help my perpetual post-infllamatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) problems?

The 'cork' design is an adorable touch, I'll give it that.
Sadly, the most notable thing about this toner was the scent.  Other than that, I had no real objections, nor was I wowed.  It was a hydrating toner with a pleasant texture that was thicker than water but still runny enough to spread quickly and easily over the skin, and didn't make my skin sticky or feel heavy.  That being said, I think there are so many other hydrating toners out there that are better or more compelling; I liked the Mizon Mela Defense White Boosting Toner just fine, but this one was definitely tepid for me.

And with that, we're done!  It feels so great to get these 'meh' reviews crossed off my giant To Do list; as I mentioned last week it's much easier to review things that you feel passionatlely about, but these lackluster products are so easy to put proscrinate on reviewing.

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products reviewed/mentioned in my blog, are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 which swore me off of them forever.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. I can't find a day cream that quenches the thirst of the dry parts of my face without turning the rest in a frying pan and I placed serious hopes in that Gokuomgwtfbbqcabbageandbananas (loled hard on that one !) Hyaluronic Lotion but I am reading so much mixed reviews about it... and no samples to buy anywhere to test it... Do you think you could have get different results with the "light" version?
    Otherwise "I've got other HA-heavy products that my skin loved.", what are they ? Please share, I'd love to have options :)

    1. I've got some serums that have HA in them that I've got coming up for review, and HA is in a lot of my skincare in general. :) I've never had an issue with it before, it's so mysterious.

  2. I like that you started doing that kind of posts!! its exactly how I feel about some products but never have the motivation to write about them

    1. The struggle to get inspired to write about uninspiring products is tough, eh? Have you thought about doing a group of mini-reviews just to dump them off your 'pending' list?

  3. Loved both reviews. Unfortunately HL didn't work out for my skin either, I had the exact same reaction. Good thing there are plenty of good products out there ;)

    1. Absolutely! K-Beauty is like an endless sea teeming with product fish that we want to catch and ... now I am hungry for sushi. D:

  4. In line with Guad, I'd love to hear about other HA products that are working out for you! I've been having to jump to heavy occlusives in Mid-West, U.S. already d/t the oncoming autumn season and being forced indoors more and more (with too much or too little ventilation.) The Gokujyun works for me without any issues, but if I don't follow-up with my essences, holy guac -- dry city. So sorry it doesn't work for you (or Chel), though : / So crazy how variable skincare is sometimes

    1. I'll definitely make sure to call out the HA in my future reviews for the products that did work for me! Interesting that it makes you dry if you don't layer other things on it. And yes, the variable nature of skincare drives me crazy sometimes. It's like the end of the rainbow that will never be in sight; you think you have things going in the right direction and then your goalpost suddenly leaps away from you, far into the distance.