Review: Mizon Mela Defense White Boosting Toner & Mela Defense White Capsule Essence

This week's review will be a double feature of two of the Mizon Mela Defense White line, which is specifically focused around reducing melanin damage in the skin and even includes a sunscreen to prevent further damage.**

The packaging of this line is half the appeal, it's all cherry blossoms, brushed pink metal, and prettiness.
**Since this product contains an AHA, sunscreen is a must in order to counteract the photosensitizing effects of the AHA.

I admit that I purchased these after spending months lusting after the packaging, and finally decided to let go and indulge my curiosity when RoseRoseShop removed the shipping charge for all Mizon items.

In this post:
  • Information about the Mela Defense line
  • Why I bought them
  • Gratuitous pictures of the pretty boxes
  • Ingredients Analysis and pH results
  • My experience and final thoughts


Full product name: Mizon Mela Defense White Boosting Toner & Mizon Mela Defense White Capsule Essence
Purpose: Toner: It's supposed to smooth and brighten your skin tone using whitening ingredients and AHA.  Essence: Also whitening, and moisturizing/hydrating.
pH Level: Toner: 4.5, which is within the range acceptable for an AHA.  Essence was 5.5, which is within the 4.2-5.6 healthy skin pH range.
Scent: Definitely floral, it's supposed to smell like cherry blossoms, after all!   I have not had the pleasure to smell real cherry blossoms, but the smell is very distinct and it's nice enough. If you are sensitive to fragrance, stay away.
Quantity: Toner: 150ml.  Essence: 50ml, with a handy airtight pump that draws up the base as you use, which is a nice touch.
Availability: Both are readily available online.  I purchased mine from RoseRoseShop as they have free shipping on Mizon (you pay a single $2.50 tracking fee for your entire order, no matter how many free shipping items you have) where they are currently selling for about $12 each.
Rating: Toner: 3.5/5, Essence 2/5
Repurchase: The essence, definitely not; in fact I have already decanted the rest of it to give away to friends.  The toner, possibly.

Information about the Mela Defense line

I own the Toner and the Essence, but the full line contains:

L-R: Toner, Powder Ampoule, Essence, Cream, Sunscreen
(image source)

-Mela Defense White Boosting Toner
-Mela Defense White Powder In Ampoule
-Mela Defense White Capsule Essence
-Mela Defense White Capsule Cream
-Mela Defense White Multi UV Sun Block, SPF 50+/PA+++

To be honest, when I went googling for a picture of the lineup, I was surprised to see the Mela Defense White Powder in Ampoule because I had never seen it anywhere before today.

I was a bit indignant that I had missed it because it looks exactly like the sort of Vitamin C powder-based, limited shelf-life, get-your-at-home-alchemy-on serums like the Hanyul White Chrysanthemum serum (sadly my samples were pre-mixed) that my brain stubbornly tells me must be more effective because of ... ~chemistry magic~ and other fevered imaginings.  Certainly I would have bought it if I had seen it, which led me to to hunt down some listing for, uh, this blog post and certainly not because I suddenly wanted to buy it. Nope!

How cool is this?  You break the seal, mix the product together by shaking it, and then put in the dropper. 
(image source)
Unfortunately, it seems that this product is discontinued as it doesn't show up on my Naver (Korean Google) searches, isn't listed on Mizon's KR or US site, is Out of Stock at all the usual reputable sellers, and only seems to be sold (at stupid prices no less) on places like Amazon and eBay, which leads me to believe they're selling off the last of their discontinued stock.  Sadness.  I would have loved to try this.

The sunscreen is also something I would have been interested in, but unfortunately it is a combination physical/chemical mix and my skin doesn't tolerate chemical sunscreens.  More Sadness.

Why I bought them

I chose the Toner because I was looking for a replacement to my hard-to-find Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean Toner (still un-duped, read more here) and it supposedly contained AHA and thus was a candidate for pH-adjusting my skin before using chemical exfoliants, which is a necessity for me to due to my climate.  (For more info on pH adjusting your skin and putting actives like chemical exfoliants in order, click here)

The entire line has very attractive 'active' ingredients (meaning ingredients that have a scientifically proven, quantitative result) which was what drew me in (it was not just the packaging, give me some credit!)

According to Mizon's website, here's the key ingredients/selling points of the toner:
  • Skin whitening toner containing sakura and white flower extract removes melanin dust and dead skin cells.
  • It makes it easy for active ingredients to absorb into skin, which gives a bright and clear skin tone.
  • Niacinamide, certified skin whitening ingredient, licorice, orange and lemon extract reinforce skin whitening effect.
  • Papaya fruit, natural enzyme, AHA, gypsophila root extract remove dead skin cells and boost skin turn over, which smoothens [sic] skin texture.
  • Milky texture controls skin moisture and oil. Vitamin E and bilberry extract soothe skin and protect skin from outside harmful factors. 
On my hand: Toner left, essence right.  On his hand: essence left, toner right.
Note: Sorry for the lighting snafu; I tried to take a picture on my hand (left) but the toner dripped all over the place before I could take the photo. I commandeered my husband (right) to help be my swatch-model while I thrashed around with the camera as he yelled "HURRY UP IT'S DRIPPING, TAKE THE PICTURE! TAKE THE PICTURE!" and in our haste to take the picture before the toner made a mess everywhere, the photo ended up being both blurry and without flash. Apologies!

I chose the Essence because my combo-dehydrated skin does best with a routine that features, many, many hydrating layers followed by sparing application of richer creams/occlusives at the very end.  (For more info on the Asian skincare layering philosophy and how it works, click here.)  So, I load up on essences/serums/ampoules (and sheet masks) and keep creams and oils to a minimum.  I still use them, but they're not the driving force of moisturization for my skin.

According to Mizon's site page on the Essence, the key ingredients are:
  • Stabilized Sakura and white flower capsules prevent melanin synthesis and vitalize skin tone with the reinforced skin whitening effect.
  • Ginkgo leaf extract and lotus flower extract absorb into skin evenly and brighten skin tone by helping blood circulation in skin.
  • White flower capsule melt on skin smoothly and absorb quickly without leaving stickiness.
  • Raspberry and Lycium Chinese Mill extract protect skin from UV rays and outside harmful factors so that skin keeps healthy.
  • Trehalose and hyaluronic acid moisturize skin. Seeds oil such as jojoba seed and macadamia keep skin smooth and soft.
You'll notice that there are no bolded ingredients.  *reaches back in time and slaps self at time of purchase* 

(image source)
Still, it sounded like a nice hydrating essence and should at least add another watery layer to my skin.

Plus, I have to be honest.  A huge part of the appeal for this product was the look of the packaging and the fact that it was made from freakin' cherry blossoms.  Can you blame me?!

I was hoping that it would 1. fade my skin damage, 2. hydrate my skin, and 3. smell pretty.  Packaging isn't everything, but this packaging ...

Gratuitous pictures of the pretty boxes

I don't normally go for pictures of the packaging for multiple angles as I don't think it contributes much, but I'm making an exception for these:

So pretty @_@.  The boxes are white with a soft pink stylized cherry blossom design that wraps around the entire package, concentrated most on the two sides pictured above.  You'll see in the shot with the ingredients/instructions that the motif even carries around to the back of the box.  Gorgeous!

Ingredients Analysis and pH results

Click image for large size
So I was thinking this was going to be easy, after all Urban Outfitters carries Mizon (if massively overpriced) and they have Ingredients lists in English, plus there are three entries in Cosdna for this toner, so I totally won't have to transcribe it off the back off the box, right?  RIGHT?

Yeah no.  Going off the listed ingredients on my box, not a single one of the 4 options was an exact match, ingredient by ingredient (order does matter!) to my box.  Sigh.  That means doing it the hard way.  I have entered it all into Cosdna here (link)

 Mizon Mela Defense White Boosting Toner pH and Ingredients:

Toner pH result was 4.5, which is fine for an AHA but I don't think it exfoliates.  I'll explain more in the Final Thoughts section. Anything that scores a 2 or above gets a red, good ingredients of note get a blue.
Mmm Niacinamide (image source)
Aqua, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-20, Ceteareth-12, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sclerotium Gum, Natto Gum, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Iris Florentina Root Extract, Prunus Lannesiana Flower Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Malic Acid, Dextrin, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit/leaf Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus 
Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Gypsophila Paniculata Root Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Convallaria Majalis Root Extract, Magnolia Liliflora Flower Extract, Lilium Candidum Flower Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Flower/leaf extract, Glycyrrhiza Inflata (Licorice) Root Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Olea europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance
Mizon Mela Defense White Capsule Essence pH and Ingredients:

The pH for the Essence was a typical 5.5, which is common for moisturizers as there is no serious surfactant power required. The ingredients on my box seemed close enough to the Cosdna entry, so I have posted it here.
Mmm Hyaluronic Acid (image source)
Aqua, Methyl Gluceth-20, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Beta-Glucan, Niacinamide, Alcohol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Phenyl Trimethicone Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Collagen, Zea mays starch, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Lactose, Vitamin E Acetate, Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Trehalose, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Prunus Lannesiana Flower Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Malic Acid, Dextrin, Arnica montana, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Hedera Helix Extract, Hydrolyzed conchiolin protein, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Convallaria majalis, Magnolia Liliflora Flower Extract, Lilium Candidum Flower Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Flower/leaf Extract, Oryza Sativa Bran Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Lead Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Limnanthes Alba Seed Oil, Rubus Idaeus Fruit Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Fragrance
There are certainly a lot of extracts and oils in there as well, which could be beneficial, but the science on those tend to be murky.
  • Cetearyl Alcohol, scored a 2 on both Acne and Irritant on Cosdna.  Here's their page, with no flags of note.
Why are they used in cosmetics and personal care products?
Cetearyl Alcohol and the other fatty alcohols keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components. These ingredients are also used to alter the thickness of liquid products and to increase foaming capacity or to stabilize foams.
  • Triethanolamine, not even going to get all link-ified here, we've seen this plenty.
Triethanolamine is a pH adjuster, so give it a friendly wave and thank it for neutralizing itself for the sake of the greater good; its noble sacrifice helped adjust the pH of this product.
  • Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil.  Seeing as this scored a 2 on both Acne and Irritant, I am going to assume that it makes some people break out, but it didn't flag on
CIR Safety Review:
Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil and Hydrogenated Evening Primrose Oil were included in the CIR Expert Panel's review of plant-derived fatty acids oils. Based on a history of safe use in food, the composition of the oils, and data indicating that these ingredients were not dermal irritants or sensitizers, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that plant-derived fatty acid oils including Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil and Hydrogenated Evening Primrose Oil were safe as used in cosmetic products.
Undaunted, I sent about to google Evening Primrose Oil + acne.  My results (granted from a general google search) is that EPO is actually used as a folk remedy for acne, including hormonal breakouts, so I'm more mystified as to why it got flagged than ever.  So ... if EPO makes you break out, stay away?
  • Olea europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, scored a 2 on Cosdna under Acne.
Oooo, I know this one!   *waves raised hand in the air*

(image source)
Olive oil can be comedogenic for some people, so watch out for that if you react to olive oil.

Fragrance wasn't tagged, but some people have issues with it, so watch out for that.
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, while this didn't flag on, it did score a 2 on Acne and a 0-2 on Irritant from Cosdna.
I did find that it is used a folk remedy for acne, although with the caution not to use it undiluted on the skin.  I also learned that Jojoba oil is not an oil, it's actually a wax ester, and it does not penetrate the skin.

My experience and final thoughts

So, let me start with the Mela Defense White Capsule Essence: it broke me out.  I am suspicious that it was the high number oils in it, as my skin doesn't tend to do well with oily products and they're quite comedogenic for me. For example I have yet to find a single oil cleanser that doesn't clog my pores and break me out; I don't think it's even a matter of permeability into the skin.  I think it's a matter of things just getting caught down in my giant, gaping pores and there is so much dust/particle debris in the air here that things get clogged up fast.

The Essence has a thick, gel-like texture with little beads of cream (?) suspended in it; it's not hard to break them down and work it into the skin, however. 

I broke out by the next morning when using this, so per usual I stopped for a few days until it went away, tried it again, and it broke me out within a day.  I made a third attempt (they were not dramatic, and it could have been stress, sleep, diet, hormones) but nope, back again.   I've now decanted all of this and sent it off to some friends. Godspeed, tiny jars; I hope it works better for them than it did for me.

The Mela Defense White Boosting Toner, however, I liked.  I didn't love it, and it's definitely not a pH adjusting toner like the kind I need for my pH dependent products (Vit C, BHA, AHA - click here to read more about why I use a pH adjusting toner) as it just has way too many moisturizing ingredients.  Acids are best applied to bare skin, and this was very much a 'hydrating' style toner.  

That being said, it was a low pH, so good for the skin, gentle, hydrating, smelled pretty, and didn't break me out.  I used it daily until February's Hanbang Project went live and I switched to that hydrating toner instead.  I have a hydrating toner waiting in the wings as well as Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion on my wishlist, so I don't see myself repurchasing this  anytime soon, but if I didn't find something I loved, I'd happily go back to it.  Still, my expectations of toners is pretty low, so I wouldn't read the advertisement for this product and expect marvelous whitening effects.

Have you tried and loved, or hated, any of the Mizon Mela Defense White line?  Drop me a comment below, or send me a message on Facebook or Twitter!
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'm currently using the essence and sunblock. The essence is meh- I think I had hopes because of the nice results I had with MBD Cherry Blossom masks. Plus there's that whole sakura mystique. A little more moisture never hurts me though so I'll probably use it up but not repurchase. It's interesting that niacinamide is 3rd in the toner but, what...6(?) in the essence.
    Now I will say that the sunblock is AWESOME. It smells nice (nicer than the essence which is ew IMO) moisturizes, and works beautifully under makeup (i.e. like it's not there.)

    1. Oh man, your description of the sunblock makes me lust after it so hard; I wish I could wear chemical sunscreens without my face freaking out!

    2. Well, TBH, it might be greasy for you (yeah, I been stalkin' your skin type!) I'm super-dry and it even stays a bit dewy on me (which I love.) I should have clarified that, sorry.

    3. I do quite like moisturizing sunscreens but unfortunately it's got chemical sunscreens in it and those break me out. :(