When my friend Cat from Snow White and the Asian Pear offered me a decant of her precious, then reportedly discontinued Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner I actually turned it down. I was terrified of falling in love with something I couldn’t have. Later, the toner came back on the market and I snatched up a bottle to sample at last. And another. And then backups galore.
Believe the hype: if you want a pH-adjusting toner that does The Thing really well, this is it.
Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner Review
About the brand: Mizon was one of the original kbeauty hits in the West and it’s known for solid formulations at fair prices.
What it is: it’s a basic pH-adjusting toner. A really good one. If you want a regular moisturizing toner, look elsewhere. This one only makes sense if you need to prepare your skin for acids. If you don’t use/like acids or don’t want an astringent toner, keep moving.
An adapted use: if your skin doesn’t need a water-based cleanse in the morning, you could put some of this on a cotton pad and wipe it on as a morning rinse and toner combo. My friend Chel from Holy Snails wrote about doing this with the vastly stronger Biologique Recherche Lotion P50. I tried it, and the results are amazing for my skin and schedule — I’m able to cleanse way more quickly and get a few minutes of morning acid in while not extending my routine and being late to work. Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner is not really anywhere near the firepower of P50, but the same rinse + tone concept might work for you, depending on your skin. Just keep an eye out for breakouts that could be related to under-cleansing (zits in spots I don’t have hormonal acne breakouts are a good sign something has gone wrong for me).
Where to put it in your routine: in the pH-adjusting toner slot. Need a basic outline of when to use your products? Here you go:
Past toner reviews
I’ve reviewed the Mizon Dust Clean Up Peeling Toner, which was a mess, and Blossom Jeju’s Pink Camellia Soombi Blooming Flowers Toner, which was magical.
Back to the Show
Korean ingredient list: Water, Glycerin, Sodium Lactate, Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Salicylic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance. (list from Korea’s Hwahae ingredient app) CosDNA analysis.
US FDA compliant ingredient list: Water, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol, Glycerin, Carica Papaya Fruit Extract, Butylene Glycol, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Glycolic Acid, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid, Sodium Lactate, Salicylic Acid, Disodium Edta, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance. (from Peach & Lily)
Why am I giving the same ingredients in two different orders? Because Korean regulations regarding how cosmetics ingredient lists are ordered result in drastically different ordering than US consumers are used to. The US FDA compliant list is by overall concentration. I always try to use lists that have been rearranged to comply with FDA rules because the order gives more information. Read my longass post on the subject for more.
Ingredient breakdown: Aside from Butylene Glycol, rating one out of five as a potential acne trigger, this product contains no common acne or sensitive skin triggers. It does contain simple alcohol, but it doesn’t smell like alcohol or cause my alcohol-hating skin to react.
The toner mostly has watery moisturizers, some alcohol to help it dry quickly, a bit of AHA and BHA, and some nice extracts. Take out the alcohol and parabens, throw in some blue tansy, and come up with slightly more luxe packaging and this could be a Sunday Riley product that costs four times as much.
pH range: 4.0-4.5. My new pH meter says it’s just over 4. I’m still getting used to the meter and learning how to calibrate it, so I also tested with my strips and those indicate it’s a little higher than that. What’s important to note is that this is really a bit too high to set those small amounts of BHA and AHA free to exfoliate your skin in a meaningful way. The level is actually great for gently lowering the pH level of your skin in preparation for acids or post-cleansing.
What type of skin might like this: honestly, this is the most universal product I’ve ever encountered. Coco, The Beauty Wolf, with ultra dry skin loves this. Cat, Snow White and the Asian Pear, with dehydrated, reactive skin loves this. I have oily-to-normal skin that doesn’t play well with simple alcohol and it loves this. Korean reviewers on the Hwahae ingredient app don’t rate this toner very highly. So if you’re not into acids, expect the toner to do heavy exfoliation, or follow a Korean-in-Korea skincare routine, skip it. Otherwise, ayy, it might work.
Packaging: the toner comes in a hard plastic bottle with a shaker top. I find the shaker opening and toner consistency to work together to drown my hand in too much liquid, so I stick this toner in an airless pump that lets me just shoot smaller increments of product into my hand or onto a cotton square. I bought some meh-reviewed airless pumps from Sephora that were on sale and I think that the ones on Amazon are fine, too. I always just expect one or two to be crap right from the start and buy enough (at prices that are cheap enough) to offset that.
Smell: you’re not buying this for the smell. It smells…a bit astringent with a top note of “serious skincare.” Although it contains simple alcohol, I can’t smell it.
Price: $20/£20 for 5.07oz./150ml
Value: relative to similar toners from around the world, I think that this is a great value. Other Korean beauty companies make toners that could do the same job and they might be cheaper, but this is just a really fucking good product.
What’s good: the formula is great. It’s at a pH that prepares my skin for exfoliation while not being irritating or smelling bad. The value is good, especially when compared to Western toners. The bottle is sturdy.
What’s not good: it’s not really going to exfoliate your skin much on its own: the pH level is too high for peeling and the amount of acid in the product is too low. If you don’t need a pH-adjusting toner, there are probably better options that might give your skin a bit more moisture. The regular disappearance of this product from the marketplace is maddening. I get that it’s not popular in Korea, but it’s a pretty big hit here in the US, and I don’t understand why it’s necessary to constantly kill off one of the most popular characters in the series, only to revive it without notice. That said, it’s in production right now, so give it a try if it seems like a good bet to you.
Similar products (and how I think they compare):
- COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner: cheaper, but I found that the pH of the formula dove over the life of the product and it irritated my skin
- Pixi Glow Tonic: more moisturizing than the Mizon toner and contains more acid, but the formula isn’t as good for my skin and the musty granny perfume smell doesn’t get me hype
- Mizon Dust Clean Up Peeling Toner: hated it so much I tried to set it on fire
Pairs well with:
- an airless pump (to avoid splashing the product all over when dispensing it)
- Shiseido Facial Cotton (fuzz-free cotton squares that aren’t rough or scratchy)
Will I repurchase it: I’ve repurchased this several times and I have bottles stashed away in case of another tonerpocalypse.
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