Serum, Skincare

Mentholatum Melano CC Serum


Mentholatum Melano CC Serum 1
Mentholatum Melano CC Serum, featuring Fibi.

Welcome to the blog’s first vitamin C product review! I hope you will enjoy your stay, as this is most likely the last vitamin C review to appear in a very, very long while….

My chin suffers from hormonal acne: red, painful pimples that thankfully remain small and usually die down quickly.  The problem is not the pimples, but the month-long red spots they leave, which in turn become seemingly permanent blue-brown marks.  My chin looked perpetually bruised, which annoyed me to no end because I love wearing lipsticks, and lipsticks inevitably highlight my chin area.

In the Asian Beauty subreddit, vitamin C is one of the oft-recommended ingredients for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  So off I went to the neighbourhood store for some vitamin C shopping.  The most obvious vitamin C serum choices in a Japanese pharmacy are Obagi (approx. JPY 4,000 and above) and Mentholatum Melano CC (JPY 988).  The Obagi display had a very bombastic display of a rotting vanilla bean in water and a preserved vanilla bean in what is supposedly Obagi vitamin C serum.  The Melano CC had a sad, rolled up tester tube, its exterior encrusted with brown, rust-like crud — a clear sign of oxidation.  I squeezed some out warily, but I did not have to worry: the dispensed liquid was as clear as water, with a lightly oily texture.  At the very least, this cheap product clearly has anti-oxidative properties and awesome packaging to protect that ability.  I made appreciative noises at the metallic squeeze tube and the nozzle all the way to the cashier¹.

Mentholatum Melano CC Serum 2
The nozzle.

General Information

Mentholatum Melano CC Serum  has a much longer name that makes me despair every time I try to translate it.  JPY 988 gets you 18 g of product.  Mentholatum is produced by Rohto.


As seen on the packaging:

Active Ingredients: Ascorbic acid (vitamin C variant), tocopherol acetate (vitamin E variant), dipotassium glycyrrhizinate (licorice root extract), isopropylmethyl phenol (thymol).

Brief Analysis
  • Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant and may stimulate collagen production.  Do note that (L-)ascorbic acid seems to require a pH of around 3.5 to efficiently enter the skin².
  • Vitamin E is another antioxidant and a common preservative.
  • Licorice root extract has soothing properties and may have some ability to inhibit melanin production.
  • Thymol is an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.
Other Ingredients: Vitamin C tetraisopalmitate, ethoxydiglycol, Alpinia katsumadae extract, butylene glycol, EDTA, viscosity modifier, perfume.

Mentholatum Melano CC Serum 3
Applied on the skin.

Melano CC is an oil-based serum.  It has the appearance of a clear liquid, with a viscosity marginally higher than water.  It has the distinctive scent of yuzu.  Upon application, the oil seems to sit on the skin for a few minutes, before being absorbed completely; you can see how, immediately upon application, the oil leaves a thin film of residue on my hand.

I usually apply Melano CC straight after cleansing, on dry face, and I give it 15 minutes or so before moving on to the next step in my routine.  Although some people have reported using it for their entire face, I mostly stick to spot-treating with the Melano CC, applying it on the under-eye regions, the chin, and any active acne.  Since my cheeks are rather sensitive, too many days of Melano CC in a row do cause redness; therefore, I have limited myself to about twice a week of full-face application.

For me, here is the thing about Melano CC: it works.  In fact, it works so well that I am unable to justify the time, effort, and money required to search for another vitamin C product.  I generally do not like to settle on a certain product before trying at least two or three competing products, but my skin’s success with Melano CC leaves me stumped.  Maybe I could have found something that my cheeks would tolerate better, but maybe not — Melano CC is one of the gentler formulations of vitamin C out there.

Here is a list of the magic that Melano CC has worked on my face:

  • The old PIH on my chin has mostly disappeared, after a month of daily use.
  • Active pimples do not stay red for a month; it packs up after a week or so.
  • New PIH spots are not stark blue-brown bruises; instead, they are pale brown, and disappear after one or two weeks.
  • Regarding my under-eye regions, there has been significant reduction in my dark circles.

All for JPY 988.  Also, even though I have been using it daily for more than a month, twice a day, I still have more than half of a tube.

I love trying new products; I like designing their testing layouts and schedules, I like observing their effects on my skin, and I like changing the parameters to optimise my routine.  It appeals to the researcher in me.  If we use a research analogy, Melano CC‘s effects can be represented by a single bright PCR band: it is as clear as the day.  And, just like any experiment, although it is difficult to close an inquiry, one should know when to close the case; sometimes, a positive result is a positive result.

¹ Working in a biology lab, it is hard to not be happy at good packaging techniques.

²Pinnell SR et al. Topical L-ascorbic acid: percutaneous absorption studies. Dermatologic Surgery 2001;27:137-142



4 thoughts on “Mentholatum Melano CC Serum”

  1. Thank you for the review! I have a tube I purchased around a year ago, but I’m stiLL using another ‘brightening’ serum and somehow I’m afraid to use Vitamin C for some unknown reasons.. After reading this, maybe it’s time to finaLLy take the pLunge ^^


  2. Omg, our stories are so similar! I also stumbled upon Melano CC while living in Japan and now I’ve used it faithfully for more than a year and can’t justify the effort and money to look for another vitamin C product as well. It doesn’t quite work on my sunspots, but holy moly did it WORK on my PIH. I used to have a cheek full of them and within 2 months of use they were gone. I’m now tempted to try a LAA-CE Ferulic format serum, but then again I’m too lazy to deal with the possible sensitivity and exfoliative effect- Melano is surprisingly gentle on my skin. I have handed it to my mom, brother, aunts, cousins- and my current tube is now flimsy, on its last drops and crusted with oxidized product, but I did buy a dozen more tubes upon encountering them again in Hong Kong. Don’t want to be without it, ever!

    Liked by 1 person

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