Review: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Good evening, everyone!

As you all may or may not remember from my old skincare routine post here, when I started an Asian -inspired skincare routine, the only ‘acid’ or chemical exfoliator I used on a regular basis was Mizon’s AHA/BHA toner. Later on I attempted to add in Mizon’s 8% AHA Peeling Serum.  Well, long story short, something came up that required my roommate and I to vacate our apartment on very short notice and I left most of my skincare routine behind, including both of my acid treatments.  The horror!

…Actually, it turned out not particularly badly considering I was without 90% of my routine for two weeks, but I was starting to have some concerns about exactly how effective the Mizon products were – not in terms of hydration, since I thought the toner did a good job of that, but in terms of how well they were exfoliating. I wanted smooth, clear skin, and I wasn’t sure that the AHA serum was the correct way to go about getting it.

Looking around the market for BHA products from Asia, it seemed as though the pickings were kind of slim.  Mizon didn’t seem to offer a straight BHA product, and the only thing I could find while searching the places I usually shop was a BHA product made by Sidmool, which turned out not to have enough BHA active ingredients to be really effective.  Luckily for me, I eventually hit pay dirt – from a brand I couldn’t remember ever hearing about before: COSRX.

COSRX, which I assume is short for Cosmetics Prescription, makes a whole range of different products, including several chemical exfoliators.  When I looked at their product ads and specs, I liked what I saw: the brand concept is to focus on key ingredients and minimize unnecessary or harmful additives. So I bought two of their products: the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and the Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol. This review, obviously, is for the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid.

There it is.  Dun dun dunnnnnn!

There are only 10 ingredients listed for this product:
– Willowbark water, which contains natural BHA;
– Butylene Glycol
– Betaine Salicylate, a BHA (many American products use Salicylic Acid instead, but Korea regulates the use of salicylic acid in skincare products pretty heavily);
– Niacinimide, which helps to brighten skin and get rid of spots (you’ll see it listed as a “whitener”);
– 1,2-Hexanediol;
– Arginine, an amino acid;
– Panthenol, aka Vitamin B5, also a moisturizer;
– Sodium Hyaluronate;
– Xanthan Gum;
– Ethyl Hexanediol.

That’s it.  That’s everything that’s in the product.  I think that’s pretty darn cool – and I appreciate not having a host of mostly-inactive things (that my skin could possibly hate) in my products.  The Power Liquid contains 4% betaine salicylate, which should theoretically be enough to get exfoliation happening, and I tested the liquid with a pH strip and got a result of around 3.5. That’s low enough that the betaine salicylate can work effectively.

So what is this product claiming to be able to do?

1. Get rid of blackheads inside your pores in advance – the BHA in this product is supposed to remove all the gunk that builds up in your pores.

2. Get rid of the film of sebum and oil that coats your skin, so that your other skincare products should be able to absorb better and therefore work more effectively.

3. Exfoliate and whiten – the exfoliation via the betaine salicylate and willowbark water, and the ‘whitening’ (don’t worry, it won’t actually make you whiter than you are) from the niacinimide.

They actually also make a fourth claim – smoother skin texture – which I frankly feel is kind of encompassed already by points 1 and 3.

It’s got a really nice pump top that dispenses the product:

Hygenic – and nicer than the weird ketchup-bottle openings that some products have!

I use a pump and a half every night after cleansing but before toner, pat it all over my skin, and then wait for half an hour for it to do its magic.  Then I go about the rest of my routine, whatever that happens to be.   The product itself is just a clear liquid.

So…. does it work?

I think so.  I’ve been using this product for three weeks now, and I’ve seen a lot less happening on my nose, which is where I usually have problems with sebaceous filaments (those spots that look like blackheads but aren’t). I’ve also had less ‘trouble’ in the areas where I tend to break out a lot – even where I usually break out hormonally.  My pores seem less clogged and my skin is pretty smooth – although I have noticed some minor issues here and there.

Here’s the down side: this stuff STINKS. Imagine someone putting a rotting tire on your front yard and then setting it on fire.  It’s a terrible, terrible smell, and while it won’t last all night (I notice that it’s usually gone in less than 5 minutes unless I’ve over applied), it’s strong enough and gross enough that every night I look at the bottle and go “UGH”. If this didn’t work so well, I’d never use it again.  But then, I guess I’d rather have a couple of minutes of a rank smell under my nose than a sickly sweet fragrance ingredient competing with the rank smell under my nose.  At least this product keeps it simple, and it does its job so well that I’m willing to overlook the smell.

Looking around, I don’t see much that could really compete with this product, so until I find something more intriguing, I think it’s earned a permanent place in my routine!

4 Replies to “Review: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid”

  1. thanks so much for this review! i really wanted to try this but i was worried that the ph level would be too high and i would be wasting money , this eases my mind and i will certainly be buying it quite soon ~ i’m glad it’s working well for you!

    • You can use it as often as your skin will tolerate. I would start out using it once or twice a week, and if your skin is okay with that, you can use it more often. My skin tolerates acid really well, so I was able to use it daily.

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