I used to be a bit squeamish about chemical exfoliation, until my last year encounter with COSRX BHA One Step Pimple Clear Pad, which is (in my humble opinion) the perfect product for acid-noobs. A few tubes of exfoliation pads later, I am ready to continue my Exciting Exfoliants Exploration™. It just seems logical to choose another COSRX product for my next step, as it was the brand who convinced me that using acid exfoliants wouldn’t peel my face off. That was how this COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid found its way into my ever-growing skin care stash.
Unlike other Korean Brands (that I am familiar with, anyway), COSRX has quite wide selection of BHA-containing products. Similar products that could be used in the same slot with COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid including Two in One Poreless Power Liquid (0,1% Salicylic Acid) and COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A Sol (1% Betaine Salycilate). The aforementioned products has lower concentration of BHA, so if you think you need more gradual approach to the Exciting Exfoliants Exploration™, COSRX got your back. They also have BHA-containing overnight mask, emulsion, cream, cleanser and mixtures with AHA, in case you prefer your BHA to come in other stages/texture.
I choose to buy the strongest COSRX BHA product because I like living on the edge, LOL. No, really, I got (over)-confident after my positive result with the exfoliation pads, and this product was on sale, so…yeah. Price cuts made my purchase decision easier.
HOWEVER, you, dear readers, should always consider your skin condition and limitation first before deciding to use this (or any) product. After all you (and your dermatologist) know your skin best! Start with gentler exfoliants if you’d like, or take a risk and use stronger ones…just be aware of the risks and decide what’s best for you!
OK I am done with the PSA, now on to the actual review :
What is BHA again?
By now everyone and their moms are already aware that BHA is an acronym for beta-hydroxy-acid, and it exfoliates. The most researched form of BHA is salicylic acid, which got its name from Salix alba (a.k.a white willow), which naturally contains BHA. That is why some products (including this COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid) use willow bark water to potentially boost the BHA percentages. It is often suggested as “the right acid” for oily skin types, as it is lipid-soluble, and could decrease sebum production.
Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties in concentration as low as 0,5% to 5 %. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Salicylic acid is reported to be efficacious in treating Acne vulgaris, melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, freckles, photodamage, texturally roughened skin, and fine wrinkling. For more details, please refer to this comprehensive review on Salicylic acid as peeling agent (Arif, 2015). Although the benefits listed above are quite impressive, please bear in mind that most study used higher concentration of salicylic acid (mostly >20%). Used in lower concentration, the effect might not be as quick and amazing, but at least it is less irritating (thus possible to be used daily).
It’s worth noting that this product used Betaine Salicylate, instead of the good old Salicylic Acid, due to Korean regulation that limits the concentration of salicylic acid in OTC products. I cannot find too many research on the effect of Betaine Salicylate, however (non-independent) research cited in Paula’s Choice website claimed that betaine salicylate shows comparable effectiveness to salicylic acid at double the concentration. So, roughly, the 4% betaine salicylate in this product is comparable with 2% salicylic acid.
Other important point, as with other acid, BHA formulation is pH-dependent (which would affect its efficacy and irritation potential). Cosrx has kindly provided the pH information on its product page, which is pH 4,0. It is still within the effective range for BHA without being too low. However, skin tolerance for everyone is different, so it is always better to patch-test first and be cautious of any sign of irritation!
Click here for COSDNA analysis
Also, a reader recently (OK ACTUALLY A FEW MONTHS AGO, I JUST RESET THE PASSWORD TO MY E-MAIL ADDRESS LINKED TO THIS BLOG, OKAY, I AM SORRY) brought up to my attention about Skincarisma, a similar service with CosDNA, I suppose it would be fairer to put here as comparison. Click here for Skincarisma analysis )
Other than willow bark water + BHA, this exfoliant also contains humectants such as butylene glycol and sodium hyaluronate, as well as my eternal bae niacinamide. I gushed a lot about its awesome properties : anti-inflammatory, brightening, hydrating and whatnots…so you could probably guess that I am in love with the ingredients already, haha.
Packaging-wise, it is a typical COSRX pump bottle, similar with COSRX Galactomyces Whitening Power Essence : made of sturdy plastic with no fuss, minimalistic design. Nothing to write home about, but it serves its purpose well.
The product itself has no discernible smell. The texture is a bit viscous, it could feel a bit sticky on skin. If you are often rushing in the morning like me, it could be inconvenient. However if you have enough waiting time (>15 mins) before putting another skin care layer, you should be fine.
I used it twice a week as a start, and then somewhat irregularly (because I am rushing anytime nowadays LOL I have to slow down and enjoy life a bit). I squirted it generously on cotton pads and wiped it all over my face, lingering on parts where I got milia/pimples, much like how I used the COSRX exfoliating pads. Then I put the half-wet cotton pad as a spot treatment on particularly red, angry pimples for a few minutes until it feels a bit dry.
The first good news : I didn’t peel my face off during my usage of this product.
The second good news : I did not experience any purging. To be fair, all types of pimple has come out already before I started using this BHA exfoliant; I did not really have anything to purge. So I used it to treat what has appeared on my face…and it works. Big time.
Big angry red pimples on my forehead? Gone after four days of spot treatment. Milia that spread around my forehead? Needs more time, but I could definitely see improvement after using this. It was not cleared completely but it is much, much better now
(I really should take a pictures, SORRY, I will next time — though I lowkey hope there will be no next time when I experience such horrible breakout *shudder*)
Excessive usage of acid exfoliants could potentially dry skin, but I did not experience that. It was either my usage was not considered excessive for my skin type, or it was the humectants on the work.
I used to dislike beauty influencers (GOD how I dislike that term, IDK why) who proclaimed holy grail on too many things. If finding holy grail is that easy, it won’t be such an important motif for stories based on Arthurian legends. However, I am this close to state it as my holy grail. This might mean that I am actually a hypocrite, I DON’T CARE. I am converted. I am part of BHA-exfoliation troops now, and I am ready to fight for it.
If I am being really picky, I would say that its weakness lies on its rather sticky texture, Other than that, I cannot find anything to complain about even if I try really, really hard.
Sooo…would I repurchase? OMG YASSS. I will try another BHA products at some point (after all, what kind of Exciting Exfoliants Exploration™ is ended after two products?), but for quite some time, nahhh, I’m good with this.
IT IS BEST TO AVOID THIS PRODUCT IF YOU ARE:
- allergic to salicylates (including aspirin)
- Experiencing active dermatitis at the site
- Having active infection
- Having acute viral infection
- Using isotretinoin
- Having skin malignancy
WHERE TO GET THIS?
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is available in 100 ml bottle. Price varies between sellers, but personally I would consider it normal if it is within Rp 200.000 to Rp 225.000 price range. As far as I know, COSRX could only be purchased online in Indonesia, and here are some online shops that carries this product :
The list is provided as information only. I am in no way affiliated or being compensated by shops I listed above.
So, dear readers, how about you? Have you ever tried COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid? Do you have other experience using other BHA exfoliants? Please share your experience below 🙂