AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
COSRX’s AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner has promising ingredients to help improve the look and feel of skin, though it’s not quite what it seems.
This fragrance-free toner comes in the form of a water-light liquid and is packaged in a frosted plastic spray bottle. It takes several pumps to get the spray action to start, but when it does the toner dispenses as a fine mist instead of large droplets. It sinks into skin quickly with no tacky residue, meaning it works well over or under other skin care products.
The ingredient list is short and to the point, with skin-soothing allantoin and skin-conditioning panthenol present. As for the star AHA and BHA ingredients, this contains glycolic acid, one of the gold-standard alpha hydroxy acids, that will help even skin’s tone. Even better, it’s formulated at a pH of 3.83, which in the optimal range between 3 and 4 for it to exfoliate.
As for the BHA ingredients, they’re in the form of 10% willow bark water and 0.1% betaine salicylate. Unfortunately, neither ingredient is as effective as salicylic acid; the willow bark water cannot exfoliate and the amount of betaine salicylate is much lower than what the research has shown is necessary to get salicylic acid-like benefits. You’d want at least 1% betaine salicylate to see improvement in clogged pores and breakouts, with 4% being even better.
Still, both willow bark and betaine salicylate are soothing and because this contains other beneficial ingredients exfoliates with AHA, it’s worth consideration (as long as you know what to expect).
*Note: because this package is frosted and not opaque, it’s best to store it out of direct light to ensure its ingredients remain stable.
- Willow bark water and betaine salicylate can help soothe skin.
- The amount of AHAs and pH of this formula allow exfoliation to occur.
- Fragrance free.
- The amount of betaine salicylate is too low to exfoliate, clear blackheads, or improve pores.
- Willow bark water cannot work like salicylic acid.
- Packaged in a frosted bottle, so it must be stored out of direct light.
Formulated with AHA, BHA, and Purifying Botanical Ingredients, the AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner works to soothe, refresh, and soften skin
AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner maintains skin's optimal pH level. This low pH formula works to refresh, and soften the skin and helps prevent the formation of future whiteheads and blackheads. In the formulation of the AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, mineral water (as opposed to purified-water) for your skin's health, natural AHA to even skin tone, and natural BHA to smoothen and soften skin. It's suitable for all skin types.
COSRX is one of a growing number of Korean beauty brands – a category known by many simply as K Beauty – that’s gaining a foothold in the Western cosmetics world. COSRX got its start in 2014, though it’s essentially an offspring of older “sister” brands, including C20 and Gatzmen, which have longer-standing histories in the Korean market. As the story goes, COSRX came about after the parent company compiled a decade’s worth of research based on customer data and beauty consumer research.
The brand name, as you might have guessed, is a mash-up of “cosmetics” and “RX” (for prescription), and illustrates COSRX’s overall philosophy. Whereas some other K-beauty brands are known for whimsical packaging and brightly-colored products, CosRX’s focus is minimalistic packaging and products designed to target specific skin care concerns, each highlighted by active ingredients.
To that end, the brand is largely successful. Most of the packaging is designed to protect light- and air-sensitive ingredients, though there are some jars in the mix. The formulas focus on active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, hyaluronic acid, and beta hydroxy acid (though it should be noted, COSRX uses BHA derivatives, since salicylic acid’s use is restricted in Korea).
Most of the exfoliants are formulated at the optimal pH for exfoliation, which is between 3 and 4, and are fragrance free. Unfortunately there are some formulas that include natural ingredients that can potentially sensitize skin, including pine and cedar extracts, and anise fruit extract – proof once again that natural isn’t always better! Some products also contain drying alcohol, which is interesting since other products are specifically advertised as being “alcohol-free.”
Overall, this line is worth considering, especially if you prefer a more targeted approach to skin care that focuses on science rather than trends. For more information, visit cosrx.kr, the brand’s official Korean site. COSRX is available for purchase at several U.S. and online retailers, including Ulta, Amazon, and SokoGlam.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.