Low pH PHA Barrier Mist
COSRX’s Low pH Barrier Mist is a spray-on toner for acne-prone skin. Although it feels lightweight and refreshing, it doesn’t do as much for signs of breakouts as it’s supposed to.
This fragrance-free mist comes in a semi-frosted blue plastic bottle with a pump dispenser that does a good job evenly distributing the mist. It’s water-light and hydrating, providing an immediate soothing feeling. One note about the packaging: since it’s not completely opaque, it’s best to store this out of direct light to protect some of its beneficial ingredients.
Speaking of ingredients, there’s coconut extract, antioxidant-rich gluconolatone (also known as PHA, short for polyhydroxy acid, which gives this product its name), and skin-soothing skullcap extract, but not much else. While these are good, they’re not blockbusters for acne-prone skin, and the anise fruit extract included poses a risk of irritation, which can make acne-prone skin worse.
What of the low pH that’s advertised? The pH is indeed low, at 3.4, which is good, since skin has a naturally low (acidic) pH, but most skin care products are within the “low pH” range anyway, so products designed as such aren’t revolutionary. Not only that, but acne is more a matter of bacterial and hormonal factors, it has very little to do with an unbalanced pH (and when it does, the issue is about using alkaline products because doing so encourages acne-causing bacteria to proliferate).
Overall, while not bad, this is not nearly as impressive as claimed, and not as helpful for acne as some of the best toners and face mists available on the market.
- Mist spray action allows for even distribution.
- Water-light texture is hydrating and soothing.
- Contains some good antioxidant ingredients.
- Anise fruit extract can be skin sensitizing.
- Not as effective at treating acne as claimed.
- Non-opaque packaging means this should be stored out of direct light.
Keep skin smooth and supple with this refreshing mist! Formulated with 98.10% coconut fruit extract and 0.5% PHA, this mist is designed to keep your skin’s pH at the optimal level, so your skin can better fight off acne-causing bacteria and stay hydrated. Free of potential irritants like parabens, artificial fragrance, surfactants, and mineral oil, this handy mist will be your secret weapon for smooth skin, all year long.
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.