Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion
COSRX’s Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion has a texture that works well for the combination to oily skin it’s designed for, but it’s not as soothing as the brand claims it is.
Housed in a frosted plastic bottle topped with a pump dispenser, this lotion has a lightweight gel texture. It’s hydrating without being sticky, tacky, or greasy, and it contains skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate (though not in a great amount), alongside soothing allantoin and conditioning panthenol.
One note: because the packaging is not opaque, it must be stored out of direct light to preserve the efficacy of some of its beneficial but delicate ingredients.
What’s not great is the high amount of birch sap in the formula, which COSRX advertises is 70%. While birch sap has some antioxidant properties, it also has astringent qualities that can be sensitizing, especially in such a large amount.
Making matters worse, the formula also contains lemon peel oil, which can cause skin irritation, and irritation makes oily skin and breakouts worse (see More Info for details). Considering this product is supposed to calm acne-prone skin, this is especially problematic.
In the end you can find many lightweight, oil-free lotions that skip these potential problems on our list of best moisturizers.
- Gel texture is lightweight yet hydrating.
- Contains plumping, soothing, and conditioning ingredients.
- Birch sap has astringent properties that could aggravate skin.
- Contains irritating lemon peel oil.
- Those with acne-prone skin are not likely to find this calming.
- Packaging means it must be stored out of direct light.
Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice!
Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.
A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for your skin to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don’t get lulled into thinking that if you don’t see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.
Generally, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information:
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
This cream was developed to be a perfect complement to COSRX’s famous AHA and BHA products. It contains 70% Birch sap, a powerhouse ingredient for calming and treating sensitive, irritated, or freshly exfoliated skin. If you’ve ever experienced dryness due to acne medication, winter weather, or natural sensitivity, this is the cream for you. It quenches dry skin with zero greasy residue and calms acne-prone skin without causing breakouts. Win-win.
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.