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COSRX

Two in One Poreless Power Liquid

3.40 fl. oz. for $ 22.00
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Ingredients

Brand Overview

COSRX’s Two in One Poreless Power Liquid sounds like a blackhead sufferer’s dream come true, but its formula doesn’t have exactly what it takes to back up its claims (and sadly, some aspects of it might make matters worse).

This fragrance-free toner-like product comes in a plastic bottle with a pump dispenser. Its water-light formula absorbs quickly and contains skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate and skin-soothing allantoin.

As to the claim that this can tighten up pores, it can’t deliver the same results as some competing exfoliants, since the BHAs COSRX claims are in this formula are willow bark water and a low amount (0.1%) of betaine salicylate, instead of pure salicylic acid.

While salicylic acid can be derived from willow bark extract, the extract by itself doesn’t have the same potency as BHA on its own (that’s mainly because an enzymatic process that hasn’t occurred here is required to synthesize willow bark extract into salicylic acid).

In the case of betaine salicylate, some research shows it might be able to exfoliate in the way salicylic acid does, but in much higher concentrations than offered in this product. Further, there are no independent studies that show that it’s quite as effective. We should note: these are still two beneficial ingredients that can soothe skin, they just aren’t as potent as BHA is at really getting down into pores.

*Note: in addition, studies showing that betaine salicylate is effective as an exfoliant indicate that it should be within a pH range of 3.8 to 4.2, and this is slightly higher, at 4.3.

Another issue: this contains two mint derivatives (menthyl lactate and mentha haplocalix extract) that COSRX claims can “calm redness,” which isn’t true. The slight cooling sensation you get from these ingredients might feel nice, but that tingling means skin is being sensitized, and irritation can lead to oilier skin and increased blackheads, making this well-meaning product one that you’re better off avoiding (see More Info below for details). Instead, consider one of the alternatives you’ll find on our list of best BHA exfoliants.

Pros:
  • Formula is water-light and fragrance free.
  • Contains skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate and skin-soothing allantoin.
  • Willow bark water and betaine salicylate can help calm skin.
Cons:
  • The claimed BHAs in the formula are not as effective in clearing pores as salicylic acid.
  • Contains two mint derivatives that can sensitize skin.

More Info:

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

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

After your remove your blackheads, it's imperative to tighten up your pores so your blackheads don't just come right back! This power liquid uses a blend of BHAs and tannin to immediately close pores and menthyl lactate to calm down any redness that may have resulted from your extraction period.

Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Water, Pentylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Betaine Salicylate, Arginine, Betaine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Allantoin, Panthenol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Carbomer, Cassia Obtusifolia Seed Extract, Menthyl Lactate, Mentha Haplocalix Extract.

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.

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