This review has been long coming. I'm actually on my second bottle, after using half and then giving the other half to my other half, after he commented on my skin and asked what on this earth I was using that's improved it so much.
If you've never before heard of Cosrx, they are a Korean skincare brand with a really good ethos. Fusing 'Cos' (short for cosmeceutical) and 'Rx' (meaning prescriptive), they strive for a 'new cosmetic standard', maximising the good and minimising the bad that go into their products. Harnessing nature but also science, the ethos of their brand surrounds quality, focusing their attentions on effective treatments and keeping costs amenable, rather than spending budget on packaging or aesthetics. Music to my ears I'd say.
The Cosrx AHA BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner is an acid toner, with a pH of around 3.85-4 and contains a mere 11 ingredients:
Jeju Mineral Water
Willow Bark Water 10% (a natural AHA)
Apple Water 10% (natural source of malic acid, an AHA)
Sodium Lactate (increases skin moisture levels and aids efficacy of AHA's)
Glycolic Acid (AHA)
Betaine Salicylate (BHA, a more gentle version of salicylic acid which can be quite stripping)
Panthenol (both this and allantoin soothe and moisturise)
I'm really strict with my skincare and my standards are high, so even if a product is raved about and coveted, if it doesn't perform at least to expectations, it won't make the cut. The Cosrx toner, however, is a bit of a secret superstar. I think they've got the balance of ingredients spot on.
It states on the box, a 0.1% concentration each of Glycolic Acid and Betaine Salicylate, which initially makes you think, why on earth am I wasting my money on this then? Firstly, my skin errs on the side of sensitive, using strong BHA's makes it burn, but this is gentle enough to use twice daily (it feels so comfortable on the skin, there's no irritation whatsoever), and I can layer it with other astringent/exfoliating treatments like a vitamin C or AHA serum like Sunday Riley's Good Genes. This is a huge selling point for me and one of the biggest reasons to recommend it. Active ingredients (known in Korea as 'actives') like L-ascorbic acid/AHA's/BHA's perform best in acidic conditions (pH 3-5) so applying them straight after an alkaline cleanser isn't doing them any justice. Using an acidic toner to bring down the pH level of your skin makes the serums and treatments you use after much more effective, but most are too harsh for me to layer in the way. The Cosrx toner contains pathenol and allantoin that soothe your skin so it's not too harsh. The sodium lactate also helps with absorption and effectiveness of followup products, and as well as the natural AHA's found in willow bark and apple (10% conc. each) it's really helped to boost the efficacy of my other products and deal with my fairly recent onslaught of under-the-skin spots (does anyone else get these? aren't they just the worst?!) I get fewer of them when using this, although this is possibly because it's helped to tighten up my pores and keep them clean so gunk can't cause mischief in there.
Aside from it's pore and blemish control, the AHA's are efficient at lightening my blemish scarring (you can see that splodge in the above photo is kaput!) and gently exfoliate my skin; I've been using this everyday for about 4-5 weeks (and I had to use it consistently twice daily for 2 weeks before I saw any improvement at all) and my skin has gradually got more smooth and even over the course of that time, especially my cheeks. It's a bit of a two-fold skin perfector; The AHA's exfoliate and brighten, whilst the BHA's keep blemishes under control and pores tight. I've of course been using other products, (which I'll feature in a follow post for you - there are some exceptional finds, including the serum I attribute to the reduction in redness and overall evening of skintone you see in my before & after photo), but I really do feel this toner has aided the efficacy of those products; I didn't have the same results without it.
The simple packaging includes a spray top that disperses a super fine mist - definitely saving the bottle for something else once it's used up! I like to spray onto a cotton pad and sweep over my skin, then repeat on trouble areas with a second pad. It's important to wait until the toner has fully absorbed before going in with essences/serums/ampoules as not giving it enough time can affect how they are absorbed.
Although they're a similar idea, I've got to say I prefer this to my Pixi Glow Tonic (as that sometimes gives me tiny reddish bumps on my cheeks and by my nose), which if you also like, I must suggest you try out the Cosrx! It's a lot more gentle but it seems to be more effective?! I've been trying out more of their products too, so look out for those reviews!
Have you tried Cosrx products? What are your favourite acid toners?
P.S Have you seen my Korean Skincare Dupes?
P.S Have you seen my Korean Skincare Dupes?
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