Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid Review

Cosrx is a Korean skincare brand using minimal packaging with a focus on ingredients and formulation. The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid claims to deep clean pores, exfoliate dead skin cells, improve texture of the skin and prevent acne and blackheads, while being non-drying and non-irritating.

Ingredients: Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Butylene Glycol, Betaine Salicylate, Niacinamide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Arginine, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol

Willow bark water has anti-inflammatory and acne-fighting properties and can mimic the effects of salicylic acid. Butylene glycol is a humectant. Betaine salicylate combines salicylic acid (softens and dissolves keratin and exfoliates the pore lining) and betaine (hydrating ingredient) and shows comparable effectiveness to salicylic acid at double the concentration (from Paula’s Choice website). Niacinamide can improve uneven skin tone, enlarged pores, dull complexion and fine lines. 1,2-hexanediol is a preservative and humectant. Arginine is an amino acid that functions as an antioxidant. Panthenol and sodium hyaluronate are humetants. Sodium hyaluronate is a smaller molecule than hyaluronic acid, so is able to more deeply penetrate the skin. Xanthan gum is used to improve product texture and formulation. Ethyl hexandiol is used as a solvent.

This contains a number of humectants, drawing moisture to the skin, and betaine for hydration.

Directions: After cleansing, dispense a small amount on a cotton pad and swipe over the face, concentrating on areas of rough skin, avoiding the eye area. Allow to fully absorb before applying other skincare products. Can be used 2 to 3 times a week. Apply sunscreen if used during the day.

I have oily, uneven skin, blackheads, breakouts and large pores. I used this specifically in hopes to help with blackheads around my nose. After cleansing and toning, I applied one pump every morning with my fingers all over the face to just under the jaw line, concentrating on and around the nose. This is a thin gel that doesn’t really have a scent and it spreads easily. This does not leave stickiness behind once it absorbs (unless too much is used).

I have used the BHA Blackhead Power for 5 months thus far (blackheads take a long time to treat), with quite good results. As in the photos above, there are less blackheads on the nose. My skin looks generally smoother and more moisturized, rather than having my usual oily shine. I think my pores overall look clearer; maybe not particularly refined in size though. The formula was not drying or irritating to the skin. I still got a few pimples throughout use, but they healed much faster. The BHA liquid prevented my usual small pimples and whiteheads around the jawline.

This is quite moisturizing and for me is sufficient as a moisturizer in warmer months.

After 5 months’ use once a day, I still have half the bottle left, so this product lasts a while.

I have used a number of blackhead treatments, the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid providing the best results thus far. I would purchase again.

Thank you for reading.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution Review

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution claims to provide skin clarity while fighting the appearance of blemishes by exfoliating the inside walls of the skin’s pores.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ethoxydiglycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, 1,2-hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The second ingredient is witch hazel which is said to help soothe skin, reduce inflammation and improve the look of pores. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that works deeper inside the pore to dissolve skin debris that clogs pores and causes breakouts.

Directions state to apply a small amount directly on spots or apply a thin all over the face in the morning and evening. This can increase sensitivity to the sun, so sunscreen is recommended.

My skin is generally oily and prone to breakouts, blackheads and large pores on and around my nose, so I wanted to try this in hopes of speeding healing of breakouts, diminishing blackheads and improving the look of pores.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid is clear and has a thin, gel-like consistency with no scent. It absorbs quickly with no sticky residue. I initially applied this in the morning and evening over spots as I saw breakouts appearing, and all over the nose and to the large pores on either side of my nose. The skin on my nose got a bit dry and starting peeling, so I applied just in the evening. I used this for 6 months.

On new breakouts, the salicylic acid stopped them from getting any worse and appearance was improved in a day or two. On larger, older breakouts healing time was improved by 2 or 3 days. The skin on and around my nose seemed to get less oily during the day.

Looking at these photos, the number and size of the blackheads has improved a bit (I think I’d expect more improvement after 6 months’ use, however). The pores on and around my nose look smaller and I have improvement in texture and clarity of the skin.

I think The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid Solution works great on breakouts and pimples, but probably works better in preventing blackheads rather than removing those that are older and deeper in the skin. It helps improve the appearance and clarity of pores while reducing oil production. I think for me, getting a manual extraction of the blackheads and then using The Ordinary Salicylic Acid to prevent them would work well. I would consider purchasing this product again.

In the meantime, I am currently reviewing the Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask from Dermalogica’s Clear Start line, so stay tuned for that.

Thank you for reading.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Review

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel extra strength formula is a two-step daily face peel. It blends alpha and beta hydroxy acids and claims to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin texture and enlarged pores while helping skin look more radiant. Thirty step one and two pads are wrapped in individual packets. This is for normal, breakout prone, combination, oily and less sensitive skin types.

Step One packets:

Ingredients: Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Salicylic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Methyl Lactate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Copper PCA, Zinc PCA, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (Parfum), Sodium Benzoate.

The second ingredient is denatured alcohol. There is conflict in the literature, but this type of alcohol in skincare can be drying, cytotoxic, cause free radical damage even at low levels and may lead to apoptosis (cell death), though is dose- and time-dependent. This contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid and citric acid. These are alpha hydroxy acids (water soluble) that help remove dead skin cells, treat acne and photo damage and smooth and firm skin. AHAs can be irritating to the skin. This peel also has salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (oil soluble) that penetrates deeper layers of the skin to exfoliate dead skin cells and oil buildup. Salicylic acid is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, so is helpful in treating acne, blackheads and blemishes. This contains green tea and chamomile extracts and achillea millefolium extract (yarrow leaf) is used to speed wound healing and calm inflamed skin. Soy isoflavones can boost collagen and elastin. Copper PCA modulates the amount of oil on the skin and is involved in the synthesis of elastin. Zinc PCA reduces sebum on the skin and controls acne and is also considered moisturizing. This contains fragrance.

Step Two packets:

Ingredients: Water (aqua), Sodium Bicarbonate, Resveratrol, Retinol, Ascorbic Acid, Ubiquinone, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Phospholipids, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Soy Isoflavones, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Copper PCA, Sodium PCA, Zinc PCA, Octoxynol-9, Simethicone, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol.

The second ingredient is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to neutralize the acids in step one. Baking soda can be irritating to the skin due to the alkalinity. Resveratrol and ubiquinone are antioxidants. Ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate are forms of vitamin C. Retinol and retinyl palmitate are forms of vitamin A. Retinol is vitamin A in its whole form and is broken down into retinoic acid (Retin-A or tretinoin). It is gentler than retinoic acid as it is weaker. Retinoic acid is only available by prescription. Retinol promotes cell turnover in the skin, stimulates collagen and elastin, helping and preventing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and because of the cell turnover, new healthy skin is brought to the surface, healing old acne scars. Retinyl palmitate is the ester of retinol combined with palmitic acid, not considered to be the same as retinol, but is converted to retinol. Retinyl palmitate is considered to be more gentle than retinol. I will also mention that there is a concern that Retin-A can actually speed up the signs of aging because cells will reach the Hayflick limit faster. The Hayflick limit is the number of times a cell can divide before it dies (52 times). As in step one, step two contains soy isoflavones, green tea extract, yarrow leaf, zinc and copper. Sodium PCA can absorb moisture from the air. The preservative is phenoxyethanol. According to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, in high concentrations it can be everything from an allergen, skin irritant, damaging to the brain and nervous system and a carcinogen. The CIR Expert Review Panel confirmed that phenoxyethanol is “safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use and concentration.” In skincare this is generally used at 0.5-1% concentration.

I have oily skin. My skin has been somewhat less oily than usual as the weather has been colder. My skin is pretty resilient and isn’t easily irritated. I would most like to get rid of the blackheads on my nose and diminish the pores on my nose and cheeks. I used this product for 30 days in a row. After cleansing and drying the skin, I used the step one pad in small circular motions for about 2 minutes (until the pad was relatively dry), waited a couple minutes, then applied step two the same way. Instructions say not to apply anything else with alcohol after using this. The fragrance is okay, maybe somewhat citrusy, though not in a natural way. I found the pads, both step one and step two, to sting and my skin became a bit rosy. The stinging lasted about a week as my skin got used to the product. After four or five days my skin got quite oily. About an hour after washing my face in the morning my skin got shiny and oily which usually happens in the summer. Sometimes if oily skin gets dry, it can produce more oil to compensate. I think this is what was happening to my skin. It was also around the 5-day mark that my skin started breaking out in places it doesn’t usually break out; my forehead, between and in my eyebrows, my chin. I thought my skin could be reacting to the new product, or maybe the breakouts could be due to a purging effect of the BHA. I can’t be certain. My skin isn’t new to AHAs, BHAs or retinol. The breakouts improved somewhat over time, but still occurred. Despite the extra oil on my skin in the beginning, my skin became quite dry. There was a bit of peeling on my nose, but overall my skin just felt dry and unbalanced. Once the product was gone, I used the Pink Clay Mega Moisture Mask from Herbivore Botanicals to moisturize and rebalance my skin.

After 30 days of use, I actually wasn’t impressed by the results. My skin was smoother and brighter and some fine lines were reduced on my forehead. Perhaps pore size seemed a bit reduced on my cheeks beside my nose (hard to tell as the lighting is different) I think becuase my skin seemed really clean, but I didn’t see a difference in breakouts, scarring, blackheads or hyperpigmentation. I was quite surprised by the lack of results in the blackheads, especially after reading many positive reviews myself before purchasing the product.

This product is convenient to use and the actives stay fresh in individual packets, but for the results I got, the denatured alcohol as an ingredient and the expense of this product I wouldn’t purchase again. I actually got similar results from the Wild Berry Exfoliating Peel from Michael Todd that costs a lot less.

You can cut the Alpha Beta Peel pads in half and store in an airtight bag or container to prolong use. You may want to start out using this product once every few days and work your way up to every day. Even though the directions say this can be used in the morning or evening, I would recommend using in the evening, as the AHAs, BHAs and retinols make skin more photosensitive. Be sure to use sunscreen when using this product.