COSRX is probably one of the most popular Korean skincare brands, with many of their products being long-term bestsellers and favorites for many skincare enthusiasts. It is actually the first Korean skincare brand that I turned to last year when I started looking after my skin.
But, COSRX has a pretty big range of products, making it overwhelming trying to narrow down which products to choose – especially if you have acne prone skin like me and need to keep your routine as simple as possible to prevent breakouts.
After a year of trying different products and spending probably hundreds of hours researching for the articles I write here – I thought I’d share what I think are the 7 best COSRX products for oily acne-prone skin.
TL;DR: (Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here are the products I recommend in this post):
- Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser – available at Yesstyle
- BHA Blackhead Power Liquid – available at Yesstyle
- Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream – available at Yesstyle
- Hydrium Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream – available at Yesstyle
- Centella Blemish Cream – available at Yesstyle
- Acne Pimple Master Patches – available at Yesstyle
- Propolis Light Ampoule – available at Yesstyle
See the end of this article for two bonus COSRX products that I think are great for treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the marks that acne leaves behind).
A Little Bit About The Brand COSRX
COSRX is a leading Korean skincare brand which was founded in 2014 by the experienced team working on the sister brands C20 and Ciracle. The brand’s focus is providing customers with effective skincare products using minimal ingredients to treat various skin troubles and concerns.
Interestingly, the brand’s name is simply the words “cosmetics” and “RX” (for prescription) joined together. The brand also has a fictional ambassador, known as Mr Rx – who represents the brand’s collective team and their extensive skincare industry knowledge and experience.
This philosophy, of focusing on making products with minimal but effective ingredients is matched by the brand’s simple packaging and product naming style. This is not only obvious among the long-term bestsellers from COSRX – but their new lines too.
The 7 Best COSRX Products For Oily Acne-Prone Skin
I guess if you’ve landed on my article and you’re reading this now, you’ve got oily and/or acne prone skin like me and really are in need of some effective skincare products.
I really understand how frustrating it is, because for years I tried so many products that were marketed to help get rid of acne and fix my oily skin – but yep you guessed it – they didn’t work. In fact, many products made my skin worse! In the end, I actually gave up on skincare altogether (including sunscreen) – that is until I started this website and decided to learn everything I needed to know to fix my skin.
Now before I go on to tell you what I think are the best COSRX skincare products for oily and acne prone skin, I’ll be honest in saying that although my skin has improved immensely and I’m now able to focus on anti-aging skincare and fading my hyperpigmentation without suffering from massive breakouts, I do still get the occasional pimples (especially hormonal types) and I don’t have Instagram-perfect skin. I do still have some clogged pores (especially on my chin). But you know what? So does my two year old son!
My point is that I want you to have realistic expectations for your skin. I see so many bloggers and Instagramers striving for that perfect dewy skin (that seems to have no pores) that is marketed in the skincare industry. But please know that it is normal to have pores and even clogged pores and the occasional breakouts too!
So, that said – here are the 7 best COSRX skincare products for oily and acne-prone skin:
#1 Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Where to buy: Yesstyle
How does this product help oily acne-prone skin?: If you have oily and acne-prone skin, it’s especially important to use a low pH cleanser (although this is important for all skin types). This is because the pH of healthy skin is between 4 and 5.6.
Cleansers with a pH higher than your skin can actually alter your skin’s pH – which affects the functionality of your skin’s moisture barrier and the ability of your skin to ward off harmful bacteria and fungi. An increase in your skin’s pH can also lead to an increase in sebum production, leading to clogged pores. Harmful bacteria also thrive more in higher pH, so add those to clogged pores and you’ve got yourself some acne!
The COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser has a pH of 3.5 – so it’s not going to alter the pH of your skin, which will help to keep oil production to a minimum and acne at bay.
This cleanser also contains the acne-fighting ingredients betaine salicylate and tea tree oil (which I mention in my article on skincare ingredients for oily and acne-prone skin).
Betaine salicylate is used as an alternative exfoliating ingredient to salicylic acid in Korean skincare products (as it is much gentler on the skin).
Tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from the leaves of the Australian tea tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia). It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and many studies (such as this one) have shown that tea tree oil significantly improves mild to moderate acne.
I recently wrote an article about essential oils and why it may be best to avoid them in your skincare routine (due to the compounds they contain that can be highly sensitizing and even allergenic).
However, some people tend to be way more sensitive than others when it comes to essential oils (especially if you suffer from rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis). Personally, my skin is currently able to tolerate the very diluted amounts of tea tree oil in this cleanser and I do make an effort to avoid any other essential oils (as the more you include in your routine, the higher the chances of skin sensitization).
Another thing that I like about this cleanser is that it is sulfate-free (it contains cocamidopropyl betaine and sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate in place of sulfates). Sulfates are often used to increase the foaming action of cleansers (and other skin and haircare products), however they can be sensitizing and cause dryness (as they essentially work to strip oils from the skin).
But some people say that this cleanser is slightly drying: I agree with a lot of reviews I’ve read, that this cleanser does leave my skin feeling a little dry and tight. This is likely due to the tea tree oil present in this formulation (as studies have shown that tea tree oil can cause some temporary skin dryness and peeling).
I would therefore recommend avoiding this cleanser if you have dry or sensitive skin. If you have oily skin like me- follow up with a hydrating toner immediately after cleansing. My favorite hydrating toner is the Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner (which also doubles as a pH-adjusting toner and contains Centella asiatica, a plant-derived ingredient great for soothing red and inflamed skin).
I also like to switch it up and only use this cleanser in my evening routine, when I tend to use a lot more hydrating and moisturizing products. In the morning, I either use a different cleanser (currently the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser) or I actually skip cleansing altogether.
Full ingredients list: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Polysorbate 20, Styrax Japonicus Branch/Fruit/Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Saccharomyces Ferment, Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Allantoin, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Betaine Salicylate, Citric Acid, Ethyl Hexanediol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA
Other beneficial ingredients: Apart from the acne-fighting ingredients I mentioned above, this cleanser also contains a handful of herbal ingredients:
- Styrax Japonicus Branch/Fruit/Leaf Extract – which as far as I could find out has skin conditioning properties.
- Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract – also known as the sacred lotus. It has been shown to have a greater anti-wrinkle effect than adenosine (read the study here). Scientific studies also suggest that this herbal ingredient has photo-protective properties (against UVB radiation).
- Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract – this ingredient is used in traditional Korean and Chinese medicine to treat skin inflammation. This study found that this herbal ingredient has almost the same hydrating effect on the skin as hyaluronic acid AND that it provides protection against UVA radiation. Furthermore, this study showed that Ulmus Davidiana root extract significantly inhibits wrinkle formation caused by UVB radiation!
- Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract – scientific research on evening primrose is mainly focused around extracts of the leaves, stems and seeds (not the flower), which contain many beneficial compounds with anti-inflammatory properties (such as phenolic compounds and flavonoids).
- Pueraria Lobata Root Extract – also known as kudzu root. This ingredient is also used in traditional Chinese medicine. For the skin, it is able to help prevent photo-aging as it increases collagen production and maintains hyaluronic acid levels in skin that has been exposed to UVB radiation (see a study here).
In addition to that, this cleanser also contains butylene glycol and allantoin, which are both humectants (which help to hydrate the skin).
How to use this product: This is a water-based cleanser (AKA second cleanser). If double cleansing, use this cleanser after your oil cleanser. If skipping oil cleansing (such as in the mornings), simply start your routine with this cleanser by gently massaging a pea-sized amount onto wet skin. Then rinse with warm water and either let your face air dry or gently pat dry with a clean towel.
#2 BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Where to buy: Yesstyle
How does this product help oily acne-prone skin?: If you have oily or acne-prone skin, it’s important to use a chemical exfoliator to both help get rid of dead skin cells and to help remove gunk from your pores (such as sebum mixed with bacteria and dirt). Both alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA) can help to prevent acne by gently exfoliating your skin, however BHA seems to be better suited to oily skin types (and it is also better able to penetrate deep within the pores).
There are about a handful of types of AHA used in skincare products (glycolic acid and lactic acid being the most commonly used). However, there is only one type of BHA – salicylic acid.
As I’ve already mentioned earlier in this article, the use of salicylic acid in skincare products is highly regulated in Korea. In fact, Korean skincare companies are not permitted to use more than 0.5% salicylic acid in their formulations (which really isn’t that effective). Therefore, Korean skincare products use betaine salicylate instead – which is derived from beets and has a much better tolerability.
Chemically speaking, betaine salicylate is essentially salicylic acid combined with betaine. It is this betaine molecule that makes betaine salicylate much gentler for use on the skin compared to salicylic acid (as betaine has anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties).
The popular COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid contains 4% betaine salicylate (which in terms of exfoliating effectiveness, is equivalent to 2% salicylic acid). Using this product in my skincare routine, has really helped to decrease the amount of blackheads and surface acne I have. As I’ve already mentioned, the way that BHA works is by removing dead skin cells from within the pores. Because betaine salicylate is oil-soluble, it is able to penetrate deep inside the pores and purge whatever sebum-based mess is within them.
Full ingredients list: Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Butylene Glycol, Betaine, Niacinamide, Betaine Salicylate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol
Other beneficial ingredients: Apart from betaine salicylate, the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid also contains willow bark water (in place of plain water). Willow bark water has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some companies do market willow bark water as a natural BHA, as it contains salicin, which can be converted to salicylic acid inside the digestive tract. However, there is no research to back up claims that willow bark water has exfoliating properties (as it cannot be converted to salicylic acid in the skin).
I really like that this exfoliating liquid also hydrates the skin at the same time (it actually doesn’t feel drying or stripping at all). That is because COSRX have been kind enough to include 3 awesome humectants: panthenol, sodium hyaluronate and butylene glycol.
And as if that wasn’t enough, also added in is 2% niacinamide (which has anti-aging, skin-brightening and pore-shrinking properties).
How to use this product: After cleansing, simply pump 2-3 pumps of this liquid onto a cotton pad and gently swipe it over the skin (avoid your eyes and mouth though).
Start by only using this product once a week, especially if you have sensitive skin or you have never used chemical exfoliators before (to prevent irritation). Slowly, you can increase the usage up to 2 to 3 times a week.
I also like to wait 20-30 minutes before proceeding with the rest of my skincare routine (as BHA is pH-dependent).
#3 Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream
Where to buy: Yesstyle
If you’ve read a few of my articles already, then you’ll know that the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream is probably my favorite skincare product – ever! It’s made a huge difference to my skin, and I’m so happy that I found something that hydrates my skin and doesn’t break me out like moisturizers tend to do.
How does this product help oily acne-prone skin?: COSRX is much-loved for their snail mucin products, namely this one and the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. As their names suggest, the All In One Cream contains 92% snail mucin, while the essence contains 96% snail mucin.
If you’d like to know more about the benefits that snail mucin can have for your skin, then I highly recommend that you check out my article on snail mucin here. However, in brief, snail mucin is terrific for acne-prone skin for four reasons:
- It has anti-bacterial properties, which help to keep acne-causing bacteria at bay
- It has skin-healing properties, making it great for calming big, red and angry breakouts
- It contains hyaluronic acid, a humectant which helps to keep the skin hydrated -thereby maintaining a healthy moisture barrier, and
- It also contains glycolic acid (a type of AHA), which helps to prevent breakouts by exfoliating the skin.
Full ingredients list: Snail Secretion Filtrate, Betaine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Arginine, Dimethicone, Sodium Polyacrylate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Stearic Acid, Allantoin, Panthenol, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol, Adenosine
Other beneficial ingredients: This lightweight All In One Cream is extremely hydrating and is a great option for a moisturizer if you have oily skin like me that breaks out easily if you apply suffocating creams. It contains panthenol (my favorite humectant), as well as sodium hyaluronate and allantoin.
It also contains adenosine, a relatively new ingredient in the skincare world – with powerful anti-wrinkle benefits (you might have seen it marketed all over the packaging of L’Oreal creams and serums). I’ve written an article about the benefits of adenosine here.
How to use this product: Apply this cream to your face (but not your eyes and mouth) towards the end of your skincare routine (after any essences, serums or ampoules, but before any facial oils, spot treatments, sleeping pack or sunscreen).
#4 Hydrium Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream
Where to buy: Yesstyle
How does this product help oily acne-prone skin?: This gel cream is similar to the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream, in that it is a lightweight hydrating cream suitable for oily skin. The difference however is that this gel cream contains even more humectants (glycerin, panthenol, butylene glycol, allantoin, and Aloe ferox leaf extract).
Unlike the snail mucin cream, the star of this cream is green tea (Camellia sinensis leaf extract). Green tea is a fantastic ingredient for oily and acne-prone skin as it is extremely high in polyphenols (which are compounds with potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties). Scientific research suggests that when applied topically, green tea has the ability to decrease sebum production and prevent and treat acne vulgaris (see a literature review of 8 studies here).
As well as being extremely hydrating (without being suffocating), this gel cream contains a lot of soothing ingredients, making it a great product to use if you have red or inflamed skin from breakouts. In fact, both the words “aqua” and “soothing” are in the name of this cream!
Full ingredients list: Water, Propanediol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Tromethamine, Butylene Glycol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Allantoin, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract, Lupinus Albus Seed Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract
Other beneficial ingredients: So I’ve talked about the benefits that green tea and the various humectants found in the cream have for your skin, however this gel cream also contains some herbal extracts worthy of a mention:
- Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract – there is growing research that indicates that hibiscus extracts (from various species) has potent antioxidant effects. In particular, studies have focused on the anti-aging and photo-protective properties of hibiscus extracts. This study found that the extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa maintains collagen production and decreases melanin syntheses under UVB radiation.
- Lupinus Albus Seed Extract – a non-fragrant plant (legume) extract high in oleic and erucic acids (omega-9 unsaturated fatty acids). Oleic acid helps other plant-derived ingredients to penetrate into further into the skin as well as preventing moisture loss, while erucic acid hydrates and strengthens the skin’s barrier. This seed extract also contains omega-3 linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acid – which both work the repair the skin’s barrier. However, you should avoid products that contain Lupinus albus seed extract if you have a peanut allergy, as cross-allergenicity of peanuts and Lupinus albus has been recorded.
- Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract – also known as the horseradish tree, it’s closely related to Moringa oleifera. The oil of Moringa seeds are non-fragrant and contain several antioxidants (including zeatin, quercetin, and vitamins A, C, and E). The oil of Moringa seeds is also high in oleic acid and contains amino acids and plant sterols which have skin-soothing properties.
- Melia Azadirachta Leaf and Flower Extracts – also known as the chinaberry, and is related to the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). These extracts have potent antioxidant, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, research suggests that the limonoids present in Melia azadirachta plants can improve inflammation (see study here).
How to use this product: Use this cooling cream in your skincare routine if you need to soothe redness, blemishes or sunburn, or to just refresh oily skin in hot and humid weather. Simply apply as much as you feel necessary after cleansing, toning and applying any essences, serums or ampoules.
#5 Centella Blemish Cream
Where to buy: Yesstyle
How does this product help oily acne-prone skin?: The star ingredient of this cream is Centella asiatica, which is one of the most-loved ingredients in Korean skincare at the moment. I wrote an article about the benefits that Centella can have for your skin, but in short, this plant extract has an amazing ability to soothe and calm red and inflamed skin.
Centella also has the ability to speed up wound healing by stimulating the production of collagen, which makes it a great ingredient when you’re breaking out (as a pimple is essentially a type of wound). This also means that Centella can lessen the likelihood of acne-scarring.
As if that wasn’t enough for acne-prone skin, Centella has also been found to improve skin hydration (see the study here). In fact, it’s hydrating ability is comparable to that of aloe vera!
It is believed that the saponins (mainly asiaticoside, madecassoside, asiatic acid and madecassic acid) present in the leaves of Centella plants are responsible for this plant’s acne-fighting properties.
Full ingredients list: Centella Asiatica Leaf Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Zinc Oxide, Dimethicone, Betaine, 1,2-Hexanediol, Viola Tricolor Extract, Elaeis Guineensis(Palm) oil, Elaeis Guineensis(Palm) Kernel Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Centella Asiatica Extract, Zinc PCA, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Xanthan Gum , Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract
Other beneficial ingredients: This Centella cream contains some humectants to help hydrate the skin (butylene glycol and glycerin). However, since this cream is meant to be used as a spot treatment on active breakouts, I think these two ingredients are used more so to improve the consistency of the formulation.
This cream does contain other anti-inflammatory ingredients to help soothe red and sore breakouts, including zinc oxide, betaine, and Scutellaria baicalensis root extract.
Scutellaria baicalensis root extract in particular contains flavones (baicalin, wogonoside, baicalein, wogonin, and oroxylin A), which have potent soothing properties. In addition, this plant extract may also help to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which acne can often leave behind.
Lastly, this cream also contains tea tree oil, which I mentioned earlier, has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties – making it a good acne-prevention ingredient.
How to use this product: This cream is not meant to be used like a moisturizer (it will leave a white cast and doesn’t absorb into the skin like a moisturizer). It’s a spot treatment cream, which you can apply directly onto pimples to help them heal and disappear faster (as well as help to prevent any acne scarring).
It’s best to apply this spot treatment at night time, after you apply your moisturizer (if you are using one).
#6 Acne Pimple Master Patches
Where to buy: Yesstyle
How does this product help oily acne-prone skin?: The COSRX Pimple Master Patches are thin and clear hydrocolloid patches that treat pimples by preventing further infection.
Have you had a massive pimple before that’s stuck around for what seems like weeks, only for more pimples to appear right next to it? Well, these hydrocolloid patches work to treat pimples as what they are: an infected wound. These patches adhere to your skin very tightly, forming a water-proof seal around the pimple. This stops any water, dirt or bacteria from getting in contact with the wound.
The patches work pretty much overnight, by breaking down debris from blackheads and absorbing the gunk from whiteheads – without leaving a dry patch (anyone who has put toothpaste or zinc cream on their pimples knows what I’m talking about). This is achieved because the tight seal of the patch creates a moist environment which promotes healing. An added bonus of this effect is that these patches are able to help minimize any acne scarring.
Full ingredients list: Cellulose gum, Styrene Isoprene Styrene Block Copolymer, Polyisobutylene, Petroleum Resin, Polyurethane Film, Liquid Paraffin, Tetrakis Methane
The actual plastic film of these patches is made from polyurethane, which is tough and stops water from evaporating from the wound area (which would otherwise leave it very dry). Styrene isoprene styrene block copolymer (what a long name!) and petroleum resin both act as adhesives to make sure the patch stays on your skin. Polyisobutylene forms a somewhat lubricant on the skin to help it stay soft and smooth. Liquid paraffin acts as an occlusive, preventing water from evaporating from the skin. It also helps to relieve any itching.
The side of the patch that is attached to the skin also contains cellulose gum, which is the ingredient responsible for sucking fluid out of the wound due to it’s water-binding properties.
How to use this product: Apply this patch to your pimple after cleansing and drying your face (don’t apply any treatments or moisturizers beforehand).
This pack of patches contains 3 different sizes, so choose one that suits the size of your pimple best. You can then carry on with the rest of your skincare routine. Leave it on overnight and remove in the morning. You will notice that the patch is swollen with the fluids from your pimple.
Note though, that hydrocolloid patches only work on raised pimples and those that visibly contain pus (whiteheads or pimples which you have picked or squeezed) – as they work to flatten them out by extracting fluid from them.
#7 Propolis Light Ampoule
Where to buy: Yesstyle
Another one of my favorite acne-fighting ingredients is propolis – which I really think doesn’t get enough attention. The COSRX Propolis Light Ampoule contains an impressive 83.25% propolis.
Propolis is a plant-derived resinous mixture produced by honeybees that is used to fill in honeycomb crevices. It has been found to have powerful antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which protects bees and their hives from weather and microbes (such as bacteria and fungi).
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make propolis fantastic for preventing and treating acne. In fact, studies such as this one have found that propolis (at a concentration as low as 20%) is effective at reducing the number and severity of pimples on patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris.
Propolis may even be useful in treating hormonal or cystic acne (which isn’t caused by bacteria), as it is able to decrease inflammation and increase the rate of wound healing. It is also able to decrease the severity of post-inflammatory erythema (the redness associated often associated with cystic acne).
Full ingredients list: Propolis Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Betaine, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cassia Obtusifolia Seed Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Carbomer, Panthenol, Arginine
Other beneficial ingredients: This ampoule only contains 11 ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about putting anything unnecessary or potentially damaging on your skin!
Included in the ingredients list is a great mix of humectants to help keep your skin hydrated: butylene glycol, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, and panthenol. Remember, humectants should be an integral part of your skincare routine as dehydrated skin can lead to loss of skin barrier function – which can result in skin irritation and acne.
Also included in this ampoule is Cassia obtusifolia seed extract, which has been found to contain compounds with anti-inflammatory properties (see one such study here). However, I couldn’t find any scientific research which looks at the effects that this ingredient has on the skin.
Betaine (which has skin-soothing properties) and arginine (an amino acid with wound healing properties) have also been added to this propolis ampoule to help treat any acne on the skin.
How to use this product: Apply this ampoule after cleansing and toning (and after any vitamin C serums and chemical exfoliators if you are using them). Gently massage and pat it onto your skin using your hands.
It absorbs pretty quickly and you don’t have to wait to proceed to the remaining steps of your skincare routine.
2 BONUS COSRX Skincare Products For Fading Acne Scars
If you have acne-prone skin, then you’re likely all too familiar with the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (AKA acne marks or scars) that pimples can leave behind.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – or PIH for short – occurs when we have any type of wound on our skin. Basically, our skin produces melanin when it is damaged to protect itself from the sun (as melanin absorbs most of the UV radiation that hits your skin). It is the melanin that gives our skin color, in this case dark marks where pimples used to be.
Of course, if your skin is exposed to more sunlight (and you’re not wearing sunscreen), you will end up with more post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation! And, PIH does eventually fade on it’s own, however this can take 3-6 months.
So, I decided to include two bonus COSRX products to this post, as I think they can really speed up the process of fading PIH:
BONUS #1 AHA Whitehead Power Liquid
Where to buy: Yesstyle
How does it work?: I’ve already mentioned how using a chemical exfoliator containing either AHAs or BHA can help to keep acne at bay.
While the COSRX AHA Whitehead Power Liquid works wonders at exfoliating dead skin cells (which helps to prevent pores from becoming clogged) – it’s these same properties which actually also make it really good at fading PIH.
The way it works is by increasing the skin cell turnover rate. Basically, this means that new skin cells are revealed faster as older pigmented skin cells (containing melanin) are exfoliated away.
Full ingredients list: Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Niacinamide, Sodium Hydroxide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol
This particular product contains 7% glycolic acid (the most common and most widely-researched form of AHA used in skincare products). It actually has the smallest molecular size of all types of AHA, meaning that it can penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin.
You’ll also find apple fruit water (instead of plain water) in this exfoliator – which contains natural AHAs. Niacinamide has also been added to this formulation (at a concentration of 2%) to help fade hyperpigmentation too.
Again, because I’m crazy for humectants – I just have to mention that you’ll find 3 in this product (butylene glycol, panthenol and sodium hyaluronate).
How to use this product: Use this product after cleansing, but before toning. It’s best to soak a cotton pad in this liquid to swipe a thin layer over the skin (I use 2-3 pumps). Since this is a chemical exfoliator, you should work up a tolerance to this product first by only using it once a week and then increasing to two (and then three) times a week if your skin doesn’t show any signs of irritation.
COSRX recommends to wait 20-30 minutes before applying other skincare products, as AHAs are pH-dependent (meaning they require a certain pH to be effective).
It’s best to use this chemical exfoliator in the evenings as it may result in photosensitivity. Be sure to apply sunscreen the morning after applying AHA to your face (although you should be doing this every day anyway!).
BONUS #2 Triple C Lightning Liquid
Where to buy: Available exclusively at SokoGlam
How does it work?: The COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid is a vitamin C serum, containing 20.5% pure L-ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is required by all the cells in our body and it also plays many important roles in the skin: including being involved in the synthesis of collagen and inhibition of the overproduction of elastin following UV exposure.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and it has the ability to neutralize and remove oxidants found in environmental pollutants and to neutralize and remove oxidants found after exposure to ultraviolet radiation (thereby preventing photo-aging).
So, how can vitamin C help acne-prone skin? Vitamin C has been shown to prevent hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase (which is necessary for the synthesis of melanin). And, research suggests that concentrations as low as 10% (of L-ascorbic acid) are effective. This means that vitamin C can act as an extra photo-protective measure (on top of sunscreen) to help prevent the deposition of melanin wherever your skin has a wound (AKA a pimple).
If you’d like to know more about how a vitamin C serum can help your skin, then check out my articles below:
- The 5 Best Korean Vitamin C Serums & How Vitamin C Can Benefit Your Skin
- Everything You Need To Know To Choose The Best Vitamin C Serum
- Which Form Of Vitamin C Is Best For Skin? L-AA Vs. The Derivatives
Full ingredients list: Aronia Melanocarpa fruit extract (Black Chokeberry), Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Butylene glycol, Sodium lactate, Licorice root extract, 1,2- Hexanediol, Pullulan, Sodium hyaluronate, Cassia obtusifolia seed extract, Allantoin.
Other beneficial ingredients: This vitamin C serum contains 72% black chokeberry (which helps to stabilize the high concentration of vitamin C). It also contains some humectants to help hydrate your skin (butylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate and allantoin). Of particular interest though, is the addition of licorice root extract – which has potent skin-soothing properties and can help to decrease the redness and irritation associated with acne. Licorice root extract may also help to treat hyperpigmentation, although studies have only been in vitro so far (Latin term for “in glass” or test tube studies).
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of licorice root extract, then check out my article here.
How to use this product: If this is the first skincare acid you’re using (or you have sensitive skin), start by adding 2-3 drops of this serum to your moisturizer and apply every evening. Once you’ve built up a tolerance to this serum (you don’t have any irritation), apply 1-2 drops to your skin every second night, gradually working up to applying it every night.
Since this is a pH-dependent serum, you will need to apply it after cleansing, but before toning, and all other skincare products.
COSRX is one of the most popular Korean skincare brands and they have heaps of products to choose from, including many that are suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.
As a brief summary, the ingredients I covered in this article which are great for preventing or treating acne (as well as preventing and fading acne scars) include:
- Tea tree oil
- Betaine salicylate (BHA)
- Snail mucin
- Green tea extract
- Centella asiatica
- Glycolic acid (AHA)
- L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
- Licorice root extract
- Various other plant extracts, and
- Humectants (including glycerin, panthenol, butylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate and allantoin)
Hopefully this article has helped you to understand what kind of ingredients (and therefore products) work well on oily and acne-prone skin so that you can be on your way to better skin.