20 Jun 2017

The First Chemical Exfoliants In My Life - Review: Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid

I talked about 3 Cosrx products that help to calm my acne whenever I suffer from hormonal breakouts previously. However, I haven't touched on the Cosrx products that help me to achieve clearer skin on a daily basis. So in today's review, I'm gonna go in depth about 2 Power Liquids I have been using in the past 8-10 months from Cosrx and my thoughts on them having used them for close to 1 year.

Of course, Cosrx is not the only brand that comes up with acne-targetting chemical exfoliants. I have tried other ones like Make P:rem, Neogen, Belif, C20, Blithe, The Ordinary, and various aqua peels, and some of them are quite good I would say! But since Cosrx is one of the first chemical exfoliants I used ("the senior-est"), and also the most raved, I wanna to make an in-depth review on the both of them, and use it as a reference to other chemical exfoliants I will be reviewing in the future.

There are two types of chemical exfoliants in Cosrx: AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid and BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. Cosrx also came out with a vitamin C serum (and there is controversy as to whether or not vitamin C should be considered a chemical exfoliant) and a PHA cream. I might not try out the vitamin C serum since I find it troublesome needing to store it in a fridge, and also might not try out the PHA cream since many report that it is quite heavy and relatively ineffective.


Let's first talk about the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid since it is oil-soluble and by right you should use this before the AHA Power Liquid in the same routine.

The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is a chemical exfoliator that you use at the treatment step of your skincare routine. Normally, I would soak the product with a cotton pad, and lightly press it against my face focusing more on my nose and chin areas where I get the most breakout, after normal toner. I don't use a pH balancing toner before the Power Liquid, as I don't find doing so increases the effectiveness of the BHA Power Liquid. Besides, there has been argument saying that a pH balancing toner is unnecessary because chemical exfoliants are tested on normal skin so using a pH balancing toner would bring the pH of your skin lower than it actually is, rendering the chemical exfoliants ineffective. And there is also finding that our skin doesn't respond to pH changing products as fast as we think it would.

You might be complaining about the funky smell of this Power Liquid but believe me it will go away pretty quick. The consistency of this BHA Power Liquid is slightly more viscous and slippery than the AHA Power Liquid so it feels more moisturizing on the skin.


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


Main ingredient here is willow bark water, betaine salicylate (a milder form of salicylic acid), and niacinamide. We also have arginine, panthenol, and sodium hyaluronate for moisturizing benefits.

Normally a product will use approximately 2% of salicylic acid in their formulation, and 4% for the milder betaine salicylate. Betaine salicylate is derived from sugar beets, and is used as an alternative to salicylic acid. A pH of 3.8-4.2 is needed to ensure maximum efficacy of betaine salicylate. This is a miraculous ingredient that can help to unclog the pores by shedding unhealthy build-up of dead skin cells caused by sun damages, aging and irregular metabolism activities. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, making it a perfect leave-on exfoliant for acne-prone and congested skin.

Willow bark extract water is also present here. It is the plant where some salicylic acid is derived from and is rich in tannins too. It has excellent antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties when applied topically on the skin. It can smooth out the skin complexion, diminish the appearance of fine lines and reduce bacterial activities. In other words, it is just like how treatment essence works by accelerating cellular turnover of the skin. Its excellent anti-microbial property also makes it a natural preservative in cosmetic products.

Judging from the ingredients, we can clearly see that this is a gentle chemical exfoliant with the right concentration of betaine salicylate, the anti-inflammatory and astringent willow bark water, the repairing and anti-aging niacinamide, and other moisturizing arginine, panthenol, and sodium hyaluronate.


To be honest, I have seen mixed results from this product. I find it too mild for my normal-to-dry and pretty resisting skin. My skin doesn't react to it all the time. My blackhead, clogged pores and bumpy texture don't suddenly go away afterwards. It is quite a good maintenance product and I do see clearer skin (less blackheads) with consistent use but it is still too mild for my skin. I have tried using it on my bf's face and it reacts pretty well. But since my bf uses it days and nights without any other product (not even a moisturizer), his skin starts flaking like no tomorrow although all his pimples are gone. In short, I won't say that it doesn't work, but I might consider getting The Ordinary Salicylic Acid once I have run out of this just to see if the stronger salicycid acid works better.

Next, let's talk about Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid.

Unlike BHA, AHA is actually water-soluble so it will only work on the surface layer of your skin. It is said to be less-drying than BHA and has moisturizing benefits on your skin. This Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid is formulated with 7% AHA and apple fruit water.

Consistency-wise, this is a runny liquid that feels like plain water. The smell is kinda funky like some kind of burning rubber. I apply this the same way as the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, but if I were to use this with the BHA, I will apply it after the BHA Power Liquid. You are required to apply a sunscreen afterwards.


Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Niacinamide, Sodium Hydroxide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol


This Power Liquid uses natural apple juice water as the solvent, with glycolic acid and niacinamide as the main cores. Apple juice water is a known anti-oxidant and anti-aging ingredient. It is also a great source of malic acid (a natural AHA) to gently exfoliate the skin and loosen the protein that are holding your cells (especially dead skin cells) together, revealing a clearer looking complexion. Approximately 75% of this product is made of apple fruit water.

Subsequently we have 7% glycolic acid, usually derived from sugar cane, for more effective exfoliation. Since it can breakdown the upper part of your skin cells, glycolic acid is an effective ingredient for skin brightening, hyperpigmentation-reducing, acne-scarring treating, and wrinkles-reducing. AHA is also said to be able to hold moisture to the skin hence is pretty moisturizing on the skin too.


Let's face it, this is less effective than the Blackhead Power Liquid. At least I can see that my blackheads are going down with the BHA Power Liquid but not for this. My whitehead remains stubborn, and my complexion remains bumpy. One thing I can say is the clearer complexion I get from this product, which is also attributable to niacinamide so it may not be entirely the AHAs in here. I expect a little bit more from this product, which is to deal with my whitehead (the white little "milias" formed on my nose, but sadly I see none. It can't even bring down my bumpy texture.

One thing I dislike about this Power Liquid is how irritating it feels my skin. Although AHA is expected to have moisturizing effect, but my skin still feels dry whenever I am using it. And it stings a little every time I apply it on my skin.


I have talked about chemical exfoliation in more details here, so I will not repeat that.

Basically, Cosrx AHA and BHA Power Liquids are two products that brought me into chemical exfoliation. I have an aversion towards anything chemical or peeling so I hadn't been trying out any acid treatment until Cosrx. Cosrx was gentle enough for my skin, but I find it too gentle to be really effective, if compared to others one like Make P:rem PHA Sleeping Mask or The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%.

Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is much more effective than AHA because you'll see your blackhead and clogged pores going down. AHA is a little bit disappointing. Not only does it dry out my skin, it also has little to almost no impact on my whiteheads. It does clear up my complexion though but most brightening products can do that, not necessary must be this.

I am gonna try out more chemical exfoliants in the future to compare. So far, I think Make P:rem PHA is doing pretty good. The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% seems promising but it takes a long time to reap any true benefits from a retinol treatment. Blithe Splash Mask is really nice too! I am not sure can I find something like treatment-type chemical exfoliant (i.e. Cosrx AHA Power Liquid), but I am eyeing The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% so maybe that's worth checking out as well! Would love to hear your thoughts on these, and whether or not you have any to recommend.

Final Impression:
Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid ★★★☆ (less effective, irritating)
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid ★★★★ (pretty effective, but there might be better choices)

Will I Repurchase?
Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid ★ (less effective, irritating, will buy if I cannot find a better replacement)
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid ★★★ (decent, but I wanna try other things out)

[Disclaimer] Products are purchased with my own money. All copy right of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...