Saturday, January 2, 2016

Review: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Identifying Information
Product name: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, 100mL
Price: PhP 900.00 + shipping fee
Description: ""BHA Blackhead Power Liquid gets rid of dead skin cell and blackhead within the pores and prevents oxidized sebum from turning into blackheads. BHA Blackhead Power Liquid has mixed a natural BHA ingredient, Betaine Salicylate, at 4%, and you can witness your skin get smoother and glossy as time goes by, as well as it light texture."
Product Origin: Korea
Where I bought it:
History: I bought this product together with the COSRX A-Sol I reviewed more than 2 months ago. I have been using this for two months now. For the first month or so, I used it by itself since I stopped using adapalene + benzoyl peroxide. Now I am using it a few times a week in conjunction with some medications that my dermatologist has prescribed for me. 

Physical Examination:
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid bottle

COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid description
Click to enlarge :)
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid ingredients
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid pump
Clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water
Ingredients: Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Butylene Glycol, Betaine Salicylate, Niacinamide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Arginine, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol

Salient Features
  • pH 4.0 - the pH is low enough to still have a significant amount of free acid acting on the skin while still being tolerable and not burning my skin off.
  • It comes in a similar box and plastic pump bottle as the COSRX A-Sol only this is in a clear bottle. I like that I'm able to easily see how much product is left. I find the packaging simple, effective and professional-looking which speaks so much of what I think COSRX wants their products to be.
  • It does not sting nor hurt my skin.
  • It has not made my skin more sensitive. I use it together with adapalene (a prescription retinoid) + clindamycin gel and my skin is able to tolerate the combination very well. I also have not had any allergic reaction to it.
  • My skin doesn't feel dry even when I wait for about 20 minutes after application before putting on essences/creams.
  • This has anti-inflammatory properties (salicylic acid is chemically related to aspirin [acetylsalicylic acid]) as it's able to inhibit the arachidonic acid pathway. This makes it good for inflammatory acne lesions.
  • It also contains niacinamide which is a form of vitamin B3. Niacinamide is known to decrease hyperpigmentation and it also has the potential to act as an antioxidant and reduce fine lines, wrinkles and redness.
  • I only need about a pump to a pump and a half to cover my whole face with the product. I'm estimating that a bottle would last me at least 4-5 months!
  • It is slightly more viscous than the COSRX A-Sol. It doesn't drip off my hand as easily but spreading it all over my face even with just one finger is effortless.
  • Continued use has made the sebaceous filaments on my nose disappear resulting to cleaner and smoother-looking pores. The areas of my face that do not have pimples look and feel smoother and softer.
  • The price is fairly affordable and reasonable for a proper BHA exfoliant. :)
  • It smells bad. I'm not very good at describing scents but this one smells familiar to me, like I've smelled it before. In Chemistry class, perhaps?
    • During the first few times that I used it, I found the bad smell to be really strong but it didn't deter me from using this product. Because of regular use, my nose has now become accustomed to its smell so now it doesn't smell as bad as before. I don't smell it much anymore actually—this is what we call olfactory fatigue or adaptation. :)
  • Not very effective in preventing breakouts, at least on my skin
    • I was using this almost everyday before I started with the dermatologist's prescription 2 weeks ago. I say "almost everyday" because there were a few days when I felt tired and lazy to use this BHA and wait for 20-30 minutes before moving on with the rest of my routine. Anyway, I still got new pimples even while using this especially before or around my time of the month. I do have oily and very acne-prone skin.
  • Only available online
Impression/Rating: 3.6/4
Discussion: BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid. It is considered as a comedolytic meaning it is able to resolve/dissolve comedones and it is also supposed to prevent formation of new ones. BHAs as well as AHAs (alpha hydroxy acid, like glycolic acid) are used to loosen keratinocytes and "unclog" the pores. [1] BHAs are lipophilic or lipid-soluble so they are able to penetrate the sebaceous material in the follicles. [2] Basically BHAs are able to get deep inside the pores to exfoliate them.

If you want to learn more about exfoliating the skin using chemical exfoliants, visit Lab Muffin's blog entries here and here. Those two articles are wonderfully written! She explains very well in an easy to understand manner the concepts behind AHAs, BHAs and pH. :)

I decided to buy this product because a lot of people on Asian beauty blogs and on /r/AsianBeauty were raving about it. They said that this helped heal their pimples, get rid of sebaceous filaments on their nose and keep their skin acne-free. As a person with oily and very acne-prone skin, I got tempted to try this so that I could get rid of and prevent pimples as well. I was using adapalene + benzoyl peroxide before using this one and my pimples decreased significantly (I still got 1-2 small pimples every week though, lol). However, there was a patch of skin on my forehead that was still bumpy even after months of regular treatment. After incorporating this BHA Blackhead Power Liquid into my routine, that bumpy patch of skin became clear and smooth. The pores on my nose looked finer as well because they were rid of sebaceous filaments. Thing is, what I really wanted and expected this product to do was to prevent me from getting new pimples and for me it didn't deliver in that regard. Maybe my expectations were too high for this product because of the glowing reviews I've read. Oh well. I still think this is a great product but it's more of an adjunct treatment for my acne-prone skin. Based on my experience, it is not enough to be the main treatment for healing and preventing pimples. I guess my skin needs prescription strength products to deal with acne because my skin/acne is too stubborn.

Of course, YMMV (your mileage may vary) as they always say in /r/AsianBeauty. This may just be good as an additional acne treatment for me but to some this may truly be effective as their main product in treating and preventing pimples. 

Prognosis: This is the first proper BHA exfoliant I have ever used and I am pleased with it. The pores on my nose look so much cleaner and smaller thanks to this product. My nose is free of sebaceous filaments! It has not kept my skin acne-free but it does help with making my pimples heal a lot faster. I do like it and I do have a back-up (I bought another bottle when was selling it at a discounted price) but after I finish my 2nd bottle I'm not sure if I'll repurchase. I'm thinking of sticking with prescription medications for my acne since like I mentioned earlier my acne is stubborn. Yikes! I'll update this post if I do end up buying another bottle. :)

[1, 2] Baumann, L. (2009). Cosmetic dermatology principles and practices (2nd ed.) USA: McGraw-Hill

Life update: A lot has been going on in my life lately so I haven't been able to update my blog weekly as I originally planned to do. My emotions have gone haywire this past month or so and I need to consciously keep them in check often or else I won't be able to do or accomplish anything. My body makes it very obvious that I am going through a hard time—I've had a major acne breakout a few weeks ago (still dealing with it now) and I've been having excessive hairfall (diagnosed with telogen effluvium). At present I am preparing and reviewing for my upcoming medical licensure examination. Most of my time is devoted to it for obvious reasons so I'm not able to check on blogs, YouTube and /r/AsianBeauty as much as I did before. A classmate and friend of mine told me to keep updating my blog despite being busy so as to maintain my sanity and that's what I kind of plan to do. I have several products in mind to review and share here on my blog so that's something I'm excited about. :)

I try to post more on Instagram so you could follow me there @figibank. I put a lot of time and effort into making blog posts and it would eat up the time I should be using for studying so yeah, Instagram is the way to go for now. :) Regular blog posts will be back after I successfully get through my 12 sets of exams in March! Pray for me! :D

I hope that you, dear reader, are doing well and feeling happy. Smile! Have a happy and blessed 2016!
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  1. Hey Figi, cool review. Love how cute your blog is. :) And you're really pretty! Hope you don't mind following me back on blogger and Instagram. @harukibubugee

    Have a nice day! x

  2. Hello, Haruki! Thank you very much for your sweet words and for dropping by my blog. I truly appreciate it! :) Followed you back on IG and blogger! Your latest post inspired me to get fit! You look so healthy and sexy! So inspiring :) Have a wonderful week, Haruki! Let's keep in touch!

  3. Hey girl, good morning here from Malaysia. I'm back here to reply your comment on my blog. I understand its more likely to be difficult to get into fitness routine when you have such a busy life. I'd suggest you to just monitor on what you eat since you can't exercise frequently. Try staying away from carbs like rice and bread and also don't have to much processed food. Try snacking on fruits to keep the cravings away. Nuts can be helpful too since its high in fiber and vitamins. As much as we Asians love it we have to keep ourselves controlled if you really want to lose some pounds. You already look great, so these are just suggestions if you really really want to lose weight. :) Thank you so much for the compliments, I'm really flattered. :P Likewise, you are gorgeous just the way you are babe! Lots of love and have a wonderful day. x <3

  4. Hello, that was a really good review. I actually got my Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid yesterda and I have been wondering which order is correct: toner first or cosrx BHA Blackhead liquid? I am pretty confused since both of the product said to appy [them] first, right after cleansing. Thank you :)

    1. Hello. Sorry for the very late reply. :)

      I usually apply a toner first no matter what I'm going to do with my skincare. Some people I know apply a BHA or an AHA first then after 5-10 minutes they wipe it off using a cotton ball soaked in toner then they proceed with the rest of their skincare regimen. If you have more questions, feel free to ask! Will try to reply ASAP :)