If you’ve been following the changes I’ve made to my skin care routine recently, then you may have noticed that I’ve swapped out my trusty Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid and 8% AHA Gel for a Korean brand you may not be as familiar with: COSRX.
COSRX, whose sister brands include C20 (makers of the famous C20 and C21.5 vitamin C serums) and Ciracle, has made a big splash in the AB enthusiast community thanks to the company’s AHA and BHA products. Chemical exfoliants are rare in Korean skincare, and finding a correctly formulated Korean AHA or BHA product is almost as difficult as catching a unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. But if Professor Quirrell can do it with Voldemort growing out of the back of his head, can do it, so can we.
COSRX tells us about COSRX
I recently had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with COSRX Marketing Team Assistant Manager Lee Hye-Young, who generously took the time to tell me more about the brand and how COSRX feels about the love it’s getting from Western-based AB bloggers.
Can you tell me a little about the history of COSRX?
Lee: “COSRX is a brand built from about 13 years of experience in Korea cosmetic industry, product development backgrounds, and various bestselling products. We have collected what customers need and want regarding their skin types and concerns. Finally, all those needs came into ingredient-oriented cosmetic brand after numerous simulations. So we are committed to make high performance products with safe and natural ingredients only without any side effects. Moreover, we minimize the advertisement and design cost to produce product with best ingredients. Our vision is to make practical and high performance cosmetic products.”
COSRX products have been getting a lot of attention from Western bloggers lately. It seems that it’s hard to find Korean chemical exfoliants that are properly formulated and at the correct pH. Why do you think such products are so rare in the Korean market?
Lee: “We would like to thank our customers in Western culture for such interest. It is our pleasure to see reviews from them.
“Many Koreans have sensitive skin types, so people tend to avoid AHA/BHA products. AHA and BHA are popular exfoliating ingredients, but there are high regulations on their pH level and formula. So it is hard to satisfy the customers’ need.
“Still, we use glycolic acid, a kind of AHA, because it is less irritable to skin. Also we work hard to develop natural BHA product to keep our relationship with customers for the best. It seems customers do recognize our efforts and we are very thankful for that.”
Another thing many of us find exciting about COSRX products is their excellent ingredients. Your products seem simple and include only ingredients that benefit skin. Can you tell me a little more about the R&D process behind a COSRX product?
Lee: Many COSRX customers are sensitive skin types, especially due to skin problems like acne. If too much ingredients are included in the product, it is impossible to tell which ingredient causes more troubles. Therefore, our formula contains minimum amount of ingredients that are skin-friendly yet giving the best result. One of our secrets is to use natural water instead of just purified water to maximize the effect of other active ingredients. For instance, BHA product is a white-wallow water base, which contains natural BHA elements. AHA product has its ingredients dissolved in apple water, which contains natural AHA elements. Natural water like these two also is very skin-friendly and alleviates irritated skin.
Can you tell me what COSRX is planning in the next year?
Lee: “Our first goal is to lessen the burdens of our customers’ skin concerns. The ultimate goal is to help our customers find their own beauty with our products. We are designing the products that are inspired by customers’ desires.
“There are few plans for the next year. First, we are building global B2C [business to consumer] online shopping system to satisfy customers’ need from overseas. In the following year, we plan to make the system where customers from all over the world can communicate.
“Second, we are working on more effective exfoliator and other types of products to make our customers happy.”
What else would you like to share with Fifty Shades of Snail readers?
Lee: “We would like to present deep gratitude for all the love and interest.
“Our team believes that cosmetic should look for meanings more than just beauty. So we are devoted to enable individual with each skin type to solve the problem, gain self-confidence, and find own beauty. That’s why our brand name is COSRX: COSmetics + RX = COSRX.
“We will keep move forward and always be on our customers’ side to offer beauty for all. We will always make ‘Expecting Tomorrow’ products that provide the best solutions to skin problems.
“‘Expecting Tomorrow’ is the motto of our company. Our high performance cosmetics products will make you excited to see the positive change tomorrow.”
Why I switched from Paula’s Choice to COSRX
I’ve said that properly formulated chemical exfoliation products are hard to find in the Korean market, but the truth is, they’re hard to find on Western shelves, too. It’s difficult and expensive to formulate an effective AHA or BHA product thanks to the pH limitations, and I imagine many companies don’t bother trying, since most consumers are unaware of the importance of variables like concentration and pH. (But not you lovely people.)
Paula’s Choice is one of the few Western companies producing correctly formulated chemical exfoliants, and that’s why I used their products pretty much from the minute I learned what makes a good chemical exfoliant.
Unfortunately, I strongly dislike Paula’s Choice, the brand. I’m not a person who tells others to boycott companies, or who is prone to boycotting companies myself, but really–their entire marketing strategy seems to revolve around bashing other companies’ products through blogs, videos, and their extremely conflict-of-interest-y Beautypedia product reviews. Their marketing often argues based on false premises, such as the idea that everyone wants or needs antioxidants in every single product they use (yes, antioxidants are great, but you don’t need them in everything) or that anyone who’s interested in Korean skincare is deluded and fad-chasing. This style of marketing grinds my gears.
That’s why I was happy to find a way to switch from PC to another company. COSRX chemical exfoliators are formulated just as correctly as PC’s, and I’ve found them more effective for my skin. They’re also much more affordable. Tell you the truth, I don’t think I’m ever going back. I’m just dreaming of COSRX’s R&D team coming out with a stellar retinol product or two to add to their lineup.
Have you used COSRX products? What do you think of them?