Review: COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol

Have you ever accidentally bought the wrong product, but then the product came all the way from Korea and returning it would be way too much hassle so you tried it out anyway, and the product ended up taking you on a journey of discovery?

No? Really? Just me?


Affiliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*).


Whatever. COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol is that product that took me on my journey of discovery. It’s not the BHA chemical exfoliant that I mistook it for, but it’s filled a slot in my routine that I didn’t even know existed.

COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol

The wipes are to clean the smell off my hands after application.

Purpose: COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol is a hydrating and very mildly exfoliating toner designed to prevent breakouts and heal existing acne. It can also be used as a spot treatment.

Do not use if: You are sensitive to alcohol, chemical exfoliation, bee products, or anything else in the ingredients list.

When and how to use: Apply all over face or on trouble spots either immediately after cleansing or following your pH-sensitive actives. If applied before your actives, this product can assist in lowering skin pH to acid-appropriate levels, but the nourishing ingredients may (may) slightly reduce penetration of your acids. This can be helpful if you are new to using chemical exfoliants.

COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol ingredients: Propolis extract, alcohol, butylene glycol, sodium lactate, lactic acid, water, glycolic acid, betaine salicylate, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, allantoin, cassia obtusifolia seed extract, 1,2-hexanediol, ethyl hexanediol, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil

CosDNA analysis

Notable ingredients: Propolis extract! As regular readers of this blog might know, I have a serious skincare boner for the resinous substance that bees use to seal up their hives and honeycombs. While research on propolis as a cosmetic ingredient isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, propolis is known to have antimicrobial properties that make it especially good for acne-prone skin.

Propolis has been demonstrated as effective for wound healing–also a plus when it comes to breakouts–and shows significant promise for its antioxidant capabilities. While I don’t break out much, I do suffer the occasional product testing-related blemish (darn you, Tarte Cheek Stain!), and since anti-aging is my top skin concern, more antioxidants are always a plus. COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol is 60% propolis extract.

Alcohol is high up on the list, which is going to be a turn-off for people with dry/dehydrated skin, compromised skin barriers, or alcohol sensitivities. For those of us who do not have a problem with the ingredient in an otherwise well formulated product, however, here the alcohol is beneficial. It aids ingredient penetration and speeds up product drying so that you can move on to your next skincare step a little faster.

The potentially drying effects of the alcohol are balanced by humectants like sodium hyaluronate and glycolic acid and the anti-irritant allantoin. COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol also contains a tiny bit of betaine salicylate, a BHA which here may contribute anti-inflammatory effects.

CosDNA analysis of the A-Sol pops up only one caution, with butylene glycol scoring a 1 as a potential acne trigger. As I’ve said before, butylene glycol is just about everywhere in Asian skin care products, so if you haven’t had a problem with it before, you’re unlikely to have a problem with it here. If you’re concerned, however, patch test, and always remember that YMMV!

Performance

For a product that I didn’t even understand when I first purchased it (I really thought I was getting COSRX’s equivalent to the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid that I desperately wanted to replace), the COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol quickly proved itself useful.

COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning What Is It With Korean Skincare Brands and Super Long Product Names A-Sol is a very thin, watery, clear-to-ever-so-slightly-yellowish liquid in a 100ml pump bottle. Unlike the pumps used for the brand’s AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid, BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, and Galactomyces 95 Whitening Essence, however, the A-Sol’s pump doesn’t smoothly dispense a nice dollop of product. Instead, for whatever reason, this bottle’s pump squirts it out at high velocity. I don’t usually dwell on packaging issues much with skincare products because I just don’t consider them all that critical, but I am now because I definitely lost a few doses of product to the strange pump before I got used to it. You have to push the nozzle down slowly and carefully if you don’t want the liquid to squirt and splash wildly out of your palm.

The alcohol in the product allows it to dry very quickly as you spread and pat it over your face. One to one and a half pumps is all you should need, and it will sink in quickly.

You’ll be thankful for this, because like the AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid, the Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol is a little stinky. Its odor has been a topic of discussion several times on /r/AsianBeauty. I and many others find it to smell strongly of tea tree oil with an underlying funk. A smaller number of users smell something different. Don’t worry–the odor, whatever it smells like to you, fades very quickly after application. I clean my palms with a cleansing wipe after this and the rest of my COSRX acid products and am perfectly happy with that.

It is definitely a testament to the effectiveness of the Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol that people like me continue to enthusiastically recommend it despite the weird odor. In the six weeks that I’ve been using this product, I’ve noticed some really fantastic effects.

As I mentioned in my first impressions of the product, the A-Sol seems to boost the effectiveness of my (COSRX) BHA product. The chronic patch of redness on my chin is nearly gone, and my pores are looking significantly smaller and cleaner than they used to. I don’t even use a clay mask anymore, because I never feel the need. When I get a product breakout, I dab a bit of this on the pimple twice a day, and in each case, the pimples have calmed down and flattened out within just a couple of days and have healed very quickly, without leaving dark marks behind.

It has done the same for Lord Fiddy, who recently had me dab a bit of it on to a deep and painful blind pimple he was developing. According to my other half, the pimple almost immediately became less tender. It was visibly less inflamed and went away peacefully within a couple of days without ever developing into the big flare-up that it looked set to be.

And about that journey of discovery. When I received the A-Sol and started actually researching it, I grew extremely interested in propolis. That interest quickly turned into an infatuation, and that infatuation quickly spread to honey and royal jelly as well. Basically, everything bees make. My entire skincare routine has undergone a transformation as a result. I have this A-Sol to thank for that!

Conclusion: I often try out a new product and, if it’s any good, think I’m in love with it right away. My skin is very responsive to the ingredients it likes. Over time, however, my enthusiasm may fade; that’s why I stick to a strict testing schedule for skin care products.

In the case of the A-Sol, time has not reduced my liking for the product. I do, however, see it not as a primary active, but rather as a secondary or supplemental routine step. It is neither hydrating enough nor exfoliating enough to stand on its own. What it is, is an outstanding booster and spot treatment that can transform a good routine into a great routine. I will definitely be repurchasing this.

Rating: 4/5

Rating scale:

1 – This should be taken off the market.
2 – Caused me some problems; would not buy again.
3 – Meh. Neither great nor bad.
4 – Pretty good. Would buy again unless I find something better.
5 – I’ll never be in the market for a replacement unless this one is discontinued.

Where can I buy COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol?

Do you use COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol? What do you think of it?

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48 responses to “Review: COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol

  1. Great review, as always. Dumb question: this can be used alone as a pH adjusting toner? You use the word “assist”, and when I read that, I think of the basketball term, which means another player is involved. Just curious, because trying to get my paws on a reasonably priced Mizon toner hasn’t happened to date.
    Thanks!
    Lenore

    Liked by 1 person

    • That Mizon toner is hard to find! Yes, you can use A-Sol as your pH adjusting toner. In that case, I would apply with cotton back/cotton pad to minimize any product residue from blocking your acids.

      Like

  2. Good Morning- well for me at least 🙂
    So i dont understand whats the different between the A-sol and the Galactomyces 95 White Power Essence. Looking on their overview in Wishtrend- they are no doing the same, but, i mean is it really ok and good to put on your face that much material?
    Also- never used a toner and im looking for one now- i saw in previouse coimment you metion the A-sol can be a toner, Do you may be recommand on another tiner for someone who never tried one? or the A sol have a green light? 🙂

    Again, Many thanks

    Michal

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Michal! Good questions. I hope I can answer them adequately.

      A-Sol and White Power (eep) Essence are quite different in formulation and purpose. The A-Sol is comprised primarily of propolis and is marketed as an acne spot treatment and overall acne prevention product. The White Power Essence, which is mostly galactomyces ferment filtrate and niacinamide, is targeted for skin lightening and brightening.

      As far as whether it’s good to put so many layers on one’s face, that is all very individual and takes some trial and error to figure out your limits 🙂 For me, I find that the more light layers I apply to my face, the more plump and hydrated it becomes. I used to have very oily skin, but now it is so balanced that I almost never wear powder. Stacking my actives in this way also helps me get more of the ingredients I’m looking for, so my results tend to be pretty accelerated.

      A-Sol can be a toner, but it depends on what you want to use a toner for. If you want a toner to adjust your skin’s pH after cleansing so that it is better prepared to benefit from AHA and BHA, then I think the A-Sol will be too nourishing and might block some absorption. If you just want a light layer of hydration with some skin benefits before applying other products though, A-Sol would be great!

      Like

      • wow- again- thanks fr replying that fast- its not obvious at all:)

        well, I have very oily skin, and my routine for now is simply cleaning my face in the morning with face soap, c serum, moisturizer and sun block. About 2 time a week ill also apply clay mask and moisturizing musk.
        But now, after reading your blog, i will soon buy the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid + Galactomyces 95 White Power Essence (i also never had essence so first time for me).

        I understand toner is preparing the skin to absorb other things better- so i guess that i s what im looking for in a toner , and according to your lovely explanation- a-sol will not give me that..

        Can you recommend on a good affordable toner that will work well with the
        BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and the Galactomyces 95 White Power Essence?

        Also- i assume the order on applying my new products will be:
        cleaning face, c20 serum, BHA and than the White Power Essence?
        and on all that moisturizer and sun block?
        sis i got it right? Im knidda new to this routine… 🙂

        Again- so many thanks!

        greeting from Israel:)

        Michal

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What’s the difference between this product and CosRX’s “AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner”?

    I know that the aha/bha toner has a slightly lower pH level – but there aren’t enough actives for it to be an exfoliator.. So is it just for pH adjusting like this one? I’m not sure which one to get!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The distinguishing feature of the A-Sol is the high percentage of propolis extract, which is marvelously healing and protective. Many people find propolis to be wonderful for soothing and calming skin, especially when it’s breaking out. (Mr Crazy Snail Lady has great success just dabbing it on any spots when they start developing, and many of the spots then shrink down quickly without ever getting bad!) So whereas the AHA/BHA toner is more purely a pH adjuster, the A-Sol has therapeutic potential as well.

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      • But can the A-Sol still work as a stand-alone ph-adjusting “prep” before actives? You mentioned that the hydrating aspects of it might block the absorbtion – yet you use it yourself before Vit-C, so I’m a bit confused.

        Could it maybe also be used *after* all the actives to clear away any leftover “gunk” before continuing the rest of the routine?

        If you have other another product with Propolis extract in your routine, (like the Shara Shara Honey bomb), would this toner still be useful?

        Thanks for your explanations, they are so helpful!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I do still think it can be used as a pH adjusting toner, though these days I keep mine around as a spot treatment primarily, and yes, it most definitely can be used to clean away post-acids gunk!

        Like

      • Oh and yes, it serves a different purpose than the Honey Bomb so they wouldn’t be redundant in a routine, since Honey Bomb is moisturizing and brightening ampoule.

        Like

  4. I’m in the “slowly introducing actives” stage of my routine and I’ve been eyeing this because of how wonderful everyone says it is. Would it have any standalone exfoliating effect on skin that has no other actives atm, or would you recommend starting with the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and adding A-Sol later?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It will not exfoliate in any noticeable amount. I’d say if you have active breakouts, maybe introduce this one first because it often spot treats wonderfully well; if not, start with the BHA liquid and add this in later.

      Like

  5. Hi! If I use the Hada Labo cleanser, do I need a pH adjusting toner? And if so, can I use this? Because the Mizon one seems to be around or above $70 on Amazon….

    I plan on using the C20 serum as my first active, and then wait, add the BHA Power liquid , wait, and then add the AHA Power liquid. Would I also need a toner to ‘slough off the grime’ once the actives have done their work? Does that toner have to be a pH adjusting one, or are we thinking like astringent/cleansing or hydrating?

    Thank you, your highness Snail queen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can use this as a pH adjusting toner, though in my experience they really aren’t necessary, especially with a pH 5.5 cleanser like that. And the Mizon toner is priced like that so that they can keep the listing until they get it back in stock, I think 😀 For after your actives, I like to use any watery toner, but again I don’t think it’s necessary. Personally, because I have so many layers that I put on after, I like to try to get a clean surface so that they penetrate better, but I’ve also gone without and been fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. i just bought my asol thanks to your wonderful review! but i was wondering, can i apply my asol as a spot treatment in the evenings after i have completed my bha? or in yur opinion it works better before bha?

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  7. Hi! My skin type is combination-oily, but right now its very dry especially my nose and chin. I’m using Clean and Clear cleanser before but now I changed it to Cosrx Low Ph Good Morning Cleanser because I think the Clean and Clear is really drying my skin too much. I just bought this A-sol earlier, I just want to ask if I should use it immediately after cleansing? or should i wait for 15-20mins before I use this? I’m not using any toner at the moment. And is it ok if i use this everyday morning and night? Thank you so much!

    Like

  8. Hi… I really excited to try this products, I have oily, big pores, small bumps, and comedoes. Can you recommend the products from cosrx? can a sol and bha power liquid use at the same time? and how the step to use the products? thankyou

    Liked by 1 person

  9. HI Fiddy! It looks like this isn’t part of your routine anymore. Is there a product that you’re using to replace it or do you not find that it has long-term impact? (Why don’t you use the Returning A-Sol anymore?)

    I was quite taken by your review and was considering ordering it, but if you have a product you prefer now, I’d want to look for that instead!

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still love it but I don’t have many problems with breakouts so don’t use it often. I do keep it around as a spot treatment, since I find it is one of the few things that can quickly shrink and heal those deep-under-the-skin pimples. Mr. Fiddy uses it every day as his toner and loves it!

      Like

      • I see, that makes sense. Did you/Mr Fiddy find it best to be a first step post cleansing or a second toner? (I’m currently using Hada Labo Rohto Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist and Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair cream as my toners.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • He uses it immediately after cleansing (his routine is quite simple, no actives, nothing like mine). For me, it worked best as a second toner after actives–while its pH is low enough to serve as a pH prep toner, it is a little too “nourishing” to be ideal before actives as it might reduce absorption of them.

        Like

    • Hiya! AHAs, BHAs, and the L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C are pH-sensitive in that the products they are in need to be at a certain pH to work (upper and lower limits vary a bit, but a good rule of thumb is between 3 and 4). And don’t be sorry for asking a question! We were all new at one point 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. hi! is it okay if I use this along with c20 serum? because I read somewhere that you can’t use the surum with bha/aha since both are exfoliate stuffs

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi, I love your reviews and they are very helpful! I am new to the asian skincare routines but so far, with the help of your reviews, have found certain products that really work for me. However, I need to add more products with different benefits to my beauty arsenal. So far I use an aqua peeling gel, (my basic) kracie naive face wash, and the hada labo light lotion. I have sensitive, acne prone skin, with some dry spots (the hada labo and peeling gel have taken care of those dry spots greatly). As of now, after my trial uses of those three products, my only skin concern is mild acne breakouts, skin texture, and acne scars/dark spots. I am very interested in this CORSX A-Sol product because it works well to heal and prevent acne but my question is, does it do well on diminishing acne scars/dark spots to? Also, for just evening out my skin texture would the CORSX Snail Mucin Essence work for that?

    Like

  12. Just started using the cosrx products. I wondered how you are using yours. Are you using the a-sol as the toner after washing and before applying the blackhead power liquid or whitehead power liquid? Also, are you using the whitehead and blackhead power liquids one after the other or alternating days or morning/evening? Thanks in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I used these products regularly (before I started using tretinoin, which complicate things!), I preferred using it in this order: AHA -> BHA -> A-Sol. The Cosrx AHA is a bit lower pH than the BHA and the A-Sol has some nourishing ingredients that may interfere with full absorption of the actives, so that’s why I order them that way. I used both the AHA and BHA nightly, eventually dropping the frequency when I realized that they were too much with the tretinoin. Without a prescription active, I did very well using both daily. YMMV though so play around with it a bit and see what works for your skin!

      Like

  13. Hey fiddy, is your face kinda small? I’m asking this because you say that only 1-1 1/2 pumps are necessary, but I’m, finding that I need 3 pumps to cover all my trouble spots.

    Like

  14. hello beauty, i have an oily with acne prone skin and i really want to try it. So can i use it together? The aha 7 whitening and bha a-sol?:) thank you

    Like

  15. Hi Fiddy can i use it together with aha power liquid, cosrx snail essence and c20? And also what is more effective in your opinion, ost c20 or c21.5? I’m new to this sorry for asking. Thank you 🙂

    Like

  16. What is the different between bha skin returning a-sol and aha/bha clarifying toner?
    Can i use vit.c serum after using toner that contains aha or bha?

    Like

  17. Hi… my routine skincare is mizon aha/bha toner, Missha TR FTE, and Hadalabo Gokujyun for Hidrating toner. So, if i want to use A-sol for acne spot treatment, when I have to use it?

    Like

  18. Hi! I just bought the cosrx AHA/BHA clarifying toner and the Natural BHA Akin returning A-Sol. Can I use both of these products all together? I mean should I use the Natural A-Sol after I use the AHA/BHA toner?

    Like

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  20. Hi there,

    Has this replaced your Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid? Or have you find any other product to replace it with? I am looking for a cheaper alternative too!

    Thanks

    Like

    • I don’t use A-Sol for actual BHA, since it’s not formulated to effectively exfoliate (it’s more like a spot treatment or preventative toner)–I did replace my Paula’s Choice BHA with COSRX’s BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, however! I use it on my nose only these days, but it’s a nice gentle BHA in general. There’s a review of it around here somewhere!

      Like

  21. Waw. Thanx for this comprehensive review.
    I love it!

    At the first time I use this product, I have no idea how to use it, which step I should place this Returning A Sol.
    So I put this one to Serum step, after hydrating toner.
    Hahahahaha.
    What a fool.

    Thanx for enlightened me.

    Like

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  24. Hi! I’ve been using the CosRX AHA Whitehead Power Liquid for a couple months but haven’t seen any results so now I’m thinking of prepping my skin a bit more with the CosRX a-sol and following up with the CosRX BHA Blackhead power liquid.
    Would the steps I need to use be: cleanser (currently using Dr. G), A-Sol, BHA, AHA, toner (one more?), and then the usual essence (CosRX whitening power essence), serum, moisturizer, etc?
    and for my first toner step after cleanser, instead of the a-sol would you recommend either (1) CosRX aha/bha clarifying toner, (2) mizon AHA/BHA daily clean toner, or (3) Etude House 10-in-1 wonder pore freshner?

    skintype: oily, acne prone, super oily (for emphasis), enlarged pores, blackheads/whiteheads, uneven skintone, dull, bumps on forehead, redness

    thank you!

    Like

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