Review: COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion

Out here in Fiddyland, the long, hard winter (it got down to 41°F one night!) is finally giving way to spring. There’s a little more moisture in the air and a little less bite (41°F that one time!!). It’s time to reevaluate my routine (again) and consider adding a lighter moisturizer to my skincare wardrobe. Maybe something like COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion.

This product was provided by Wishtrend for my consideration. Affiliate and referral links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*).

COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion review

I don’t have the best luck with emulsion/lotion-type moisturizers. Laneige Bright Renew Emulsion left me shiny but unmoisturized, while Leaders Insolution Aquaringer Sparkling Mineral Lotion turned out to be heavier yet less impressive than I wanted. Also, almost every emulsion I’ve tried has come in a simple glass bottle that I end up having to angrily slap like a classic ketchup bottle just to dispense the product.

The concept of emulsion as a pre-cream skincare step doesn’t compel me, either. If I want more moisture in my routine, I’ve got creams in a range of weights to choose from, and if I want an additional moisturizing but not-quite-a-cream layer, I’d rather add a nice rich serum with some targeted ingredients. But when Wishtrend* offered to send me a bottle of COSRX’s new emulsion product, I was intrigued enough to accept. I don’t have the best luck with emulsions, but I’m always down to give COSRX a chance.

Review of COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion
Right out of frame: befuddled neighbors wondering why I’m crouching on the ground taking pictures of skincare products posed against trees.

Purpose: COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion is a lightweight moisturizer.

Best suited for: All skin types, but especially dehydrated-oily skin that needs hydration and moisture without heaviness.

Do not use if:  You are sensitive to fatty (moisturizing) alcohols like cetearyl alcohol, olive oil derivatives like cetearyl olivate and sorbitan olivate, or anything else in the ingredients list.

COSRX Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion English directions
The directions confused me. “Apply daily to cleansed face before moisturizing.” But…I thought this was a moisturizer?

When and how to use:  Don’t let the directions confuse you. This is a moisturizer, it really is! I’ve been using it as a moisturizer and so have several other members of the Snailcast Snail Unit! I think what the directions are trying to say is that the Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion can be used as an intermediate moisturizing layer before a heavier moisturizing cream, if desired. Just apply after whatever toner, hydrator, essence, serum, and ampoule steps you use in your skincare routine and follow it up with whatever your skin needs.

COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion ingredients:  Betula platyphylla japonica juice (70%), butylene glycol, glycerin, dimethicone, betaine, cetearyl alcohol, 1,2-hexanediol, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, sodium lactate, ethylhexylglycerin, sodium hyaluronate, allantoin, panthenol, xanthan gum, ethyl hexanediol, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil

English ingredients for COSRX Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion

CosDNA analysis

Notable ingredients: Ummmmm, so it’s not actually oil-free. I see lemon peel oil and tea tree leaf oil down there at the bottom of the ingredients list. COSRX is funny like that when it comes to product names. Their Ultimate Moisturizing “Honey” Overnight Mask, for example, doesn’t actually contain honey. But a weirdly inaccurate name didn’t make that sleeping pack not a good sleeping pack (spoiler if you haven’t read my review: I really like it), and having a couple of drops of a couple of fragrant oils all the way at the end of the ingredients list here doesn’t necessarily make the “Oil-Free” Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion not a good moisturizer. It’s likely that neither of the oils listed is present in much more than trace amounts. The tea tree oil does give the product a sharp, somewhat antiseptic tea tree smell, but it’s much milder than the smell of COSRX’s Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol and goes away fast.

What’s not present in trace amounts here is birch tree juice, which makes up a full 70% of this product, replacing water altogether. This is, to quote the Ninth Doctor, fantastic! In similar fashion to other K-beauty star ingredients like honey, propolis, or snail mucin, birch sap is a natural cocktail of skin-friendly components, including vitamins, antioxidants, humectant sugars, and proteins, amino acids, minerals, and enzymes. Replacing the H2O with birch juice allows COSRX to pack the “Oil-Free” Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion with some appealing secondary skin benefits, without overcomplicating the formulation.


I’ve been using the “Oil-Free” Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion almost every day for a little over a month now, as the second-to-last step in my morning skincare routine. (Sunscreen is, of course, always the last step. Always.)

COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion in skincare routine
It fits so nicely into a typical Fiddy AM routine.

All the things I’ve had to do to keep my tretface happy had me conditioned to think that only a heavy cream could keep my skin feeling good all day long. The Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion was a very welcome surprise.

COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion has a light, silky consistency, hydrating but not runny, easy to dispense from the pump bottle (YAY PUMP BOTTLE) and easy to spread onto skin.

I’ve used as little as three pumps and as many as six to cover my face, neck, and upper chest at once, and so far I’ve noticed that while it is possible to use too little of the product, it doesn’t seem possible to use too much. Once applied, the lotion sinks in and dries down within minutes to a satiny finish. One of the reasons I love using this product in the mornings is that it cuts a hefty chunk of time out of my routine: even at six pumps, I’ve never had to wait longer than five minutes before applying my sunscreen.

Speaking of sunscreen, COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion plays impressively well with both watery sunscreens like my everyday HG staple Biore Watery Essence and silicone-heavy ones like Biore Bright Milk or Senka Mineral Water UV Essence (aka Shiseido Senka Aging Care*). I don’t get any pilling under makeup when I use the lotion as my morning moisturizer. As an added bonus, when applied over the Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion, my sunscreen dries down almost as fast as if I were wearing no other products under it.

Of course, that wouldn’t be a good thing if that’s how the Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion actually felt. Luckily, it definitely doesn’t feel like nothing on my skin. Instead, the product does a surprisingly good job of moisturizing my skin and keeping it moisturized from the time I apply it in the morning to the time I start my PM routine in the evening. Even heavier products have left my skin feeling tight and uncomfortable on super-arid days. A few of those days have hit since I started using the COSRX lotion, but even though I’ve been able to feel the dryness in the air, I haven’t suffered any itchiness or discomfort, not even on my chronically dry neck. Seriously fantastic.

Conclusion: COSRX “Oil-Free” Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion isn’t actually oil-free, and it isn’t the kind of product that’ll deliver spectacular improvements to specific skin issues, but as a lightweight day moisturizer, it’s one of the best I’ve tried. Based on what I’ve heard from other friends using the same product, it seems almost universally likable, too. The rapid absorption and non-greasy finish make it excellent for oily and dehydrated-oily skin types, but it moisturizes well enough for even dryer complexions. It’s simple and solid and made to become a dependable everyday staple.

Rating: 4/5

Rating scale:

1 – This should be taken off the market, or this failed at its one primary job.
2 – Caused me some problems or doesn’t work very well; 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 Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion?

I received my COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion from Wishtrend*, which sells the 100ml bottles for $20 USD*. If this is your first time ordering from Wishtrend, you can get $5 off by signing up with my referral link*.

What’s your go-to lightweight moisturizer?


33 thoughts on “Review: COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion

  1. Oh maaaan. This review has my mouse dangerously hovering over the “add to cart” button for this. I don’t usually wear moisturizer under my sunscreen and makeup (I live in the tropics) but I’ve been experiencing some dryness and tightness during the day lately, so this sounds like the perfect product to address that. But at the same time, my skin has been acting up A LOT lately, so I’m wary about introducing new products. Decisions, decisions.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’ve been “test driving” this emulsion for about the past month as well, mainly as a daytime “moisturizer” when it’s warm (sort of) outside. I usually don’t use a cream during the day unless it’s very cold outside. I must say this is a very nice, light emulsion. Sunscreen and (when I indulge) BB or CC creams apply quite nicely and quite evenly over it, as it sinks right into my combo-oily skin after application with no greasy residue. I also don’t get an “oil slick” 4 hours later when I use this emulsion. So, I think it will work well for me – or anyone else with combo-oily skin – during the warm/humid summer months ahead here in the east.

    I quite like the scent as well, though it does dissipate fairly quickly. I would describe the scent as “fresh” with perhaps some “woodsy” undertones, though that may very well be because I am being too heavily influenced by the fact that it contains so much birch sap. For what it’s worth, I would definitely say that the scent is one that a man might like, though it certainly would not be a turn-off for women either, as it has not been for you. Perhaps, Mr. Fiddy should give it a try!

    Just like most CosRx, it is well-priced, reasonably effective, and has gender-neutral packaging. I absolutely think this is yet another winner of a product from CosRx. I certainly would also recommend this emulsion (thus avoiding the “M” – for moisturizer – word) as an excellent hydrating step for any men out there (or their SOs looking for suggestions) who might be interested in developing an AB routine for themselves.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Greetings from Estonia, land of the weird and home of the strange! The weather report says we birch people are going to get 41 degrees F as the HIGH temperature sometime mid-May. It’s snowing as I type this, by the way.

    It’s actually not so dry, though, and a few pumps of The Face Shop’s chia emulsion thing and a few layers of that COSRX rice mask cream is usually enough to get by, unless if it’s windy. Unfortunately this is unpredictable since…well, just now the snowing stopped and it’s sunny somehow. The weather is a bit of a shapeshifter, but at least now I know to ask a random birch for sap to moisturise my face when it gets windy all of a sudden. Unfortunately it won’t come with hyaluronic acid, panthenol or allantoin; maybe if I get a job in Finland, live ten to a room and eat nothing but potatoes I’ll actually have enough money to buy this thing and help fulfil the national stereotype of being beautiful. Yeah, I should totally get this, patriotic duty or something like that.

    Tänk juu veri mäni teims för dis blog. We apprishieit. It is gööd dat Aasia persons also laik birch. Dis mean we are importänt.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I really want to try this lotion, as it sounds perfect for my skin, but it’s so hard to get if you’re not in the US.. I hope it eventually appears on international websites. Your review is great as always)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ooohhh. That Miss flower & Mr Honey balmy moisturizer is so good it helped heal the slight skin irritations I gave myself with my first MUAC peel in about a day. I might just have to look into this toner.

        You also have me wanting this emulsion. I noticed that products with silicones don’t usually work well for my oily combo skin as a daytime moisturizer, but I see that Mr. Jimmy says differently so I might have to try it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh happy day! Things are starting to moisten up here in the Lake Michigan Midwest, and my cream’s been feeling distinctly gummy. I like my Laneige Waterbank Balancing Emulsion just fine, but I’ve just started using it as the final act before sunscreen and, y’know, a girl’s gotta have options. Off I go to try and get my sticky little fingers on some samples or a decant.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Fiddy~

    I was hoping to get your opinion on something ^^;.
    I have a dehydrated/oily type skin that’s prone to the occasional breakout (nothing major, usually just during monthly lady issues haha) and I’m in need of a light moisturizer. Between this and the COSRX Snail Cream which one do you think is lighter and a better option for a humid summer weather? Or do you personally feel they would both be good choices either way?

    Thank you for the fantastic review as always ^^!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my Lord, that is super duper tough! Luckily, they’re both in my skincare basket three inches from my laptop where I’m sitting right now, so let’s have a look.

      I put the snail on my left hand and the birch sap on my right in pretty much equal amounts. The Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion dries down a bit faster, but apart from that, they perform very very similarly. Ultimately I think you should just go for whichever one is more compelling to you, ingredients-wise!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah thank you so much!!
        It’s been difficult trying to figure out what my face has been doing; not enough goodies always made me oilier which made me put even less on until I decided to get educated!

        I think I’ll eventually end up getting both in the future since I want to eventually try the COSRX Snail Essence for winter time but for now, since I have NO snail in my routine (I know, I know. But I was completely new to the benefits of snail slime until just a short few months ago!) I will pick the snail cream~

        Thanks again Fiddy!


  7. I totally agree with you!! I was super surprised myself that this moisturizer was actually super duper hydrating. I have yet to review it on my blog but soon hopefully! 😛


  8. Lightweight lotion? I’m a big fan of Innisfree’s green tea lotions, though I am SO DRY at the moment that even the moisturising version wasn’t cutting it and I started on the very much not lightweight Rohto 50 no Megumi Oil in Yojuneki Rich Collagen Moisturizing Lotion (phewwhattaname)… I never want to stop using it. Best lotion I’ve tried. The only problem is that one pump is too much! I think if I used six like you do of the COSRX, I might be able to do my whole body 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Compare to Cosrx’s Advanced all-in-one snail cream and Oil-free Ultra Moisturizing lotion. Which is the best would you recommend for Combination skin (and acne prone skin). I am torn between two. Its confusing to choose. Help!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I love your detailed reviews! However I’m still a little confused, I’m thinking of getting the AHA/BHA clarifying toner, whitehead power liquid and this oil-free moisturizing cream. What should the sequence of applying them to my face be? And do I need to wait before applying the next product?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHA/BHA toner then AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid (wait at least until it dries fully, 5 minutes or so, and you can try waiting longer as some people feel that makes it more effective) then moisturizer last. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve never used Wishtrend before! But super inspired to try 2 things — the Cosrx rice mask and this! Does your referral link still work, or is the offer no longer good?


  12. I found Innisfree Lavender Moisture Firming Lotion as a very nourishing for my neck (lately for face too). First I was not happy for mineral oil rather high on INCI but after knowing about occlusive creams are important in day/night routine I changed and love its performance on my skin


  13. Hai i think its oil free because that cosrx product doesnt contain carrier oil or base oil like argan oil or jojoba oil. The tea tree oil and lemon oil are essential oil so they are just in small precentage in formulation which the fuction only like fragrance and wont give any emollient effect compare to carrier oil so yeah its oil free.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello… i am new to skincare world, but i have try to update my skincare because of my skin problem and your review really help. i want to improved my hyperpigmentation and since i am oily acne prone i want to try this moisturizer and combine it with vitamin c, do you think it will be ok? i know that i can’t mix vit c with bha/aha but cmiiw please thankyou 🙂


  15. I also use it too, but now thinking to switch to I’m from vitamin tree water gel, have you ever tried it? will this be suitable for fungal acne prone skin?


  16. Essential oil is not fatty acid rich oil. It contains hydrophobic substances that are volatile components of a plant and hardly any fatty acids.


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