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.
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.
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
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.)
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.
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?