Butt Kicking Acids! Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose & COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
For a while, I used a serum which included a AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acids) namely, Rationale’s Catalyst Serum. I was later gifted the Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose concentrated treatment, which contains glycolic acid (AHA) as it’s hero ingredient. I thought I might take a break from the Rationale serum once I had used up my second bottle because it is pretty darn expensive ($154 to be exact). Thanks to my acne resurgence (story of my life…) I also wanted to find a BHA serum to go along with the Liquid Gold Rose. I had never seen one before, until low and behold, in comes Korean brand COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid! 😀
Why do I need both an AHA and BHA product? The main difference between AHAs and BHAs is their solubility. BHAs are oil soluble, so this means that they can sink into the pores of your skin easily, getting past the gunk lying on your skins surface and deep into the pores even if they are blocked by oil and other impurities. BHAs are superb at getting rid of blackheads, whiteheads and make pores seem ‘smaller’ because they lessen skin congestion and make your skin clearer – less noticeable 😉 The main BHA used in skin care is salicylic acid (you will see this ingredient in most acne prone skin care lines). Salicylic acid is also the hero ingredient of the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid 🙂
While AHAs are not oil soluble and are only water soluble, they work at refining skin texture – especially when it comes to refining fine lines, wrinkles and surface scars (like hyper-pigmentation, which occurs after a breakout or a deeper pimple). This makes AHAs perfect for sun damaged skin, skin prone to all types of pigmentation & inflammation (a large part of acne is inflammation), skin already showing the signs of ageing (wrinkles or dehydration lines) and skin with bumps and a ‘rougher texture’. You can see why each treatment would be beneficial to someone suffering from acne, so here are my thoughts on both products and whether they work well together!
Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose
A special, Rose-infused edition of our best-selling and world-renowned Liquid Gold formulation. Liquid Gold Rose is a concentrated, active skin treatment with the perfect balance of performance ingredients. Combining aromatic botanicals Rose, Lotus and Orchid Petal extracts as well as moisture-binding ingredients, Liquid Gold Rose offers instant, weightless hydration whilst still possessing the unparalleled resurfacing and smoothing effects of the classic Liquid Gold formula.Liquid Gold Rose utlises a state-of-the-art delivery system with the perfect pH to effectively diminish surface roughness, pigmentation and sun damage. This cleverly designed formulation includes Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate your skin and is a must-have for normal to dry skin, and mature skin. Your skin is toned and refined, while a special blend of botanicals give anti-inflammatory and anti-redness benefits.Benefits;
Clarifies and brightens the complexion
Improves appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; leaves skin looking more youthful, firm, plump and energised
Open pores, acne scarring, pigmentation, age spots are minimised
Anti-inflammatory and Anti-redness
Works as a toner, exfoliator, serum, and moisturiser in one
Salon results in one easy step
You may have heard of Alpha H’s Liquid Gold before 😉 It is the original and now famous glycolic acid treatment from the Australian skincare brand. Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose is a limited edition version, which from what I can tell, contains additional botanicals which help make the treatment gentler and lovelier to use 🙂
Why do people love the ‘Liquid Gold’ aka glycolic acid so much? Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and the molecules are super small (probably the smallest of all acids) so they absorb into the skin very well. Liquid Gold (including the Rose version) contains 5% Glycolic Acid, which is a good concentration. By combining the glycolic acid together with water binding hydrators like glycerin and hydrolysed silk, the glycolic acid isn’t quite as irritating as it could be on its own. Liquid Gold Rose also contains Dead Sea salt in the formula, which contains a myriad of important minerals for the skin, as well as rose water, liquorice root extract (antioxidant and brightening), orchid and lotus flower extracts. The treatment smells like a traditional rose water and I love this! It makes the application of the product uplifting and soothing. It’s not an artificial scent because Alpha-H has used the best quality rose on the market – the damask rose 🌹
If you haven’t used Liquid Gold before, the treatment does have an interesting texture. It is like water, so Alpha H recommends using a cotton pad to apply to the product onto your skin. I actually pour a little product into the palm of my hand and then use my palms to pat the product into my skin. I don’t want to waste product having it soak into the cotton pad (this is just my personal preference, so whatever floats your boat!) The dispenser is quite easy to control and I probably use around half a teaspoon for each application. I do feel my skin tingle after each application even though I’ve been using the treatment for months, but this subsides quickly and I don’t find I experience any other irritation (e.g. redness or peeling etc.). To me the tingling is just a reminder the product continues to work hard on my behalf 😉
How have I found the product to work? In a nutshell, yes! 🙂 I do think Liquid Gold Rose helps clear up my post spot inflammation and pigmentation MUCH quicker than if I had used nothing. I use the treatment every second night and I still get great results. Everyone who has experienced pimples or acne before knows that those red/purple post-acne inflammation marks can last for months. Generally 2-3 months but they can last even longer, especially with sun exposure. Liquid Gold Rose clears up my post spot pigmentation in 2-4 weeks. That’s pretty darn good! I don’t have too many other skin texture issues (raised scars and so on) but it does keep my skin super smooth to the touch. Bonus! It also lessens build up of dead skin cells, so I don’t have any bumps that are a result of poor skin exfoliation, which can be an issue as you get older. My cheeks look and feel smooth, and my skin tone looks even and bright 🙂
I use the treatment after cleansing and before moisturising. Sure, it has water-binding ingredients to help offset any irritation that can be experienced when using a strong exfoliant, but I wouldn’t call it a moisturiser like Alpha H does. Your skin still needs emollients and occlusive ingredients to stop trans-epidermal water loss (dehydration) and for protection. I also don’t see how it is a toner besides having the same consistency as a toner (i.e. being watery…). I use the treatment only at night as exfoliation makes your skin sensitive to the suns rays (and can make pigmentation worse inadvertently). The rose scent is especially lovely in the evenings and I find it to be really relaxing. Aromatherapy for the win!
While the Liquid Gold Rose version of ‘Liquid Gold’ is limited edition and from what I can tell has sold out, I suspect it will be back as it became super popular in 2016-2017 and is still listed on many websites, including the official Alpha H site. You can even sign up to Cult Beauty’s waitlist! I believe it sold for between $50-$60 AUD for 100ml. A very reasonable price for most.
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is a gentle yet effective exfoliant that contains 4% natural BHA component of Betaine Salicylate, which not only gets rid of blackheads and sebum inside pores, it also prevents sebum from turning into blackheads via oxidation and helps skin rebuild its moisture barrier. Willow Bark Extract and Niacinamide also help brighten skin with gentle exfoliation, while sodium hyaluronate boosts hydration. HOW TO USEPump the essence onto a cotton pad and gently wipe off face avoiding lip and eye area. Recommend to use 2-3 times in a week, and gradually build up the usage according to the skin condition.KEY INGREDIENTS
Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water 67.80%
Betaine Salicylate (BHA) 4.00%
Must be used with sunscreen in daylight.
Do not use BHA products if you are allergic to aspirin.
Do not use BHA liquid with any other highly concentrated AHA, BHA or Vitamin C products
COSRX is a Korean skincare brand, focused on active ingredients and results. This explains their minimalistic packaging but also informative product descriptions and formulas. I love that the ingredient list for the BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is quite short, focused and packed full of scientifically proven beneficial ingredients 🙂 I didn’t know that willow bark, which makes up 50% of the product (in the form of willow bark water) contains natural forming salicylic acid (salicin). Willow bark also contains tannins, phenolic acids and flavonoids to soothe your skin and aid in cell regeneration. The other ingredients listed include niacinamide (gentle exfoliant and skin brightener), panthenol (soothing anti-irritant) and sodium hyaluronate (a super hydrator!). All these ingredients work brilliantly together, supporting the concentrated Betaine Salicylate (salicylic acid BHA, 4%) 🙂
The texture of the product is great. It has the consistency of an essence – it’s not like water (like the Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose is) but it isn’t as thick as a gel – it’s somewhere in the middle. Because it’s not too thin of a consistency, it’ s easy to ‘handle’. I apply the treatment as a ‘serum’, focusing on my t-zone (aka problem area) where blackheads are prevalent but also breakouts in general. I pat the treatment into my skin with my fingertips in order to work the product in and give it time to settle. The treatment isn’t sticky at all, which I appreciate. Again, I use this treatment only at night, on top of the Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose (there’s only a slight overlap between the products on my skin). The treatment does not make my skin tingle and never did, so in that regard it seems to be a little ‘gentler’ than the Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose.
Has it lessened the amount of blackheads I have and helped clear up my skin? Yes it has made them less prevelant but it hasn’t gotten rid of them completely and it would be unfair to expect the product to do so. Why if that’s what it promises to do? Well if you have acne, it’s a health issue that topical treatments can treat – but rarely will they ‘cure’ the problem. Products helps treat the symptoms, but they aren’t going to stop my skin from producing too much sebum in the first place. It’s a never ending battle in that regard (and why I also take medication to help fight my cause of acne). I think you can see where I am going with this. If you have a normal skin type (so no acne issues) this product should work more dramatically for you. For me its difficult to judge. I still have blackheads and enlarged pores at the moment, but I think the product has lessend how dark they appear (so the oxidation process) and perhaps the formation of some spots thanks to it’s exfoliating properties. The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is also a bargain. I bought mine from Nudie Glow (an Australian retailer that specialises in KBeauty) for only $27 (for 100ml)! This means that both products together cost me roughly $87 if I think the Liquid Gold Rose cost me $60 (at most). That’s a saving of $67 in comparison to the Rationale Catalyst Serum. Pretty darn’ good I say!
Is it fine to mix and use both an AHA and BHA serum/treatment together? Yes, but there is a but. You need to remember to not double up on ingredients, as serums and treatments contain very concentrated amounts of active ingredients – i.e. the Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose has different ingredients to the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid (one is an AHA and one is a BHA). The ingredients work in different ways and this is why some serums combine them. I try and not overlap the products too much as I mentioned above – I use the Liquid Gold Rose on my cheeks, temples, outer forehead area and my chin. The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid goes on my nose, between the eyes and centre of my forehead and chin area. The chin and jawline is probably the only place the products overlap as this is a problem area for me. Please also note, that if you suffer from acne, your skin can probably tolerate stronger products that help with exfoliation and cell turnover because you are producing more oil more quickly than ‘regular’ folk. I still try and not overdo it over however, hence only the small overlap when I need it. If acids are new to you (especially in a concentrated treatment) introduce them gradually into your routine, so you can see how your skin reacts). Everyone needs to give their skin a break to rest and rejuvenate. I also only use the two products in combination with each other every second night. Definitely don’t use them in conjunction with retinol or vitamin C. Vitamin A or C won’t be able to work properly in conjunction with AHA/BHAs and can cause severe irritation/burning (retinol and vitamin C also exfoliate, but differently).
On top of my two AHA and BHA treatments, I apply my Rationale Catalyst Gelcreme (there’s a full review of the Catalyst range here). It’s been designed to be used on top of a very active exfoliating serum (their own, which contains AHAs and BHAs) hence its ok to layer it on top of your exfoliating treatments/serums. It contains gentle organic acids, hydrating peptides and skin identical ceramides, to help skin heal and re-enforce your moisture barrier. It’s exxy, but I can’t let this one go because it is brilliant! Find it on the Rational website here.
Talk about a powerhouse trio or what! <3
That’s it folks 🙂 I hope these reviews were helpful and have maybe given you some more information in regards to what to looks for in acids, how they can help you and how to apply them. They are certainly a regular in my routine and probably will be for all of time lol let’s just hope I can get rid of this acne spell and live happily ever after! That'[s how it work right?! 😉
Let me know if you’ve ever used any Alpha H or COSRX products for that matter!
Catch ya next time Beauties,
P.S. If you’re new to acids, you might find my old yet informative, ‘Acids 101’ post helpful! 🙂
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