Korean Trick

Blog about Korean cosmetics, reviews and articles

Salicylic Acid in Korean Cosmetic

I’m currently using three products with BHA from Korean manufacturers. I thought that’s not a bad reason to talk about this wonderful ingredient.
So, what is it? It’s an acid (surprise surprise) which can reach deep into the pores and regulate sebum production.

Salicylic acid isn’t water soluble, the ph of the product doesn’t affect its potency, which is rare in cosmetic active ingredients. When applied to the skin, salicylic acid breaks up the protein connections between the cells of the outer layer of the skin, which makes that layer immediately exfoliate. At the same time, the acid dissolves upper layer’s oils, which further speeds up evening out and renewal of the skin. Salicylic acid can also dissolve bacterial proteins, so it destroys bacteria and disinfects the skin.

Due to the ability to dissolve oils, salicylic acid easily penetrates oil plugs and dissolves them, eradicating bacteria and cleansing the skin. Treatments based on salicylic acid not only reduce oiliness during application, but also suppress sebum synthesis in the future, strengthen skin’s antimicrobial defense and reduce inflammation processes.
Because salicylic acid has a pronounced exfoliating effect, it lightens and whitens the skin. This effect is especially visible when lightening post inflammatory pigmentation.
Now we can see that this component is a find for oily troubled skin and skin with a large number of blackheads.

Let’s see what I’m currently using 🙂 It’s three treatments of different types, I don’t use them daily and not always all three at once, the frequency depends on the skin condition and my mood. Most often I used them in the evening, although in the conditions of our northern winter I can easily use something in the morning (I’m starting to use the toner twice a day).


First – discs with natural salicylic acid by Korean brand Cosrx One Step Pimple Clear Pad. Packaged in a typical jar with a protective membrane, which you shouldn’t toss, with twist-on lid; 70 pieces in the package.

You can order them on eBay or Amazon.

They contain willow bark extract (from which salicylic acid was first derived and what gave it its name). It contains not only salicin, which is an aspirin, but also certain other components capable of improving the state of the skin. A standard black willow bark extract contains 10% salicylic acid. Even a pure solution of the willow bark extract doesn’t irritate the skin, unlike a 10% solution of synthetic salicylic acid, despite the acid amounts being the same. Besides, research shows that black willow bark extract stimulates cellular renewal more.

The two-sided discs are saturated in willow bark extract solution with various additives (including oils). On one side they are smooth, on the other – textured. After cleansing, swipe the textured side over oily or acne-prone zones for gentle exfoliation, then run the smooth face over the whole face. And that’s exactly what I do 🙂
If you don’t apply anything after the discs and let the treatment get absorbed and do its job, then the skin can get a bit tight, but not too bad (I do that but not all the time).


Second – serum with natural salicylic acid and green tea extract by Neulii Greentea BHA Pore Tightening Serum. The serum is packaged in a sizable 100ml plastic bottle with a comfortable dispense. The texture – a slightly thick water.

You can order the serum on eBay or Amazon.


This treatment also contains willow bark extract solution (which is described above). In addition, alcohol is added to the formula. Many products with salicylic acid contain alcohol, since it’s not water soluble and alcohol is a universal solvent. I, of course, don’t really like that component, but this is the case where I have to make peace with it (very few products with salicylic acid are alcohol free). During use, the scent of alcohol is apparent, but it doesn’t seem to dry out the skin (my routine includes multi-step hydration, because central heating and cold weather parch the skin). The manufacturer suggests applying this serum after cleansing and before toner, which is what I do.


And last, toner with aloe and salicylic acid Benton Aloe BHA Skin toner. The product comes in a pretty green plastic 200 ml bottle with a pump. Texture – almost exactly like water, a tiny bit thicker.

You can order the toner on eBay or Amazon.


I really like this toner: it calms and hydrates the skin excellently! I apply it with fingers, it gets absorbed rather quickly, doesn’t leave a sticky feeling. I’m not sure that it contains that much salicylic acid and would work as the only treatment on the skin which really needs it, but as an addition or as part of care for normal or dry skin it’s excellent! Using it is a real pleasure.

It’s hard to rate the effect of a single treatment, but as a complex they all work well on me: the quantity of blackheads is getting lower, dead cells are exfoliated, skin looks much better. I’m pleased 🙂

Daria Bobkova

Daria Bobkova

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By Daniele Zedda • 18 February


By Daniele Zedda • 18 February

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