cosRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream Review

[ product was provided for review purposes ]

I received the latest item in the cosRX family from Jolse, a premier online K-Beauty store, for review purposes.  I gave an initial impression a while back, but I continued to use it for another month and I am ready to give a fuller review on this product.  cosRX is a solid brand, and in fact, many of my first  K-Beauty reviews featured cosRX products.  I had used two other PHA creams before starting cosRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream and I was curious to see how it would fare as a PHA brightening and skin texture refining/smoothing product.  When I did my first initial impressions, I did not know the ingredients list, the percentage of PHA or what type of PHA was used.

Skin Type/Concerns: Oily, blemish prone, aging skin with hyper-pigmentation and fine lines/wrinkles.

What is a PHA?  PHA are Poly Hydroxy Acids and it is a third generation peeling/exfoliating ingredient, much like AHA and BHA, but it is less irritating. It is just as effective as an AHA, but it is gentle and mild, as the molecules in PHA are larger and do not penetrate deeply into the skin. Now, don’t confuse gentle and mild with a lesser percentage of acids or a higher pH level.  That isn’t what that means ~ it just means that it is gentler on your skin than an AHA or BHA, not that its acid level is higher ~ the higher the acid level, the less effective it is ~ or that the percentage is lower ~ the lower the percentage of acid in the product, you guessed it ~ the less effective it is.

PHA’s take longer to show results, but if you use a product for about a month or so, you should see some skin tone and texture improvement. PHA’s also have hydrating and moisturizing benefits that can help strengthen your skin barrier function and they contain anti-oxidant properties, making it a good choice for anti-aging skincare products. PHA’s also can be used with other products such as retinol and skin lightening hydroquinone. PHA products can be used on all skin tones as well and help reduce photo-aging. (source)

cosRX contains PHA gluconolactone. Gluconolactone is dervived from glucuronic acid, which is a sugar acid and it is suitable for sensitive or mature skin. It functions like an AHA and will help improve your skin’s texture by aiding in cellular turnover, unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells. Recent studies show it might be effective in treating blemishes, due to some anti-bacterial properties. Alas, it only contains 3% of gluconolactone, which is too low to be effective.  I have found a study on PHA and even the daytime PHA cream had 4%.  This is a night time treatment, so it should be at 10% to really brighten your skin tone. 

This also contains 50% coconut fruit extract, so it will supply an immediate surge of moisture to your skin, making your skin soft and smooth.   It contains 2% of niacinamide (vitamin B3), a powerful antioxidant that acts as an anti-inflammatory, improves your skin elasticity, enhance the skin barrier function and also it helps to even out skin tone and reduce post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation.  This does contain an AHA with citric acid, but it is so far down the ingredient list, I am not sure it does much of anything.  To be effective, AHA ingredients should be near the top of the list of ingredients

This has some occlusive and emollient ingredients that contain antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids with sunflower and palm kernel oils, along with beeswax, so it “coats” your skin to prevent water loss, as well as binding moisture to your skin.  This is not a vegan product, nor do I know if the palm oils used are a RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.

Ingredients: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract (50%), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Gluconolactone (3%), Niacinamide (2%), Betaine, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Bees Wax, Elaeis Guineensis (palm) oil, Elaeis Guineensis (palm) Kernel Oil, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin cosDNA analysis

on the left, first opened.  on the right, how much I have used to date

This product is creamy and has a slick feeling to its gel-cream consistency with a faint bitter, chemical scent to it. Its texture reminds me of cosRX Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream and now that I know the ingredients, this is probably due to the sunflower oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetearyl olivate and sorbitan olivate ingredients.  For those who are sensitive to olive extracts, this does contain olive derived ingredients.  Since this is an acid, I use this right after I apply my toner ~ it should not be used as the last step of your night time skincare routine, because acids needs to be as close to your bare skin as possible.  This spreads very easily on my skin.  It doesn’t absorb quickly at all ~ it will just sit on the top of my skin for about 30 minutes and it is very sticky as well.  Once it does dry down, it leaves my skin feeling very slick with that filmy feeling on top of it. I did do a pH test on this cream, as it is an acid and to be effective as an exfoliator, I wanted to see the reading as I already know that the percentage of PHA is too low for a night treatment. Hmmm, it is coming out to be around a 4.5 to 5 and that is not good.  I did research on PHA creams and based on a PHA vs AHA Clinical Study I read (source), a night treatment should be around 10% PHA  with a pH level of around 3.6 to 4.  cosRX only has 3%, which is more like a day lotion ~ the study actually used a 4% solution ~ but the study also had a pH level of 3.8 for the day lotion.  This is just too high of a pH level to achieve any noticeable brightening results.

image source

It might provide some gentle exfoliation as it is still very mildly acidic, but I am quite disappointed in these levels.  Despite all of the occlusive oils and an initial moisturize improvement of 36% after I applied the cream, my very oily skin was very dry in the morning ~ this is normal for PHA creams, as they are naturally drying on my skin ~ Swanicoco and Skinfood PHA creams also dried out my skin and those products also had a lot of moisturizing ingredients.  To solve this issue, I waited for the PHA cream to absorb into my skin and then applied a sleeping pack over it, to lock in the moisture and make sure my skin didn’t dry out overnight.  That said, I still had little balls of skincare product on my face in the morning and I know it was the cosRX product, as when I didn’t use it, I didn’t have that issue.  

Final Thoughts

At the time I stopped using this product, I had been using it several times a week for 6 weeks.  I have not noticed any brightening effects; however, my skin is softer and smoother, so this product will refine the texture of your skin. I think PHA’s are good for sensitive skin and even dry skin, just remember to add a moisturizer over it. cosRX states this is for dry skin, but if this dried out my oily skin, I cannot imagine what it does to drier skin than my own.  I think for oily, non sensitive skin, it might be better to have an AHA or BHA cream.  In fact, I am currently using AHA products as I feel that using a PHA only might not just be what I am looking for right now.  It might be that someone with my skin type can use AHA a few times a week and then supplement the rest of the week with a PHA cream, as they are so gentle.  I wish to thank Jolse and cosRX for their generosity for supplying this product for me to review.

Where to Purchase

Jolse carries the cosRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream 50 mL tub (click here to purchase) and it retails for $25.00 USD.  Jolse offers free International shipping for orders $40.00 or more and they give lots of free samples with each purchase.  

[  product provided for review purposes ]

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