COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid | Review & Comparison to Paula's Choice BHA

Well, this is a little embarrassing. I purchased and emptied this product so long ago, and I’m only getting to this review now. Boy oh boy do I have some catching up to do. Let’s review and compare the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid now! 

What It Is

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The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is a chemical exfoliator that contains 4% BHA to clear blackheads, remove dead skin cells, and hydrate skin. Use as a treatment before moisturizing and as needed. It comes in a 3.38 fl.oz pump bottle and currently sells for $14 on Amazon.

Ingredient Analysis

Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Butylene Glycol, Betaine Salicylate, Niacinamide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Arginine, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol

Who else loves a short ingredient list?! This formula contains almost 70% Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, which helps fight inflammation and acts as an astringent. Butylene Glycol, Arginine, and Panthenol provide moisture. I also love how they included Niacinamide, which fights fine lines and dullness, and improves the appearance of large pores. To top it off, Sodium Hyaluronate, which is a form of hyaluronic acid, replenishes and restores skin by effectively binding and retaining water molecules.

No harmful ingredients were used.


I started using BHAs several years ago and Paula’s Choice was what I started out with. I sure chose a strong contender to have as my baseline since it literally is a very strong (read harsh) product. I mentioned before in my comparison post (here) that it was like a vacuum for my pores, but it was too easy to over exfoliate. Paula's Choice has 2% BHA using Salicylic Acid. COSRX uses 4% BHA using Betaine Salicylate. You might think COSRX should be stronger since it has double the level of BHA, but Betaine Salicylate is less effective so it requires double the concentration[1]. Since the effective levels of BHA are essentially the same, the difference then lies in which ingredient works better with your skin.

COSRX's BHA is in liquid form, has no fragrance, and absorbs easily into the skin without residue. To me, it feels like half the strength of Paula’s Choice BHA. You might either like it or hate it for the same reason that it’s milder. COSRX’s BHA was effective in exfoliating my skin, but it didn’t clear out my pores as thoroughly as Paula’s Choice. I could still see some black dots in my pores, but the flip side is it did not irritate, and I woke up with a nice glow. If you go from using something as strong as Paula’s Choice, you might be unimpressed with this. But, if irritation is the main issue for you, then this should address your needs. 

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If you’re looking for a milder BHA formula, the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is worth trying. As a personal preference, I want my BHA to have just a little more oomph to it so I will still be on the hunt for “the one.” If you have any recommendations, let me know!  

★★★ ½ out of 5

Pros: Gentle, moderately effective

Cons: Mild formula holds back pore-clearing power

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