The Moisturizer That Doubles as an Exfoliator

By May 12, 2017

Read our Cosrx PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream review and see why it’s a game-changing moisturizer for sensitive skin.

When it comes to skin care, I’m a true maximalist. Swinging between combination and dry skin types throughout the year, I like to have options in my skin care stash for every single product category, be it toner, essence, or sunscreen.

Yet I’m a minimalist when it comes to exfoliating, but not because my skin never gets dull and flaky. In fact, it’s the opposite, but nine times out of ten, exfoliators irritate my skin. I use a glycolic acid toner only on my T-zone during warmer months or an acid-based sleeping pack all over my face if I’m really desperate. For most of the year, I just use a gentle peeling gel. But even with the gentlest product, I still wake up the next morning with tiny red bumps on my upper cheek area.

Naturally, BHAs and AHAs don’t tend to excite me. So when I heard that there is a new generation of acids called polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) meant for sensitive skin, I was interested in giving it a try. Recently, I also saw some serious brightening results with the Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence, so I was excited when I found out Cosrx had released a moisturizer with PHAs.

What it is

The Cosrx PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream‘s formula has 3% PHA, an ingredient that has larger molecular structures than other acids to smooth skin on the top surface level. Because it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply as other acids, it’s a trending peeling ingredient among sensitive skin types. Even though I don’t consider my skin type to be sensitive, a gentle acid that works is a dream-come-true in my book.

What drew me to the product is that instead of being an exfoliator, it comes as a moisturizer. It claims to brighten skin by removing dead skin cells and hydrating the skin at the same time. The first ingredient that appears on the list is coconut fruit extract instead of water, and it also contains niacinamide, a brightening ingredient I always scan for in a moisturizer.

When I first opened the tub, the color and the thickness reminded me of the Cosrx Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream. But this one isn’t as viscous, and if I tilt the tub, the cream stays put instead of dripping out.

I only need to put a few dots around my face to create an even layer. Even though it feels lightweight, it’s denser than gel moisturizers like the Missha Super Aqua Ultra Water-Full Clear Cream. But it’s not greasy and thick, either, like the moisturizers I like to use in the winter. It’s very hydrating and leaves a slightly tacky, but not sticky, finish.

COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream review

My experience

Since acids tend to make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, I prefer to use acids only at night. I used this cream as the last step in my nighttime skin care routine for five straight days. The first night, I used it right after an exfoliation session, when my cheeks were already a bit red and irritated. When I applied this cream, I felt a slight tingle, but that feeling disappeared within a few minutes. On the following days, I didn’t feel any irritation the way I normally do with acid-based exfoliators.

I like to go to bed with a ton of product on my face, so once I knew the coast was clear, I put a generous amount of the cream on my face before bed. When I woke up, there was no greasy residue left on my face, and my pores survived the extra layer of moisture without becoming any bigger. The redness on my cheeks seemed to have lessened a bit, too, which made my complexion more even.

I also noticed my skin was less flaky in the morning. Now, I wouldn’t say the smoothing effect was anything life-changing, but I did really notice the effect of the PHAs: Usually, the tail end of my morning routine consists of cleaning up sunscreen flakes along my hair and jawline. But after using this cream for five nights, I noticed the same sunscreen went on more smoothly and without clumping in annoying little patches.   

Bottom line

I think the Cosrx PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream is a great daily moisturizer for transitional and warmer months when your skin is unpredictable and tends to get flakier. I’ll still be reaching for my peeling gel when I need a hardcore exfoliation session, but because this cream smoothes and hydrates my skin at the same time, this is the perfect cream for daily skin texture maintenance. If you have sensitive skin, I would definitely give this a try.

COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream review

Since it has a slightly tacky finish, it would layer nicely under makeup as well, as long as you follow with a sunscreen! For oily skin types, I wouldn’t recommend it for the daytime, as it might be a bit heavy, depending on how oily you get. But I would still recommend it as your nighttime moisturizer that nourishes skin overnight and exfoliates without causing irritation.

+ What do you think of our Cosrx PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream review? Let us know below!

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