Does the CosRX Two in One Poreless Power Liquid actually work?

It’s been a while since I last put something on my face without thoroughly researching about it first, so when I received the Two in One Poreless Power Liquid (P990) from The Skincare Curator for review, I felt pretty lost and clueless about what I was getting into! The product is the newest drop from my fave Korean skincare brand CosRX, so there weren’t any reviews for me to reference. How do I fit it into my routine? Would it replace my existing BHA? Heck, what type of skincare product is it even? I’ve been testing it and comparing my notes with that of other reviews. Here’s what I’ve learned so far!

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What is it and what’s in it?

The “Power Liquid” moniker set my expectations for this to be an exfoliating product like the AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid and BHA Blackhead Power Liquid that CosRX had previously released. I like both products and thought that Poreless would work similarly because of its BHA content. However, it only contains 0.1% betaine salicylate compared to the 4% of the Blackhead Power Liquid. AFAIK you need a minimum of 1% betaine salicylate for a product to have an exfoliating effect.

It’s important to note that the main ingredient of this formula is actually Salix Alba Bark Water, which supposedly comprises 88% of the product. This ingredient is derived from the white willow tree, and contains salicin - a substance that can turn into salicylic acid under the right conditions, but isn’t exactly the same thing. Willow bark water is a popular ingredient for acne-related products because it helps to soothe inflamed skin, and not because it can act as a BHA substitute.

Based on this data and my personal experience of the product, the Poreless Power Liquid doesn’t seem to be an exfoliant like the two other Power Liquids are. While it did help to keep my pores clear (more on that next), it won’t replace the acids I use for chemical exfoliation.

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What can you expect instead?

As the name suggests, this product is designed to make skin look poreless. Although low, the BHA content can help to keep pores free from clogs. With that cleared out, the tannin from the willow bark extract helps to condition skin and minimize the appearance of pores. The two seem like a perfect combination but will it actually help me achieve glass skin goals?

To test this out, I first started using the Two in One Poreless Power Liquid after getting back from a five-day beach trip. I mention this because I completely stopped using chemical exfoliants in my routine a week before my trip to minimize my risk for sunburn (acids make skin more sensitive to the sun). Coupled with the trip itself, that’s almost two weeks of going acid-free.

I had fun at the beach but my skin wasn’t as happy, and I came home with pretty clogged pores. Instead of reaching for my acids, I just used the Poreless liquid to see if it would be enough to remove the comedones and sebaceous filaments. Honestly, it was not, for the reasons stated above but I did see an improvement in my skin. The texture felt smooth again and my skin wasn’t as red from all the sun exposure, thanks to the willow bark water. I think the BHA was able to remove the smaller, shallower clogs but ultimately I did have to use a fuller strength acid to clear them out.

Did it tighten my pores though? My pores aren’t very large to begin with, so it won’t be so helpful to post my before and after photos here. Instead, I asked my husband Javie to use the Poreless Liquid, too. Do note that he’s an even bigger fan of the Blackhead Power Liquid than I am and has been using it for about a year now, but it doesn’t shrink his pores. Sorry the second shot is a bit blurry but even so, I can see the difference in the size of the encircled pore. Neither of us have become poreless with its usage (tbh that would be weird) but the refinement of pore appearance is definitely apparent!

How should it be used?

The challenge for any new skincare product is figuring out how to add it into an existing routine, and in my case, it’s bit harder because I need to take pH into consideration. Fortunately, my friend Becca tested the Poreless Liquid on a pH strip and found that it registers at 4.5 to 5 pH level. BHAs work best at a pH between 3 and 4 so this is a bit higher, but I treat this more as an acid toner anyway so it’s not an issue for me. Given the pH level, it seems best to apply this after the actual acids.

The instructions say that the Poreless Liquid can either be patted on directly on the skin, or applied using a cotton pad so I tried both. I use my hands when applying this after an acid so I can just gently press it on and maybe avoid disturbing the layer underneath (I don’t know if that matters but I’m just being careful). In the morning and on days when I take a break from chemical exfoliation, I like using a cotton pad to sweep it on like a toner. It does use up more product though (3 pumps instead of just 2 by hand) but the texture of the cotton makes me feel like I’m gently exfoliating my face.

 My skin turns red and bumpy when I over-exfoliate

My skin turns red and bumpy when I over-exfoliate

I used this with the Blackhead Power Liquid with no trouble but as gentle as the formula is supposed to be, be careful when using this with an AHA. It was fine when used with a 5% glycolic acid but when I tried it with the AHA Liquid (which is 7% glycolic acid), my skin got over-exfoliated. It turned red and the texture suddenly became uneven, like getting a mild form of hives. Fortunately, applying ceramide products calmed my skin, and I was back to normal the next day. If this happens to you, rinse skin well with water and use other skincare to soothe the inflammation.

BHA can have a drying effect on the skin, but this formula contains ingredients like Allantoin and Panthenol to help restore moisture. If you have dry skin like me, it may be a good idea to stick to using this once a day and applying a heavy moisturizer at night.

Other product notes

The liquid is a bit viscous and not too runny, so it’s pretty easy to just pat on using hands. It doesn’t sting or feel like anything at all to me, but some people have reported experiencing a cooling sensation. I do smell a faint minty scent, which I think comes from the Mentha Haplocalix (or corn mint) extract but I only detect it when I soak a cotton pad with the product. It’s a pleasant scent for me, and anyway it fades away very quickly. My skin feels a bit tacky after application but it does not feel uncomfortable or disturb the application of my other products.

Though it’s not going to replace my chemical exfoliation, I like having the Two in One Poreless Liquid in my routine. I don’t need to use my acids as often, and I like how it refines the look and feel of my pores. If using actual acids seem daunting, this is a good product to consider starting with.

Have you tried the Two in One Poreless Liquid yet? What has your experience been? Would you add this product to your regular skincare routine?

Sources: Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary, Gramercy Skincare, Herbpathy