When I gained an alarming amount of weight during my dancing days and my teen acne had somehow come back full force, I didn’t think that it was a hormonal problem at the very least. I thought the acne came with the sudden weight gain—a sign that I was just unhealthy and needed to get back on my diet.
I wasn’t 100% wrong. I was unhealthy. But nothing I was doing on my own was working, not even my tried-and-tested regimen of workouts and diets—that was until I ran into my tita who just so happened to be an OB-GYN. On the spot, she told me I most likely had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She invited me for a checkup and advised me to get an ultrasound. A couple of tests later confirmed her diagnosis. A deeper dive into my journey as a cyster or a PCOS-diagnosed patient is a story for another day.
One of the main symptoms that I’ve been dealing with is hormonal acne. It is the worst. It comes and goes and has a mind of its own. There are seasons when my skin is glowing, but also the very rare moments where I look like giant pus (bad mental image, shoo). The only positive thing to come out of my battle with hormonal acne? I get to test drive a ton of products to see what works best for me. Side note: birth control pills do work, but sometimes need a little help to heal the ongoing breakouts.
That being said, I’ve been a big COSRX fan since they first launched as they’ve been able to help me deal with my skin troubles. I’ve been able to slowly go through their product list to play around and learn. So far, I’ve loved most of their products and keep my faves well-stocked. When the #14DayMiracle #AcneChallenge came out, I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to test drive their latest AC Collection meant to target acne-prone skin.
Before starting the 14-day journey, I was already at my wits’ end and so close to crying because of my painful, active acne and just all-around bad skin. I’d already tried almost everything at this point—TikTok hydrocolloid bandages, babying my skin, changing a couple of products, cutting out products, plant-based diet, about 10 packs of the COSRX master patches, MORE water—but hormonal acne exacerbated by the use of face masks? A really, really mean opponent! But hey, if I can still mask despite my acne, so can you! So no excuse, mask up when you go out!
A quick disclaimer before giving my two-cents on each product: in conjunction with the trial sets, I’ve already been using the Calming Foam Cleanser, the Ultimate Spot Cream, the Blemish Spot Clearing Serum, and the Acne Patches—all from the brand’s AC Collection. I really went for the full experience 😅 I was also prescribed Hyaluronic Acid by my doctor to help battle the maskne.
I wasn’t sure which one would work best for my normal (occasionally acne-prone) skin type so I decided to cop both the Mild and Intense variants when it went on P1 sale on their official store on Shopee. I was determined to get rid of my active acne and turnover healthier skin with COSRX.
Just like the rest of the brand’s product lineup, this is formulated for skincare to be more clinically effective, straight to the point, and at a reasonable price point.
CALMING FOAM CLEANSER
Hailed as the leveled-up version of their Salicylic Daily Cleanser, this Calming Foam Cleanser is formulated with not just salicylic acid, but with asiatic acid, and madecassic acid as well to purify, cleanse, and calm the skin. It comes in a minimalist, straight-to-the-point white tube packaging with COSRX’s signature clinical branding. It’s sealed with silver foil (which I always appreciate even with the trial-sizes).
THE JAZZY VERDICT: Feel-wise, there’s not much difference from the Salicylic Daily Cleanser that I’ve known and loved. BUT (and it’s a big but), my skin definitely feels cleaner (without the squeaky feeling!) and more purified with the Calming Foam Cleanser. The scent is slightly more herbaceous than the Salicylic Daily Cleanser, but definitely faint enough that you forget that it has a scent (until you sniff the product on purpose from the tube, hehehe). I use this twice a day when I do my cleansing routine.
💸 💸 💸 💸 💸 This is a definite repurchase for me and may finally have stolen me away from my first cleanser fave—the Salicylic Daily Cleanser, lol!
The Calming Liquid Intensive is a fast-action liquid (toner?) that refreshes and purifies acne-prone skin for a cool, clear complexion. Its ingredient list includes some skin-loving components: propolis extract, lactic acid, tea tree oil, asiatic acid, madecassic acid. It’s the upgraded version of the brand’s Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol, so it’s definitely got a good amount of AHAs/BHAs to help bust acne-like music to my ears! It’s also got plant-derived alcohol to clarify the skin.
On the other hand, the Calming Liquid Mild is the gentle, soothing daily version with pretty much the same skin-loving, calming ingredient list that removes excess sebum and prevents further breakouts. It is free from any alcohols to help the skin maintain oil-moisture balance and calm any irritation. It’s EWG green grade (cool!), which means that it’s non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, silicone-free, oil-free, and gluten-free. The trial-sized bottle that it came in was translucent, showcasing the clear liquid inside.
THE JAZZY VERDICT: I found that each variation of the liquid is distinctive due to the scent, first and foremost. You could definitely smell the alcohols in the Intensive variant compared to the Mild. The scent of the alcohols honestly made my eyes water a bit and my nose scrunch.
I applied either variant with clean hands and no cotton pads—save the environment and also get the most bang for your buck! I found myself leaning towards the Intensive liquid during the evenings when my skin felt like it needed a little more help to purify and when I was producing too much sebum in a short amount of time. I opted for the Mild variant on the days (and nights) that my acne was more active and angry, thus my skin needed more calming and baby-ing. Listening to my skin and feeling it out day-to-day definitely helped with the balancing act.
Overall, I loved both variants equally. Okay, that’s a lie. I loved the Mild variant a touch more—but just because the alcohol and scent in the Intensive variant still has me scrunching my nose even after two weeks.
💸 💸 💸 I’m still on the fence about this for the time being and I’m not too sure I want to let go of my ride-or-die Son&Park Beauty Water just yet, but I do think a couple more weeks using this product might just change my tune.
BLEMISH SPOT CLEARING SERUM
This multifunctional serum made with a specialized formula clears traces of acne, dark spots, and scars by utilizing a new, methodical approach that controls excess sebum and balances the skin’s natural pH levels at the same time. Powerful ingredients enlist epidermal growth factor (EGF) to help acne skin to boost the production of collagen and elastin, 4% niacinamide to refine dullness and reduce hyperpigmentation caused by acne, and centella asiatica, and natural moisturizing factors (NMF) to calm irritated skin.
THE JAZZY VERDICT: It has a watery consistency that feels like a toner. I apply this by patting it into my skin with clean, bare hands—post Calming Liquid. There is no sting, no tingle, no indication of it even being a disturbing presence in my routine. The serum absorbs quickly with no sticky finish. I love this so much that I use it in the AM and the PM since it is gentle enough for both.
It’s definitely overturned my skin and lessened the current damage that this round of hormonal acne has wrecked upon me. This product has absolutely calmed down redness and has pushed to clear any evidence of acne. A couple weeks more with it, and I’m sure that it’d be as if I never had a bad breakout.
💸 💸 💸 💸 💸 This is definitely something I’ll be repurchasing when I finally run out—even if just to keep in reach in case my acne decides to flare up again 🙃
ULTIMATE SPOT CREAM
This toothpaste-looking spot treatment adheres to growing acne, effectively and quickly overcoming areas of concern! It’s formulated with not one, not two, BUT THREE legendary healing ingredients—madecassic acid, asiatica acid, and asiaticoside (is anyone else seeing a pattern?). It gently and effectively dries out visible acne overnight using a skin-recovery blend of Zinc Oxide, Calamine, CentellAC-RX Complex, and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water. If this last rundown of ingredients made you go “???” then fret not, it’s all skin-loving ingredients!
The instructions that come with it advise to apply thickly on the spot of concern.
THE JAZZY VERDICT: It definitely heals without the weird tingly feeling that I usually got in spot treatments, but it’s not as magical as we would all want it to be. It doesn’t banish the spot overnight by some miracle. But it’s so close! For my small marks, it does the job and effectively dries it out quickly, BUT the bigger, and angrier the spot then the longer it takes to work! Although, using it for two weeks did prove some really great results. I do wake up with calmer spots of concerns. IF USED EVERY NIGHT.
💸 💸 💸 💸 Of all the spot treatments that I have tried, this is definitely on the same level as the Innisfree Bija Cica Gel in terms of being able to calm down an angry zit overnight, so I would still definitely repurchase it as an alternative to the aforementioned.
LIGHTWEIGHT SOOTHING MOISTURIZER
This nourishing facial moisturizer for acne-prone skin can keep skin balanced and healthy. It gives a light and non-sticky moisturizing sensation that calms and cools heat-sensitive and acne-prone skin. It is also EWG green grade, which means that it’s non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, silicone-free, oil-free, and gluten-free. The product is housed in a tube similar to that of the foaming cleanser—so similar, you could almost mistake them for each other if you’re not looking!
THE JAZZY VERDICT: There were days where it felt amazing to slather on my skin post-cleanse for that extra hydration lock. Unfortunately, after the first week, my skin was overturning and clearing from the niacinamide courtesy of the Blemish Spot Clearing Serum, so the moisturizer (plus my SPF) wasn’t sinking into my skin as much as usual while my skin was sloughing off. I would get weird filmy little balls of product throughout the day whenever I accidentally rubbed a finger against my jaw or the side of my nose. I panicked for a tiny bit of course, but nothing a little assurance from skincare veterans and former beauty editors couldn’t placate. With their advice, I opted to hit pause on using any moisturizer for the time being while my skin was adjusting to this routine.
💸 💸 💸 This moisturizer might be the next thing I purchase should my current tube (also on pause) of Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentrate run out. I love the very lightweight consistency of it and the ease with which my skin can absorb the product. It really lives up to its product name!
Each pack comes with 26 pieces of colloidal patches that work to heal acne overnight, sucking out all that bacteria and gunk from active pimples. COSRX has three variants, including this pack that’s dedicated to acne skin. Each patch is oval-shaped and is suitable for covering several acne spots at once AND for covering body acne. It comes in three different sizes that can cover from small pimples to even cystic acne. The border of the patch is thinner—compared to its predecessors—to strongly adhere to curved areas such as jawline and hairline.
THE JAZZY VERDICT: From the whole AC Collection lineup, this has got to be my favorite product—and not because I went through 8 packs of these in just 1 month (please send my skin some help). The adhesive grips better compared to the original patches and doesn’t slide around after application. Plastering on the acne patch really helps me stop picking at my active acne (which is a huge no-no, it can lead to scarring)
I love how the shape is more conducive and flexible to healing broader areas that have acne concerns. And honestly? Much like those colloidal bandages that TikTok made me buy, this worked as soon as I applied them. You could really see the gunk being pulled from the acne and into its colloidal-adhesive embrace (that sounded weird, 😅).
💸 💸 💸 💸 💸 I honestly regret not listening and taking Bianca’s (one of my fave people I trust with skincare and my momma 🦙) word every time I complained about any acne. Would purchase these in a heartbeat 💕—in fact, I already have a shipment of restock on the way 😗.
THE FINAL VERDICT
In the 14 days that I’ve road-tested these products, I can confidently tell you that there was a huge improvement in my skin that I did not expect to happen within just two weeks. I do still have a couple of tiny active pimples (like 1 or 2) and some marks that still need fading, but my skin is definitely not as problematic as it was when I first began the COSRX #14DayMiracle #AcneChallenge. Check out the results below:
I could cry now for totally different reasons aside from despairing about my skin. I’m so happy that my complexion has calmed down, gotten healthier, is glowing, has evened out, and is “turning over a new leaf”. I always knew that I could count on COSRX to help me right any skin concerns or issues I have—especially when I’m dealing with something as erratic as my hormonal acne.
I definitely recommend the AC Collection line to any one of you who might be experiencing what I experienced or just have sensitive skin and have found nothing working for you just yet. COSRX has been a brand that I really stand behind and laud praises about any time, anywhere—I’m so glad that the AC Collection continued to prove what a great brand COSRX is.
I’m leaving y’all with some great tips that I’ve garnered through learning, listening to beauty gurus, and experiencing firsthand when dealing with acne-prone skin or active breakouts.
🧖🏼♀️ Always wash your hands before washing your face. You don’t want whatever nasty germs you touched before to rub and contaminate your skin.
🧖🏼♀️ Don’t change your WHOLE routine abruptly when dealing with sensitive or acne-prone skin. Identify which products are becoming your “pain points” while your skin is sensitive or while you have an active breakout. Switch them out for calming products and ingredients.
🧖🏼♀️ If it stings or itches, gurl, then STOP USING THE PRODUCT AND BABY YOUR SKIN!
Have a great day, night, and week ahead! I wish you glowing skin and luscious hair, you beautiful sunshine you!
Slay safe, babes!
A 24-year-old creative who’s got the starry-eyes of a shopaholic with an irrefutable love-hate relationship with carbs and wine .