Blog Review: Korean acid toners and treatments

Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel // Dr Jart

AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner // COSRX

V10 Peeling Pad // BRTC

Dr. Troubex Blemish Pads // Tosowoong

Seeing as I felt really good about compiling a bunch of products into one review rather than going into far too much detail individually, here is another cluster review of Korean acid toners and treatments.

By default, when I visit a physical shop (Lalavla, Olive Young or LOHBs) here in Korea, the majority of acids is offered in the shape of presoaked pads. This of course is enormously convenient, if perhaps not super great for the environment – but if you prefer to use acid toners with cotton pads rather than your hands anyway, then I guess this won’t bother you much. I will have to concede that I love using presoaked pads myself, as they usually come in at a reasonable price and are great to wipe on after cleansing your face.

Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel – Dr Jart

via cosDNA

Size/Quantity: 100ml

Price & Availability: I got this on sale at Olive Young for about ₩20,000 back then. I no longer see this in stores, though it seems to be available online for around US$40.

Opinion: This is a nod to professional peel treatments in that you are meant to use this after cleansing by swiping it on with the thick cotton pads provided, leave it on for a few minutes (1-2 or 3-5 depending on your skin’s ability to tolerate acids), then wash it off again and continue with your skincare routine. In my opinion, the cotton pads provided were much too thick and if you use them, you are bound to waste a lot of product. Try to find another use for them, such as soaking them with toner to create a DIY sheet mask, or to clean your bathroom, or whatever else you may be able to come up with – but don’t use them as intended. You can safely use your regular cotton rounds or perhaps even your hands with this to avoid wastage.

Onto the actual efficacy. This actually exfoliates extremely well, and gently, too. According to the product website, it contains AHAs, BHAs and PHAs (alpha, beta, poly hydroxy acids), coupled with some soothing ingredients such as panthenol, squalene and allantoin to take the edge off this triple acid whammy. My skin was always very smooth and hydrated after using this and I would consider repurchasing if it were still available. The rest of my skincare went on really well following this treatment and I also loved the fact that it did not take much time out of my day to work its magic, unlike a traditional mask would. It rinsed off easily and made my skin feel very soft and comfortable.

I would recommend this in particular if you have adult acne but are also concerned about hydration levels in your skin and fine lines, as this hydrates as well as exfoliates – a real boon for adult acne sufferers over 25.

AHA/BHA clarifying treatment – COSRX

via cosDNA


Size/Quantity: 150ml


Price & Availability: I got this for around ₩15,000 on sale at Lalavla here in Korea, but I can no longer see this available in bricks-and-mortar shops anywhere. You can still get this online by the looks of it, though.

Opinion: Cat over at beauty blog Snow White and the Asian Pear hated this one, and she noted that it irritated her skin as, she hypothesises, the pH might be too low for her skin to tolerate – in spite of the fact that her skin takes acids well.

Well, this toner worked really well for me, personally. It actually reminded me of one of my holy grail skincare staples, namely CNP’s Invisible Peeling Booster. As it came in a spray bottle, I first tried spraying it on, thinking that there must have been a reason as to why COSRX chose to bottle it as a spray, but I found that it stung my eyes somewhat. I then tried spraying it on a cotton pad, which wasted too much product. Finally, I just sprayed it into my palms and patted it in after patting my face dry.

Side note: As I am acne prone, I never ever pat my face dry with a towel. I either let it air dry or pat it with a soft cosmetic tissue if I am running a little low on time. I also do not wait for my skin to be bone dry, as this can be uncomfortable – I merely want my face to be no longer dripping wet, in preparation for the skincare steps that are to follow. Anyhow, once my face is no longer wet, I continue.

This toner did a very good job for me of keeping my skin clear and minimise future breakouts while helping to fade pimple marks and keep active breakouts from becoming worse. When I applied it, it sank in very quickly thanks to its very runny, watery texture. I felt that it was slightly drying when applied on its own, so I would definitely recommend that you follow up with hydrating ingredients straight away to make the acid more palatable for your skin – but then again, I would recommend you do this with any kind of acid, anyway, so this was not a dealbreaker by any stretch of the imagination. It gave me a good amount of chemical exfoliation and kept my skin in good condition, that is all I ask for. Next!

Dr Troubex Blemish Pads All-In-One Blemish Clear Pads – Tosowoong

via cosDNA

Size/Quantity: 70 pads, soaked in 155ml of product

Price & Availability: I bought this for around ₩12,000 on sale at Lalavla Korea. It is still available for purchase as far as I can see.

Opinion: I really liked using this toner, too. At the time, I was experimenting with exfoliation, thinking that perhaps I had over exfoliated my skin perhaps, or that maybe I should give my skin a break off chemical exfoliants and see how I get on. Well, I was wrong!

After using only physical exfoliants (I am not talking scrubs, I am talking cellulose based peels that take off dead skin cells as you massage some kind of gel onto your skin, such as Dr. G’s Brightening Peeling Gel Ex – review coming soon) for about a week, my skin became really dull and clogged. I ventured out and got these pads. That night, I actually overdid it I guess, by combining a physical exfoliant with these pads, but the next morning, the results did speak for themselves. Active breakouts were reduced and whiteheads had ventured back into whatever layer of the dermis they had come from.

Due to the fact that my skin was in such bad condition, I felt the effects right away. I can honestly say that throughout the entire time that I was using the pads, my skin was kept in good condition and maintained well. My skin was gently exfoliated, breakouts that were occurring were soothed and reduced. I had lots of great skin days with this one and will most definitely consider repurchasing.

V10 Peeling Pads – BRTC

No cosDNA available for this one, hence a screenshot from the company website which will have to do for now. Booh 😦

Size/Quantity: 80 pads soaked in 150 ml of product

Price & Availability: I got this for around ₩15,000 at Lalavla Korea.


Opinion: This was… okay, I guess. My skin was just okay-ish, not brilliant, in spite of all the benefits touted on the packaging (10 vitamins, hence the name, plus centella asiatica a.k.a. tiger grass extract, a buzz ingredient that is currently being pushed by most major skincare companies).

These pads exfoliated a bit, they did not break me out nor irritate my skin. They also did not exacerbate or clog up current breakouts. If you only have few skin issues, this might be a nice beginner’s acid toner to get into, as it is very gentle on the skin.

For me personally, this was a bit too gentle. My skin can handle reasonable amounts of acids so long as there are no or very few fragrances, and if coupled with deeply hydrating lotions and potions piled on top. This was just a bit too gentle and easy-going for my skin. I am not considering repurchasing for this reason, though I do think someone else with less issues or who is less accustomed to using acid toners might actually thoroughly enjoy this.

Final thoughts

Acid toners and pH-adjusting toners continue to feature once or twice daily in my skincare regimen. I credit them for clearing up my skin significantly to the point where I am no longer afraid of leaving the house without makeup on the weekends.

I still need a full face during the week however, as it makes me feel a bit like a performer, who is okay with slipping on different masks representing different personalities. These acid treatments, toners and pads have helped me put my best foot forward, with or without makeup, and for that, I am grateful.

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