COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser Ingredients Explained

Last updated on July 18, 2023.

Overview

What it is

Face cleanser with 23 ingredients that contains BHA

Cool Features

It is cruelty-free and reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for fighting acne, dry skin, brightening skin, oily skin, reducing pores and scar healing

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, parabens, silicones or sulfates

Fun facts

COSRX is from South Korea. This product is used in 749 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

BHA

Benefits

Hydrating
Good For Oily Skin
Reduces Large Pores
Scar Healing
Acne Fighting
Brightening (2)

Concerns

Drying (2)
May Worsen Oily Skin (3)
Acne Trigger (3)
Irritating
Rosacea (2)
Eczema (2)

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free
ph level
9.5

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
2
Cleansing, Emulsifying
3 / 0
Bad for Acne Prone Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
3
Masking
Can worsen Dry Skin IconBad for Acne Prone Skin IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
4
Solvent
5
Cleansing
May worsen Eczema Icon
6
Astringent, Tonic
Oil Icon
7
Cleansing, Foaming
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
8
Skin Conditioning
9
Cleansing, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Masking
2-3 / 0
May worsen Oily Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
10
Emulsifying
Oil IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
11
Emulsifying
0 / 0
May worsen Oily Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
12
Emollient, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
13
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
14
Buffering
15
Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
BHA IconPreservative IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
16
Cleansing, Emulsifying
4 / 1
May worsen Oily Skin IconBad for Acne Prone Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
17
Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
1 / 0
18
Astringent, Skin Conditioning, Soothing, Tonic
19
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
20
21
Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
22
Antioxidant, Perfuming
Antioxidant IconFragrance IconOil IconGood for Oily Skin Icon
23
Buffering, Masking
AHA IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 23 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
2
What it does: Cleansing, Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Myristic Acid is a saturated fatty acid. It is naturally found in milk fat. Other sources include palm oil, coconut oil, and butter fat.

Myristic Acid is an emulsifer and cleanser. As an emulsifer, it stabilizes a product by preventing ingredients from separating. Myristic Acid helps clean your skin by acting as a surfactant. It tends to gather oil and dirt on your skin to be easily rinsed away.

One study from 2021 found Myristic Acid to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Learn more about Myristic Acid
3
What it does: Masking
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Chances are, you eat sodium chloride every day. Sodium Chloride is also known as table salt.

This ingredient has many purposes in skincare: thickener, emulsifier, and exfoliator.

You'll most likely find this ingredient in cleansers where it is used to create a gel-like texture. As an emulsifier, it also prevents ingredients from separating.

There is much debate on whether this ingredient is comedogenic. The short answer - comedogenic ratings don't tell the whole story. Learn more about comegodenic ratings here.

The concensus about this ingredient causing acne seems to be divided. Research is needed to understand if this ingredient does cause acne.

Scrubs may use salt as the primary exfoliating ingredient.

Learn more about Sodium Chloride
4
What it does: Solvent

Ethyl Hexanediol is an aliphatic alcohol. It is a solvent.

Solvents are used to keep ingredients together in a product. They can help dissolve ingredients to stable bases or help evenly distribute ingredients throughout the product.

5
What it does: Cleansing
Community Rating: Disliked

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a fatty acid created by mixing similar compounds in coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine. Dimethylaminopropylamine is a diamine, an amine with two amino groups.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a surfactant and cleanser. It helps gather the dirt, pollutants, and other impurities in your skin to be washed away. It also helps thicken a product and make the texture more creamy.

Being created from coconut oil means Cocamidopropyl Betaine is hydrating for the skin.

While Cocamidopropyl Betaine was believed to be an allergen, a study from 2012 disproved this. It found two compounds in unpure Cocamidopropyl Betaine to be the irritants: aminoamide and 3-dimethylaminopropylamine. High-grade and pure Cocamidopropyl Betaine did not induce allergic reactions during this study.

Learn more about Cocamidopropyl Betaine
6
What it does: Astringent, Tonic
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Citrus Limon Fruit Oil comes from the lemon fruit.

Lemons contains antioxidants, which may help with anti-aging. They are also rich in citric acid, an AHA. And of course, lemons are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with skin-brightening and increasing collagen production.

The acidity of lemons may work as an astringent for acne. Astringents constrict the pores.

Learn more about Citrus Limon Fruit Oil
7
What it does: Cleansing, Foaming
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate isn't fungal acne safe.

8
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Ethylhexylglycerin (we can't pronounce this either) is commonly used as a preservative and skin softener. It is derived from glyceryl.

You might see Ethylhexylglycerin often paired with other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol. Ethylhexylglycerin has been found to increase the effectiveness of these other preservatives.

9
What it does: Cleansing, Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Masking
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Stearic Acid is a fatty acid. It is an emollient, emulsifier, and texture enhancer.

As an emollient, stearic acid helps soften skin. It aids the skin's protective barrier by preventing water loss. It also provides a gentle cleansing effect without stripping away natural oils.

Stearic acid may also be used to enhance the texture of products. It can add volume and stabilize ingredients such as water and oil. This can help water and oil ingredients from separating.

Sources of stearic acid include animal or vegetable fats/oils such as coconut or shea. It can be naturally found in butter, cocoa butter, shea butter, vegetable fats, and animal tallow.

This ingredient may not be Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal-acne safe.

Learn more about Stearic Acid
10
What it does: Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil comes from hydrogenated castor oil. It is a solubilizer and emulsifier.

As a solubilizer, it helps dissolve ingredients into a water-based version. It is also an emulsifer. Emulsifier help prevent oils and water from separating. Both these properties help create evenly-spread and uniform products.

Basically, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil helps hold ingredients together.

Learn more about Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
11
What it does: Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Polysorbate 80 is a surfactant and emulsifier. It is used to keep ingredients together, and prevent oils and waters from separating.

It is made from polyethoxylated sorbitan and oleic acid. This ingredient can be found in cosmetics, foods, and medicine. It is water-soluble.

Polysorbate 80 may not be fungal acne safe.

Learn more about Polysorbate 80
12
What it does: Emollient, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Caprylyl Glycol is a humectant and emollient, meaning it attracts and preserves moisture.

It is a common ingredient in many products, especially those designed to hydrate skin. The primary benefits are retaining moisture, skin softening, and promoting a healthy skin barrier.

Though Caprylyl Glycol is an alcohol derived from fatty acids, it is not the kind that can dry out skin.

This ingredient is also used as a preservative to extend the life of products. It has slight antimicrobial properties.

Learn more about Caprylyl Glycol
13
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
14
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: Disliked

Potassium hydroxide is commonly known as caustic potash. It is used to fix the pH of a product or as a cleaning agent in soap. In cleansers, it is used for the saponification of oils.

Sapnification is the process of creating fatty acid metal salts from triglycerides and a strong base. During this process, Potassium Hydroxide is used up and is not present in the final product.

Using high concentrations of Potassium Hydroxide have shown to irritate the skin.

Learn more about Potassium Hydroxide
15
What it does: Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Salicylic Acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is one of the most well-known ingredients for treating skin that struggles with blackheads and acne. It helps to exfoliate both the skin's surface and pores, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

This multitasking property makes it a great ingredient for cleaning out pores, controlling oil production, and reducing inflammation.

Unlike AHAs which are water soluble, Salicylic Acid is oil soluble. This means that it's able to exfoliate the inside of pores and reduce blackheads.

Concentrations of 0.5-2% are recognized by the U.S. FDA as an over-the-counter topical acne product.

It can cause irritation and/or dryness if one's skin already has a compromised moisture barrier, so it's best to focus on repairing that before introducing a Salicylic Acid into your routine.

In general, Salicylic Acid is a great ingredient for oily acne-prone skin.

While salicylic acid does not increase sun-sensitivity, we still recommend wearing SPF.

If you are looking for the ingredient called BHA or Butylated Hydroxyanisole, click here.

Learn more about Salicylic Acid
16
What it does: Cleansing, Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Lauric Acid is a fatty acid or lipid. About half of fatty acids in coconut oil is lauric acid.

This ingredient helps hydrate and sooth skin. As a humectant, it helps trap moisture. It also aids in cleaning and enhancing the texture of products.

Emerging studies show Lauric Acid to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The antimicrobial property helps strengthen the skin barrier by fighting off bad bacteria.

Lauric acid may not be Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal acne, safe.

Learn more about Lauric Acid
17
What it does: Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

Butylene Glycol (or BG) is used within cosmetic products for a few different reasons:

  • It is a solvent, meaning that it helps to dissolve other ingredients. This also enhances the absorption of the product into one's skin.
  • It is a humectant, which means that it helps attract moisture into the skin.
  • It helps improve product application.

Overall, Butylene Glycol is a safe and well-rounded ingredient. It is unlikely to irritate skin, and works well with pretty much all other ingredients.

18
What it does: Astringent, Skin Conditioning, Soothing, Tonic
Community Rating: Liked

Salix Alba Bark Water is created by distilling parts from the white willow tree. The white willow tree is native to Europe and Central Asia.

Salix Alba Bark has often been described as salicylic acid's cousin. This is due to the salicin it contains. However, studies are limited showing salix alba bark to be an effective salicylic acid alternative.

Salicin does have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has shown to decrease the formation of inflammatory mediators, such as tumor necrosis factor-α and nuclear factor-kappa B. Salicin also has a mildly exfoliating effect on the skin.

As an astringent, salix alba bark water helps tighten the skin by drawing water out. This helps reduce the appearance of large pores.

Learn more about Salix Alba Bark Water
19
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

1,2-Hexanediol is a multi-tasker ingredient. It acts as a preservative to increase shelf-life and can aid other preservatives in preventing microbe growth. 1,2-Hexanediol also helps the skin retain moisture as a humectant.

In products that are water-based, this ingredient can help stabilize perfumes and fragrances. It can also help make the texture of products softer and more smooth.

20
What it does:
Community Rating: Disliked

Disodium EDTA plays a role in making products more stable by aiding other preservatives.

It is a chelating agent, meaning it neutralizes metal ions that may be found in a product.

Disodium EDTA is a salt of edetic acid and is found to be safe in cosmetic ingredients.

Learn more about Disodium EDTA
21
What it does: Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Glycol Distearate serves as a pearlizing or opacifying agent in cosmetic products.

It's often included in cleansers and haircare products to give them a lustrous or shimmering appearance.

It is derived from stearic acid, a natural fatty acid commonly found in vegetable oils and animal fats.

Glycol Distearate isn't fungal acne safe.

Learn more about Glycol Distearate
22
What it does: Antioxidant, Perfuming
Community Rating: Mixed

This tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the Tea Tree plant. Tea tree oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

According to the book Journal of Profiles of Drug Substances, tea tree helps in reducing acne-causing bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes. This is due to the Terpinen components of tea tree oil.

Tea tree may cause sensitivity and irritation for some people. This oil naturally contains fragrance such as linalool and limonene.

However, research shows irritation usually occurs when using pure tea tree oil and not in cosmetic products.

Tea tree oil was found to help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis in one study.

Tea tree oil is toxic when ingested. Another study showed it to caused damage to the nervous system of dogs and cats when applied to their skin or given orally.

Learn more about Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil
23
What it does: Buffering, Masking
Community Rating: Disliked

Citric Acid is an AHA derived from citrus fruits (think oranges, lemons, and limes!).

If you spot Citric Acid near the end of an ingredient list, it's likely there as a pH adjuster rather than an active ingredient.

As an AHA, Citric Acid removes the top layer of skin cells from the newer layer of skin underneath. This helps skin to remove dark spots and look more even.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Citric Acid
Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 23 ingredients in this product ✨

22% are loved or liked
17% have mixed ratings
57% are disliked or very disliked
4% have no rating yet

When to use

We've created a guide with info on when you should use COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser. We've also included some recommended products to use it with, as well as some routine inspiration!

Read our guide on when to use Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser ->
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The data we've presented on this page has been verified by a member of the SkinSort Team.

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Latest Reviews

View all 11
skinogre's Avatar'
Feb 13, 2024

I used to think it was good because of how it really goes DEEP into cleaning your skin, it feels like it’s been scraped out. It’s good if you haven’t washed your face in a week, other than that it’s really bad. And that’s coming from...

I used to think it was good because of how it really goes DEEP into cleaning your skin, it feels like it’s been scraped out. It’s good if you haven’t washed your face in a week, other than that it’s really bad. And that’s coming from someone who has oily skin and uses Paula’s choice BHA every other day. There are so many better cleansing products than this, I highly advise getting the Etude house foam 6.5 whip cleaner instead and using an exfoliant alongside it. One thing I do like about this cleanser is its consistency, I always loved how it would squirt out but on the downside was it’s drying out of skin. It never “ruined” my skin per se, but there are a lot better products than this for daily cleansing. If you want your skin to feel EXTREMELY scraped of all oils and its essence, sure use this.

Drying
Strong Scent
princessmelody2010's Avatar'
Jan 1, 2024

Okay.. but NO.. not safe for fungal acne.

Okay.. but NO.. not safe for fungal acne.

Read more reviews ->

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