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At the beginning of the year, I decided to trade in all my favorite exfoliating products for more gentle options in order to improve my skin condition for the long term, and I haven’t looked back since. I’d never tried toner pads before, but when I learned that COSRX’s highly raved-about One Step Toner Pads offer a bunch of effects apart from exfoliating (I love a good multifunctional product) and do so while soothing your skin, I figured it was worth a trial run. In addition to the original clearing pad, I tried out the calming and moisturizing formulations as well. Feeling slightly dubious about how potent or differentiated these pads could possibly be, but trusting in the power of COSRX, I started on a three-week journey with these three toner pads.
Although the three pads target different skin types and concerns, the formulations do share certain similarities. They’re all soaked in sebum-regulating toner containing BHA, with a slightly acidic pH level similar to skin. Designed to gently remove excess sebum, dead skin cells, impurities in pores and makeup residue, they create a smooth, refreshed and healthy complexion. What I found most intriguing about the pad was that its two sides serve different purposes: you’re meant to wipe with the embossed side first, which exfoliates and offers sebum care, and then finish with the smooth side, which moisturizes and preps skin.
One Step Original Clear Pad
What Does It Do?
The Original Clear Pad is suitable for oily and acne-prone skin, which is 100% my skin. It’s formulated with salix alba bark water to soothe, smooth and exfoliate, as well as betaine salicylate to regulate excess sebum, remove dead skin cells and melt away makeup residue. It also reduces redness, clears up acne and refines skin texture.
Summer is almost here, and it’s already gotten extremely hot and humid. In addition, I’ve been wearing face masks over my foundation daily, which has led to breakouts and worsened skin texture overall. Essentially, I’m in dire need of everything these pads promise.
One thing I noticed off the bat was that these pads smell exactly like Neulii’s AC Clean Saver Line. I’ve always loved the line’s Fanta-like scent, and a quick comparison of ingredients helped me pin down the source: citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, which is what gives both the AC Clean Saver Line and the Original Clear Pad their super sweet, refreshing and unmissable scent!
When wiping my face with the Original Clear Pad, it gave off a slight tingly feeling. It’s important to wipe gently and resist the urge to scrub. I would probably recommend using only the smooth side for those with more sensitive skin.
After the Trial
I waited and waited for the Original Clear Pad to improve my acne condition, but not only did it not clear up existing spots, it also didn’t stop new zits from appearing despite continued use. I did enjoy using this after my cleanser, as it left my skin feeling purified, but given that the other two toner pads also soothe, smooth and exfoliate, I felt that this pad didn’t do enough to live up to its name.
At the same time, I was also experiencing bacne and general itchiness on my body due to sweat buildup during the day, so I decided to test the effectiveness of these pads on areas other than my face. I found that using these pads at the end of the day really did leave the skin on my back, arms and chest visibly cleansed and refreshed, and I also woke up to reduced redness and inflammation. Although I was disappointed by how this pad fared on my facial acne, it had more noticeable effects on other areas. In the coming weeks, I’ll probably try bringing a few pads with me to work, so I can conveniently wipe down sweaty areas throughout the day to prevent breakouts and itchiness.
One Step Green Hero Calming Pad
What Does It Do?
The Green Hero Calming Pad features naturally derived Green-Rx Complex to soothe sensitive, irritated skin and hypoallergenic PHA to remove dead skin cells with minimal irritation. It also contains taraxacum officinale (dandelion) extract to strengthen skin barrier, centella asiatica extract to refine skin texture, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract to tighten pores, tea tree leaf extract for sebum care, and artemisia princeps (mugwort) extract to revitalize skin. Though it targets those with sensitive skin, this calming, refreshing pad is ultimately suitable for all skin types.
True to its name, the pad was very refreshing and gentle, and didn’t leave the tingling feeling on my skin that the Original Clear Pad did. It also comes with a scent that’s much lighter and less sweet than the scent of the Original Clear Pad. It’s a rather natural and earthy smell, perhaps due to its numerous floral extracts, such as dandelion and gardenia florida (cape jasmine).
After the Trial
Because I don’t have particularly sensitive or irritated skin, I can’t attest to how the Green Hero Calming Pad would fare on those skin types. Though I didn’t notice marked differences in my skin barrier or pores during my one-week trial, these pads were consistently lightweight, gentle and skin-friendly, always soothing my skin at the end of a long day. I’d recommend this to anyone who isn’t going through any pressing skin troubles at the moment, and just wants a reliable, failproof toner pad to easily integrate into their daily skin care routine.
One Step Moisture Up Pad
What Does It Do?
The One Step Moisture Up Pad is formulated with propolis extract, betaine salicylate and hyaluronic acid to replenish moisture, optimize water-oil balance, regulate sebum secretion, remove dead skin cells and impurities in pores, and reveal a revitalized, dewy complexion. It’s suitable for dry skin, as well as dehydrated oily skin, which is what I have.
Although the Moisture Up Pad contains very different ingredients than the Green Hero Calming Pad, it has a similarly light and natural scent, but with more acidic notes, perhaps due to its citrus limon (lemon) peel oil and citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot) fruit oil. I was surprised by how smooth, supple and essence-rich this pad felt on my skin, and its touch was significantly different than the other two. As promised, it left a noticeable layer of moisture and nourishment on my skin. Not heavy, sticky or greasy, the thin layer was very quickly absorbed into my skin.
After the Trial
First of all, I love that the Moisture Up Pad specifically targets dehydrated oily skin. For many years, I used harsh products that would strip my oily skin dry, believing that was the desired result. It wasn’t until much later on that I learned my skin is actually dehydrated, which is why it over-produces oil to compensate for lack of moisture. The moisture that this pad provides is lightweight and soothing, making it a great substitute to cream moisturizers in the morning, which tend to take longer to sink into skin and aren’t ideal for hurried routines. Because of its undeniable, immediate results as well as its overall practicality, I have to say that the Moisture Up Pad is my personal winner among the three.
Although most consumers will probably commit to using just one of the three toner pads, I actually found it useful to have all three on hand, at least for my skin type. Sometimes I enjoy using them one after the other: Original Clear to target my acne, followed by Green Hero Calming to soothe any tingly after-feel, and finishing off with Moisture Up to make sure I get my much-needed moisture. If you don’t want to overburden your skin by stacking, you can also save the pads for different days and skin conditions.
Not only are these pads multifunctional in the sense that they boast a plethora of effects, but they can also be used on various areas of your body! I’m also excited by how convenient they are for on-the-go use – all you have to do is extract a few pieces from the large tubs and place them into small containers. In addition to using them for a quick pick-me-up during long school or work days, they’re also perfect for bringing on holiday as they side-step pesky limitations on carry-on liquids. All in all, I can definitely see myself continuing to reach for these toner pads both day and night.
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