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Can COSRX Essence Cause Acne? Here’s the REAL Answer

by Yu-Jun Park 08 Jan 2024

Snail Mucin Serum

You've seen the TikToks.

You’ve heard the buzz.

You’ve experienced the… 

*checks notes* 

 …confidence-crushing cystic acne breakouts?!

Yes, we’re talking about COSRX's Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. 

For some skincare adventurers, the trendy K-Beauty essence has been less about the glow and more about the ‘oh no’.

Let’s take a look at what REAL customers are saying, and unpack what’s really going on here.

Does COSRX Snail Mucin Essence Cause Breakouts?

An Unpleasant Surprise

Amazon reviewer ByMe.87 stumbled upon COSRX's Snail Essence, expecting a miracle in a bottle... but ended up writing a cautionary tale instead (here’s the link to the review).

In a heartfelt Amazon review that reads more like a skincare soap opera, she shared her not-so-happy ending with the world. 

"Don’t fall for it!" was her advice, as she detailed a journey of hope that turned into a breakout battleground.

ByMe.87 bravely posted photos of the cystic acne breakout she experienced after using COSRX’s essence.

Itchy, bumpy, and betrayed, she had to play skincare detective, diving back into the sea of reviews to find she wasn’t sailing alone – others had navigated these choppy breakout waters too.

Like fellow Amazon customer Khylee… 

Khylee’s Story

Khylee's straight-to-the-point Amazon review is the second of many that sing a similar tune. 

She hoped COSRX's snail mucin essence would smooth out her skin texture and deliver that much-coveted KBeauty glass skin effect. 

But despite having relatively clear skin before using the essence, Khylee experienced a significant breakout after incorporating it into her routine.

The before-and-after photos were intended to showcase a transformation, yet they ended up documenting the emergence of unwelcome acne. 

Khylee gave the product a fair shot, using it not once but twice to be sure it was the source of the problem. 

Her verdict? A no-go, especially for those with sensitive skin prone to reactions.

And it turns out, these two reviews are the tip of an iceberg that’s bigger than you might think.

You can read similar stories from a surprising number of other customers here.

Reddit Weighs In

Reddit’s popular Asian Beauty community seems to agree.


A user by the name of DivinesHelpMe posts about their struggle with the product, saying it soothes their redness but leaves them with whiteheads. 

They’re not alone. 

Several users chime in with their own frustrations, noting breakouts in unusual places and unexpected reactions from a product many seem to swear by.

One comment stands out: a user who doesn't typically struggle with acne tried the essence after seeing its rave reviews, only to be disappointed by the pimples that followed. They're disappointed about the money they spent, especially since the product promised glowing skin but delivered the opposite.

Is It the Snail?

So, the million-dollar question: What gives?

After all, the Korean beauty world is abuzz with snail mucin essence as the go-to elixir for glowing, hydrated skin. 

But after reading reviews like these, some folks are side-eyeing their bottles of essence, wondering if snail mucin is the secret culprit behind their latest breakout. 

The question on everyone’s lips: If you have acne-prone skin, should you avoid snail mucin completely?

Does Snail Mucin Cause Acne

Can Acne-Prone Skin Use Snail Mucin Essence?

Let's cut to the chase: Snail mucin itself is not the bad guy here.

This ingredient is about as likely to clog your pores as a sieve is to hold water—aka, not very likely. 

So why the mixed reviews of COSRX’s essence? 

Well, let's talk about that sticky situation.

COSRX's Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence has long been a heavyweight in the ring of skincare — literally. 

Some users find it too sticky and thick, and when a product’s overly heavy, it can potentially clog pores. That would also explain why an unusual number of users seem to report cystic acne breakouts from the essence.

It's not the snail mucin to blame, though. It's more likely one of the other ingredients tagging along in the formula that isn’t playing nice with your skin.

How do we know?

Well, firstly because snail mucin itself is non-comedogenic — meaning, in plain English, it doesn’t clog pores or cause breakouts.

And secondly, because our Snail Repair Cream has become a popular go-to for reducing acne and inflammation.

Just look at Amazon reviewer Kelly’s experience with our mucin-infused cream: 

But to shed some more light on the topic, let’s take a closer look at what snail mucin actually is… 

What Exactly Is Snail Mucin, Anyway?

Snail mucin, or snail secretion filtrate, is the beauty byword for skin repair. 

Snails produce this unique substance to protect and heal their delicate skin from environmental damage and bacteria. 

Loaded with beneficial nutrients, snail mucin is a gold mine for human skincare, too.

What’s in Snail Mucin?

This natural goo is rich in glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid—ingredients famous for their skin-loving properties. 

Glycoproteins boost the skin's healing processes, hyaluronic acid is a hydration heavyweight, and glycolic acid is an exfoliation ace, brightening the skin and smoothing out texture.

Why the Breakouts, Then?

If snail mucin itself is a friend to the skin, what’s causing these unwelcome breakouts reported by some COSRX users? 

The answer often lies in the formulation. 

A skincare product is a complex blend, and while snail mucin is beneficial, other additives like fragrances, preservatives, or stabilizers could be irritating for some, particularly those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Hopping back over to Reddit for a second — a user in one thread speculates that COSRX’s high butylene glycol content could be responsible for some of the cystic acne issues users have reported. 

They’ve got a point. Here’s the ingredient list for COSRX’s snail essence:

So is that the answer? 

We can’t say for sure.

But we can tell you that you won’t find any butylene glycol in our snail mucin range.

Acne and Snail Mucin: Frenemies or Allies?

Contrary to causing breakouts, snail mucin can be quite the acne combatant. 

Its healing and anti-inflammatory properties can diminish the appearance of acne scars and soothe inflamed skin.

It's all about how you formulate it. 

A Gentle Touch for Troubled Skin

We’ve crafted our Snail Repair Cream to provide the healing benefits of snail mucin in a formula that's kind to all skin types. 

By focusing on snail mucin’s reparative and soothing properties and avoiding any potential irritants, we offer a cream that effectively reduces, rather than triggers, acne.

Likewise, our Ultra Snail Serum — another acne-fighting ace — is feather-light on the skin and absorbs quickly, in contrast to the heavier, stickier consistency of COSRX’s essence.

Here’s Amazon reviewer Charlotte, after switching to Ultra Snail from COSRX:

Now let’s get to know our enemy a bit better: What are we actually dealing with when we talk about cystic acne?

Cystic Acne: What It Is, and Why It Happens

Cystic acne isn't your average pimple party crasher; it's the uninvited guest that decides to stay for weeks, even months. 

These painful, bumpy tenants set up shop deep within the skin, causing inflammation and often leaving a mark when they finally do evict. 

So, what’s the link between this unrelenting form of acne and a seemingly harmless bottle of snail mucin essence?

The Weight of the Matter

Imagine slathering a heavy, occlusive layer over your skin. 

It's like wearing a fur coat in July—your skin can't breathe. 

A heavy essence might lock in moisture, but it also seals off the skin's surface, trapping oil, dead skin cells, and everything else underneath. 

For those with skin that’s already doing a juggling act with oil production, this can be a one-way ticket to Clog Town, and cystic acne thrives in such clogged environments.

Which perhaps explains the number of COSRX reviews like this one… 

Ingredient Roulette

Now, the ingredient list in a skincare product can be like a recipe. 

Too much of one thing, and you've got a kitchen disaster. 

Some ingredients, while harmless to many, can be the acne trigger for others. 

For instance — in addition to the butylene glycol situation we’ve already covered — certain emollients and stabilizers found in heavy essences can irritate and inflame the skin, leading to those deep, cystic breakouts. 

It's a tricky business, because what's an elixir for some may well be a potion of problems for others.

Know Thy Skin

Not all heroes wear capes, and not all skin types can handle the intensity of a rich essence. 

If you're the proud owner of an oily or combination skin type, your skin already has a full-time job managing sebum. Introducing a heavyweight product can overwhelm it, stirring up trouble in the form of breakouts.

Sensitive skin types, too, need to navigate the skincare sea with care. A heavy product might feel soothing at first, but it can turn into a Trojan horse, sneaking in irritants that lead to inflammation and cystic acne.

The Balancing Act

Finding equilibrium in your skincare routine is essential. It's about knowing when to layer up and when to keep it light. 

Our skin changes with the weather, our diets, and our stress levels, so what works one month might not cut it the next. 

It's a dance, and heavy essences can sometimes step on the toes of acne-prone skin.

COSRX Snail Mucin Essence: A Final Verdict

The journey with COSRX's Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence has been a rollercoaster for some. 

A product cloaked in the promise of radiant, hydrated skin has, for a growing number, taken a detour into breakout territory. 

But here's the takeaway: snail mucin isn't the nemesis of your skin's narrative. 

When formulated with care and balanced with the right ingredients, snail mucin can absolutely be the hero in your skincare saga.

Listen to Your Skin's Story

Every skin has its own story, its chapters filled with the unique twists and turns of its needs and reactions. 

For those with oily, combination, or sensitive skin, that might include avoiding heavy, pore-clogging essences and seeking out lightweight, non-comedogenic alternatives that won't start a rebellion beneath your skin's surface.

The Choice Is Yours

Remember, you're the author of your skin's story. You have the power to choose products that align with your skin's character arc. 

Whether it's opting for a formula like our Snail Repair Cream, designed to soothe and repair without the heaviness, or skipping past the heavy hitters in search of something that feels just right, your happy ending is out there.

Now go forth and glow, skincare warrior!

Our Snail Mucin Does Not Cause Acne

 

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