[REVIEW] COSRX One Step Pimple Clear Pads

COSRX has become one of those brands that I see everywhere and in almost everyone’s routines (within the beauty community on IG/reddit). They’re known for having minimal and simple ingredients and products that work really well for certain specific skin concerns such as acne, blackheads, whiteheads, clogged pores etc. This product is one of the first COSRX products that I have used – the One Step Pimple Clear Pads. There are many who call this product a Holy Grail (HG), but there are also a few reviews that said that there were other better similar products out there. I’ve been using this for the past 5 months, trying to vary how I use it, and minimising the amount of products and steps I have in my routine in order to see how well this product actually works.

Disclaimer: I do not consider myself as a beauty guru/expert, and all sorts that fall under that category. This product was purchased with my own money and I am not being paid to write this. My review, photos, impressions and thoughts are all my own, unless stated otherwise. While this product may or may not have worked for my skin, it may or may not work for yours – remember, your mileage may vary (YMMV)! 
Links: Affiliate links will be marked with an **. But to save y’all some time – I currently do not have any affiliate accounts anywhere yet. 

4 8 5 5 4.5 2.5

Total out of 5: 2.9/5

Note: I decided to update my evaluation scores and gave a heavier weight to EFFECTIVENESS instead. I moved some of the points from application (/10 -> /5) to effectiveness (/15 -> /10).


Currently $24.50 from the Wishtrend store front on Amazon. I only pick shops that have prime because at least I know they’re somewhat reliable – plus Wishtrend as a company is pretty reliable in terms of shipping and legitimate products. I purchased it when it was $23.50.

The Good
  • Can cut the pad into smaller pieces to get more uses out of it
  • Convenient, can use this while travelling
  • Wipes away dirt
  • Helps reduce the redness of pimples (see photos below) – doesn’t get rid of it! only helps with making it less irritated
  • Skin feels smooth after using it
  • No artificial fragrances – the most prevalent scent is TEA TREE
The Bad
  • Slight tingle when wiping
  • Overhyped?? It probably increased my standards and expectations for this product:
    • Didn’t do much for my blackheads
    • My closed comedomes (CCs or clogged pores) are still there
    • Didn’t help with fighting my future breakouts and acne – I still got them, in fact I got acne more frequently than I usually do which is odd?
  • Tea Tree scent is pretty strong, so if you’re not into that stuff it might not be the product for you
Will I buy this again

No. It’s convenient, but I didn’t really see the results that I was expecting to see. Some reviews showed drastic changes, but I didn’t really see any – this is probably because my skin isn’t acne prone? But I do have clogged pores, and uneven skin, blackheads etc. and it didn’t really work well for those.

  1. Wipe away excess dirt, oil and purify clogged pores with daily natural BHA treatment pads (White Willow Bark Water 80%, Betaine Salicylate 1%)
  2. Leaves skin feeling clean and smooth
  3. Help prevent future breakouts

Source: the packaging


The packaging gives away to what the product is – mainly because of the design on the lid. They have an image of Mr. RX on the lid. I have to admit the character is pretty kimokawaii (kimochi warui/kawaii – where it’s kind of ugly but also cute, if you know what I’m trying to get at). I personally love weird looking things, so I really love the artwork/design.

The good thing about this brand and it’s products is that it has descriptions in English. The pads come in the tub that you see above, and when you open the lid there is a plastic/aluminium sheet that covers them. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be reused, but I just put the sheet back on every time I’m done using it.

When I first got it, I was wondering if the product was leaking? It probably didn’t, but there were spots on the protective sheet that were wet (not sure if the discoloration is visible in the picture below). I found it a little odd, but it doesn’t bother me too much since the pads were and are still moist.


Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Betaine Slicylate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol, Allantoin, Arginine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Ethy Hexanediol, Sodium Hydroxide

Source: the packaging

Minimal ingredients, that are supposed to give the skin the maximum effect! That’s what COSRX is best known for. Here is the CosDNA for this product. There are only 14 ingredients in this product – Butylene Glycol is one to watch out for, because it may cause acne (although I don’t think this is the culprit for me because I’ve used other products with Butylene Glycol). I’ve highlighted the ones that are a 3+ in terms of safety, but they’re mostly at the bottom of the list!


There are two sides to the cotton pad:

  1. Embossed side with little bumps on it – to help with gently exfoliating your skin
  2. Smooth side – can be used to help gently wipe away dirt, or as a toner-step

I found that half a pad was more than enough for my entire face. Some people use an entire pad, some people cut their pads into halves or quarters. Half worked best for me!

Usually, when my skin needs some exfoliating and I’m lazy and don’t want to use the PRELAB Toning Peeling Tap, I use these pimple pads:

  1. Start with the embossed side if I feel like I have any rough or dry patches on my skin (only go through the entire face with that side once)
  2. Use the smooth side to wipe away excess oil and dirt
  3. Follow up with a moisturising toner if my skin still feels a bit parched

Even with half a pad, it was still able to pick up some gunk and oil from my face. Similar to some toners that pick up dirt, you can see some yellowish gunk on my pad too!


For the first 4 months, I used it on and on/off again basis – mainly keeping it to 3-4 times/week. In April, I began to use fewer products (with only hydrating/moisturising products) plus these COSRX pads to hopefully isolate and see what this product can actually do on its own. I first started by continuing using this product as I normally did for the past few months for 2-3 times/week, then I tried using it everyday for 1 week, and then I reverted back to using it 3-4 times/week (which I will explain why below).

Using these pads every 2-4 days

I diligently attempted to record the before and after results of my pimple after using the pad. Sorry for any differences in the lighting or blurriness of the photo – still learning how to properly use a camera..

Just as my pimple was starting to get better, I just had to layer way too much makeup and things on my face.. which led to my pimple getting.. well back to it’s original state but with a bigger centre filled with something in it…

While it made the pimple look less red the next morning, I’d also like to think that my skin trying to get rid of the pimple on its own. I don’t think this product did much in terms of ‘getting rid’ of the pimple, but it did make it less irritated. A month later (aka May 2017), I still have a light mark of the pimple on my cheek, it’s not as red anymore but it’s still slowly healing.

You can also see the clogged pores/CC’s, near the pimple look exactly the same like nothing happened to them.

Using these pads everyday

Sorry I don’t have any before/after photos for this, because they all turned out really blurry or blah.. but I’ll share my thoughts and what happened to my skin when I used it everyday for a week. Using this everyday may have over-exfoliated my skin – because my skin looked incredibly shiny (not the skin glowing kind of shiny), skin got really oily throughout the day which probably led to more pimples popping up. When I stopped using it everyday, these ‘symptoms’ stopped and my skin slowly started to get back to normal.

Maybe the jump from using the pads 3-4 times/week to using it everyday was too big, and I should’ve probably increased the frequency (maybe 4-6 times/week) of using this product before introducing it as an everyday step. Although, having using it every other day for a while, you’d think my skin would already be used to this kind of product.

Note: I noticed that this product absorbed into the skin better when used in conjunction with an AHA/BHA prepping toner, such as the COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner. Though I am not personally a fan of this toner because my use of AHA and BHA products are very minimal and limited.

In Summary

Personally, I feel like this product is overhyped. For some, this product is HG and worked super well for them but it didn’t work well for me. I’m wondering if it’s because others paired this product with some other product in their routine (but it wasn’t really mentioned in their reviews so I can’t be certain). Welp, that’s why skincare products are so “YMMV” sometimes. If you’ve used this product before, please share with me how it worked for you! I was a bit bummed that it didn’t do much for my CCs, and blackheads. I liked that it made my pimple look a little less red, but in terms of making it go away/getting rid of it, it didn’t do too much.

Thanks for reading!

Sorry for being MIA for a few weeks – went to travel for a bit, and didn’t have the tools I needed to finish up my post. :(

7 thoughts on “[REVIEW] COSRX One Step Pimple Clear Pads

  1. […] Overall, peeling gels do tend to give off a weird finish after use from the ones that I have tried so far and this one is not any different. I have been trying to move away from physical exfoliants and trying to use more chemical exfoliants since they don’t leave my skin feeling squeaky or stripped. However, it’s good to switch up routines and products once in a while, so I don’t mind having this in my skincare line up (I just don’t think I would be reaching for it as much as the CosRX One Step Pimple Clear Pads). […]


  2. Incredibly thorough review! Thanks for sharing your experience, wish I had read this before buying the One Step Original Clear Pads because I’m with you, I know these are well-loved but they are so meh to me. I break out more from using them. It’s taking me forever to empty them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you for dropping by and giving it a read! I’m sorry to hear that they make you break out more :( – Glad to know I’m not the only one that feels meh from these!

      Liked by 1 person

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