Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence Review: A Horror Story
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Fun fact: the Cosrx Galactomyces Essence was once called “WHITE POWER Essence” until COSRX realized they effed up.
Alrighty, now that I’ve regained my composure. Let me relay a story with you all that highlights the importance of patch testing… But before I do that, I need to give a disclaimer:
As you probably ascertained from the title of this blog post, this is a horror story. With that said, I don’t want to discourage anyone from purchasing this product just because it didn’t work for me. COSRX is a very solid brand. My skin is just stupidly sensitive and reactive. I don’t call myself the clog-prone champion for nothing. Skin problems and acne LOVE me. YOUR mileage may (and probably will) vary.
Despite my bad experience, I will still be discussing the benefits of using this product. Not doing so would be a disservice to all those that swear by this stuff. It isn’t a common holy grail for no good reason.
Without further ado.
Table of Contents
Ingredients and Benefits.
Something that was really appealing to me about the Cosrx Galactomyces Essence was its minimal ingredient list. Check it out.
Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Betaine, Panthenol, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Allantoin, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol, Adenosine
Looks innocent enough, right? I thought, “hey look! This surely won’t cause me any problems.” WRONG. It’s satan in disguise! More about this in a bit. But let’s start out by focusing on the ingredients of interest.
Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (GFF)
A nutrient dense yeast and byproduct of fermented sake. It increases product absorption into the skin and makes other ingredients in a solution more potent. In cosmetics it’s used as a moisturizing agent and has antioxidant effects. It causes epidermal cells to produce hyaluronic acid, and helps protect the skin from environmental stress. (1, 2)
As the name implies, the COSRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence has 95% of this stuff in it!
One of my all time favorite ingredients because of its numerous benefits. It treats hyperpigmenation and brightens skin tone. (3, 4, 5) Fights acne and performs comparatively better than antibiotics in clinical trials. (6, 7, 8) Helps hydrate and improve the skin’s barrier function. (9, 10, 11, 12) Increases collagen production and helps winkles. (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18) Put simply, it does everything!
A brilliant humectant and natural part of skin that’s capable of holding 1000 times its water weight. (19, 20) It speeds up wound healing, and draws water from the environment and dermis to hydrate the skin. (21, 22, 23, 24) The boost in moisture it provides gives the skin a “plumping effect,” that reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and atrophic scarring.
A provitamin of b5 that’s effective at moisturizing the skin. It acts as a humectant and prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL). (25, 26) In other words, the water content of skin that keeps it hydrated. It promotes keratinocyte differentiation, (27) which is just the nerdy way of saying it helps improve the skin’s barrier function by keeping the stratum corneum (outer most layer of the skin) healthy.
It may help treat burn wounds. (28) And it may be an effective treatment for dermatitis. (29) I have experience with this in case you don’t know what it looks like.
Like Sodium Hyaluronate, this is a humectant that hydrates the skin by drawing water from the dermis and environment.
A soothing yeast-derived ingredient with skin-restoring, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory benefits. (30, 31)
A byproduct of uric acid obtained from urea. (32) It moisturizers the skin and has exfoliating properties. Take this with a grain of salt, but studies done on mice have shown it helps with wound healing. (33) It also soothes dry, rough, itchy, or irritated skin. (34)
The Horror Story.
So what went wrong? I’m sensitive to yeast ferments. That’s what. Let me explain what happened.
It all started with me getting all googly-eyed from everyone saying this product is a holy grail. I looked up the ingredients, and soon enough was doing research on Galactomyces. And BAM. I was sold. Even had the nerve to pay extra for overnight shipping cause you know me — impulsive doesn’t even begin to cut it.
Basically my life in a meme right here……
A little background information before I continue:
If you didn’t know, I have a skin condition called “malassezia folliculitis” better known as “fungal acne.” There’s not much research on it, but it’s different from traditional acne in the sense that it’s yeast not bacteria causing the breakouts.
This thing is an absolute bear to treat because the malassezia yeasts that cause “fungal acne” feed on fatty acids with carbon chain lengths 11-24, (35) which translates to ALL oils except MCT (a.k.a. capric/caprylic triglycerides).
I will make a whole post about treating this in the future because it’s actually quite common (particularly for those suffering from adult acne). I’d suspect this is the culprit more than 90% of the time in these cases.
UPDATE 5/15/2016: Here it is in all it’s glory. It took me 3 months to write and is approximately 50 pages long! Check dat sh*t out if you suspect you have fungal skin sensitivities / stubborn adult acne. Now back to our scheduled programming….
So the product arrived, and I instantly slathered it on my face without following the golden rule. What’s the golden rule you ask? PATCH TESTING.
Woke up the next morning with a closed comedone on the side of face and thought, “hmmmm. That’s odd. But uh…. let me just put some more of this non-patch tested product on my face anyway.”
By the end of night 2 I had a couple more closed comedones. Here’s a text message I sent my sister documenting this journey.
And it gets worse…
I used it for an entire week! You’d think that the warning signs would have been enough for me to come to my senses. Nope. I was like…
By the 7th day, logic finally slapped me upside the head, and I decided to investigate what the hell was going on. Started researching and came across this:
“Malassezia yeasts are commensal microorganisms, which under insufficiently understood conditions can become pathogenic. We have previously shown that specific strains isolated from diseased human skin can preferentially produce agonists of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), whose activation has been linked to certain skin diseases. Investigation of skin scale extracts from patients with Malassezia-associated diseases demonstrated 10- to 1,000-fold higher AhR-activating capacity than control skin extracts…. In loco synthesis of these highly potent AhR inducers by Malassezia yeasts could have a significant impact on skin homeostatic mechanisms and disease development.” (36)
English translation: the malassezia yeast that cause my fungal acne increase AhR activity. AhR activation has been implicated in fungal skin problems for those susceptible to them. (37) The takeaway being…
AhR activaton = bad
How does this relate to Galactomyces? A.k.a. the stuff that makes up 95% of the COSRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence. Well…
GALACTOMYCES ACTIVATES THE ARYL HYDROCARBON RECEPTOR (AHR)! (38)
As you can clearly see, I absolutely freaked out when I made this discovery illustrated by this text here.
A week later….
Yes, I call my sister “bro.”
Anyway, sucks when I think about it because I ended up with some pretty nasty breakouts across my face that realistically set me back about a month or two. Classic story about taking one step forward, and two steps back. But that’s skincare for you. We’re in it for the long haul.
Learn from my mistake, and just patch test the damn thing. This has been a lesson that has come back to kick my ass time and time again. Let it be known that this is my official public declaration: I, f.c., do solemnly swear to never ever again incorporate a product into my routine without patch testing the gosh dang thing first!
If there’s anything you should take away from this story it’s to:
- Patch test.
- Avoid the COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence like a plague if you suspect you have fungal acne, or a malassezia-induced skin condition (e.g. pityrosporum folliculitis, rityriasis rosea, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema etc.)
If you’re upset about this whole discovery like I was, and still looking for an essence, you might want to give pure snail mucin a shot.This is great for the skin conditions mentioned above and won’t aggravate malassezia. My favorites are the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence and Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence (cannot recommend these two enough).
Application and Feel.
Alright. Now let me do a 360 and pretend I don’t despise this product.
The application of this thing is wonderful! It goes on like a watery slime and has a ton of slip to it, making it easy to spread across the face using minimal product. It sinks in after a couple minutes and dries completely matte. I’d say you can feel just a tad of its residue on skin, if any at all.
It really doesn’t have a scent unless you pay very close attention to it. When you do catch a whiff of this stuff it smells like sour elmer’s glue. Like I said though, unnoticeable unless you really zone in on it.
How to Use.
The COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence can be used twice daily after chemical exfoliates and before moisturizer. Here’s a sample skincare routine showing where to place it with all things being considered. Depending on what you’re using some of these steps won’t apply so adjust it accordingly.
Disclaimer: Asian skincare routines have additional steps not included here.
- Oil cleanser.
- Gentle pH-balanced cleanser (5.5 or below)
- Low pH serums or toners. Wait 20-30 minutes.
- Salicylic Acid (BHA). Wait 20-30 minutes.
- AHAs (e.g. mandelic, lactic, glycolic etc.). Wait 20-30 minutes.
- COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence goes here.
- Retinoids like retinol or tretinoin.
- Benzoyl Peroxide, Azelaic Acid or other similar active ingredients.
- Occlusive (for example, Aquaphor or Vaseline)
The Take Away.
- Ingredients: 4/5
Minimal but great stuff in here including 95% galactomyces (*cough* satan *cough*), niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, glycerin, and adenosine.
- Benefits: 3/5
Subtlety brightens, moisturizes, and protects skin.
- Application: 5/5
Has a lot of slip, spreads easily, dries matte, leaves no tacky feeling, and has no smell.
- Packaging: 5/5
No complaints here. The bottle and pump dispenser are nice.
- Value: 5/5
Very well priced for the amount of product you get, and how long it will last.
A minimal but solid product. I recommend it for anyone looking into buying an essence for the first time. Just make sure to absolutely avoid it if you have malassezia-induced skin conditions like pityrosporum folliculitis, rityriasis rosea, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis etc.
Alternatively, snail mucin is great for these conditions, so if you’re still looking for an essence you might want to give it a shot. My favorites are the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence and Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence (current holy grail).
Welp, that does it for the COSRX Galactomyces 95 Essence review. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!
Glad you did this review ! I was just about to buy it . I have mild seb derm on my face . Wouldn’t wanna take any chances . I love Cosrx 96 Snail Mucin Power Essence . It doesn’t make anything worse , clog pores , irritate . Have you found any good K Beauty stuff that won’t feed the malassezia ? K Beauty seems so fun and makes sense . They have some very nice ingredients in their stuff too . Good prices too , compared to many American products .
Hi, I just found your blog, thanks for all the great posts! I have incredibly sensitive skin, even stuff supposedly made for sensitive skin usually gives me dermatitis (most often from plant extracts and oils), which sucks because I love trying out new products. I’ve been using SK II essence and I need to find a cheaper substitute. Since I can tolerate SK II does that mean the CosRx will be okay too? Also I gave my mom a bottle of SK II after she admired mine and she said her skin turned a bit red after application (which I thought was odd because it evens my skin tone), but she continues to use it at night because it’s making her skin softer. She didn’t say anything about clogged pores. Now I’m worried because she has rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, should I tell her to stop using it? Thanks for all your help!
WOW ! That’s a nice list . Now I have some goodies I can look forward to trying . I’m glad you didn’t say ” Sorry . But KB products just don’t work for us Seb Derm sufferers . ” I had been spraying homemade kefir on my face with no bad reactions , BUT I’ve been on prednisone for poison oak . I’m off to Amazon to check out the goodies you mentioned ! Yippee ! Thanks so much ! ???
Hi! Can you develop malassezia folliculitis out of nowhere? I had been using an ampoule with 96% Galactomyces and was fine for half a year. Then around 2-3 months ago, I tried a new toner for one night only, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner, and my skin did not like that. I think I had an allergic reaction to the essential oils in this toner. My forehead became really itchy and rash-y after that so I immediately stopped using the toner. While my skin was itchy and rash-y from the toner, I continued to use the Galactomyces ampoule, and starting from that moment, I kept on getting little tiny bumps (but not whiteheads) on my forehead. And day by day, it didn’t get better. I just kept on having the same condition of little tiny bumps (sometimes red, sometime flesh colored), but I was confused as to why nothing was disappearing or getting better. Then I researched online a little and found your post and watched Leah Yoo’s video, and knew this ampoule must have been the culprit. I have stopped using it for 2 days now (finally.. I should have stopped using it months ago), and my forehead is already looking a little better. The thing is, when I first started out with this product, my skin loved it and it gave the loveliest glow. Do you think the irritation caused by the Klairs toner gave me malassezia folliculiti, or can you not get it from a product? Everything started from the moment I used that toner then continued using the ampoule like normal. I really hope I can use the ampoule again one day because it was my holy grail. Can you get rid of malassezia folliculitis, and continue using Galactomyces when it’s all healed? Or is it a chronic condition? Thank you!
Wowww, I’m glad I didn’t read this before I bought and tested this essence though, because then I would’ve never dared to try it out! I have rosacea but my skin actually love this stuff! 🙂
Also, I just found your blog and I must say that it’s a lot of good work made, and very helpful.
What is a good K-beauty oil cleanser, toner, and serum that you recommend for people with seb dermatitis? Also, what is your entire skin care routine (steps and products) currently? I tried the product (95 whitening essence) without reading this review and I have been suffering for the past week 🙁 Do you recommend vitamin C for treating hyper pigmentation for people who have seb dermatitis? Thanks!
Hi there, I’ve been binge reading all your blogs and I’ve noticed you talk a lot about Cosrx’s BHA. I have Cosrx’s AHA 7 and I’m wondering which one is more effective for treating acne, or should I use both? (I’m 18 and I suffer mostly from hormonal acne, cystic acne, and those small bumps that have no head, I forget what they’re called lol). Thanks so much!
I just realized that SKII pitera IS GALACTOMYCES!!!! I am going to stop using this ASAP. I have not had bad SD while using it but I think maybe my other products are helping to keep it somewhat under control. Sometimes I can see a small flare developing at the end of the day and then be gone the next morning. It has been like that for a while now. Like a back and forward battle LOL Maybe its the SKII. So glad I didn’t get the big bottle!!! its expensive!!!
To be clear ALL ferments are bad then?
Omg I just found out your blog while looking for a review on this essence, and I’m hooked! Your writing style, details, …everything is spot on! New subbie xx
I eliminated this product out of my routine after reading your post, and my skin cleared up in no time. Thanks for this.
I’m about to introduce a serum called “Buffet” by Deciem’s The Ordinary, and the third ingredient on the list is lactococcus ferment lysate. I don’t know how different this is from Galactomyces or Saccharomyces, but I’m assuming that it is a probiotic that has something to do with lactobacillus. Do you think it’d cause a similar reaction?
Did your skin clear up right away after you eliminated this product from your routine? I used it a few days ago and had a flare up, stopped using it, it got worse, and now it got better. Is this normal?
I got this and the toner and I did patch test, I haven’t used the toner that much since I’m using the COSRX one step from pimple pads as toner. I have hormonal acne according to my dermatologist, I don’t really get that much acne but I do get white heads on my forehead around the hairline area and chin. I only hear wonders about this product and cosrx in general so I decided to try them but I noticed -I’m not sure tho since it’s summer and my skin gets oilier- I started getting more whiteheads, do you think it can clog pores? I do see my skin has improved a lot, is smoother, brighter and is my tone is more even, but I gome some tiny bumps on my cheeks – i don’t really break out there- but I’m not completely sure if I had whitheheads on my cheeks.
Thanks a million for the detailed review!
Ordered the essence but will cautiously introduce it to my routine, or at least try… it’s so hard to patch test patiently for days.
Sharing with us your experience is a great reminder…
I’m new to your blog and really enjoying your informative content 🙂
I was just wondering how you found out you have fungal acne or if you wrote about it in another post. Was this something you had to figure out with a dermatologist or are there steps you can take to sort of diagnose it yourself? Thanks!
Glad I read this informative post! A youtuber I respect had recommended a galactomyces serum to people with acne-prone skin (which she herself does not have, AFAIK), and I was posed to buy it to use after tretinoin at night.
Thanks for your hard work!
Hello from Finland! Thank you so much for this blog. <3 You truly give me hope.
I tried to do the research on CORX's Oil-free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion, but still don't quite know if it is safe to use (esters and fatty acids -wise).. Have you tried it? If you are familiar with the product, how do you think it works with Malassezia Folliculitis?
Thank you in advance! I totally understand if you don't have the time to check the incredients. Just wordering if you already have some knowledge on this lotion.
This is really interesting! You listed a few conditions in this article that absolutely must avoid this product, what is your experience or research shown you about periroal dermatitis and or rosacea? Can they be fungal related too? I’m pretty sure I have seb derm and also rosacea or periroal derm!!
I have serious fungal acne before and got treated by accutane, it’s all well and great to use cosrx galactomyces and it brighten and even my skin tone, my face become damn smooth and bright after incorporate most of cosrx products in my daily routine until…i use by wishtrend vitamin c21.5, i started purging out like hell within two days, and before the purging state cleared up, the fungal acne joined the party. God damn i am crying with my pain itchy bumpy fugly face now while digest your next article bout fungal acne. Fml…😭😭
Does it have a negative effect on someone that has a wart? I haven’t realized it until i read this review, but it seems that my warts had multiplied in a week or so.
OMG, maybe this is my issue! I figured it was niacin because I tried another product from amazon (some sample size of a serum with niacin and hydra-something acid)…looked like I was swatting bees with my face. I know I’ve got a yeast overgrowth sensitivity so eat tons of oregano to keep gut in check but I bet it doesn’t stop there. Ugh! I bake more bread than Sunbeam.