A Quick Acid Run 2Seoul & Back: Alpha Hydroxy Acid Overview & 2Sol Duna Smooth AHA Serum 8% Glycolic

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

As a skincare addict I'm ashamed to announce that this is my first full-size AHA product! I've used aqua-peels and sheet masks that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in the past, but this 2Sol Duna Smooth AHA Serum with 8% glycolic acid is my first. I picked it up using a Korean shopping concierge KoreanBuddy months ago and am only just now getting around to reviewing it. FYI - the shopping service is excellent and the founders behind the service are friendly, responsive, and responsible as they strive to find even hipster hard-to-find brands or help figure out the cheapest shipping options for their customers.

So read on to find out if this glycolic acid serum is my OTP (one true pairing), or if I discover that it's not meant to be and I needs be moved onto something a little gentler, or quite possibly something more highly concentrated.

But before getting into the review, here's a quick overview (or review) of AHA's in general:

The effectiveness of an acidic cleanser, toner, or serum etc. is not guaranteed. AHA's need to be formulated correctly to even begin to exfoliate the skin - the pH must be between a 3 and a 4 as effectiveness quickly drops off above a 4. (A quick refresher about pH values - pH is the measure of how acidic or alkaline a solution is: anything above a 7 is alkaline/basic, and can disrupt ones' naturally protective acid mantle. Anything below a 7 is acidic. The skin's natural pH sits at about a 4 to 5.5). The serum must be composed of at least 4% of the active AHA ingredient.

Just a quick note to add: AHA's are more effective against closed comedones than blackheads and clogged pores. Apparently, AHA's are hydrophilic (water-loving) while beta hydroxy acids (BHA's) are oil-soluble - aka they are attracted to oils and are thusly more able to penetrate into sebum-filled pores.

Disclosure:  If you're curious about my policy on press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, please see my disclaimer and policies.


2Sol is an affordable Korean beauty brand that unfortunately 'doesn't get outside much' - as in, they're quite localized to South Korea and don't have much of an international presence as of yet. They remind me of a CosRX in that they use simple, cleanly packaging (no stickers though unfortunately lol) and are all about using active ingredients in effective concentrations.

Just a little bit about them from their own website... their slogans and words from their President Hwang Sung Jin:

"Like the first time, our love is the same, we'll be like a pure fool with an honest presence

Rather than selling products that will become bestsellers in the marketplace, we make products that make our customers happy, Rather than a single product, all absolutely necessary products"

2Sol started in 2008 as "Arisol". President Hwang Sung Jin grew passionate for cosmetics while working in a dermatology clinic and spent 2 years finding a manufacturer. The company is very customer-centric and works with consumers to get their feedback and create products that serve them, cultivating customer-loyalty. They officially became 2Sol (pronounced Yi-Sol) in 2010.


This is a watery acid composed of mainly glycolic acid in terms of the active ingredient. The scent of the product is a bit fruity but in an off way as though it were overripe or had been dipped in vinegar, which I suppose makes sense. One would expect it to smell a little sugar cane-y (because glycolic acid is sugar-derived) but in reality it almost seems as though there is a bit of alcohol in there. About two pumps of the liquid is enough to cover the entire face. The acid is easily absorbed by the skin as it has such a thin consistency - in fact, I didn't feel the need to wash the acid off after applying the wait times.


Water, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Potassium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Licorice Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Bark/Sap Extract, Sophora Flavescens Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Prunus Persica (Peach) Leaf Extract, Rhus Semialata Gall Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract, Methylparaben [CosDNA Analysis]


The active ingredient in this serum is glycolic acid. Acids can sometimes be a little astringent but never you mind, dear readers, butylene glycol, glycerin, and sodium hyaluronate are present to help hydrate the skin just that little extra bit. There are also some awesome skin-conditioning agents like licorice extract, portulaca oleracea extract (both hanbang or Korean traditional medicinal herbs with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits). Skin-soothing allantoin and paeonia lactiflora bark/sap extract. It is also not something that will cause too much oiliness (remember even oily skin requires hydration) as it contains the also astringent honeysuckle extract, and scutellaria baicalensis root extract. 

One last reminder to always use sunscreen when using alpha hydroxy acids.


When I first started using the 2Sol, I buffered my approach to incorporating it into my nighttime skincare routine. 

My first week using the serum I used it in the middle of my routine (cleansing -> toner -> essence -> sheet mask -> 2SOL). 
The week after that I used it a little bit closer to the skin, after the essence step.
The third week, I officially brought it into the routine where it is supposed to go (cleansing -> prescription actives (2SOL included, though I alternate with my retin-A prescription) -> toner -> essence -> sheet mask -> emulsion -> oil -> cream ->  sleeping pack. 

I considered using a pH adjusting toner to see if the effects were amplified but remembering that the CosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner didn't really do so much with my vitamin C results, I decided to skip it.

As aforementioned, two pumps of the product were enough to cover my entire face from the tippy top of my forehead to the edges of my square jawline. There was generally no discomfort but I did feel a little bit of itchiness around the jawline.

The acid serum is pretty great as it reduced the visibility of my laugh lines and it brightened the skin as well. I also think it may have lightened some freckles I have around my nose and right cheek area. It also put the kaibosh on some closed comedones I had on my forehead. I now know why people flirt with acids and play with fiyah with overexfoliation. I didn't see any results in terms of pore care, but that's not the biggest deal in the world. Plus, it may have been a case of me not having been using wash-off masks or astringent products. 

I think I'll retire this product for the next few months as I'll be out and about in the sun quite a bit since it's almost summer which is a precious time for us Chicagoans. Photosensitivity is no joke according to some but I'll be back on the bandwagon in September-ish.


1 2 3 3.5 4 5

I can't wholeheartedly give this more than a 3.5 rating as it's my first AHA serum. Plus, to be quite honest, I prefer the effects given by aqua peels from brands like Primary Raw and Reme+G. Check out my experience with these in a previous review here.


Right now, the company has just a Korean website, so it would be necessary to use a buying service like Avecko, KoreanBuddy, or BoyahShop to purchase this product. Here is the link to 2Sol Korea where the serum sells for about 8900 Korean Won which is less than $8.90. This link will be useful when making the order from any of the aforementioned services.

What's your favorite AHA product to use?

Disclosure:  If you're curious about my policy on press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, please see my disclaimer and policies.

No comments:

Post a Comment