5 Best Low pH Cleansers (A Dermatologist’s Guide)

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5 Best Low pH Cleansers (A Dermatologist’s Guide)

In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST FOR CLEAN SKINCARE

ZELEN Life Cleanser

Cleansing is one of the most important steps in your skin care routine no matter what skin type you are. It must be done twice a day to get rid of dirt, oil, bacteria, toxins, and pollutants.

Otherwise, if left on the skin, these can cause problems such as acne or irritation. Not only is it important to cleanse, but you must also use the right products.

Since your skin is acidic (low pH), you want to choose products that are acidic as well.

This article is devoted to discussing what to consider before buying an acidic low pH cleanser, the best low pH cleansers, and how they were selected, along with some frequently asked questions about low pH cleansers.

Quick summary

Before your buy: 4 things to consider when purchasing a low pH cleanser

1. Skin type

This is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a cleanser. If you get a cleanser that is not appropriate for your skin type, you could make your skin worse.

For example, if you are an acne patient and you do not select a non-comedogenic cleanser, you will make your acne worse instead of better. If you have dry skin and you use an oil-controlling cleanser, you will further dry out your skin and make it worse.

If you do not know your skin type, here is an easy guide:

Dry skin:

  • Looks flaky and dull
  • Feels rough, tight, or stinging

Sensitive skin:

  • Looks flaky, red, and irritated
  • Feels itchy or burning

Oily skin:

  • Looks shiny with blackheads and acne
  • Feels greasy

Normal skin:

  • Does not look dry or oily
  • Does not feel dry or oily

Combination skin:

  • Looks and feels oily in the T zone (forehead, nose chin)
  • Looks and feels dry on the rest of the face

2. pH

Since our skin is slightly acidic (low pH), you want to select a cleanser that has a low pH as well.

Our skin functions optimally at a low pH. If the pH is increased (or made more alkaline) the barrier function is compromised which can lead to water loss and dehydration of the skin and the entrance of microbes that can cause infection.

Bar soap is notorious for having a high pH, so it is best to avoid that and choose a liquid cleanser with a low pH.

3. Ingredients to avoid

There are several ingredients which, are best to avoid especially if you have certain skin types.

Oily skin:

  • It is best to avoid mineral oil and petrolatum as they can clog your pores and make acne worse. Sometimes silicones can clog your pores as well.

Dry or sensitive skin:

  • Alcohol can be too drying and may irritate your skin. Also, dyes and fragrances may irritate your skin or you may be allergic to these ingredients.

4. Ingredients to look for

When you are looking for a cleanser, look for these ingredients based on your skin type.

Oily skin:

  • Look for oil-controlling ingredients, such as alcohol, witch hazel, jojoba oil, or alpha hydroxy acids.

Dry or sensitive skin:

  • Look for moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid, and anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as sunflower or coconut oil.

All types:

  • The optimal time to start anti-aging ingredients in 20-30’s. This is when your collagen production starts to decrease. Look for antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, that can scavenge free radicals produced by UV from the sun which can damage collagen and lead to wrinkles. Retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids are also good for anti-aging but need to be used with caution if you have dry or sensitive skin.

The 5 best low pH cleansers

ZELEN Life Cleanser (Best for clean skincare)

ZELEN Life Cleanser


Analysis:

MoisturizingMoisturizing
Drying Drying
Moisturizing Moisturizing
Balanced

FormulaFormula
Artifical Artifical
Natural Natural
Balanced

SensitivitySensitivity
Non-Sensitive Non-Sensitive
Sensitive Sensitive
Balanced

ThicknessThickness
Lightweight Lightweight
Thick Thick
Balanced

GreasinessGreasiness
Non-Greasy Non-Greasy
Greasy Greasy
Balanced

ScentScent
Unscented Unscented
Strong Strong
Balanced

PackagingPackaging
Basic Basic
Premium Premium
Balanced

PricePrice
Low Low
High High
Balanced

Checklist:

Paraben-free
Paraben-free
Hypoallergenic
Hypoallergenic
Non-Comedogenic
Non-Comedogenic
Cruelty-free
Cruelty-free
Vegan
Vegan
SPF
SPF

Unique features:

  • Organic, chemical-free formula
  • Uniquely blended by hand
  • Beautifully packaged yet functional airless pump bottle

The best low pH cleanser for:

Men and women of all skin types looking for a complete cleansing experience. Particularly those who are clean skincare enthusiasts.

Notable Ingredients:

Aloe Vera. Sunflower. Jojoba.

Overview:

ZELEN Life is an ultramodern skincare brand making big advances in the industry. They not only use pure “biologically active” ingredients, but they also ensure that their products are 100% handmade. Their quality-controlled organic blends ensure that the beneficial properties of its formula are packed into every bottle.

When looking for a low pH Cleanser – performance and reliability are important. You want to be certain that the product will deliver.

Let’s analyze the formula of the ZELEN Life Cleanser and how it delivers that desired low pH.

Aloe Vera is a natural anti-fungal and anti-microbial that can help acne-prone skin types (1-4). It is also blessed with an abundance of antioxidants, which protect your skin and help with anti-aging. Aloe has a natural pH of 4.5-5.5. This enhances cellular regeneration and the overall health of your skin.

Sunflower is an effective skin hydrator with anti-inflammatory properties that calms and soothes irritated areas (5-7). Its moisturizing benefits are also non-comedogenic (i.e., it doesn’t block the pores that can lead to acne development). In fact, sunflower helps to clear blocked pores by removing the build-up of dead skin cells. As our skin is exposed to daily harmful elements, such as UV rays, dirt, and bacteria–sunflower offers excellent protection.

Jojoba has a similar structure to the skin’s natural oil (sebum). This may sound like a basic property, but the benefits it brings are enormous. By cleverly mimicking the skin’s natural oil, it signals to your sebaceous glands that your skin is sufficiently hydrated. Essentially, this regulates sebum production, which prevents acne formation. As we know, a common cause of oily skin and acne is the overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands. (1, 8, 9). Whatsmore, these compounds of Jojoba make it extremely lightweight on the skin and quickly absorbed. By penetrating the deeper layers, the skin is hydrated from the inside out.

But it doesn’t stop there. The ZELEN Life Cleanser is rich in other antioxidants, thanks to the inclusion of lavender, coconut, and tocopherol (vitamin E). As well as anti-inflammatories, such as geranium and almond (1, 10-20).

Ingredients are great in theory, but how does this cleanser perform as a skincare product? Here are my findings.

Texture and application:

This is a lightweight cleanser that lathers into a generous creamy texture. This strikes a good balance between being powerful enough to remove greasy residue while keeping the skin hydrated. I enjoyed that my skin felt clean and refreshed, but without having a drying effect and stripping the skin of its natural oils. I am confident that anyone using this product (irrespective of skin type) will be free from irritation.

However, if you are a heavy makeup user, I’d recommend that you either double-cleanse or follow up with the ZELEN Life Toner. Alternatively, you could consider the EltaMD Foaming Facial, further down our list. It provides a heavier cleansing action, but note that you may find it less hydrating.

Aroma:

While cleansing your skin, a beautifully smelling product adds to the experience. If you are a fan of great-smelling products, you will love the ZELEN Life Cleanser. It comes with a subtle floral citrus aroma that is organically derived. True to ZELEN Life’s brand values, no artificial fragrances are used. Yet, it will feel like a stress-busting spa day!

Packaging:

If I were asked to describe this bottle and packaging in 3 words, I’d say– thoughtful, luxurious, and eco-friendly. The matte-silver bottle will not only look magnificent on your dressing table or bathroom shelf, but it’s also very functional. It’s an airless pump, which means it is airtight and watertight. This protects the cream from contamination and bacterial overgrowth.

Plus, nobody likes wastage. The pump mechanism will ensure you dispense the correct amount of the cream. However, I recommend that you take care when you initially use it. Because of its airless pump action, I found that on the first application, it required a few extra pumps to compress the cream. Take your time with this. If a pump bottle sounds like too much hassle, then the COSRX Low pH Gel Cleanser and its plastic tube may be more for you.

I also like that ZELEN Life’s Cleanser comes in a deep forest green outer box. This all adds to the organic appeal of this product. The bottle and box are also recyclable.

The good:

  • pH balanced
  • Amazing, raw citrus scent without the use of chemicals
  • Deep-cleansing while being hydrating enough for all skin types
  • Natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant-rich ingredients
  • Anti-aging and anti-acne properties

Things to think about:

  • Not ideal for heavy makeup users
  • Higher than the average price tag

Bottom line:

The ZELEN Life Cleanser will bring you the spa experience in your home. This is a highly versatile low pH Cleanser that can benefit all skin types, men and women. Your skin will feel balanced, soft, and replenished after use. If you are acne-prone or are concerned about aging skin, then the organic aloe vera, sunflower, and jojoba found in this cleanser might be the perfect blend for you!

  • Performance
  • Ingredients
  • Value for money
4.5 Overall Score

La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser (Best for oily skin)

La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser


Analysis:

MoisturizingMoisturizing
Drying Drying
Moisturizing Moisturizing
Balanced

FormulaFormula
Artifical Artifical
Natural Natural
Balanced

SensitivitySensitivity
Non-Sensitive Non-Sensitive
Sensitive Sensitive
Balanced

ThicknessThickness
Lightweight Lightweight
Thick Thick
Balanced

GreasinessGreasiness
Non-Greasy Non-Greasy
Greasy Greasy
Balanced

ScentScent
Unscented Unscented
Strong Strong
Balanced

PackagingPackaging
Basic Basic
Premium Premium
Balanced

PricePrice
Low Low
High High
Balanced

Checklist:

Paraben-free
Paraben-free
Hypoallergenic
Hypoallergenic
Non-Comedogenic
Non-Comedogenic
Cruelty-free
Cruelty-free
Vegan
Vegan
SPF
SPF

Unique features:

  • Foaming action
  • Fun-looking design
  • Powerful cleanse

The best low pH cleanser for:

This is an excellent cleanser for oily skin types without altering your skin’s pH level.

Notable ingredients:

Zinc pidolate. Thermal spring water.

Overview:

La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser is a gel-like face wash effective in reducing excess oil production and bacterial buildup. Before covering its performance, let’s consider its key ingredients.

Zinc pidolate is an excellent ingredient for oilier skin types. It can reduce excess sebum and kill bacteria that lead to acne (21). With its rich anti-inflammatory properties, zinc pidolate is also effective in alleviating other skin issues such as rosacea and eczema. It also has the ability to can enhance collagen synthesis, which brings anti-aging benefits.

Thermal spring water is a natural prebiotic with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help maintain healthy skin flora (22-24). It has a balancing effect of healthy and unhealthy bacteria on the skin surface. At the same time, it keeps the skin feeling soft and well hydrated.

Texture and usability:

This face wash has a transparent gel-like texture with a runny consistency. It lathers quickly when applied to your face. I especially liked how it reduces excess oil and visible greasiness without being highly irritating. It controls sebum secretion and restores an oil balance. These can help prevent future acne breakouts for those with oily skin.

However, due to its more aggressive action compared to the likes of ZELEN Life’s Cleanser, you may experience some dryness. If you have combination skin (ie., a mixture of dry and oily), you might prefer ZELEN Life’s more versatile organic formula.

Despite my favorable experience with La Roche Posay’s Gel Cleanser, I should mention that feedback from some users is not as positive. It has been reported to cause a burning sensation or a rash after use. Therefore, if you have sensitive skin, then this one might not be for you.

Scent:

This cleanser’s propensity to be sensitizing may be partly due to it being fragranced. The smell is not overpowering, but it is heavier than other cleansers on our list. If you’re looking for an unscented cleanser, consider Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser further down this list.

Design:

I really like the pump of its bottle. It’s simple and easy to use. One pump is an ample amount to cleanse the skin and get the job done. I also think its blue-colored design is pleasing to the eye. While missing that premium feel, its playful style still works, in my opinion.

The good:

  • Balances pH
  • Acne-fighting–anti-microbial and reduces oil and sebum
  • Gel-like texture
  • Good quantity of product for the price

Things to think about:

  • It may have a drying effect on some
  • Contains fragrance – the scent may be unappealing or irritating

Bottom line:

The La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser is a solid product for those with oily skin looking for powerful action. If you’re in need of reducing shine or combatting acne, then this face wash is a good option. For all other skin types, especially dry or sensitive skin, you might want to pass on this one.

  • Performance
  • Ingredients
  • Value for money
4.0 Overall Score

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser (Best makeup remover)

EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser


Analysis:

MoisturizingMoisturizing
Drying Drying
Moisturizing Moisturizing
Balanced

FormulaFormula
Artifical Artifical
Natural Natural
Balanced

SensitivitySensitivity
Non-Sensitive Non-Sensitive
Sensitive Sensitive
Balanced

ThicknessThickness
Lightweight Lightweight
Thick Thick
Balanced

GreasinessGreasiness
Non-Greasy Non-Greasy
Greasy Greasy
Balanced

ScentScent
Unscented Unscented
Strong Strong
Balanced

PackagingPackaging
Basic Basic
Premium Premium
Balanced

PricePrice
Low Low
High High
Balanced

Checklist:

Paraben-free
Paraben-free
Hypoallergenic
Hypoallergenic
Non-Comedogenic
Non-Comedogenic
Cruelty-free
Cruelty-free
Vegan
Vegan
SPF
SPF

Unique features:

  • Oxygen infusing bubbles
  • Exfoliating action
  • Makeup remover

The best low pH cleanser for:

This cleanser delivers a strong action that removes makeup while staying gentle and soothing.

Notable ingredients:

Apple amino acids. Bromelain.

Overview:

If you enjoy cleansing foam, then here is another option to consider–this time by EltaMD Skincare. This “gentle enzyme” cleanser contains a unique blend of apple amino acids and bromelain.

Sodium cocoyl apple amino acids are excellent cleansing agents (25, 26). These foaming bubbles help infuse oxygen to give a deep wash that removes dirt, oil, and pollutants from your face.

Bromelain (which comes from pineapple) is an anti-inflammatory enzyme. It is extremely useful in alleviating inflamed skin, redness, and general discomfort (27, 28). These calming compounds, combined with their anti-microbial properties, make them highly effective against acne.

Action and texture:

I found that this foaming face wash also provides gentle exfoliation. So, it is effective at removing dead skin cells and makeup. The effectiveness of common exfoliating acids (such as glycolic and salicylic acid) is dependent on pH. As you are looking for a low pH cleanser, the good news is this does not apply to the bromelain found in this cleanser.

When using this product, I found it more hydrating than La Roche’s Cleanser (reviewed above). I believe this is down to the apple amino acids in its formula. These are known to provide hydrating qualities after application. If you are a frequent makeup user, you will appreciate this face wash. Its lightweight texture and gentle action should not be underestimated. I found that it can dissolve makeup and other impurities very effectively.

Aroma:

The texture of this product is not the only aspect of its lightweight character. The scent is also very light and pleasant. However, do note that it is fragranced. As fragrance is the last inclusion on its ingredient list, it is unlikely to cause any unwanted reactions. Nevertheless, I always advocate performing a topical test before daily use.

Packaging:

Where this product excels in performance, it underperforms in visual appeal. If you’re looking for a premium cleanser with a luxurious bottle design, this one is not for you. When you compare it to the ZELEN Life Cleanser in this department, it certainly falls short.

Not only is its design on the basic side, but the pump mechanism is also not the most efficient. There were times during use when the dispenser would get clogged by the gel. If you’re the type of person who wants to get your daily cleansing done and get on with your day–you might lose patience with this product.

The good:

  • pH balanced
  • Deep-cleansing foaming bubbles that offer a good cleansing effect
  • Exfoliating action with anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Does not dehydrate the skin compared to similar products
  • Excellent at removing makeup

Things to think about:

  • The bottle design and pump could be better in terms of quality

Bottom line:

EltaMD’s Foaming Facial Cleanser is an excellent choice for heavy makeup users. If you like an exfoliating action without irritation, this product might also be for you. But does this product have the “X-Factor”? No, not really. In terms of its formula, scent, and packaging, you have better options on this list.

  • Performance
  • Ingredients
  • Value for money
4.0 Overall Score

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (Best for budget)

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser


Analysis:

MoisturizingMoisturizing
Drying Drying
Moisturizing Moisturizing
Balanced

FormulaFormula
Artifical Artifical
Natural Natural
Balanced

SensitivitySensitivity
Non-Sensitive Non-Sensitive
Sensitive Sensitive
Balanced

ThicknessThickness
Lightweight Lightweight
Thick Thick
Balanced

GreasinessGreasiness
Non-Greasy Non-Greasy
Greasy Greasy
Balanced

ScentScent
Unscented Unscented
Strong Strong
Balanced

PackagingPackaging
Basic Basic
Premium Premium
Balanced

PricePrice
Low Low
High High
Balanced

Checklist:

Paraben-free
Paraben-free
Hypoallergenic
Hypoallergenic
Non-Comedogenic
Non-Comedogenic
Cruelty-free
Cruelty-free
Vegan
Vegan
SPF
SPF

Unique features:

  • Soap-free and unscented
  • Gentle action, perfect for sensitive skin
  • 2-in-1 (face and body)

The best low pH cleanser for:

This low pH cleanser is ideal for people looking for an all-encompassing, highly effective body and face wash. All at an affordable price.

Notable ingredients:

Glycerin. Niacinamide (vitamin B3). Panthenol (vitamin B5). Citric acid.

Overview:

Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser is simple but effective. It’s not a product that will get you shouting about it from the rooftops. But as its name indicates–it is indeed very gentle. And that cannot be ignored.

Let’s take a deeper look at its gentle formula:

Glycerin is a humectant that helps maintain skin hydration while keeping it soft. It is a particularly effective antiaging ingredient, as it helps to make wrinkles less prominent. It also assists overall skin barrier function.

Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They protect the skin from environmental stressors such as UV rays, pollution, and bacteria. Whatsmore, Vitamin B3 accelerates wound healing. It also balances the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands. This prevents clogged pores and dreaded acne breakouts.

Panthenol is another form of vitamin B (B5). It is very lightweight, enhancing the ability to penetrate the skin at its deeper layers. This speeds up the natural healing process and promotes the formation of new skin tissue.

Citric acid has an exfoliating effect on the skin. It removes dead skin cells, dirt, and other impurities to de-clog impurities and brightens the skin’s appearance.

Texture and cleansing abilities:

Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser has a lightweight gel-like texture that lathers into a lotion on application. If you are looking for a no-nonsense, quick, and easy cleanse, then this is perfect for you. There is also no need to worry about dryness. I found it to be extremely moisturizing and non-irritating. Again, I put this down to its simple “glycerin-inspired” formula.

Conversely, the downside of its simple formula is that it lacks those organic ingredients to rave about. Does it cleanse your skin? Yes. Does it boost anti-aging and make your skin glow? Not really. If you’re looking for a cleanser packed with antioxidants, then you’re better off with the ZELEN Life Cleanser. If you want a face wash to counteract oily skin, then you’ll prefer La Roche Posay’s Foaming Gel.

But, for a simple and gentle cleanser to the face and body, this product gets the job done.

Aroma:

Quite simply, there is none. This makes it a great option for people who often get reactions from artificial fragrances or have sensitive skin.

Packaging:

As a budget pick, the packaging is consistent with its formula. Straight forward but effective. Whatsmore, at 20 fl. oz / 591ml, you are looking at a huge quantity for its price tag. A great option for face and body washing that will feel like it lasts forever. You could even keep it in the shower!

The good:

  • Free of fragrance
  • Non-irritating, hypoallergenic formula
  • Gentle, multi-purpose cleanser
  • Large quantity and great value for money

Things to think about:

  • Not effective with heavy makeup
  • Simple formula with lack of organic ingredients
  • Basic bottle design

Bottom line:

The Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser fully deserves its inclusion in our list of the best low pH cleansers. It is an excellent all-rounder for all skin types and highly useful for those on a budget. Being soap-free and fragrance-free, you’ll have no concerns about adverse skin reactions. However, its formula lacks those quality ingredients that will take your skin to the next level.

  • Performance
  • Ingredients
  • Value for money
4.0 Overall Score

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (Best for acne)

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser


Analysis:

MoisturizingMoisturizing
Drying Drying
Moisturizing Moisturizing
Balanced

FormulaFormula
Artifical Artifical
Natural Natural
Balanced

SensitivitySensitivity
Non-Sensitive Non-Sensitive
Sensitive Sensitive
Balanced

ThicknessThickness
Lightweight Lightweight
Thick Thick
Balanced

GreasinessGreasiness
Non-Greasy Non-Greasy
Greasy Greasy
Balanced

ScentScent
Unscented Unscented
Strong Strong
Balanced

PackagingPackaging
Basic Basic
Premium Premium
Balanced

PricePrice
Low Low
High High
Balanced

Checklist:

Paraben-free
Paraben-free
Hypoallergenic
Hypoallergenic
Non-Comedogenic
Non-Comedogenic
Cruelty-free
Cruelty-free
Vegan
Vegan
SPF
SPF

Unique features:

  • Acne targeted
  • Squeezy tube bottle
  • Low pH

The best low pH cleanser for:

This cleanser works great for acne-prone skin without stripping it. It is gentle and effective because it is loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Notable ingredients:

Tea tree oil. Betaine salicylate. Saccharomyces ferment. Cryptomeria japonica.

Overview:

COSRX’s Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is another acne-fighting candidate. With ingredients such as beta hydroxy acids and tea tree oil, you’ll be targeting blemishes from the first day of use.

Wondering how?

Tea tree oil has long been studied as an effective acne-fighting ingredient (30-32). This is due to its rich anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also considered as effective as benzoyl peroxide in combatting blemishes while being a gentler alternative. It does not come with the same irritating side effects as more aggressive acne treatments.

Betaine salicylate is related to salicylic acid (SA)–which is also a famous ingredient in the acne treatment sphere (33). Betaine salicylate is a beta hydroxy acid just like salicylic acid but is considered not as irritating. It unclogs pores by exfoliating dead skin cells while decreasing the skin’s oil production. It helps remove whiteheads and blackheads while eliminating bacteria to prevent future breakouts.

Saccharomyces ferment is a popular ingredient in famous Korean skincare. Fermentation releases minerals, amino acids, and vitamins, so they are readily available to nourish the skin (34). They also exert anti-inflammatory effects.

Cryptomeria japonica is an antibacterial and anti-microbial ingredient that can also benefit pimples, pustules, and inflammations on the skin (35, 36).

Texture and performance:

This is a light, non-greasy cleanser. My skin felt fresh and clean after using. I typically only get the occasional pimple, so I can not attest to its acne-fighting capabilities. However, taking into account its ingredients and user reviews, I am confident that it can help those who experience regular breakouts.

However, yet again, if you have a dry skin type, you might find this product dehydrating. If moisture is at the top of your criteria in a low pH cleanser, then you’d be better off with Cetaphil’s Cleanser, or ZELEN Life’s Cleanser from this list. Both are very gentle, too. If you prefer a foaming action, then La Roche Posay’s Face Wash or EltaMD’s Cleanser are more for you. The choice is yours!

Smell:

I found its scent a bit strong for my liking. It has a citrus floral scent comparable with the ZELEN Life Cleanser. However, it is more artificial in character. I found the aroma tolerable, but it is not the highlight of this product. I can understand why some reviewers have deemed it a bit strong for their nose.

Packaging:

Like Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser, this is another product with simple packaging. As mentioned above in this review, the benefit or drawback of this product is the plastic tube bottle. If you prefer to dispense your cleanser with a simple squeeze, this one is for you. However, if you find a pump bottle more convenient, then consider our other options.

From a design perspective, in my opinion, this plastic tube looks a bit medical. It’s not something that will take center stage in my skincare collection.

The good:

  • Powerful action without the irritation
  • Removing acne blemishes
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Decent price tag

Things to think about:

  • Can be a bit drying
  • Scent – Some people find the scent unappealing and strong.

Bottom line:

The COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is a gel-based cleanser that ticks all the boxes for those prone to acne. It targets excess oil while calming general irritations. The smell and packaging might not be to everyone’s taste, but you will get your money’s worth in terms of its action.

  • Performance
  • Ingredients
  • Value for money
4.0 Overall Score

How we chose these products

These 5 low pH cleansers were chosen for many reasons. These are all highly trusted brands that deliver quality products by using evidence-based ingredients. Some have been around for a long time.

Extensive research is conducted on these ingredients and products to ensure they are top quality before they made it to this list. Also, there are numerous good reviews on all these products and very few negative reviews.

In this group of cleansers, you can find something for every budget. They range from expensive to reasonably priced. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to get a good cleanser if you know what ingredients to look for and you select the right one for your skin type.

They are all low pH cleansers, so they will not upset the acidic nature of your skin. This acidity keeps the barrier function of the skin working properly and keeps your skin healthy.

These cleansers all contain quality ingredients and you can find one to benefit every skin type. Not only do they cleanse the skin, but some target oily skin to prevent blackheads and acne.

Some contain antioxidants to help protect the skin and prevent premature aging. Some have anti-inflammatory properties to calm and soothe sensitive, irritated skin and moisturizers to hydrate dry skin.

Frequently asked questions

frequently asked questions 2-min

Do I have to wash my face twice a day if I have dry skin?

Washing your face twice a day is important. It is important to wash your face in the morning to remove the oil and dead skin cells that have been generated during the night. It is equally as important to wash your face at night to remove the dirt, oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, makeup, toxins, and pollutants that have appeared during the day.

If you use the right face cleanser for dry skin, you will not further dry out your skin. In fact, the right ingredients will add moisture to your dry skin and help it.

Why can’t I use bar soap on my face?

There are 4 different types of cleansers, one of which is true soap or bar soap. These are a mixture of fat and alkali which has a pH of about 9-11. They are fantastic at removing dirt and oil, but they also strip away too much of your natural oils and can dehydrate your skin.

They are too alkaline for your skin, which is naturally acidic. By changing the natural pH of your skin, it can lead to problems with a barrier function. Our skin’s barrier serves to prevents dehydration and keeps out harmful microbes.

What does low pH mean?

pH is a measure in the chemistry of the concentration and activity of the hydrogen atoms in a solution. It is measured from 0-14, with 7 being neutral. Numbers below 7 are acidic, and numbers above 7 are alkaline or basic.

The lower the number, the higher the concentration of hydrogen atoms, and the more acidic the solution is. Our skin functions best at slightly acidic levels, at about 5. If you alter the pH of the skin, it will not function properly.

It will lead to dehydration, inflammation and irritation, lack of shedding of dead skin cells, and infections from pathogenic microbes. It can worsen certain skin conditions like acne and eczema.

Do I need anti-oxidants in my cleanser?

Anti-oxidants are important to scavenge up free radicals that come from the sun and pollution so they do not damage your collagen. Free radicals have unpaired electrons, so they are always searching for an electron to steal from some other molecule.

If it does not get an electron from anti-oxidants, then it will steal it from collagen and subsequently cause the destruction of the collagen. Collagen gives structure and firmness to your skin to maintain its youthful appearance.

When these free radicals destroy your collagen, it leads to sagging and wrinkles. Plus, some anti-oxidants have other properties as well, such as vitamin C. While it is a potent antioxidant, it also helps lighten dark sunspots and stimulates collagen production.

What are the benefits of cleansing my skin?

In addition to the obvious reason for cleansing your skin, which is to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria, it also provides a clean palette upon which you can apply your other products, such as anti-oxidant serums.

It offers better penetration of the products that you will apply next so that they work better for your skin. If your skin is covered with a layer of dirt and oil, nothing will penetrate. There is no point in wasting your time or money on products if they do not have the opportunity to work correctly.

What is double cleansing?

The double cleansing method for washing your face is twofold. The first cleanser is oil-based that will remove makeup as well as dirt and oil. These oil cleansers consist of non-comedogenic oils, such as sweet almond or sunflower oil, so they will not clog your pores and cause acne.

The benefits of using oil are that it will attract unwanted oil to remove it and it is better at breaking down makeup products. If you do not like the idea of using oil on your face, micellar water works well too and it is less messy than using oil. Some may find micellar water more irritating than an oil cleanser.

The second cleanser will remove whatever dirt and oil are remaining to ensure a super clean palette. This cleanser is selected based on your skin type. So if you have dry skin, it will hydrate it. If you have oily skin, it will help treat your acne.

Can I test the pH of my products?

If you are not sure what the pH of your products is and it does not tell you the pH on the label, you can purchase pH test strips inexpensively on Amazon and test it yourself. It is simple, quick, and easy to do.

You just dip the test strip in your product for the appropriate amount of time and the paper will change color. You compare the color to the chart they give and it will tell you the pH of your product.

Conclusion

Cleansing is crucial to the health of your skin. It is the most basic but often underappreciated or overlooked step in your skincare routine. Choosing the right cleanser for your skin type is also important.

Determining your skin type is the first step in selecting most products especially cleansers. The next step is to read labels and choose good ingredients based on your skin type. Next, selecting a cleanser that has a low pH to keep your skin acidic and functioning properly is important too.

Once you have found your perfect cleanser, make sure you are cleansing twice a day to keep your skin clean and healthy.

Are any of our top picks your new perfect cleanser? Let us know in the comments.

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About The Author

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Board-Certified Dermatologist

BS-MD (University of Miami)

United States

Dr. Trent completed a 6 year combined BS-MD at the University of Miami with an undergraduate major in biology and a minor in chemistry. She completed her internship in Internal Medicine and her residency in Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. Dr. Trent is a world recognized dermatologist, who has published over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She also co-authored a textbook on dermatologic diseases and therapy, which was published by McGraw-Hill Co, Inc. She has had the opportunity to present her clinical research several times at national medical meetings. Dr. Trent has been the recipient of several awards for research, teaching and clinical practice, including the prestigious Young Investigators award for research from the American Academy of Dermatology as well as the coveted Castle Connelly Top Doctor award.

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