Why is a low ph/gentle facial cleanser important?

Low pH cleansers have been around; it's just that they weren't that talked about before because people didn't care too much whether their cleanser is low or high pH; all they cared about is if it cleans the face effectively. But now, thanks to blogs and websites who have been discussing the importance of knowing the chemistry of ingredients and how it can benefit (or compromise) the skin, people are discussing and have been asking how something so simple like a facial cleanser can make or break the skin.

Why is a low pH cleanser important?

Photo from pinterest.com

First, you have to understand the composition of the skin. Our skin is naturally acidic at pH 4-5.6; this depends on the chemistry of a person. The goal is to keep it at that pH or at least, don't make it go too alkaline (5 and up) or too acidic (5 and below) I don't want to expound on it further because I'm sure you've all read this at some point.

But the thing that we should be discussing is why we should get skin care right, starting with the facial cleanser.

Recap: The skin begins at pH 4-5.6. When you wash it with a high pH facial cleanser, the skin pH gets disrupted. Heck, even water can disrupt the skin's pH! Most facial cleansers have a pH of 6 or 7 and soaps, pH 9 or 10. What most will do is that after facial cleansing, they will use an acidic toner and moisturizers in high hopes of reverting the skin back to its balanced pH, but studies have shown that it doesn't work that way: if your face is rinsed with a high pH cleanser, it takes about 90 minutes for the skin to go back to its natural pH- this time frame can be shorter or longer for some and also dependent on the what products you apply on your skin right after cleansing.

Within this time frame, dryness can occur for most skin types as well as multiplication of bacteria and aggravation of acne for acne- prone people. Your skin care can promise this or that, but if the skin is disrupted and compromised, there's little that your skin care can do during the moment when skin regularizing its own pH.

We can conclude from these information that a high pH cleanser is the hidden culprit behind dry skin, patchy makeup, breakouts, and dullness.

I also acknowledge that not all skin types are the same-some of you may be doing just fine with your good ol' high pH cleanser and you aren't experiencing these things. But substituting with a low pH from time to time can help maintain good skin or even make it better.

One telltale sign of a gentle cleanser is if there are no surfactants like SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), but then again, this is not a huge guarantee. There are a lot of of foaming cleansers that score well on the pH scale. There's really no way to know right away if the cleanser you're eyeing is low pH unless you have a pH tester strip in hand or the product/s say it on the label.

Thankfully, there are a bunch of helpful people online. Here are links to master lists of skin cleansers with their pH levels. In my observation, a lot of K Beauty cleansers are low pH like Etude House, The Face Shop, Skinfood, and CosRx:


I hope you've learned something new today. :)

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12 Lovely Thoughts

  1. Nice information po, halos dito ko lang Po nakalamat at nababasa it.o

  2. I checked the link and saw that the cleanser im using, the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, has a pH level of 9.5. Despite its high pH level, there has been no breakouts po naman, maybe because I don't use this everyday. I just make sure that I put on moisturizer afterwards. :) Thanks for the info Ms. Martha and im looking forward to try one the of most raved low pH cleansers - the CosRX low pH good morning gel cleanser.

  3. Thank you Ms Martha! This is very helpful. I really appreciate it. I like it when you discuss on the technical aspect of beauty, plus you make it simple. Keep it up!

  4. I only learn the ph levels on chemistry class and also with feminine wash which PH level is a big deal. Now there is a ph level on cleansers too, for the life of me my brain is still processing this. Also I am not the one on the look out for the ingredients and what makes the whole product, I don' do that. LOL but I will as I have this new information. Thank you ms M.

  5. This is very informative and the excel sheet you provided is superb.

  6. This is nice because, nowadays mostly consumers like me always keen on the ingredients more rather than the ph level of a certain facial cleanser. I almost neglect this and maybe this the reason why my acne keep on coming back. I know reddit bfre, I think once I checked this kind of list, it's such a long time! Now I'll do a test to check weather my cleansr has a low ph or good level, in sometime soon! Thank for this Ms. Martha!!!

  7. Wow! Will definitely check the list. Thank you for this, parang nag-aral ulit ako. 😁

  8. Now I know hehe...but I really do use a cleansers everyday po, day and night, I just can't go on in a day without using it..tlgang nakokontrol nito ang sobrang pagka oily ng face ko thoughout the day and night, konti lang na pagka oily ang nararanasan ko. It's a great feeling ever!

  9. A helpful post, Ms. Martha!Didn't know we have to be keen also with the pH level of facial cleansers. Will check my cleansers on your provided list. :)

  10. This is very helpful! With many products (specifically new cleansers) on the rise, I have to agree that we have to be careful and be mindful of these facts regarding Ph Levels!

  11. Thank you for the useful info!!! Kaya i realky love your blog daming matututunan! Ubos na yung cosrx good morning cleanser ko so im looking for a new low ph cleanser. Thabk you for sharing the list! It will really help!!!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this, Ms. Martha! This is really helpful. 😊


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