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Best Low pH Cleansers for Clearer Skin

Best low pH cleansers for acne prone skin- LA Vida Color

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I switched to low pH cleansers recently, and it’s one of the BEST changes I’ve made to my skincare routine. Especially because I have oily and acne prone skin. Why? Let me explain!

Low pH Cleansers Can Help Fight Acne

Our skin’s natural pH is around 4.5-5.5, which is slightly acidic. This pH is optimal for maintaining our acid mantle, which is a protective outer layer to shield our skin from pollutants, bacteria, and allergens.

Most facial cleansers tend to be alkaline (anything with a pH above 7). This can cause a few problems:

  • They strip your acid mantle, leaving your skin vulnerable to inflammation and infection.
  • A higher pH promotes bacterial growth.
  • They leave your skin tight and dry, causing your skin to compensate by producing even more oil.
  • All of this is a great recipe for acne!

You might be thinking that your face wash choice isn’t that important because it stays on your face for seconds before washing it off. But really, your cleanser can affect your skin long after washing. It can take 2 hours before your skin’s pH returns to normal! Long-term, using alkaline pH cleansers daily can alter your skin’s pH. Even tap water can increase your skin’s pH!

When I was younger, I purchased all the anti-acne facial cleansers I could find at the drugstore. I had no idea most of them were alkaline and very harsh on the skin. I tried to dry my skin out as much as I could with these cleansers, thinking that would help my oily and acne prone skin. I was so wrong!

Learn from my mistakes. Try a low pH cleanser. They are so much gentler on the skin, and won’t leave your face feeling tight and dry. Just clean and soft! They’re great for all skin types, too.

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Find Out the pH of Your Cleanser

Low pH cleansers can be a bit harder to find. Cleansers are advertised as low pH more often in Asian skincare versus Western skincare. The packaging may not indicate if it’s low pH or not. The best way to check is to buy your own pH strips and do a quick test on your current face washes. Look for a pH around 5, and definitely below 7. It’s a fun and easy science experiment!

I tested a few of my facial cleansers with my pH strips. I was surprised by some of the results! Check them out:

facial cleanser low pH test results

I’m happy to report that all of the cleansers I tested had a pH between 5.5-6.25, except for the Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist. The pH was quite alkaline, as you can tell by the darker blue-green color. Many creamy foam cleansers have ingredients that are alkaline, so I would test them with pH strips!

Here are the low pH cleansers I tested. They’re all wonderful, give them a try!

Best Low pH Cleansers

tree to tub low ph soapberry face wash

Tree to Tub Soapberry for Face

fresh soy cleanser has a low ph

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser has a low ph

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

Boscia Detoxifying Black Charcoal Cleanser

More Low pH Cleansers

If you don’t want to bother with pH strips, here’s a list of more great low pH facial cleansers!

Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser has a low pH

Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser is an affordable low pH cleanser. If you enjoy foaming cleansers, this one has a low percentage of salicylic acid and soy extract to help with breakouts and dark spots.

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser has a low pH around 6

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser is another affordable, everyday cleanser. I think it’s a good basic cleanser if you don’t want to spend too much for a low pH option. I used this when I couldn’t afford to try fancier cleansers as a student. The packaging says that you can use it to remove makeup too, but I personally wouldn’t rely on this solely to remove makeup. I recommend cleansing oil beforehand.

Paula’s Choice SKIN BALANCING Oil-Reducing Cleanser is perfect for sensitive, acne-prone skin. All of Paula’s Choice products are carefully formulated to be non-irritating and are fragrance-free.

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is one of the most popular and affordable low pH cleansers in the Korean skincare game. It’s a light gel that lathers well and leaves your skin feeling very clean. It has BHA and tea tree oil to help fight acne and unclog pores. Make sure you like the scent of tea tree oil, I personally like it and didn’t find the smell too strong.

COSRX Low pH First Cleansing Milk Gel is an alternative to the above if you want a milky cleanser that can help remove oil-based makeup and sunscreen. COSRX recommends using this as a cleansing oil in a double cleanse routine, but you can just use this as a regular cleanser.

Hada Labo Tokyo Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is a creamy, foamy cleanser that is sulfate-free and has hydrating hyaluronic acid! This is a great choice if you have combination skin.

Try Low pH Cleansers…Your Skin Will Thank You

If you want more recommendations, there is a popular Reddit thread where reviewers contribute to a list of low pH cleansers. The list features primarily Asian beauty brands but contains other brands as well. Check it out!

We spend so much time shopping for moisturizers, serums, masks, and other treatments for clearer skin, but I find we often forget about our cleansers. Hopefully this post helped you understand why you need a low pH cleanser to help prevent acne and keep your skin from being stripped of its natural protective barrier!

What do you think? Will you be trying a low pH cleanser? I’d love to know which face washes you’ve tried! Leave me a comment below!

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my step by step regimen for oily, acne prone skin


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These are the best low pH cleansers!  Here\'s why you need to add this product to your skin care routine for clearer skin...especially if you are oily and acne prone! #lowph #asianskincare #oilyskincare

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