Five low pH cleansers for every budget (plus their exact pH level)
Last year, we saw so many bandwagon products that didn’t exactly live up to our standards (ehem, remember these toners?). For the PV team though, our life-changing (and skin-saving) beauty discovery came in the form of low pH cleansers!
A low pH cleanser is the best kind you can use for your skin, and this holds true for all skin types and concerns. The super gentle formula is perfect for sensitive skin, won’t dry out dehydrated skin, helps prevent acne in troubled skin, balances out oily skin, and leaves dry skin feeling soft and supple. Most low pH cleansers are formulated to match the skin’s natural pH level of 5.5, which allows the proper and healthy maintenance of the acid mantle.
Whether you're just starting to build your skincare routine or preparing to use acids, a low pH cleanser is a must-have for any beauty lover. Don’t know where to start? We’ve listed five low pH cleanser picks from Asian Beauty brands to suit every budget:
Belo Essentials Pore Minimizing Whitening Facial Cleanser, P90 (50ml) at groceries
pH level: 5.5
As this cleanser has “pore minimizing” in the name, I automatically think that this is marketed for those with oily skin and other pore problems. It didn’t make my skin brighter as it claimed but it did leave my skin clean without the feeling stripped off of my natural oils. It contains sodium lauryl sulfate which causes it to lather up nicely, but do note that SLS can actually disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier.
My caveat for this wash is its smell. I personally prefer my products to be fragrance-free, so the scent honestly made for an unpleasant washing experience for me. It smells strongly of perfume which lingers even after rinsing, so skip this if you have a sensitive nose.
Celeteque Hydrating Facial Wash, P130 (60ml) at groceries
pH level: 5.5
Celeteque has been a well-trusted brand even by dermas, thanks to hypoallergenic and fragrance-free formulas. This cleanser lathers up the most for me, probably because due to the sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) content. My skin felt clean but a bit dry after using this, so this may be better suited for those with combo to oily skin. The scent honestly reminds me a lot of feminine wash but you’ll only notice it upon application and it goes away after rinsing. The clear packaging also makes it easier to remember when to buy a backup!
Human Heart Nature Nourishing Facial Wash, P80 (50ml) and P200 (200ml) at humanheartnature.com
pH level: 5
While the Nourishing Facial Wash doesn’t promise the moon and stars, you can depend on it to be a good basic facial wash. It’s very mild and aces all our requirements for a gentle cleanser, including being SLS and SLES-free! It creates a light lather and makes my skin feel soft and supple after washing. It has a runny gel texture, with a faint scent that somehow reminds me of dishwashing liquid. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free.
Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, P540 (150ml) at theskincurator.com
pH level: 5.5
Liz has raved about this gel-based cleanser for creating a good amount of lather but I found this to be drying compared to the other low pH cleansers I tried. It doesn’t reach the super-clean-and-also-super-dry level like the Shiseido Perfect Whip I used to like, though. This contains tea tree extracts that may be great for those with acne-prone skin but might irritate those with sensitive skin. This also gives it a light tea tree scent that I didn’t find bothersome. It’s also SLS and SLES-free.
In Her Element Low pH Rose Gel Cleanser, P675 (110ml) at inherelement.ph
pH level: 5.5-6
I may be biased but this is my personal favorite for many reasons! The natural rose scent from distilled roses makes washing my face an extra pleasant experience, and apart from cleansing, it has active ingredients to brighten skin and help prevent acne. It has no SLS or SLES, and can be used by all skin types. It is fragrance-free, paraben-free, and cruelty-free. I found that the 110mL bottle lasted me for a good three months.
Not sure what your cleanser’s pH level is? The Asian Beauty Reddit community has compiled a massive list here, or you can check it yourself using a pH testing kit, which you can buy from medical supply stores.
Have made the switch to the low pH life? What are your faves so far?
Belo Essentials Pore Minimizing Whitening Facial Cleanser ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Lacate, Panthenol, Sodium PCA, Sodium Chloride, Allantoin, Butylene Glycol, Fomes Officinalis Extract, Chamomile Extract, Fragrance, Glucano-delta-lactone, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Citric Acid, Benzophenone-3, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, Glutathione, Kojic Acid, Acetyl Tyrosine, Sodium Sulfite, Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Arbutin, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Hydrolized Prunus Domestica, Malfa Sylvestris Extract, Mentha Piperita Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Morus Alba Root Extract, FD&C Red No. 40 Cl 16035.
Celeteque Hydrating Facial Wash ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Lactate, Panthenol, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Lactic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Chamomilla recutita (Chamomile) Extract, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Masking Agent, Bisabolol, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, CI 19140, CI 16035
Human Heart Nature Nourishing Facial Wash ingredients: aqua (water), decyl glucoside (coconut-derived), sodium lactate (sugarcane-derived), sodium gluconate (sugarcane-derived), glycerin (vegetable-derived), coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate (coconut-derived), dicaprylyl ether (vegetable-derived), Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) fruit extract, dehydroxanthan gum, levulinic acid (plant-derived), fragrance (all-natural), farnesol, linalool, phytic acid (rice-derived), p-anisic acid (anise seed-derived), citiric acid
Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Polysorbate 20, Styrax Japonicus Branch/Fruit/Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Saccharomyces Ferment, Cryptomeria Japonica Leaf Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Leaf Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Allantoin, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Betaine Salicylate, Citric Acid, Ethyl Hexanediol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA
In Her Element Low pH Rose Gel Cleanser ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Xanthum Gum, Glyceryl Caprylate Caprate, Allantoin, Vegetable Glycerin, Panthenol Vitamin B5, Octyldodecanol, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract, Ethoxydiglycol, Milk Protein (Whey Protein), Rosa Damascena (Rose) Distillate, and Citric Acid
Product photography by Denise Bengzon