Low pH cleansers are all the rage right now. Everywhere you turn, it seems like it’s the new holy grail to solve all your skin problems. But before we sweep them off the shelves, let’s do a dive into really understanding what they are and what they do.
What is a low pH Cleanser?
Low pH cleansers are facial cleansers that are pH balanced. This means they are slightly acidic and ranges from pH4-6 (slightly acidic).
Why use low pH Cleansers?
But isn’t acid bad for us? “I don’t want to burn my face off,” I hear you say. Well, it’s all to do with maintaining our skin’s natural acid mantle.
What’s an acid mantle you ask? Our skin surface layer has a natural pH level of 4.5 – 6.2 (slightly acidic). This surface helps us to combat bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants. That way, when the acne bacteria penetrate our skin’s acidic barrier and meet our alkaline blood, it would now be in a hostile environment. Thus making it harder for them to breed and multiply.
In short, think of this acid mantle as a protective barrier for our skin.
An additional bonus to maintaining this acid mantle? Our skin is able to store water in its cells more effectively thus giving us the appearance of youthful, glowing skin! Using cleansers/soaps which are more alkaline will dry out our skin by extracting protective lipids and thus exaggerating those fine lines.
If your skin is dehydrated and oily at the same time, chances are high that you’ve damaged your acid mantle and you need to switch to pH balanced cleanser fast.
How to tell if Your Cleanser is Low pH?
The fastest way to tell is to get a pH strip, foam up your cleanser with water in your palm and press the strip into the foam. Lastly, you can compare the colour of the strip to the guide on your package to determine the estimated pH level of your cleanser.
How Low Should the pH of your Cleanser be?
Ideally, your cleanser should be pH 5.5 and below. However, be forewarned, just because we are looking for low pH doesn’t mean that you should break out the good old lemons and create a DIY cleanser. Too much acid can lead to red, oily and pimply skin as it is far too harsh for your skin. Rule of thumb: Stick to anything between pH levels 3-6
Best low pH cleansers that are sulphate free
1. Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (5.5)
This is the internet’s cult favourite cleanser. A little bit goes a long way and the price point makes it affordable to the masses. The only problem is that it contains Tea-tree oil which can be too drying for sensitive skin and it is not fungal acne safe.
2. Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam (5.5)
This self-foaming cleanser is my personal holy grail because my skin is such a sensitive diva prone to overly dramatic outbursts. It is fungal acne safe, alcohol-free but contains fragrance.
3. Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing 5.5 cleanser
This face cleanser another crowd favourite which is alcohol-free, animal cruelty-free but not fungal acne safe. People with sensitive skin should give this a pass as well due to the inclusion of citric acid and lavender oil (for fragrance).
4. Atopalm Moisturizing Facial Cleansing Foam
This Korean cult favourite is alcohol-free, silicone free but like many Korean products, it has citric acid and lactic acid which can be a problem for people with sensitive skin.
5. Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
This facial cleanser is made for the most sensitive of skin. With minimal ingredients, this gentle cleanser is alcohol-free, fungal acne safe, and allergen-free as well. The facial cleanser is most suited for people with dry skin type as it is wonderfully moisturising.