We buy tons of cool stuff like Vitamin C serums, treatments with salicylic acid, use retinoids, yet still we have pimples. Why? I often hear this question from my friends who do everything right in their skincare routine but aren’t seeing impressive result, the answer might be simple but unexpected: maybe you need to swap your regular cleanser for a soft pH-balanced one (often called low pH cleanser).

Skin’s natural pH is around 5, which is slightly acidic and only in acidic environment skin’s protective moisture barrier works properly. If you use a product with high pH (alkaline) you skin cannot protect itself as well as it normally would, resulting in dryness and irritation. On top of that, bacteria that causes acne LOVES alkaline environment and grows like crazy.

To sum it all up, the wrong cleanser can give you irritation, flaking and blemishes. It’s as simple as that. How to choose good cleanser? First of all, ditch your facial soap bar because soap is extremely alkaline. Then consider trying a cleanser that states being low pH or pH balanced (it will have pH of less that 6 and ideally 5-5.5). Here are my picks of the best soft pH-balanced cleansers on the market that are suitable for any skin type including sensitive.




#1. Cosrx Low Ph Good Morning Gel Cleanser

This Korean gentle gel is probably the most popular low pH (5.5) cleanser on the market right now and I see why – it leaves my skin clean and refreshed, but not overly squeaky clean. It doesn’t leave and film or residue yet skin feels pleasantly moist. It’s paired with tea tree oil, which has antibacterial properties that help to take down blemishes. It does have a slight tea-tree scent, which doesn’t bother me in a list. It’s my go-to water-soluble AM cleanser and PM second-step cleanser (it’s being stated as a part of morning routine but it can as well be used PM).

#2. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

My all time favorite exceptionally gentle ph-balanced cleanser. Gentle does not mean not effective, it does it’s work excellently yet never irritate my skin even in those days when my skin is a total sensitized mess. On top of it it’s fragrance free and it means that it’s also great for those with sensitive skin.

#3. Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

Ok, Milky Jelly Cleanser has the lowest pH among all of my favorite ph-balanced cleansers – it’s with pH 4.5-5.0 which, as we know, discourages acne bacteria growth. The creamy gel formula has a gentle, velvety glide as you massage it over skin. It’s made with a blend of five skin conditioners so your face is left feeling healthy and soft, never tight. Glossier states that the cleanser is has the same gentle cleaning agents found in contact lens

#4. Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser

It contains 4.9% of glycolic acid and it’s not only a cleanser but a very good mild exfoliant. Glycolic Acid – Removes excess oil, impurities, and leaves skin fresh + clean. Even though it’s being advertised as a line for men, it’s really an excellent cleanser for anyone.

#5. EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

I’m not really into foaming cleansers but this one is one of few that does not leave my skin tight. It’s very mild but does its job well. No weird smells and no residue. It would not be drying even for very sensitive skin.

#6. Paula’s Choice MOISTURE BOOST One Step Face Cleanser

This lotion cleanser with pH 5.5 quickly and gently takes away impurities and excessive oil, leaving skin feeling refreshed but not at all tight or dry. It can also take your make up pretty well, though I use it as a second step in double cleansing routine.

#7. Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Softening Cream Cleanser

This one is also from Paula’s Choice but it’s rather for those with normal and dry types of skin as it has a creamy and milky consistency. It’s very gentle and mild and does not irritate my eyes. It as well does not dry out delicate skin around eye.

#8. Su:m 37 Miracle Rose Cleanser

It’s a very interestingly packaged korean cleanser – it looks like a soap in a stick though (unlike soap) it’s formulated with balanced pH (5.5) . It contains fermented rose flower extracts. It also has a slight rose smell which hardly noticeable.  It last forever and it’s travel friendly. Me personally, I prefer liquid cleansers, but it’s a great option for those who love the format of soap bar but does not want to aggravate their skin with alkaline soaps.