The natural pH of a healthy skin barrier is slightly acidic. Cleansers that are too alkaline–that have a high pH–disrupt the skin barrier, allowing the natural (and vital) protective lipids to be stripped away, leading to excessive moisture loss and dehydrated skin. High-pH cleansers also help foster a friendly environment for the bacteria that lead to breakouts.
Avoiding alkaline cleansers has worked well for many of us. My household’s daily foaming cleanser (yes, for all three of us, large and small), Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam, has a pH of 5.5.
So what is an Asian skincare enthusiast to think when a company well known for its gentle, effective, thoughtfully formulated products with appropriate pH levels, puts out cleansers whose pH levels far overshoot the “eh, it’s a little high but it’ll do” mark and reside squarely in “holy crap, you expect me to wash my face with that?!” territory?
I know COSRX. I love COSRX. I consider the brand to be one of the most reliable on the market, with chemical exfoliants that beat the Paula’s Choice equivalents by a mile and a wide range of other solid offerings. COSRX is all about no-frills skincare that’s suitable for even sensitive and acne-prone skin.
Uh, COSRX also makes two foaming cleansers. Awesome, right? They’re totally going to be pH 5.5 winners, right?
Per Wishtrend, the COSRX Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser has a pH of 9.54. And the Hyaluronic Acid Hydra Foam Cleanser, the one that you’d expect to be more gentle and less alkaline, has a pH of 9.61.
It didn’t make any sense to me, so I wondered if there was something I was missing about the cleanser pH question. I got back in touch with Lee Hye-Young, the COSRX representative I interviewed here a while back, to get an answer.
Hye-Young is a truly awesome and helpful person, so after a few days, she got back to me with a lengthy and detailed response from a COSRX researcher.
I’ll be posting the full text of the COSRX response on this blog sometime next week, after I’ve digested it, read up on some of the concepts discussed, and formulated a more educated opinion. But for now, here’s one key takeaway that should reassure anyone disappointed with the alkalinity of COSRX cleansers:
COSRX is working on a low-pH facial cleanser!
Here’s a quote from Hye-Young’s response, which also shows what close attention the company pays to its customers’ feedback:
“On this year April, one of our global customer suggested the need of mild acidic cleanser. We began investigation, research, and development of such cleanser, and it is almost ready to meet COSRX customers.”
“Nowadays various ingredients are discovered and known to have ability to cover the disadvantage of mild acidic cleanser. COSRX is currently testing those ingredients to make the most efficient acidic mild cleanser. It will soon to be on the market after doing clinical trials with COSRX workers. (No animal testing!)”
For those of us who choose to stick to low-pH facial cleansers for our daily skincare routines, this is great news. I can’t wait for the new product to launch.
(In the meantime, I’ve got a couple other alkaline facial cleansers I’m testing. My face hasn’t fallen off yet, so that’s good, I guess. I may try out the existing COSRX facial cleansers at some point, too.)
Are you excited for a low-pH COSRX cleanser?