There are very few skincare “rules” in my little corner of the Internet beauty community. For the most part, we advocate YMMV. There’s no point being dogmatic about most skincare choices, since everyone’s skin is different. But there are a few recommendations so common and so well supported that they come dangerously close to being rules.
One of those recommendations is that your water-soluble cleanser (as opposed to oils and balms) be at a lower-than-neutral pH. Extensively researched and clearly presented by my good friends Cat from Snow White and the Asian Pear and Kerry from Skin and Tonics, the idea is that the high pH of alkaline cleansers substantially weakens skin’s naturally acidic lipid barrier. This can lead to increased dryness, sensitivity, and susceptibility to breakout-causing bacteria.
I’ve happily lived the low-pH cleanser life for years. In fact, I believe it’s responsible for the dramatic improvements I saw at the beginning of my skincare journey. Sometimes, though, I find reasons to try higher-pH products. I’d hate to miss out on some exciting, effective, yet miraculously skin-friendly cleanser because I’d rejected it based on pH alone. This FOMO is how I ended up putting Treeannsea Liquide Mousse Foam on my face every day until I couldn’t anymore.
The product reviewed in this post was provided for my consideration by a Fifty Shades of Snail sponsor. Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk(*).
I received my bottle of Treeannsea “Liquide” Mousse Foam in a box of Treeannsea products sent by Memebox USA*. The fact that it came from a sponsor made it even more tempting. Nothing to lose, right? So I started using it after finishing my Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam. A fellow blogger warned me about the high pH, but I carried on stubbornly. I was so bored of the cleansers in my current stash and really wanted this shiny new thing to work out.
Purpose: Treeannsea Liquide Mousse Foam is a water-soluble facial cleanser.
Best suited for: People with youthful, healthy, naturally oily (not dehydrated/oily) skin and who are not currently using any form of retinoids or chemical exfoliation and who are not risk-averse; people who wish to punish their skin for its sins and are not afraid of the consequences.
Do not use if: You have dry, dehydrated, or overexfoliated skin and/or you want to keep all the moisture in your skin, where you believe it belongs.
When and how to use: Use on wet or dry skin as a standalone cleanser in the morning and as the second step in a double cleansing routine in the evening. Spread one to two pumps of foam on skin and lightly massage. Rinse thoroughly.
Treeannsea LiquidE Mousse Foam ingredients: Water, potassium cocoyl glycinate, disodium cocoamphodiaceate, cocamidopropyl betaine, butylene glycol, tremella fuciformis extract, saponaria officinalis root extract, gentiana lutea root extract, carica papaya (papaya) leaf extract, pueraria lobata root extract, utica dioica (nettle) extract, zanthoxylum piperitum fruit extract, pullsatilla koreana extract, usnea barbata extract, glycerin, chaenomeles sinensis fruit extract, ficus carica (fig) fruit extract, oryza sativa (rice) bran extract, psoralea corylifolia fruit extract, saponaria officianalis leaf extract, hovenia dulcis extract, sapindus mukurossi fruit extract, avena sativa (oat) kernel extract, aspalathus linearis leaf extract, aloe maculata leaf extract, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylyl glycol, citric acid, citrus tangerina (tangerine) peel oil
Notable ingrediants: Here’s the thing. Without knowing the pH of this cleanser, it actually looks wonderfully gentle. There’s no SLS, not even any SLES. The Liquide Mousse Foam cleanses with potassium cocoyl glycinate, disodium cocoamphodiaceate, and cocamidopropyl betaine, a trio of what my more ingredient-savvy other self Chel describes as “just a couple of mild surfactants.”
Apart from the mild surfactants, the Liquide Mousse Foam contains only plant extracts with various potential hydrating and emollient properties, some humectants, a few preservatives, and maybe half a drop of tangerine peel oil in there for fragrance.
It looks mild without being boring. Nothing in the ingredients list rings my personal alarm bells. And Treeannsea uses a self-foaming pump to force air into the cleanser as it’s dispensed, resulting in big piles of fluffy foam every time.
On paper, the Liquide Mousse Foam seems close to ideal. That’s why the pH of the product wasn’t an instant dealbreaker for me. I’ve argued before that SLS may not be as problematic as people think if it’s in a low-pH product. Here, I thought maybe the high ph of this cleanser might not be an issue given its lack of harsh surfactants like SLS.
The pH of Treeannsea Liquide Mousse Foam isn’t just a little on the high side for a cleanser. It’s really high, almost as high as bar soap, and the closest bar soap ever gets to my face is my feet. My trusty four-color pH testing strips* give me a reading between 8 and 9 every time I test this product. PDXBeautiful‘s Julie, who warned me about the pH, got the same results a couple of months back. Huge red flag. Still, I persevered.
Treeannsea Liquide Mousse Foam is an exceptionally effective foaming cleanser. Generally, we Asian Beauty bloggers recommend double cleansing at night because many foaming cleansers (especially the ones that are gentle enough for facial skin) can’t fully remove makeup and sunscreen on their own. That isn’t a problem here.
As usual for a cleanser review, I tested the Liquide Mousse Foam on a full load of makeup and sunscreen.
Next came a pump of cleanser.
Just a few seconds of massaging later, my eyes were wide with alarm.
A quick rinse revealed a perfectly clean hand without even the thinnest film of sunscreen residue.
The Liquide Mousse Foam’s cleansing powers may seem like a major plus, especially if you find a separate makeup removal step unbearably tedious, but those same cleansing powers can also wreak havoc on the skin underneath that makeup. That’s what happened to me.
The first couple of times I used Treeannsea Liquide Mousse Foam, I thought my experiment was going well. I like its light, crisp soapy-herbal scent, and it left my face clean and refreshed without feeling squeaky or stripped. I felt so smug about the results! My cheeks were petal-soft. I was happy.
It didn’t take long for things to start going downhill.
The first bad sign was the redness. Just a couple of days after I began using the Liquide Mousse Foam, I started to notice increased redness in my skin, redness that was at its worst right after cleansing. Then my skin started to feel dry and tight, too. Not terribly so at first, but more and more after each use of the cleanser. Those red flags were waving so much that I might as well have been at a matador convention.
I threw in the towel after about a week and a half. By then, my skin was significantly more sensitive than usual. My face felt dry, tight, and hot all the time, even when I made sure to use my most nourishing and barrier-supporting products post-cleanse. My only relief came when I was actively applying products, and while I have the tools to put together some pretty lengthy routines, I don’t have enough products or time to be putting things on my face literally all day and night. I need my hands free sometimes for things like working and taking care of my son and complaining about the consequences of my actions to my homebaes in the Snailcast group chat.
So I threw in the towel and went back to my stable of low pH cleansers, and what do you know? All those problems vanished within a couple of days. It was actually pretty startling how fast they went away. Also pretty startling how dramatically the Treeannsea Liquide Mousse Foam proved me wrong. I was totally wrong. There may indeed be a high-pH cleanser out there that can do its thing without taking my lipid barrier out with it, but this is not the one. I’ve gone back to the low-pH cleanser life, and I feel much better about it now.
Conclusion: Treeannsea Liquide Mousse Foam has its positives. It cleans well and smells nice, and the floufy cloudy foam is fun to pump out and massage around. For me, though, its negatives outweigh its positives by a ton. If you have naturally oily skin and a very robust barrier, the Liquide Mousse Foam might not tear through your skin like it did mine, but why take the risk?
Hada Labo’s Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam* comes in a self-foaming pump to deliver the fluffy floof at a more face-appropriate pH. COSRX and Glossier make convenient single-step cleansers that take off makeup without taking away all your moisture too. Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam* delivers a luxurious experience with an amazing scent while staying in the skin-safe pH range. And those aren’t the only mildly acidic cleanser options out there, just the ones I like the most.
1 – This should be taken off the market, or this failed at its one primary job.
2 – Caused me some problems or doesn’t work very well; would not buy again.
3 – Meh. Neither great nor bad.
4 – Pretty good. Worth rebuying.
5 – I’ll never be in the market for a replacement unless this one is discontinued.
I’m taking advantage of the Liquide Mousse Foam’s intense makeup-busting abilities by turning it into a makeup brush and puff cleanser. Like the rusty kitchen knife in the picture earlier, this stuff will never get anywhere near my face again.
When was the last time you used a product that you knew was probably a bad idea? How did that go for you?