Friday, January 23, 2015

pH and your skin

Recently, I've been stalking the Asian Beauty Reddit, and it's such a great resource for Korean and Japanese cosmetics and Asian skincare in general! I was looking at reviews for my The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam when I came across a discussion on the relationship between skin and cleanser pH levels.

Apparently, the pH of your skin is slightly acidic, around 4.5 to 5.5, which creates what is called an acid mantle. This layer provides a barrier between your skin and outside contaminants, and if broken down, can lead to dryness, overexposure to acne-causing bacteria, and other unpleasant things. This is of course, an over simplified version, and I'll be providing links at the end of the post that have excellent and thorough explanations of the science behind this.

I noticed that the Cleansing Foam was drying out my skin, which was why I was looking at reviews to see what others thought of it. Lo and behold, the pH level of this cleanser is a whooping 8. This is much too alkaline--the cleanser was breaking down the acid mantle of my skin and causing the dryness. What's more, before this cleanser, I had been using the Senka Perfect Whip by Shiseido for the past 3 years, and I found out that this had a pH level of 8 also! Most bar soaps have a similar and even higher pH level to thoroughly cleanse off oils and dirt, but this is much too harsh for your skin.

You can imagine my dismay. I have a full bottle of both cleansers that are now useless to me! Now I'm in the market for a cleanser that is similar to skin's pH level. Luckily the Asian Beauty Reddit has a list of cleansers and their pH level, which I'll definitely be taking advantage of! I'll probably end up getting one by Hada Labo, since that's what I'm using for my toner and moisturizer currently (both are great!).

Do you have cleanser recommendations?

More resources:


  1. Hi Miriam!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here!

    Well, a balance pH level is always best. And oh, I just got a new tip from you today, I'm always on Reddit but haven't have check on /r/AsianBeauty/, will definitely join the discussion on there or maybe just stalk, too hihi..

    Hope you're having a great day!

    Jhem |

    1. Yes, /r/AsianBeauty/ is a great place!

  2. Oh, interesting - how do you find out the pH level of products? I have dry skin and have been using Clinique's Facial Soap Mild for years - it's gentle but cleanses thoroughly :)

    1. You can buy pH strips online and test it yourself! That's what the Asian Beauty Redditors do. If I'm researching a cleanser, I'll just google it and chances are, someone has already tested it. :)