Do you measure the pH of your cleanser?

Since word got out that anything with a high pH is terribly drying and irritating, everyone’s buying pH strips like they’re going out of business and testing every cleanser in their stash.

Wouldn’t it be easier if a cleanser told you straight what its pH is?! Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser sort of does. It tells you it’s low, which is more than 99% of cleansers out there tell you anyway.

Put to the pH strip test, its pH turns out to be 5.5. It goes up to 6.5 when you mix it with water. Just right there in the right pH range then.

But does it have what it takes to remove all sorts of impurities from your skin? Let’s find out:

About The Brand: Cosrx

In my humble opinion, Korean skincare is vastly overrated. They’re big on hydration and plant extracts that aren’t proven to do much of anything yet (the extracts, the hydration is a must for healthy skin) and low on anti-aging actives that boost collagen and fight wrinkles.

But Cosrx is a brand I actually love. Their products are simple, use actives that work, and are gentle enough for even sensitive skin. The packaging is fairly simple and could use an upgrade (again, in my humble opinion), but hey as long as the products do what they say on the tin, I’m happy. Isn’t that the only point, after all?

Key Ingredients In Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser: What Makes It Work?


Don’t let their long, incomprehensible names fool you. Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate are two very gentle cleansing agents.

Scientists call them surfactants. They’re ingredients that help water mix oil and dirt so they can be easily rinsed away down the drain.

The two surfactants in Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser are strong enough to remove impurities without stripping your skin bare of the precious natural oils it needs to stay moisturised.

Yet, they’re gentle enough not to dry out or irritate skin – even sensitive skin.


I’ll be brief. A quick look at the ingredient list shows that Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Cleanser is loaded with plant extracts and antioxidants. Don’t pay any attention to them. All these goodies just end up down the drain together with dirt and grime. When it comes to choosing a cleanser, it’s the surfactants and pH that really matter.

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The Rest Of The Formula & Ingredients

NOTE: The colours indicate the effectiveness of an ingredient. It is ILLEGAL to put toxic and harmful ingredients in skincare products.

  • Green: It’s effective, proven to work, and helps the product do the best possible job for your skin.
  • Yellow: There’s not much proof it works (at least, yet).
  • Red: What is this doing here?!

FYI, as mentioned above, in this case the ingredients in yellow and red aren’t dangerous for your skin. They’re just useless in a cleanser.

  • Water: The base of this (and most) skincare products.
  • Polysorbate 20: An emulsifier that keeps the watery and oily parts of a formula from separating.
  • Styrax japonicus branch/fruit/leaf extract: Rarely used in skincare products, it’s a plant extract that makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Butylene Glycol: It helps to stabilise and thicken products. It also has humectant properties that draw moisture from the air into your skin, keeping it hydrated for longer.
  • Saccharomyces ferment: Derived from the fermentation of saccharomyces (a type of yeast), it’s a natural deodorant. Not sure what it’s doing in a cleanser…
  • Cryptomeria japonica leaf extract: Another rarely used extract, it’s a humectant that draws water from the air into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated during the cleansing process.
  • Nelumbo nucifera leaf extract: Derived from the leaf of the lotus plant, it has powerful moisturising and anti-aging properties that keep skin softer and younger-looking for longer. Too bad these extracts don’t really work in a cleanser (they get washed down the drain). *sighs*
  • Pinus palustris leaf extract: It has astringent properties that absorb excess oil.
  • Ulmus davidiana root extract: A plant extract commonly used in Korean traditional medicine, it has humectant properties that drive moisture from the air into your skin, helping to keep it hydrated during the cleansing process. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the irritating potential of the cleansing agents.
  • Oenothera biennis (evening primrose) flower extract: A natural oil with powerful moisturising and soothing properties that help keep skin soft, hydrated and irritation-free during cleansing.
  • Pueraria lobata root extract: Derived from the East Asian Arrowroot, it has humectant properties that drive moisture from the air into your skin. It also has antioxidant properties, but they don’t work in a cleanser.
  • Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil: Derived from the native Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia, it has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help heal acne. It also has antioxidant properties that help fight wrinkles. Don’t expect it to do much in a cleanser though, especially at this low concentration.
  • Allantoin: One of the most soothing ingredients in skincare, it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritation. It’s here to counteract the potentially drying effects of a the cleanser (doesn’t matter how a gentle a cleanser is, if your skin is sensitive, the potential for irritation is always there).
  • Caprylyl glycol: A humectant that attracts water from the air into the skin to help keep it hydrated. It also has preservative-like properties that can keep other ingredients from spoiling, extending the shelf life of the product. Finally, it helps the texture spread more easily into your skin.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: It makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Betaine salicylate: Derived from sugar beets, it’s used as an alternative to the exfoliating ingredient salicylic acid in countries, like Korea, where the latter is restricted/prohibited. Still, it doesn’t really do anything in a cleanser.
  • Citric acid: Although it has exfoliating properties (it belongs to the same family as glycolic acid), it’s used here as a preservative to extend the shelf life of the cleanser.
  • Ethyl hexanediol: It’s a solvent used to dissolve other ingredients.
  • 1,2-hexanediol: Although it has moisturising properties, it’s used here as a preservative to extend the shelf life of the cleanser.
  • Trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate: It binds to the metal ions in the water that could spoil the formula and neutralises them.
  • Sodium benzoate: Naturally found in cranberries, plums, and cinnamon, it’s used as a preservative to extend the shelf life of a product.
  • Disodium EDTA: Another ingredients that binds to the metal ions in the water that could spoil the formula and neutralises them.


This cleanser has a thick gel texture that foams a little when you mix it with water. It’s pleasant and I like that doesn’t make too much foam. As a rule, the more a cleanser foams, the better it cleanses AND the more irritating it can potentially be. This hits the balance between good cleansing and gentleness.


I’m on the fence on this one. The cleanser is fragrance-free and I like that. Fragrance is one of the most irritating ingredients in skincare and, in my humble opinion, it has no place in skincare. Sure, it makes the product smell nice, but without any REAL benefits, the irritating trade-off just isn’t worth it for me.

On the other hand, when you don’t add an artificial scent to a product, all you’re smelling is the natural odour of its ingredients. In this case, it’s not a very pleasant smell. The cleanser takes its odour from the tea tree oil. It’s botanical, with a medicinal vibe to it. Sort of like something you’d smell in a hospital. At least it fades away super fast.

How To Use It

Like all cleansers, it’s the first step of your skincare routine, both morning and night. Apply a small dollop on the palm of your hand, mix it with water so it foams a little and then gently massage it all over your skin to melt away makeup, dirt, and impurities. Rinse off with lukewarm water.


The cleanser comes in a white, blue, and yellow tube. I’m not a fan of how it looks, it’s not the fanciest. But then, does it have to be? At this price point, aesthetics take a hit. But practicality doesn’t. The tube is easy and practical to use.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Don’t let the lack of too much lather fool you. Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser takes everything off – yes, waterproof mascara and water-resistant sunscreen included – in less than a minute!

The best part? It doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind. If you’re tired of double cleansing, you can just use this cleanser for morning and night and be done with it. No need for a second cleanse – unless you’re wearing more makeup than a Kardashian…

The cleanser didn’t leave my skin soft and moisturised. It’s a foaming cleanser so it doesn’t have any added oils to do the job.

But it didn’t leave it dry and tight either. It just… cleansed – without disrupting the skin’s protective barrier. In other words, it does what every good cleanser is supposed to do.

cosrx low ph good morning gel cleanser 01

What I Like About Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

  • Pleasant texture, foams a little.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • pH-balance, doesn’t irritate skin.
  • Cleanses well and removes makeup, dirt, and excess sebum.
  • Doesn’t dry out skin.
  • Doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind.

What I DON’T Like About Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

  • The natural smell of the ingredients isn’t very pleasant.
  • Packaging looks cheap.

Who Should Use This?

It’s a foaming cleanser so it’s mostly suitable for oily skin and combination skin that produce excess oil. As gentle as it is, dry skin would benefit more from a moisturising milk or oil-based cleanser.

cosrx low ph good morning gel cleanser 02

Does Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser Live Up To Its Claims?

Mild, yet effective
This gentle cleanser does not irritate the skin, but it definitely does its job in removing all impurities from the skin.
Low pH
Slightly acidic pH level helps maintain healthy skin by restoring the skin’s optimal pH level and protecting the skin from outer irritants.
Cleanses the skin without stripping feeling and leaves the skin refreshed, clean and glowy.
I wouldn’t say moisturising, but it doesn’t dry out skin.

Is Cosrx Cruelty-Free?

Cosrx is cruelty-free. They don’t test on animals. They don’t outsource animal testing to a third party. And they don’t sell in countries where animal testing is required by law.

Price & Availability

Available at: $12.00/£9.50 at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, SokoGlam, Ulta and Yes Style

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

If you’re looking for a gentle foaming cleanser for oily and acne-prone skin, this is one of the best options to consider. It does the job without breaking the bank.

Dupes & Alternatives

  • Avene Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel (£12.00): A gentle, pH balance foaming cleanser that removes impurities without drying out skin. Unfortunately, it contains fragrance, which can irritate sensitive skin. Available at Boots.


Water, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, polysorbate 20, styrax japonicus branch/fruit/leaf extract, butylene glycol, saccharomyces ferment, cryptomeria japonica leaf extract, nelumbo nucifera leaf extract, pinus palustris leaf extract, ulmus davidiana root extract, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) flower extract, pueraria lobata root extract, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil, allantoin, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, betaine salicylate, citric acid, ethyl hexanediol, 1,2-hexanediol, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, sodium benzoate, disodium EDTA