11 Low-pH Cleansers to Help Protect Skin’s Acid Mantle (and Why That’s So Important)

We live in a big, industrialized world. We’ve messed up the ozone layer (although scientists say there are signs it’s on the mend) and we must adjust our skin care routines accordingly. That’s where low-pH facial cleansers come in.

Year-round, one of the biggest issues facing skin is pollution (particularly if you’re a city-dweller). “[Pollution] can wreak havoc on skin, so it’s essential to create a healthy barrier,” Peach & Lily founder Alice Yoon recently told Fashionista. “If you irritate the barrier via physical means or disturbing the acid mantle, you’re prone to more breakouts and sensitivity.” (The skin’s natural environment leans acidic, hence “acid mantle.”)

Per Los Angeles dermatologist Karyn Grossman, the skin’s lipid-rich outer layer’s natural pH lies between 4 and 6. Naturally occurring, beneficial flora — those that help keep “the outside world out and the inside world in” — are happiest at these levels. Clearly, it’s in our best interest to keep our skin’s pH in check by using slightly acidic products that play well with its natural protective barrier. (As opposed to harsh, drying products that throw off our skin’s pH level and weaken the acid mantle, making it more sensitive to all sorts of irritants.)

In the winter, when aggressive weather and dry skin come for us all, we have a two-fold interest in seeking out gentle, hydrating products that help our skin stay dewy, plump and able to hold strong against outside stressors. This process can be especially tricky when it comes to cleansers, which tend to be drying (since they’re specifically intended for oil removal).

Happily, we’ve done the legwork for you. Click through above for 11 low-pH facial cleansers that’ll leave you soft and refreshed, not tight, patchy or breakout-prone. And yes, there are options for every skin type.

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