Low pH & High Luxury: Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam Review

I'm current locked in an epic struggle between our cross-country moving company, the city permit office, and our local moving company; it's throwing me off my blogging game as I try not to throw myself off a cliff.  It's difficult.  People things need to be thrown and I need to throw them.

But I'm taking a moment to unglue my phone from my cheek and stop rage-throwing things to unveil a new low pH foaming cleanser contender: the (unsurprisingly) luscious Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam.

Sulwhasoo: when even samples are fancy
One of the things that I really appreciate about Korean products is how readily available they are in sample sizes, at least compared to traditional western offerings.  That's how I stumbled across this low-pH cleanser hidden in my stash; I was packing my stash for the move, and my pH strips were handy.

If you are new to the low pH cleanser life, click here to read about Why the pH of your cleanser matters.  But low pH cleansers are rare and hard to formulate, leaving very few options that are enjoyable to use.

In this post:
  • Product details
  • How well does it foam?
  • Ingredients list
  • Final thoughts
As you can see, I have yet to purchase this in full size, although I do have a heck of a lot of samples; and at 4ml per pouch, I've managed to snag myself a good amount of product without committing to a full size.

Product Details

Full product name: Sulwhasoo  Snowise EX Cleansing Foam
Purpose: A foaming cleanser, which can be used as a sole cleanser in the AM, or as a second cleanser following an oil cleanser as part of a PM double cleanse.  If you're new to double cleansing, check out my Cleansing Megapost: Double Cleansing, Types, Tools, & Techniques.
Scent:  Like a forest is trying to hump your face.  Personally, I've grown to love the Hanbang (한방, traditional Korean herbal medicine) herbal smells favoured by companies like Sulwhasoo, but if you don't like using things that smell like a grove of pines and field of flowers are trying to make sweet love to your epidermis, stay away.
pH result: Yes, oh yes. A beautiful pH 5, image is below.
Quantity: The full size is a hefty 150ml, but I purchased a set of 20x4ml samples, so I have 80ml. Also comes in travel size tubes of 15ml.
Rating: 4/5, because it's a low pH foaming cleanser that actually foams (more on that later), but I've docked it a point for being a bit difficult to use and also for being expensive, although it's a prestige brand, so it's a luxury item.
Where to get it: I am not sure where my original sample came from, but when I found out the pH, I hauled tail to Amazon Prime because I was about to move out of state and needed fast delivery.  Thankfully, Amazon Prime had it with overnight shipping, so I threw my wallet at the screen and it was in my hands the next day.
Amazon: 80ml for $19, or 150ml for $38 | Ebay: Sample sets less than $10, 15ml for less than $1030ml for $10, or 150ml for $38
Koreadepart150ml for $36 w/o shipping | RoseRoseShop: 150ml for $37 w/ shipping.
You could also use a buying service like Avecko and possibly get it even cheaper, although you would have to consider shipping costs.
Repurchase:  I decided to go for the 80ml in samples to test it long-term, and if I didn't have a stable of low-pH cleansers on my to-try list, I'd definitely buy a full size tube.  I might still get a full-size tube, because I am a total sucker for packaging.

How well does it foam?

Pretty packaging aside, this is the million dollar question with low pH cleansers.  I've had hilarious (and unflattering) conversations about low pH cleansers with other bloggers, like Kerry from Skin and Tonics who started the low pH revolution with her post on The Importance of Fatty Acids, pH & the Moisture Barrier: How I Eliminated my Acne & Decreased my Skin Sensitivity.

As you may know if you have already read my post on Why the pH of your cleanser matters, I set out hoping that I could find enough scientific backing to support continuing my affair with the ultra-foamy goodness of high pH cleansers.  No such luck; the science both is solid and plentiful.

Pretty packaging is pretty, I have to admit.  I love the Sulwhasoo motif and how subtly they display it.
The problem is, as Kerry agreed, is that low pH cleansers may work as just as well, but they're just not sexy.  They don't produce frothy clouds of foam that can be shaped in your palm into bouncy poofs, they don't explode into generous lather with a mere splash of water and a few rubs of your palms.  Low pH cleansers are the unseasoned tofu equivalent in the cleansing world; they get the job done but they're underwhelming to use.

So, a foaming cleanser that is low pH and still actually foams properly is a rare beast.  This cleanser has a slightly different foam than a high pH cleanser, but I quickly got used to it and I appreciate how robust it is compared to other low pH cleansers.  This stuff just will not quit.  My fingers got tired from rubbing before the foam dispersed!  Will. Not. Quit.

So, I present the following photo chronicles of Foam in Action: a Study of Density and Stuff.

Straight from the package, before adding water
Like all Sulwhasoo products, this cleanser is unnecessarily luxurious and I can't say I don't appreciate it.  Look at that pearlescent sheen!

One downside of this cleanser is that it's hard to get going; the product doesn't want to mix with water at first, so you have to work it between your hands or with a foaming net, a facial brush or a konjac sponge.  Sadly, no demos of those because they're currently packed in a box ... somewhere.  Possibly somewhere in Oklahoma, or perhaps Missouri?  Only the movers know.

Cleanser and water acting like the Montagues and the Capulets.
But if you keep mixing it between your hands, it will bloom into a lovely foam.  I think a foaming net would actually solve this entirely, if when I find mine when I unpack, I'll test it and update.

Like any foaming cleanser, you can play around with consistency of the mixture, depending on whether you prefer a thick and rich lather, or a loose and puffy lather.

Less water = thicker foam with smaller bubbles
I know this may not look that impressive, but for a low pH cleanser, this is serious foam.  And it gets crazy, as you will see after this loose foam version.  But first, let me include my original thoughts on the foam:
One of the amazing things about this cleanser is the micro-fine bubbles it makes; rather than traditional lather that breaks down rapidly as you expose it to oils from your skin, these bubbles seem to last forever.  It's almost unnerving; they just keep swirling around your face as long as you let them, until you get tired of it and rinse them off.  
I never bothered to test to see just how long the foam would actually last, because I don't overwork my skin during cleansing.  Until now.  But first, here's the loose foam:

More water = looser foam, larger bubbles
Now it looks and feels more like a regular 'loose lather' type cleanser, just with the scent of a herb-festooned forest that is really eager to be "friends" with your face.  If you know what I mean.

I don't have much of a preference on which consistency to use, I just add water and rub my hands together and then slap it on my face, gently massage for a bit, and then rinse.  If I had not been all ~must experiment for SCIENCE and blogging!~ I might never have known the true hidden power of this cleanser.

This is the foam after 2 minutes of nonstop lathering between my hands, trying to break down the bubbles:

This isn't the fragile foam of those bubble pump cleansers, this stuff is dense and springy
Look at that.  Just look at it.  Can you believe that is a low pH cleanser?!  I can't.  I had no idea that it would just keep refining the bubbles the more I worked it; I've never bothered to work the foam this much/this hard when I washed my face with it.

So I set out to find how long it would take to disperse the foam.  I furiously rubbed my hands together for another 2+ minutes (4+ min in total) and I gave up because my fingers were getting tired.  Snow: 0, Snowise Cleanser: 1.

Denser and bouncier than ever, what is going on?!
It just won't die!  It just gets denser and denser, and defies all attempts to disperse it without just rinsing it away.

Here it is spread out so you can see the ultra fine texture:

After 4+ min of hard lathering, the foam defies all attempts to disperse it
My mind is blown.  I have to get this stuff onto a foaming net; if it works, it could rival the high pH cleansers that are banished to my 'discards' box.

Update: I found the foaming net, and oh my snail:

With half the product I used above, or less!
I was able to use a lot less product and got some ridiculous results.  Now I don't need to purchase a full size, because my samples are going to last me a lot longer.  And I'm holding that ball of foam sideways to show how dense it is.

Ingredients list

A kindly person has entered this into Cosdna, albeit a few years ago.  My current attention span (being more focused on calling back and forth between moving companies a kid getting bounced between mom and dad) was unable to tolerate a deep-dive for an ingredients list when Googling failed to cough it up.
Water, Glycerin, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium myristoyl glutamate, PEG-75, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Stearic Acid, Glycol Distearate, Oldenlandia Diffusa Extract, Hydrolyzed Ginseng Saponins, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Seed Extract, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Lilium Tigrinum Flower/leaf/stem Extract, Rehmannia glutinosa, Honey, Licorice Root Extract, Licorice Root Extract, Ophiopogon japonicus root extract, Niacinamide, Lactic Acid, Sodium salicylate, Butylene Glycol, Methoxy PEG-114/Polyepsilon Caprolacton, Cocamide MEA, PEG 150 Distearate, Polyquaternium-7, 1,2-Hexanediol, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance  
As you can see in the Cosdna link, this cleanser has very few triggers and none over a 2.  It's also chock-full of delicious-sounding herbal extracts, but I'm not going to dive into those either as cleansers spend very little time on your face and thus don't really have a chance to impart benefits. 

Final thoughts

I think the pH + the insane foam (for an acidic cleanser) speaks for itself.  Not only it's a strong-foaming, low-ph cleanser, it's also a Hanbang low-pH foaming cleanser, so naturally it racks up bonus points for traditional Korean herbal goodness.

Look at that delicious pH result.  As soon as I saw this, I wanted it on my face.
Amazing the joys that samples can bring.  And yes, I did perch this on a box I was packing to take this photo, pre-move.  Desperate times, desperate measures and all that.

  • Low pH
  • Foam will not quit
  • Foam seriously will not quit.
  • Smells like a forest that just wants to love you, and love you hard
  • Easily available in sample sizes from US or KR sellers

  • Expensive because it's a luxury brand
  • Is a bit slow to mix at first
  • Smells like a forest that just wants to love you, and love you hard 
I've been using this cleanser for about three weeks, and was supposed to be patch testing a different cleanser by now.  But the packets have been so convenient as we move across the country, and the foam has been so foamy that I've not managed to summon the motivation to rotate this out and get testing that new cleanser.  Eventually. I'll uh ... mmm.  Trees.  Forests.  Hanbang.

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products reviewed/mentioned in my blog, are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 which swore me off of them forever.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. Oh my god oh my god oh my god. I NEED IT!! My Cerave cleanser foams with a net pretty decently but the bubbles definitely just kind of melt away after a minute or so of massaging my face. I LOVE me some long-lasting bubbly foam so this looks PERFECT for my low pH needs :D

    1. \O/ For a low-pH cleanser, the foam is insane. I mean, it's not the hardcore foam of my old high pH loves, but beats the pants off the low pH cleansers in my stable.

      I know what you mean about the bubbles melting away; I find that's a consistent issue with low pH foams; the bubbles just don't last.

  2. You have no idea how happy I am to read this review, Cat. The Sum37 enzyme powder wash made me curious, but samples of that is not that easy to find. This one though is pretty accessible and not that expensive (for Sulwhasoo) and would be so easy to pack for traveling. I love my Hada Labo Foam Cleanser, but that is rather bulky, especially for airline travel. :)

    1. Samples make things so much easier, eh? ;) I agree, the bubble cleansers like Hada Labo are a lot more messy/bulky to travel with.

  3. Annnnnnd those Amazon samples are in my cart now. >_<

    1. Samples are life. Imagine, I would never have known/bothered to try this if I had to buy it in full sizes, but samples = enabling at a low cost. Plus, luxury products are pricey, but samples are usually such a good buy that they're often cheaper per ml than the full sizes. :D

  4. As soon as I saw this (review), I wanted it on my face. And NOW!
    This sounds fantastic - the best of both worlds - low pH and high foam - plus that lovely Sulwhasoo Hanbang scent.

    Unfortunately, I checked with my friendly, local neighborhood Aritaum (250 miles away) and they don't have it. Neither does Nordstrom or Nieman Marcus. I guess I'll just have to settle for a bunch of samples (and wait - which I totally do not want to do).

    Thank you very much, though, for taking time out of your cross-country move to enlighten (and excite) us!

    1. "I wanted it on my face. And NOW!" That's exactly how I felt when I saw the pH result, haha!

      Don't feel like you are 'settling' for samples; consider them an ambassador that is initiating negotiations between your wallet and the full size investment? ;)

  5. I want to be loved by a forest! So, really all the hanbang stuff smells like that, or only this brand?

    1. Hanbang products tend to have a very distinct herbal smell, since Hanbang = traditional Korean herbal medicine. Sulwhasoo often contains pine extract as well, so it usually has that added 'forest-y' scent. :)

    2. That really sounds heavenly. Thanks for the tip, I'll search for some samples (in EU, so I can just as well order from Asia I think)

  6. Is this the only cleanser you use with your Clarisonic then? It seems that this is the only low pH foaming cleanser that would protect your skin from the Clarisonic bristles

    1. I actually use a Cashmere brush head these days, which is ultra gentle, so it's hard to judge. I'm going to experiment with the foaming net and see what kind of foam I can create- once I unpack my foaming nets. They are in a box somewhere, eek!

  7. if you use an acidic cleanser does this mean you have less waiting time before putting on the acidic actives? (like instead of 15 minutes i can wait 5 minutes?)

    1. I think this really depends on your tap water and whether it makes a difference. I personally like to give my pH dependent products a leg up and use an acidic toner to pH adjust my skin after cleansing. You can always experiment and see if you notice any difference in the efficacy of your pH dependent products if you don't wait? Certainly a low pH cleanser will mean that you skin doesn't spike up in the first place, so it seems worth exploring.

  8. Thank you for opening my eyes to the world of sample sizes. you have made my day!!!

    1. Sample sizes for the win! It makes everything more affordable. ;)

  9. I love Sulwhasoo too, I think you 'll love other lines of this brand too. And you should try The History of Whoo, a brand from south korea too, I've tried this brand. now I stick to this two. They are super gorgeous, but the price 😄

    1. I do love Sulwhasoo, and History of Whoo, and Su:m37 and so many others, haha! :D They're addictive. I want to collect everything, but it's a luxury product so I need control my grabby hands. Just as you said, that price, ouch!

  10. Thank you for turning me on to this! I just tried out my sample, and ready to go for the full size. Even though I have a bunch of other shiz I should be using up. Cleans, skin really isn't tight afterwards, and smells heavenly (I actually think it's perfect, while other sulwhasoo products smell nice but are kind of way too strong). Anyway, thanks again for pointing me toward it! You rock, Cat/SnowWhite!

  11. hi, i really like your blog and i just start follow you on bloglovin. for me the perfect and low cost low-pH cleanser is any vaginal area cleanser. i live in Greece and i use Lactacyd with a foam pump, one part cleanser to four parts water. i hope that you like my little tip Sophia

    1. I have heard that feminine cleanses are low pH to avoid disrupting the ... natural ecosystem there, which just goes to show that pH does matter, haha!

  12. I'm currently using this cleanser but I don't foam it that much. Am I supposed to? I basically put a slightly bigger than pea size amount, just rub to create some foam and I'll start cleansing my face.

    1. You don't have to foam it that much- it wasn't until I reviewed it and tried to outlast the bubbles that I realized that it has frankenfoam. Normally I just wet some in my hands, rub them together until it lathers up a bit, and then wash. If you want the floofy foam without the work, you can always use a foaming net! ;)

  13. Have you tried History of Whoo Gongjinhyang: Seol Brightening Cleansing Foam? i've gone through 2 tubes and love it. Now i'm curious how it compares to Sulwahsoo and if it is also low ph!

    1. I have tested "The History of Whoo Brightening Cleansing Foam" per my spreadsheet (you can find it under the tab "Routine & Spreadsheet" at the top of my blog) and the pH was too high. I am not sure if there are multiple ones with 'brightening cleansing foam' in the name, but the one I tested was too high. :(

    2. thank you =) bought myself 15ml of snowise ex cleansing foam to test out. loving the miracle rose cleansing stick ^_^

    3. I am glad that the MRCS works for you, and I hope that you like the Snowise! :D

    4. The Snowise is a new love! Oh my, the scent is amazing. i can't quite describe it but it lifts me up every time i use it ^_^ I was lucky to get a 15ml travel size for USD$4, grin, no typo :p can't quite decide if i want to go for a 30ml travel size or cough the money up for the full size. Your post on value for money helped. Thank you!

      I would like to try the su:m37 enzyme powder but the price point is too high! it's 2.5x the cost of MRCS. Strangely enough, no one seems to sell just a few packets of it.

      Both your recs are working beautifully for my night cleansing ( ditched the history of whoo! it turned my strip greenish blue ) but i find them drying for the morning cleanse. I'm using Fresh Soy Cleanser at the moment, do you have any low pH recs that I can try?

      Love your shared video of Miss Korea washing her face. It seems she is using a kabuki brush to create all that foam. Have you tried that method of washing yet? I'm still sitting on it as kabuki brushes are not pocket friendly!

      ps ordered mizon aha/bha toner for march! one new item a month! i wish i had MORE than one face so i can try more products. my wallet thanks me for having only one face though :p

  14. Because of this fab post I ordered a sample from amazon for about 13 bucks. And man, I don't want my 13 bucks back. This stuff is legit and so cushy on the face. I'm now trying to justify adding it to my first RRS shop order. So good, thanks for all the funnies and superb info!