Cosrx Low pH Gel Cleanser Review & Demo: My Acid Mantle is a Cheap Date

There's little not to like about the Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser; it's low pH, it's cheap, it foams, and it comes in a huge tube.  I'm into that.  It's not a perfect product, but the flattened carcass of my current tube is a pretty eloquent testament on its own:

Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
I've wrung every drop out of this tube.
It's also popped up in many routine post on my Instagram, in my Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types series, and in several posts.  I've been living the low pH life since diving into the studies on pH in Why the pH of Your Cleanser Matters back in 2014, but low pH is just the first criteria needed to earn a spot on my sink.

In this post:

  • Product details
  • Ingredients & gel 1st cleanser demo
  • Review & foaming 2nd cleanser demo

After I had to engage a bunch of whacking, flapping, squeezing, and scraping to get it out, I realized that I was rapidly running out of product with which to photograph for a review.  Time to get it done!

Just as a quick reminder: this blog uses both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and if you choose to click the former before you shop, your purchase may contribute a tiny amount to the maintenance of this blog.  See full details at the end of this post! #receipts

Product details

Full product name: Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Purpose: Technically a dual-purpose low pH cleanser that can be used as a gel on dry skin as a 1st cleanser, and used as a foaming 2nd cleanser when mixed with water.  I use it as the latter.  (You can read more about double cleansing here.)
Scent: Smells like tea tree, which is not a scent everyone enjoys.  I'm ambivalent about it, and it doesn't linger.
Texture: A fluid gel that turns into respectable but not boner-worthy levels of foam when mixed with water.
Quantity: A generous 150ml.
Rating:  4/5, because I'm not crazy about the scent and I don't care for it as a 1st cleanser, but it's a rock-solid foaming 2nd cleanser.
Where to get it:   Amazon | eBay | Bisou Beauty Bar | Jolse | KoreaDepart
Repurchase:  Yep.  I've neglected some of my other cleansers and need to go pay attention to them for a bit, but I'm grabbing a second tube.

Cosrx low pH cleanser versus a lot of makeup
The Cosrx cleanser vs a lot of makeup.
I haven't thoroughly tested this as a first cleanser, because I've already got a first cleanser that works well for me.  I needed a second foaming cleanser, and that's how I used it.  Still, for this review I broke out a full face of makeup so I could test it as a first cleanser.

Ingredients & gel 1st cleanser demo

Cosrx is a relatively small K-Beauty company that features simple packaging, minimal ingredients, customer input, and freakin' adorable employees.  Their mascot is quirky.  Their brand representative has dimples.   Their company Instagram is occasionally commandeered by a cat.  I'm into it.

According to the official site product page, the ingredients for the Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser are:
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
Note that it doesn't contain SLS, in addition to being low pH.  Ayyyy!  SLS free and low pH?  I'm down.  Instead of SLS, it contains Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, which Google informs me is a supposedly nontoxic, safe, gentle surfactant.  It's definitely not stripping for me, which is more than I can say for other dual-form cleansers I've tried.

"Face" of makeup on left, Cosrx low pH gel cleanser on dry skin on right.
"Face" of makeup on left, Cosrx gel on dry skin on right.
To put this through its paces as a 1st cleanser, I applied: physical filter sunscreen, primer, cushion, powder, contour, highlight, blush, eye primer, eye shadow, gel liner, brow gel, and a lip stick/lip stain.

I massaged the gel onto my hand until it had dissolved most of the makeup, which took much longer than a 'real' first cleanser, and then rinsed it.

Full face of makeup vs Cosrx low pH cleanser after massaging
After rinsing, some of the liner and lip stain remained.
I was surprised that it worked as well as it did, although I had to work the product more than I'd feel comfortable doing on my face, so I wouldn't recommend this as a 1st cleanser.  I don't use it as a 1st cleanser anyway, so I'm unbothered.

Review & foaming 2nd cleanser demo

Although I often just apply this to wet hands and work it into a lather that way, because I'm lazy and/or unmotivated to find and soak my konjac sponge, I do sometimes use it with the sponge because it takes care of the lather for me.

Cosrx Low pH Gel Cleanser with a konjac sponge
Squish, squish, squish, foam!
You just plop some on the wet sponge, squish it a few times in your hand, and the sponge lathers up the foam for you.  Woo!  Then you just carry on with cleaning your face with the sudsy sponge.

You can also use a foaming net, although that's a lot more effort.  I'm not into that, but in the name of science and skincare, here's a demo of how it performs:

Cosrx Low pH Gel Cleanser with a foaming net
Much denser, finer-textured foam.
This method involves a lot more spatters from flailing cotton loops, but it does produce nice foam, so if you're struggling to adapt to the lower-foam low pH life, this method may work better for you.   It's just more effort than I'm willing to expend; I'm already congratulating myself when I manage to work up the motivation to wash my face so a vigorous net scrubbing is low priority.

The nice thing about the levels of foam is that they don't really matter-- it cleanses well whether I've lathered it up a lot or little.

Cosrx Low pH Gel Cleanser results
The final result after lather + rinse.
There is still a tiny speck of gel eyeliner left, but if I had used a 'proper' 1st cleanser, it would be long gone.  This may work well for others as a first cleanser on dry skin, but I much prefer it mixed with water as a sole AM cleanser, or as my second foaming cleanser to remove an oily first cleanser.

I've used this as a second cleanser to remove even balm cleansers, and it cuts through cleanser grease and facial grease with equal ease, without stripping my skin.  I might avoid this if I had very dry or very sensitive skin, as it's a pretty robust cleanser.  That's what I need, especially if I'm using an oily first cleanser; first cleanser residue is the bane of my pores and a serious problem for me.

The only thing I'm not keen on is the tea tree oil scent, but that's a pretty minor drawback when I factor in the fact that it's low pH, it foams, there's a lot of it, and it's cheap.  It's also readily available in a ton of places; I bought my first (and about to be second) tube of it on Amazon Prime for around $10 and that's hard to beat, even if it smells like teen acne wash.

Do you have a cheap, foaming, low pH cleanser that you love?  Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!

Have something you'd like to share with me in general? Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram at @snowwhiteandtheasianpear because I'd love to see it!

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products I review on 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. Personal gifts from friends & family will also be identified.  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. I've really been loving your reviews (and all of your other great content) recently! Your posts on beginner routines and putting your products in order have gotten shared with multiple friends looking to learn about Korean skincare techniques, so thanks especially for those.

    I've used the CeraVe foaming cleanser for a while now, as it was known for being readily available and having a pH of 5.5. It's one of the few Western products left in my skincare wardrobe, since it seems to work well enough as a second cleanser (with the Banila Clean It Zero as a first cleanser). Have you ever used either of the CeraVe cleansers? If so, what'd you think of them?

  2. I'd love to try this out! I've been testing some other cosrx products and they're all really inexpensive and work well :)


  3. Love this stuff. @ night, after first cleansing, in am alone. Don't really need the extra oil, ams. Actually have 5 different cleansers, depending on what my skin is saying. Hada Labo oil (local buy), Paula resist, Paula clear (acne), Julep stick, and this. This gets the most rotation, esp if doing a fair amt of skincare layering. Esp if you're not certain about the toner pH, like the Cosrx Galactomyces. This has good efficacy and zero frills. Simple and beginner friendly, like the Mizon snail recovery gel cream. I've been nagging Ulta to start Cosrx and Mizon; they'd do so well there...and there's no such thing as too many product sources. Though all this stuff is a helluva lot easier to get, than even five years ago.

    1. Hi, Karen. What do you use for 1st cleanser? Thanks!

    2. SUCCEEDED IN BRINGING COSRX TO ULTA. may be a hidden accomplishment, but I value it more than my 3 master's, at present! For first, using a Hada Labo makeup cleansing oil. Not wedded to it, but only oil cleanse at night and when I wore m/u. The Cosrx, however, is a real HG for me. Maybe if I nag Ulta further....

  4. I'm impressed with your "face of makeup!" You've come a long way xD

  5. I am very new to K beauty and just picked up this cleaner. It is leaving my face fairly dry. Is that bad if I'm following with the proper moisture out can I dry out my skin to much while washing?

  6. Thank you for the review! Gonna order it!

  7. funny thing is, i had a hard time rinsing this off of my face like you did with the Glossier Milk cleanser.. and as much as i want to love this, i think it's causing me a little break out, probably because of the tea tree oil :( i want to try the hadalabo low ph one, but its not available in my country..
    btw i enjoy your post, keep on writing and sharing!

  8. I just discovered your blog and i'm wondering if your ok and where you have gone? It's been almost 3 months since you last posted.

  9. Wow! Amazing article about the Cosrx Gel Cleanser! Most of the Cosrx products are generally high quality and affordable and this product proves the same. Now you can visit any of the Korean beauty blog as Koreans are truly the masters of this field.You have to just take their tips.

  10. It isn't too bad but if you have super sensitive skin, you might want to stay away. This plus the Cosrx BHA A-sol wrecked my skin! And I only used them a few times per week.

  11. Was hoping you're OK when I saw no new posts here since this one! Then peeped at your Insta and yep you're still there and that made me happy.

  12. I would defentely love to look into this and try out since its low on ph and pretty cheap. I have currently been using summers eve cleansing wash I know its vaginal wash! But its ph balanced its only $4 and it has helped my skin a lot I am very acne prone I actually discovered it trough a lady I met at school before I got into skin care told me to try it, I know it sounds weird but it works and its gentle on my sensitive dry skin!maybe something you can look into!

    1. Hm, well it makes sense ... if it's gentle and low pH and safe for your tenderest regions, surely your face can handle it? ;)

  13. This cleanser irritates my skin a bit. Maybe because of the tea tree oil? I want something cheap and simple like this but a bit more gentle. I'm thinking the Hada Labo Rohto Gokujyn Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam. Thoughts? Any other suggestions I should look into? I prefer stuff on Amazon Prime, if possible.

  14. I don't understand why does it causing me so many break outs ? And I've been using cosrx products for very long time except the gel which I started using it a week ago . I do have sensitive and dry skin plus prone to acne . Is thay the reason ?

    1. Hi there,

      Unfortunately, anyone can have a reaction to any product, no matter how well the brand (or even the same product) has worked for you in the past. It's entirely possible that this cleanser contains something your skin doesn't like, or it may be too harsh for your skin. A lot of people don't like the tea tree oil in it, for example. I just reviewed a super-gentle foaming cleanser with minimal irritating ingredients, if you're looking for alternatives. :)