Review: Korean Facial Cleansing Gels Galore!

5alpha Control Cleansing Gel (Lee Ji Ham), Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (COSRX), Cica Micellar Cleansing Foam (Neogen Dermalogy), Dermaclear Micro pH Foam (Dr Jart), Cleansing Perfecta (CNP Laboratory)

As the products I want to talk about keep piling up, I have decided to shift my focus from several short posts a week to one more substantial blog review per week. As such, I have also decided to group products per category to allow for comparison.

Do note that all of the below are packaged as gels. Some of them foam up when lathered with water, some don’t – more on that below.

A quick note on how I use gel cleansers. I use them either as a first cleanser in the morning, or as a third/fourth cleanser at night, preceded by eye makeup removal, a cleansing water and an oil cleanser.

5alpha Cleansing Gel by Lee Ji Ham

Size/Quantity: 150ml

Price & Availability: ₩7,000 on sale at then Watsons, now Lalavla (I no longer see this available in brick and mortar stores, though you might still be able to get it online)

Opinion: This is a very novel gel in that you are advised to use it on dry skin. This is meant to be massaged in, and as you warm it up and rub it on your skin, it somehow emulsifies much like a cleansing oil would. You can then add water to emulsify it further and wash it off. Seeing as you are not meant to use it on damp skin, I ended up using it like a cleansing oil, though I have to say, cleansing oils are easier to use as they require much less elbow grease to get the job done – with this one, you really have to work it into your skin, massaging for several minutes before your base makeup lifts off.

It was fun to use, removed makeup and sunscreen really well without stripping the skin, it rinsed clean, did not sting my eyes, did not irritate my skin and did not break me out. It had a very faint citrusy scent, barely noticeable, mind you. I am not a fan of heavily fragranced anything, so this sat well with me. I would consider repurchasing.

Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser by COSRX

Size/Quantity: 150ml

Price & Availability: ₩8,000 when on sale, ₩8,900 when not at Olive Young

Opinion: I have previously blogged about this gem here, so you already know that I loved it so much, I repurchased on multiple occasions. The price can’t be beat. To reiterate: This comes in at a great price. For 150ml of product – and a little does get you somewhere, even though I would not exactly say that a little goes a long way – this is great!

It lathers up a fair bit when in contact with water, and I would recommend lathering it up in your hands prior massaging it in. It cleans thoroughly without your skin feeling squeaky-clean afterwards, feels soothing even on active breakouts, and rinses clean without leaving a waxy film behind. It smells faintly medicinal, my favourite type of scent. Supposedly, this contains tea tree oil. I would definitely consider repurchasing.

Real Cica Micellar Cleansing Foam by Neogen Dermalogy

Size/Quantity: 200ml

Price & Availability: I got this as part of a set (cleansing foam plus presoaked acid toning pads), which at the time cost around ₩20,000. Incidentally, the set itself was already on sale. Over on Soko Glam, I learnt that this baby retails for US$15, making it very affordable.

Opinion: Another thing I learnt on Sokoglam is that this supposedly has a pretty ideal pH of 6.1. A tad lower might have been preferable as oftentimes, people’s water can be hard depending on where you live, but it is nonetheless great to know that this is closer to your skin’s pH than just plain tap water on its own.

This was nice as it lathered up a lot with just a bit of water, had a rather neutral scent, and rinsed relatively clean. I did feel as though it left a bit of a waxy film behind, which I was not a fan of. I also felt that it stripped my skin somewhat. I am not sure whether I would like to repurchase, especially in the light of other options out there.

Cleansing Perfecta by CNP Laboratory

Size/Quantity: 30ml, as this was a luxury sample provided as a GWP (gift with purchase) back when I bought one of their sunscreens, which I will be reviewing at a later point in time.

Price & Availability: You can get CNP products at Olive Young. A quick read on Naver Korea told me that apparently, CNP stands for Chae and Park, which in fact is a skincare clinic. That being said, I have never seen this cleanser available on its own, only as a gift with purchase. It does appear to be available on the company website, however.

Opinion: Much like the 5alpha cleansing gel above, I would recommend that you use this as first step cleanser or in place of an oil cleanser, as it is specifically meant to take off waterproof base makeup, BB creams and sunscreens. Just like all other CNP products that I have been privy to trying so far, this is a great skincare item, parallel to none. You can read my reviews of their mist, acid treatment and overnight mask as linked.

I loved using this as it felt super soothing, calming and gentle on the skin. My face felt clean and hydrated, the formula was very elegant and beautiful to use. It smelt creamy, went on rich, and did not lather at all, a boon for all you haters of foaming cleansers out there. It felt so good for my overall skin health and I would definitely get the full-size version if it were actually available in the shops, as I detest online shopping and only revert to it if it is completely unavoidable.

Dermaclear Micro pH Foam by Dr Jart

Size/Quantity: 30ml, as this was another luxury sample provided as a GWP (gift with purchase) along with my favourite sunscreen of all time, Dr Jart’s Every Sun Day.

Price & Availability: Again, I cannot seem to get this separately. Dr Jart is being sold by Olive Young, and they have lots of their products on site, but I do not see them selling this as a standalone product. For reference, you can get the best sunscreen of your life in a generous 100ml bottle along with this 30ml luxury sample size for ₩29,000 full price. A great deal if you ask me.

Opinion: Dr Jart always manages to knock my socks off, and this gel cleanser is no exception. No detectable scent, this baby is the definition of ‘a little goes a long way’. Just the tiniest bit lathers up into a thick, rich foam that cleans thoroughly, but also feels gentle and soothing. The formula is elegant and a delight to use. I would definitely buy again if I could get this in a bigger bottle.

Final thoughts

There are lots of great cleansers in Korea, as you might have guessed. I am currently using yet another cleanser which I will have to share with you soon, as it reminds me of COSRX’s Good Morning cleanser but at a mindbogglingly amazing value for money proposition. Stay tuned.

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