Acwell Bubble-Free pH Balancing Cleanser Review

I’ve been agonizing over this review for quite some time now because, well, do you guys remember this song?

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When I shop for second cleansers, I have a list of deal breakers and pitfalls, such as having a high pH, producing foam, sodium lauryl sulfate or papain, because my skin doesn’t tolerate those things well. This cleanser avoids every single one of those, and trust me, not many cleansers do. Yet, I still don’t like this cleanser. I mean, what’s my problem right?

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I’m not sure why I swatched this on my bare hand, maybe to showcase the texture? The texture is actually really nice. It’s thin, spreads easily, and can be move around on the skin with very little friction.

At a Glance

ACWELL BUBBLE-FREE PH BALANCING CLEANSER
Size: 150ML
Price: $20 at Memebox, $22 at MelodyCosme, and $24 at ViaSeoul
Packaging: White, plastic pump bottle
Fragrance: Fresh, astringent smell. I think it’s supposed to smell like Yuzu but it reminds me of toothpaste. Not a fan.
Color: Cloudy / sheer
Texture: Soft gel
pH: Claims to be 5.5. My pH strips test closer to 5.0.

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INGREDIENTS
Acne Triggers & Irritants
: Triethanolamine (2) flagged as an acne trigger
Full IngredientsPurified Water, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Dipropylene Glycol, Ethanol, PEG-11 Methyl Ether Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel Extract), Dehydroacetic Acid, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disodium EDTA, Glycyrrhiz Glbra (Licorice Root Extract), Paeonia Lactiflora Bark / Sap Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Extract, Cimicifuga Dahurica Root Extract, Cimicifuga Racemosa Root Extract, Cimicifuga Simplex Root Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Salicylic Acid, Farnesyl Acetate, Farnesol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Fragrance

Performance

This cleanser can be used as both a first cleanser, by applying to dry skin, and second cleanser, by applying to wet skin.

What’s good about it is that it is effective. As a first cleanser, it will take off pretty much all of your makeup and sunscreen. The texture has a lot of slip, so you can work it into and around your skin with very little physical tugging. Also, one of the reasons I was so keen on trying this Acwell bubble free cleanser is because it’s been reported on more than one occasion to delodge grits from congested pores. I’ve not been able to replicate this effect (but I’ve never really been able to extract grits because my skin is stubborn like that), but it contains salicylic acid (a oil-soluble chemical exfoliant) and feels very deeply cleansing, so I don’t doubt it’s skin decongesting powers.

Even as a second cleanser, I feel like my skin gets a thorough cleaning. If my skin were able to handle this cleanser better, it would be exactly the kind of cleanser I would want to use after hitting the gym or for hot, sweaty summer months.

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Let’s give the swatching thing another try! I have Kevyn Aucoin foundation, Lioele and Tosowoong eye liners, Innisfree concealer, and Memebox X Pony lipstick on my hand. The cleanser takes everything off, but as you can see leaves my skin a little reddened.

Unfortunately, this cleanser is unexpectedly harsh. It’s weird, because the cleanser is not drying – my skin does not feel tight after using it – but it is nonetheless stripping. After use, my skin feels raw and rubbery, as if I’ve been vigorously scrubbing at it. Also, depending on how long I’ve had the cleanser on my face, it makes my skin noticeably redder. In the pictures above, you can even see the reddening effect on my hand from leaving the cleanser on for too long.

The suspected culprits? Ethanol and/or triethanolamine. My skin actually tolerates alcohol pretty well – most of the sunscreens I use contain it- but during cleansing, the skin is at a particularly vulnerable state, and at the 4th ingredient this cleanser likely contains a generous amount of ethanol. Triethanolamine, on the other hand, is a compound that could function as an emulsifier, pH adjuster (triethanolamine has a high pH), and/or surfactant.

The Takeaway

This is probably a perfectly good cleanser for most skin types. Unfortunately, my skin is either too dry or too sensitive to use this.

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Disclaimer: This product was purchased by me. This post contains an affiliate links. Purchasing an item through an affiliate link does not add any cost to the customer but does help support this site’s upkeep.

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16 thoughts on “Acwell Bubble-Free pH Balancing Cleanser Review

    • Heather Scheidt says:

      I have dry skin and I don’t have an issue with this. Also, it does not smell like toothpaste. It smells herbal and medicinal. This review is bullshit. The reason her hand was red is because the red pigment from the lipstick was spread around and not taken off all the way.

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      • V. Rex says:

        I’m glad to hear this cleanser worked better for you! I realize that my skin is particularly irritable when it comes to cleansers, even amongst people who also have dry skin, which is why I mentioned my past difficulties earlier in the review. As for the redness, as you can see in the third picture, the cleanser actually picks up the pigment from the lipstick quite easily and there’s very little spreading around, even as the cleanser is being massaged around. It also leaves my face red after usage, even when I don’t wear makeup.

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  1. Daniell says:

    Thanks for another comprehensive and excellent review! I’ve had this on my list of cleansers to try, but the alcohol content concerned me. Seeing how red this made your hand, which, if it’s anything like mine, is probably tougher than your face (I mean, really, would we use any of our hand soaps on our faces?!), I just crossed it off my list. I battle redness and irritation on a daily basis as it is. Thanks for sparing me potential irritation AND $20!

    Liked by 1 person

    • V. Rex says:

      Second cleansers are so difficult, aren’t they?? If you don’t mind citrus scented things, I really like Muji Cleansing Gel. It’s got a pH of 5 and is foam free!

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    • V. Rex says:

      I think the redness is a bit more severe than normal because my hands are pretty dried out / cracked at the moment, but I get pretty bad redness on my face too if I use as a first cleanser. This has now joined my growing collection of brush cleansers!

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  2. sarah says:

    How can something so simple as washing your face be this complicated, lol 🙂

    I am a picky lady when it comes to washing my face, too. I don’t think my skin is quite as sensitive or prone to dryness as yours, but there are definitely times in my life when it was. So, I thought I’d share what I am doing most nights (though I am definitely eyeing the glossier cleanser.)

    First cleanse, dry oil cleansing. I massage some jojoba (or honestly whatever is on hand) all over my face for a bit, then wipe it off with a dry washcloth. I am quite partial to my made-for-babies organic bamboo one. Next I splash my face with lukewarm water and cleanse with Josh Rosebrook’s moisturizing cleanser. I don’t know the ph, but he does talk about it being ph-balanced and preserving the skin’s acid mantle while still cleansing fully, so it might suit your needs?

    I learned about the dry oil makeup removal from Josh’s blog, and I think it’s a genius way to use less water on one’s delicate face. I still do like emulsifying oil-based cleansers for when I’m feeling lazy about washcloths, but at least for my typical makeup use (concealer, tinted spf, mascara) it works quite well.

    Liked by 1 person

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