A Tale of High pH Cleansers with TreeannSea

disclaimer: products received for review purpose.  all opinions my own & are honest.  blogpost contains affiliate links

If you are of the school that all high pH cleansers are bad, skip this review. 


Disclaimer:  I had a lot of fun researching and writing this.  Ahh yes, high pH cleansers. They get such a bad rap and I was even into this for a brief while until I realized that my dermatologist has prescribed high pH cleansers for me in the past ~ my doctors aren’t quacks, ignorant or know less than me.  And I cannot discount personal experience ~ for decades of my long life, I used high pH cleansers and my skin has not been irreparably damaged from a cleanser. I look at my mother’s skin (she of the bar soap)  ~ soft, glowing skin with age appropriate wrinkles.  Now that said, I won’t force a high pH cleanser down someone’s throat, but then again, I won’t automatically speak evil of it. Like all cleansers, low or high, I have to try it out first before I can say yeah or nay.  Skincare and skin types are so personal and whereas I, with my naturally oily and healthy skin that is prone to hormonal acne, can use a high pH level without any fear, others cannot.  Those with dry skin, sensitive skin or skin that has been compromised so badly that it is apparent that you shouldn’t go near it.  In my unboxing of The 3B Box recently, I mentioned that the lovely Sample Hime had a great blog post a year ago that discussed this and the amazing Japanese skincare blogger Ratzilla tweeted out a study (found here) that showed that the skin’s pH level was not significantly raised by with cleansers, regardless of the cleansers pH level. 

There are times when I love a cleanser that by chance is low pH (Ciracle TeaTree Anti-Blemish) and hate it when it is low pH (cosRX Good Morning).  Same with high pH cleansers ~ some I love ~ Missha Fermentation Cleansing Foam in Citron and others I loathe ~ the reasons were not “high pH ~ curses!“, but for other reasons that made the cleanser a loser.  There will be people who have tried everything to help with their skin concerns and they turned to low pH cleansers for help ~ that I will not deny ~ that is what worked for them based on their skin needs.  Everyone’s skin care needs are different and I do not subscribe to “high pH is automatically bad“. That is just my opinion, based on what I have used and works for me.  Reviews are to help you decide if this is a product that you wish to use or not.  It’s all copacetic and I don’t profess to be a skincare expert at all.  Now off my soapbox (hahaha) and onto why I went on a bit about this.

I have two cleansers from TreeannSea, generously supplied to me by Memebox and I am finally getting to the last of my TreeannSea products. It make take me a while to get to writing reviews on products that were sent to me, but I do write them!   TreeannSea is an eco-friendly beauty brand that uses ingredients from desert, the water and botanical ingredients to create their skincare products.  They use natural ingredients and try to have 80% of raw botanical ingredients in their products.  TreeannSea are made using the EWG Skin Deep environmental database as a guide and they use 0-2 grades only (low hazard ingredients).  They do not use any of the harmful chemicals: synthetic flavors, synthetic preservatives ~ phenoxyethanol, parabens series, synthetic pigments, synthetic surfactants ~ SLS/SLES and do not use animal testing.  All of their products bottles and packaging are completely recyclable.  TreeannSea believe in social responsibility and they participate in fair trade practices.




Eskimo Melle Liquid Mousse Foam  Yeah, don’t use this one.  Need more information?  Okay.  This cleanser smells lovely, like tangerines and it is a soap-free cleanser, supposed to help clean and tighten your pores.  Full of Vitamin E and B1, due to the rice bran extract, along with premium mineral water from Northern Italy.   It has a higher pH level ~ clocking in at around 8

This liquid cleanser will foam up to a mousse-like texture, which is a texture I find to be one of the most silky-smooth and decadent textures in soaps ever.  Yes, it foams up beautifully.  It looks like a cloud of whipped … well.. soap.  It is silky and smooth on my skin and feels so luxurious and relaxing… Until I rinse it off.  No, not dried or stripped skin.  No irritations.  But a gross film of “I have no idea what” is sitting on my face.   It cleans amazingly well ~ even theBalm Meet the Matt(e) Hughes was removed within seconds.

But the film … and my face feels sticky too, a bit tacky right after washing and there is some water still on my face.  I can feel it when I press my hands against my face and pull away ~ the skin pulls a bit with it.   After my face dries down, there is that slick film of something that is pretty disgusting and quite frankly, I feel contributed to some raised comedones.    So yeah, like I said.  I cannot recommend this cleanser for anything that resembles human skin.  Plus it is no longer available at Memebox, so I am not sure if it is just out of stock or they won’t carry it anymore.  Due to the warehouse and stock issues, it could just be the former.  Full Size 150 mL  RV $21.00

Description: Contains naturally carbonated water and a carbon dioxide component that cleans skin and removes makeup and impurities without stripping.

Ingredients: carbonated water, potassium cocoyl glycinate, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, cocamidopropyl betain, butylene glycol, tremella fuciformis extract, saponaria officinalis root extract, gentiana lutea root extract, carica papaya (papaya) leaf extract, pueraria lobata root extract, utica dioica (nettle) extract, zanthoxylum piperitum fruit extract, pullsatilla koreana extract, usnea barbata extract, glycerin, chaenomeles sinensis fruit extract, ficus sarica (fig) fruit extract, oryza sativa (rice) bran extract, psoralea corylifolia fruit extract, saponaria officianalis leaf extract, hovenia dulcis extract, sapindus mukurossi fruit extract, avena sativa (oat) kernel extract, aspalathus linearis leaf extract, aloe maculata leaf extract, 1, 2-hexandiol, caprylyl glycol, citric acid, citrus tangerina (tangerine) peel oil  cosDNA analysis

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TreeannSea Madagascar Island Pore Soap  So, this soap actually held a GREAT deal of interest for me, because of its ingredients (and lack of certain ingredients).  It is all vegetable oils, cocoa butter and an herbal extract.  Several of the oils are specifically designed for oily skin, neem, whereas others are moisturizing, such as coconut, macadamia nut and baobab.  This also has centella asiatica extract, a common herbal ingredient that is used medicinally to help speed up wound healing, such as blemishes and skin rashes.  It also helps minimize the appearance of pores.   What I don’t see is any foaming products or alkalines. The star and first ingredient is tamanu oil, another oil for oily skin.

image credit from wikipedia

Tamanu Oil is extracted from the nuts of the Ati tree and has an aromatic, pungent scent. Tamanu is a powerful skin regenerator as it helps promote new tissue growth, which speeds up wound healing.  It is not only an anti-bacterial, it is an antioxidant, antibiotic (lactone compound)  and anti-inflammatory (calophyllolide and coumarin compounds).  It helps prevent UV sun damage to your skin as it  can absorb UV rays.  You want to find Tamanu oil that is a green color and has been hand gathered, sun dried and cold pressed. Based on TreeannSea’s site, they have done all of the latter steps to produce a nice thick greenish oil.

The packaging is so pretty too ~ very bright and tropical colors, with lemurs, tortoises, chameleon and baobab trees in the back ground.

This has a nice fresh scent to it, pretty much a soap scent  ~ very clean.  This is a handcrafted, cold processed soap, which means it is produced through the saponification process. Cold process soap is naturally alkaline and its pH level can range between 8.5 and 10.5.  However, from my research (and remember, I am not an expert),  that doesn’t necessarily mean it is harsh.  What makes a high pH soap harsh is something called “free alkali”, which is a leftover alkali solution that was used during the saponification process ~ excess alkaline that didn’t get removed after the soap making process.  Mass manufactured soap has this problem.  This “free alkali” will take your natural oils in your skin and leave your skin dry and squeaky clean. If you face feels squeaky clean after cleansing, your soap is too harsh.  Quality handcrafted soap shouldn’t have this issue ~  A high pH organic handmade bar of soap can be safe so long it has a triglyceride and free fatty acid (FFA) content.  In other words, it comes down to ingredients and process.

I purposely didn’t do a pH test until right before this review.  I decided that if the soap was working for me, I was going to wait on a test.  I used a pore brush to help foam up the soap.  It doesn’t have a lot of foaming bubbles, but enough that I have some soapy goodness on my face. 

I use this after an oil cleansing, so I am not looking for it to remove makeup.  However, I did do a makeup test with this product as well ~ and it did surprisingly well ~ the only product it had issues with was my aforementioned theBalm Meet the Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipstick ~ a lot of cleansers have issues removing that one. 

How does this feel on my face? After I rinse off the soap, my face feels clean, but not dry.  I can feel that it is moisturized without a filmy layer (see previous cleanser) and it doesn’t feel stripped. No irritations or redness, nor has this contributed to any acne when I use it.  My pores are clean and I haven’t see any black heads or clogged pores since I have been using this.  So far, so good.  I like the soap, it has a nice clean scent to it, it isn’t the most foamy but it works with the pore brush, cleanses well, leaves my face clean but moisturized without a sticky feeling.  So, what is the pH test on this baby?  Gird your loins and hang onto your hats…..

TaDA!!  A nice whopping 10 on the Richter scale and I can see heads exploding!!  I must be lying!  Well, seriously, this soap doesn’t cost that much and it is out of stock at Memebox, so why would I praise a high pH soap?  Other than this ~  I did a blind test and when I didn’t experience issues, I just kept using it as part of my normal routine.  Which just goes to show that a high pH level isn’t necessarily a bad thing so long your skin is healthy and has not been compromised.  The next time you get a really lovely handcrafted bar of organic, natural soap, think about that.  I really love this soap a lot and will continue using it until it is gone, which might be a while ~  I keep my soap in one of those soap basins so that it doesn’t get all mushy or gross. Even after using it for a few months, I have barely made a dent in this soap ~ it will last a long time.  120 grams RV $11.00

Description: Treeannsea Madagascar Island Pore Soap uses the finest Tamunu oil in its cold handmade soap process without any synthetic fragrances.  100% pure Madagascar vegetable oils don’t have animal oils or alkalines, so it can better maintain a hydrated skin condition.   Crafted with 100% natural Madagascar ingredients, this soap definitely raises the bar when it comes to cleansing. Tamanu Oil eliminates dirt and excess oils from pores and removes dead skin cells, while other gentle oils from Coconut and Macadamia Nut moisturize and nourish without any irritation. 

Ingredients: calophyllum inophyllum seed oil (tamanu oil), cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, macadamia nut oil, adansonia digitata (baobab) seed oil, neem oil, cocoa butter, centella asiatica extract, natural fragrance essential oil cosDNA analysis

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Final Thoughts

Why did the much higher TreeannSea Madagascar soap work so much better for my skin that the lower pH TreeannSea Eskimo Melle Liquid Foaming Cleanser.  Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients.  That is my theory.  The Madagascar soap didn’t contain added alkalines and it was all oils and extracts.  There were no added foaming ingredients ~ all foaming action was created via the cold process method.  When I was reading about high pH and where this controversy came from, it was a push back towards the growing popularity of handcrafted organic soaps, which are going to have a natural occurring high pH.  In fact, many companies with low pH cleansers are using harmful synthetic detergents and chemicals that can cause more damage to your skin’s acid barrier than a natural organic bar of soap with a high pH level with no free alkali.  After washing your face, your skin begins to replace that acid barrier immediately.  I feel that if your skin is healthy and normal, you won’t be affected by either a low or high pH cleanser.   Why did the Eskimo Melle fail for me? It wasn’t the pH level, but the film on my skin that made me very unhappy  When I look at the ingredients list vs the Madagascar, I am struck by the simplicity of the Madagascar soap.  The process to make a foaming liquid cleanser is quite different from a cold process soap, so chalk that up to ingredients + process = makes the difference.    Just this blogger’s very unscientific opinion and you know what they say about opinions!!

So, am I snorting out of the wrong orifice here?  Or is there something here that makes sense? Some might comment that my skin got better after I switched to a low pH  ~ that is fantastic!  Your specific needs required a lower pH cleanser ~ no argument from me here.  I know several people whose skin was so compromised that this was the final route they took to get back to healthy skin. However, what I really want to know is  ~ Did our grandmama (bar soap user) actually have SKIN on her face or was she wearing a mask as her skin had cracked off? Discuss!

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 disclaimer: products received for review purpose. all opinions my own & are honest. blog post contains affiliate links

3 thoughts on “A Tale of High pH Cleansers with TreeannSea

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