Review: pHisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Facial Wash

By Voxy  

pHisoderm 2I love my Clarisonic. Did I mention that?

The only — and I mean the only — drawback to it is that it eats cleanser. Positively devours the stuff. Then it bangs its fists on the table and yells, “MOAR!” The thing is insatiable.

The best way I’ve found to use it is to first lather up my face with cleanser, then wet the brush and rub it into my palm (both to get out the extra water and to pick up some of the lather), and then load an extra squirt of cleanser directly onto the brush before turning it on. This ensures that I’ve got enough product on my face and the brush to get a really good cleansing.

It became evident after only a few days of Clarisonic ownership that my beloved Dermalogica Special Gel Cleanser, my previous Holy Grail facial wash, was just not going to cut it. I adore the Dermalogica, but at $48 for 16.9 oz., I couldn’t afford to go squirting that away willy-nilly — especially since when I was not trying to use the Clarisonic with it, I needed less than a pea-sized amount to clean my face. Having to load up the brush with two or three whole pumps of cleanser in order to get the brush to lather made me wince every time. I needed an inexpensive alternative that I could afford to use freely with the Clarisonic without fretting about how much it was costing me to wash my face every day.

I can’t remember what made me pick this up the first time at ULTA. I think there was probably a “save $2 now!” coupon sticker on it. I’d never used anything by pHisoderm and in general I’m not a huge fan of BHA cleansers, of which this is one. But it fit the bill in terms of price, so I thought I’d try it, and much to my surprise, it is almost as good as the Dermalogica. Really.

My skin used to be dry but in recent years has drifted towards normal/combination, so I wanted a cleanser that would really get rid of dirt and makeup without stripping all of the natural moisture from my face. The pHisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Facial Wash does that, and does it very well. On days when I’ve used heavier makeup, like an all-over primer or a liquid foundation, I usually do an initial quick wash with this cleanser using just my plain old hands, then rinse that off and have a second go-round with the Clarisonic. This process gets off just about everything. Only rarely do I need to use makeup remover to get off the last traces of eyeshadow or mascara.

The best thing about this cleanser, other than the price — no, even better than the price, which is $4.79 for 6 oz. at — is that it leaves my face as soft and smooth as my Dermalogica cleanser … which, if you recall, is $48 for 16.9 oz. That means that the price per ounce … well, math skillz were a few weeks ago, but at any rate the pHisoderm is a much better bargain.

[Oh, okay, fine! I can hear you rolling your eyes. I’ll do the stupid math. Dermalogica = $2.84 per ounce; pHisoderm = $0.80 per ounce. Happy?]

The only fly in the pHisoderm ointment is that if you get this cleanser in your eyes it does sting and cause irritation (as do many other cleansers). I run into this more often than you might think because by the time I’ve lathered my face, wet the Clarisonic brush head, loaded it up with product, and gone through a cleansing cycle, the lather has been on my face for something approaching two minutes, and you have to figure that at some point some of it is going to trickle close enough to your eye to cause irritation.

The Anti-Blemish Gel Facial Wash is also a BHA cleanser, as I mentioned above, but I’m with those who say that BHAs in cleansers are not effective because the cleanser doesn’t stay on your skin long enough for the BHA to be absorbed. (For the life of me I cannot figure out why they still make and sell BHA cleansers. Oh, right: filthy lucre.) So BHA in a cleanser is never something that draws me. Rather, I like this cleanser in spite of the fact that it contains BHA (2%, for those who are wondering).

I’m not getting rid of my Dermalogica cleanser, which leaves my skin even a tiny bit softer and which does not irritate my eyes if I accidentally whack myself while washing, but I only use it now when I’m taking a morning off from the Clarisonic. I have enough room in my heart for both the Dermalogica and the pHisoderm. Enough room on my bathroom counter, though… well, that’s a different problem.


pHisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Facial Wash: $4.79 at

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (drugstore: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent

Purchase again? Yes, but don’t tell my Dermalogica.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

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