A pH-balanced cleaner might not be top of mind, but it could be the secret to overall better skin. Consider this: You slather on salicylic acid, pour on vitamin C, apply sunscreen 24/7 (hopefully, if not, that’s side-eye we’re sending through this screen)—but you still get breakouts, dullness, and what might be (gasp!) baby crow’s-feet. What’s the deal? If you’re doing everything right in your skincare routine but aren’t seeing the glowing results you want, the answer might be in a fifth grade science lesson: the pH scale.

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Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser, $36, nordstrom.com

Oat kernel extract (a super-intensive anti-inflammatory ingredient) takes down redness and inflammation almost on contact. This formula also leaves out anything that could possibly make your skin flare up.

Best for: Breakout-Prone Skin

CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, $12, memebox.com

The gel cleanser (for which the pH falls between 5.0 and 6.0) is paired with tea tree oil, which has antibacterial properties that help to take down zits. Bonus for any overachievers: The brand’s website lists the pH of every single product in the line.

Best for: Extra Exfoliating Power

Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner, $25, peachandlily.com

If you can see your pores without the help of a magnifying mirror—or you think your skin’s looking a little more dull than usual—try following your cleanser with this exfoliating toner. Not only does it lower pH, but the two acids (alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy) work together to unclog pores and dissolve dead cells.

Best for: Pairing with Anti-Aging Products

Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner, $28, sokoglam.com

Some antioxidants, like vitamin C, work best at certain pH levels (the lower, the better). Swiping on a pH-lowering toner after you cleanse basically guarantees that you’ll get the most bang for your anti-aging buck.

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