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Glowing Skin and Its Relationship with pH Level of Skin


Time to read 5 min

Your skin is a marvelous organ, and its health and appearance depend on several factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and skincare habits. 

One often overlooked but critical aspect of skincare is the pH level of the products you use. 

In today's blog post, we'll dive deep into the world of pH, exploring what it means, why it's vital for your skin, and why you should pay close attention to the pH level of skincare products for the sake of achieving and maintaining healthy-looking skin.

1. What is pH level?

The term "pH" stands for "potential of hydrogen." It is a numerical scale ranging from 0 to 14 that measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, while values below 7 are acidic, and values above 7 are alkaline (basic).


The pH scale is logarithmic, which means that each whole number change represents a tenfold difference in acidity or alkalinity. For example, a substance with a pH of 5 is ten times more acidic than one with a pH of 6. This scale provides a standardized way to describe the chemical properties of substances, including skincare products.

2. Why is the pH Level of Skin Important?

Now that we have a basic understanding of pH, let's turn our attention to your skin. The human skin is a complex and dynamic organ that acts as a protective barrier between your body and the outside world. The pH level of the skin varies in different regions and depths, but the pH of the skin's surface, particularly the outermost layer known as the stratum corneum, is slightly acidic. It typically ranges from about 4.5 to 5.5.


The Slightly Acidic Skin Barrier

The skin's natural acidity is not a random occurrence; it serves a crucial purpose in maintaining skin health and functionality. 


Here's why the slightly acidic pH of the skin's surface is so important:


  1. Protective Barrier: Your skin's pH level plays a pivotal role in forming a protective barrier that shields your body from external threats. The acidic pH acts as a first line of defense against harmful microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. It creates an inhospitable environment for these invaders, reducing the risk of infections and various skin issues.
  2. Moisture Regulation: The skin's pH level is closely linked to its ability to retain moisture. An acidic pH helps to prevent excessive water loss from the skin, which is crucial for keeping it hydrated and healthy. When the skin's moisture balance is disrupted, it can lead to dryness, flakiness, and irritation.
  3. Enzyme Activity: Many enzymes and proteins that contribute to skin health function optimally within the skin's acidic pH range. These enzymes play a vital role in processes such as exfoliation, repair, and maintaining skin elasticity. When the skin's pH is within the right range, these processes can occur smoothly, supporting a healthy complexion.
  4. Skin Conditions: Deviations from the skin's natural pH can lead to various skin problems. For example, using skincare products with a very alkaline pH can disrupt the skin's barrier function, making it more susceptible to dryness, sensitivity, and skin conditions like acne. An imbalanced pH can create an environment where bacteria thrive, leading to breakouts and other issues.

3. Why Checking the pH Level of Skincare Products Matters

Now that we have established the importance of maintaining the slightly acidic pH of your skin, let's explore why it is crucial to check the pH level of the skincare products you use:



Not all skincare products are created equal when it comes to pH. Some active ingredients, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), work optimally within specific pH ranges. Using products with the right pH ensures that these ingredients can penetrate the skin and deliver their intended benefits effectively. 

For example, AHAs are most effective at a pH below 4, while BHAs work well in a slightly higher pH range. Actives such as ascorbic acid works best at 3.2-3.7. Using products with the wrong pH can render these ingredients less effective.


The skin's pH level significantly influences its sensitivity. When the skin's pH is disrupted by using products with extreme pH values, it can become more sensitive and prone to irritation, redness, and other adverse reactions. 

By selecting products with a pH that aligns with your skin's natural pH, you can minimize the risk of such issues, particularly if you have sensitive or reactive skin.

4. Different pH Levels of Skincare Products

As you delve into the world of skincare, you'll encounter products with various pH levels. It's essential to understand how different pH levels can affect your skin and the types of products where pH plays a critical role:



Cleansers are the first step in any skincare routine. The pH of your cleanser matters because it can influence the integrity of your skin barrier. (Click to read more about cleanser pH level and how it affects our skin.) 

Many traditional soap bars and foaming cleansers are alkaline, with a pH greater than 7. Using these products can strip away the skin's natural oils and disrupt its pH balance, potentially leading to dryness and sensitivity. Opting for a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser (ideally close to your skin's pH) like our Mild Face Cleanser helps maintain your skin's barrier while effectively removing impurities.


Exfoliating products, particularly those containing AHAs and BHAs, rely heavily on pH. AHAs, like glycolic and lactic acids, work best at a low pH (between 3 and 4), while BHAs, like salicylic acid, are effective in a slightly higher pH range (around 4). Using these products at their optimal pH levels ensures that they can penetrate the skin, encourage cell turnover, and address issues like uneven texture and acne.


The pH of serums and moisturizers is generally less critical than cleansers and exfoliants because they don't typically contain active ingredients that rely on specific pH ranges. However, using products with a pH close to that of your skin can ensure compatibility and minimize the risk of irritation. 

Additionally, some products that contain active ingredients that rely on specific pH ranges, such as AHA, BHA, or ascorbic acid, contain ingredients to make them more skin-friendly and less irritating. 


Masks come in various forms, from hydrating sheet masks to clay masks designed to deep-cleanse the pores to overnight hydrating masks, like our Brightening Serum.  Depending on their intended purpose, the pH of masks can vary. For example, clay masks may have a more alkaline pH to help absorb excess oil,  while hydrating masks are often formulated with a pH conducive to moisturization and skin hydration.

In the pursuit of achieving beautiful and healthy skin, the pH level of your skincare products is incredibly important. The slightly acidic nature of your skin's surface helps to keep it protected, moisturized, and healthy. When you use products that match your skin's natural pH, it makes your skincare routine more effective and reduces the chances of skin problems. However, everyone's skin is different, so it's crucial to be careful when trying new products and pay attention to how your skin reacts.

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