Skin pH and Skin Health: The Forgotten Marriage


The hallmark of youthful skin is a dewiness that is effortless, a plumpness that is the result of, not just sublime collagen production, but deep hydration. As we age, we lose this effortless hydration and try to mimic (often, to ill-effect) this look with fillers and layers of creams to elicit a texture that we hope can resemble our 20-year-old selves. For skin that isn’t trying to imitate youth but, rather, exude radiant health at any age—it’s crucial to first look under the hood of our skin physiology to understand the link between our skin pH and its optimal performance. 

What Is Skin pH

Healthy, young skin, particularly the outermost layer called the stratum corneum, has an acidic pH ranging from 4.5 to 5.5. This acidic environment is not only ideal, but vital for the skin's health and function. As we age, skin naturally creeps up the pH scale to become more alkaline. This begins to wreak havoc on the integrity of our skin. 

Why Skin pH Is Acidic

The acidic nature of skin serves as a natural defense mechanism against harmful microorganisms. The acid mantle, formed by the combination of sweat, sebum, and other skin secretions, creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria and fungi (which is why I always preach to not wash your face after a good workout, it’s natural skincare!). Maintaining this acidic pH helps prevent infections and supports the skin's ability to heal.

What Should Skin pH Be

Ideally, skin should maintain a pH 4.0-5.5. In one study, the bacteria that causes acne showed to grow at pH values between 6 and 6.5 and growth is greatly reduced at pH values less than 6 (1). In a study of acne-prone patients, the number of facial inflammatory lesions was compared in subjects using a conventional alkaline soap versus those using an acidic formulation. The number of inflammatory lesions increased in the alkaline soap group and decreased in the group using the acidic formula. Results were usually seen by the 4th week of use (2).

What is important to note is that most beauty formulations consider a pH 6-7 to be “balanced” and healthy for skin. The science proves otherwise.

How Does Skin pH Help With Moisture

The acid mantle also plays a crucial role in regulating the skin's moisture levels. An optimally acidic pH level ensures that the skin maintains its strong barrier function and the ability to hold water in. A permeable acid mantle leads to trans-epidermal water loss causing dryness, flakiness, or excessive oiliness.

How Do Low pH Skincare Products Help Skin

The wrong skincare products, including cleansers, can negatively influence the skin's pH. Harsh cleansers with high alkalinity can strip the skin of its natural oils, disrupt the acid mantle, wipe out beneficial bacteria that begin a domino of skin disruptions. Keeping skin slightly acidic is one of the fundamental goals of Editrix. Editrix is formulated at the ideal pH to keep skin dewy, to keep the skin barriers intact and keep the microbiome resilient.

When we pay attention to the pH value of the products we use (we realize this is hard as most brands do not list them nor formulate at the correct pH) vital skin functions are able to perform. Below is a list of skin functions the body naturally performs when skin is in the correct acidic range:

  • Skin Barrier Function: The acid mantle, formed by the skin's acidic pH, helps create a protective barrier. This barrier prevents harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, from proliferating on the skin's surface and able to reach the deeper layers of skin.
  • Antimicrobial Defense: The acidic pH of the skin inhibits the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. This helps prevent infections and contributes to the body's overall defense against harmful invaders.
  • Exfoliation: The mildly acidic pH supports the process of desquamation, or the shedding of dead skin cells. This aids in maintaining healthy and vibrant skin by promoting the removal of old, damaged cells.
  • Sebum Regulation: The skin's pH influences the production of sebum, the skin's natural oil. Maintaining an acidic environment helps regulate sebum production, contributing to balanced skin hydration.
  • Enzyme Activation: Some enzymes responsible for skin functions are activated within the acidic pH range. These enzymes play roles in processes such as repairing the skin barrier and promoting collagen synthesis.
  • Acid Mantle Formation: The acid mantle, composed of sebum and sweat, contributes to the skin's defense mechanisms. It helps maintain hydration and prevents the penetration of harmful substances.

Editrix is a pioneer in the education and implementation of appropriate pH values to address skin health and skin’s native function. pH disruption is sometimes the leading cause of so many skin disorders that often get treated with prescription-strength topicals. In our quest for beauty sanity, let’s lean into the science and give our skin what it’s begging for: to be understood. 


  1. Korting HC, Braun-Falco O. The effect of detergents on skin pH and its consequences. Clin Dermatol 1996; 14: 23–27.
  2. Korting HC, Ponce-Pöschl E, Klövekorn W, Schmötzer G, Arens-Corell M, Braun-Falco O. The influence of the regular use of a soap or an acidic syndet bar on pre-acne. Infection 1995; 23: 89–93.