Does pH Levels Affect My Skin? – Do You Know The Interesting Truth?

Most skincare regimes and products focus on oil reduction, acne treatment, moisturization, or other issues that we all see on our face and struggle with from day to day.

What they’re not talking about, however, might be the root of all your problems.

Your skin’s natural flora has a specific pH level. When this pH is out of balance, it can actually cause the most aggravating skin conditions that plague your face and have you spending hundreds of dollars on treatment that doesn’t seem to give any results.

One reason these treatments might not be working is that they are not helping to restore your skin’s natural pH level. It’s possible to balance your skin’s pH to get smoother, clearer skin, so let’s take a deeper look at understanding this.

Don’t worry if you’re not a science person - we’ll break down the important pH information to help you treat your skin problems more easily.

What The Heck Is pH? 

To understand the importance of pH, we first have to understand a little bit about what pH is. Don’t worry - we’ll keep it brief so you can get to the good stuff!

pH is a way of measuring how acidic or basic a solution is. Water is neutral and has a pH of 7. Anything with a lower pH than 7 is acidic. Anything with a pH higher than 7 is basic. Acidic and basic environments have different reactions to products, bacteria, and more.

Simple, right? Now that you know that pH measures whether or not something is more or less acidic than water, you can understand more about your skin and how to properly care for it!

What Is The Skin’s Natural pH? 

While the skin was previously thought to have a naturally occurring pH between 5 and 6, it’s been found that skin (without any products, makeup, or water affecting it) actually has a pH of less than 5. This means that skin is fairly acidic.

Why does the skin need to be so acidic? 

Your skin is naturally covered in a layer of bacteria. Sounds gross, right?

But it’s not really. Naturally occurring bacteria on your skin are microorganisms that prevent dangerous bacteria from setting up roots, offer an extra layer of immunity, and help you stay healthy in a number of other ways. These organisms benefit your skin, and you help them by providing a home.

The acidic environment helps these bacteria thrive and stay in balance. The enzymes can keep your skin cells hydrated and even help to exfoliate dead skin cells in these acidic conditions.

Whenever the pH level changes, one of these microorganisms can lose control or become compromised. They work best in acidic environments. When acidity is lost, conditions like staph, infections, and, you guessed it, acne, can occur.

When your skin maintains a healthy pH level, you’re protected against conditions like acne, wrinkles, dry skin, and many of the “usual” skin issues that we all suffer from.

What Is Causing My Skin’s pH Level To Change? 

The answer to this is complex: it could be anything and everything. Let’s go through a few common culprits:

Tap water 

The water that you use at home to shower, wash your face, and more may be more basic than most water with a pH of 7 or more. This is common in tap water. While this is healthy to drink, it does have an effect on your skin’s pH level.
Washing your face with tap water can raise the skin’s pH over 5 for up to six hours after rinsing before it returns to normal. Imagine that you wash your face twice a day and shower. Your skin might not get a break from this pH increase at all.

Face washes and soaps 

Most soaps and face washes are on the basic side, meaning that they have a higher pH than your skin’s natural pH.
Washing your face with one of these products daily can cause the pH level of your skin to be compromised, leading to breakouts on the face, neck, or chest.


As sad as it is, this impossible to avoid factor can cause your skin’s pH level to rise! As we age, pH level tends to increase which can lead to wrinkly or sagging skin.
If you take care of your skin using pH balancing products long-term, you can slow some of the effects of aging. Of course, you cannot prevent your skin from aging completely, but you can counteract them!

Environmental Factors 

Depending on where you live or what your house is like, there could be something causing your skin’s pH to change. Pollution is just one example of the many things that can affect pH. Using a detoxifying mask once a week can help combat these effects.

Exfoliating Toners 

Many toners are made to strip away the skin’s natural oils and bacteria, but this can seriously alter the pH of your skin and cause a negative reaction that leads to drying, redness, or itchiness. Yuck!


Some foods can actually change pH of the sebum that your skin naturally secretes. Eating an acidic diet will not lead to acidic skin pH. You should avoid commercial dairy products, white flour, rice, sugar, and junk food as much as possible to keep your skin mantle healthy.

How Can you Test Your Skin’s pH level? 

Everyone’s base pH level might be different. In fact, men were shown to have skin with a pH that is slightly lower than women’s skin.

Still, it’s not that simple to test your skin’s pH level.

If you really want to find out, you could use an expensive pH tester, but because pH fluctuates throughout the day, it’s easier to check two things. First, you should check your water’s pH level and then choose products that will help balance out the effects it will have on your skin. Second, you should pH test the facial products you use on your skin every day.

How Can You Test The pH Of Your Tap Water?

You can use pH measuring drops to test the pH of your tap water. You simply put a few drops into a small amount of water, wait for the color to change, and then see what the pH level is using the kit’s measurement chart. Simple!

If you find that your water has a high pH, you’ll want to use a pH correcting toner to wipe your face down after washing your face or showering.

How Can You Test The pH Level Of A Product? 

This can be a bit complicated to achieve. You can use pH testing strips to do this at home, which makes it super simple.

You’ll want to replicate the way you put the product on your face to test its true pH. For example, take some cleanser in your hand, add a bit of water, and rub it around. Then use the strip to test the pH level.

While not foolproof, this method will give you a reading that is closest to that of what really goes onto your face.

How Do You Keep Your Skin’s pH Balanced? 

It’s all about how you treat your skin. If you use products that have high pH, you will be lowering the pH of your skin. So how do you fix that?

Adding a toner, acidic cleanser, or another pH balanced skin care product to your daily routine might be all you need to see huge improvement in your skin.

The acid mantle of your skin should be in balance for your skin to be properly hydrated and protected. To make sure that your skin’s pH is properly balanced, you will want to use products with a pH that is less than 7. The best products will have a pH between 5.0 and 5.5.

Anything with a higher pH could raise the pH level of your skin and cause massive breakouts. By eliminating these high pH products from your routine, your skin will repair itself and be much healthier. Keeping your skin acne free couldn’t be easier.

What Are Some Recommended Products To Try? 

When it comes choosing products, you want to make sure you choosing something with a pH between 5.5 and 7. If you have sensitive skin, keep it closer to 5 or 5.5. There’s a number of products worth trying to lower or balance your pH level.

pH Balancing Cleansers 

Many regular cleansers have pH levels around 8.0. Using a cleanser like this will cause breakouts, so doing something as simple as replacing your cleanser with a more acidic cleanser can save your skin from breaking out.
Some people have found that they no longer get breakouts simply by changing the cleanser they are using to one that is more acidic.


Another way to save your skin is by using a toner with a low pH level to balance out any other products that are affecting your skin. After washing your face, simply wipe your skin with a toner. This will help restore your skin’s natural pH level and prevent acne.

Natural Products 

There are some products, such as witch hazel, that have a low pH level and can be used as mists, cleansing oils, or toners. These products naturally have a low pH level and are an easy way to supplement your skin without needing to worry about added chemicals or products with too many ingredients.
Choose plant oils that have fatty acids in them, and these will help naturally restore your skin’s condition.
Great natural products to try for pH balancing include witch hazel, argan oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, and more!

Daily Acid Treatment 

With acid-based products or an acid toner, you can treat your skin daily. You will want to use something with percentage of 2%-8% at a pH of 3.0-4.0.
Depending on your preferences, you can choose an AHA or a BHA based acid product. Getting into the details of what the differences between these are is complicated. In a simple sense, AHA’s are for addressing dry and aging skin. BHA’s are for oily skin and clogged pores.

No matter what regiment you choose, much sure to use the products on both your face and your neck. Your neck is at risk of aging and skin problems just as much as your face is, so you should remember to protect your neck, too!


While it’s a complicated topic, it’s worth knowing more about how your skin’s pH works to create a better skincare routine. With the right combination of products, you won’t have to treat acne anymore...because you won’t have any.

Your skin works best whenever it has a protective, acidic layer that keeps in moisture, keeps out bacteria, and helps exfoliate your skin naturally. The products that you use to cleanse and tone should compliment this environment, so make sure to choose products that are acidic in nature as well.

With some simple testing, you can perfectly optimize your skincare routine to keep your skin smooth, glowing, and acne-free. Amazing skin, surprisingly, may start with acid!

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