The Surprising Truth About Skin Acidity

Skin Acidity Hero

When envisioning beautiful, healthy skin, we tend to think of skincare routines using mild and gentle products. Most people would be surprised to know that acidity is essential to our skin’s health—in fact, the normal, healthy state of the outermost layer of our skin is acidic, with a pH ranging between 4 and 6 (compared to the near-neutral acidity of 7–9 inside the body). Research shows that even infants with their enviably soft skin have acidity levels nearly identical to that of adults.

How does pH affect skin function?

The outermost layer of your skin is a barrier that controls what can be absorbed into your body. Its ability to do this depends largely upon the distribution and organization of lipids (fats) within the skin’s layers, and the formation of those lipids involves several enzymes that perform optimally in an acidic environment. The effect of a lower pH on one of these key enzymes is quite dramatic: its beneficial activity is 10 times higher at a pH of 5.5 than at 7.4.

Researchers have also found that pH has a direct effect on the skin’s function, with better hydration and improved recovery from damage occurring in an acidic environment. Even more dramatic is the knowledge that harmful bacteria such as staphylococcus thrive at neutral pH levels, while beneficial bacteria prefer acidic levels.

What factors influence your skin’s pH?

Skin pH varies according to many factors, such as age, skin moisture and oiliness, perspiration, and genetics. For example, a higher pH (lower acidity) has been observed in the skin of elderly individuals. People with darker complexions tend to have a lower skin pH, improved skin integrity, and better skin function as a barrier. There are also factors over which we have more control, such as our choice of detergents, soap, cosmetics, and topical antibacterial agents.

How does skin pH affect health?

Eczema is more common among children whose skin is less acidic, and higher pH values correspond to areas of more intense itching and dryness. Researchers have found similar correlations between pH levels and ichthyosis vulgaris (also called fish scale disease), candida infection, diaper rash in children, and acne.

There are many well-documented benefits of maintaining an optimal skin pH. Skin with the proper level of acidity offers better protection against harmful bacteria and a more favorable environment for beneficial bacteria. In fact, one of the chemicals secreted in perspiration forms a natural antibacterial agent, but only in an acidic environment.

How should you care for your skin?

Given these findings, it is no surprise that researchers suggest the use of products that support the skin’s recommended level of acidity. The best skin care products will help restore the skin’s optimal pH values, which bolsters the body’s natural ability to protect and heal itself. The ideal body wash, soap, or cleanser has a pH of 4.5–6, yet most skin cleansers have a pH well above the ideal values, many as high as 10 or more.

pH Levels in Riversol Formulations

At Riversol, we believe that only by fully understanding how healthy skin functions can we create formulations to provide you with optimal skin care. Our product development is strongly rooted in Skin Science, and we are unique in that all of our products have a pH value of approximately 5, well within the recommended guidelines. Please feel free to browse the catalogue here. Of course, Riversol is not the only low pH skincare option available, there are some others available through dermatology offices, drug stores, and online. Consult your dermatologist to learn more.