What is the best pH for healthy skin?
The skin’s average pH—a measure of acidity/basicness—ranges from 4.5 to 5.5.¹ The skin’s “acid mantle” helps protect it from pollution, bacteria, and other intruders. The acidity of the skin also contributes to the health and functioning of the whole skin system, including the skin’s ability to produce sebum and self-moisturize (everything is connected).
“The skin works best with light acidity,” notes dermatologist, Dr. Hope Mitchell. As the number goes down, the skin becomes more acidic, which happens as we get older. “If the pH is lower than 4.5 to 5.5, that’s when we might start to see signs and symptoms of dry skin, like itching or flaking or peeling. And if we went down to 2.5 or 3.0, it peels.” This is what a chemical peel does, which allows for new, smooth skin to form. Without making you do any math, the simplest way to find products that address the skin’s pH is to look for “pH-balancing” or “pH-neutralizing” on the package.
¹Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora by H Lambers, S Piessens, A Bloem, H Pronk, and P Finkel. National Library of Medicine.
Dr. Hope Mitchell, MD
Hope Mitchell is a board certified dermatologist, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a member of the Skin of Color Society. She is the CEO and founder of Mitchell Dermatology, which has two locations in Northwest Ohio.
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