Skin pH Levels: Everything You Need to Know

Skin pH Levels: Everything You Need to Know

We’ve all heard the term “pH” before, whether that’s in relation to our skincare products, food, or general health. A balanced pH level is something we should all strive to achieve, but have you ever wondered why that is? Well, we have all the answers.

Continue reading to find out what determines your skin's pH level, how it correlates with acne, how you can test it yourself, and how to restore your natural balance.

What Exactly is Skin pH?

pH stands for "potential hydrogen" and is a unit of measurement that lets us know how much hydrogen is in liquids. Our skin pH level tells us how acidic or alkaline our skin is, which is super important for skin health. 

The pH scale ranges from 1-14, with 1 being the most acidic, 14 being the most alkaline, and 7 being neutral.

We all have a protective skin barrier that keeps environmental pollutants, the cold, the sun, and other toxic substances from penetrating. It’s made of sebum, otherwise known as your skin's natural oils. When sebum is combined with lactic and amino acids, it creates the skin’s pH level.

The Ideal pH Level for Our Skin

You might be wondering which number is ideal for skin health. According to dermatologists, your pH needs to be slightly acidic to keep your skin healthy. Numerous studies show that the natural pH level of our skin falls between 4.5 and 5.5.

That’s right - we all have slightly acidic skin. This is because the acidic environment acts as a defense mechanism for our bodies when foreign elements attack. Our skin's natural acidity can fight bacteria, pollutants, and allergens, which can compromise healthy skin.

When the skin has an alkaline pH, collagen breaks down, which speeds up the aging process. It can also cause inflammation that leads to acne and other inflammatory skin conditions. Not to mention, it will most likely dehydrate your skin's surface and make it look dull.

Which Factors Influence Your Skin's pH Level?

A couple of factors can influence your skin’s pH level. Our skin naturally becomes more acidic as we age. However, the degree to which aging plays a role in our pH balance is determined by our lifestyle choices and environmental factors.

External Factors

Using low-quality skin care products, exposing our skin to the sun without SPF protection, smoking, and pollution all influence the skin's barrier function, compromising your pH balance.

Internal Factors

Your internal organs can influence the skin’s pH level, too. If the lungs and kidneys aren’t working properly, a pH imbalance can show up in the blood, leading to conditions such as acidosis and alkalosis. It’s important to note that these conditions require special medical attention and can’t be solved by a diet or lifestyle shift.

Another major key to a healthy pH balance is our diet. The best diet for our skin should be less acidic and more alkaline. Having an acidic environment in our bodies can lead to several skin issues.

The interesting thing is that foods labeled acidic become alkaline in our bodies, and vice versa. Acidic foods include meat, eggs, grains, dairy, and alcohol. Neutral foods include starches and sugars, as well as some fats, while fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes are considered alkaline. Including more alkaline foods in your diet will improve your skin and give you a greater pH balance.

Remember that your stomach has a pH level of 2-3.5 due to hydrochloric acid. Some acidity is necessary for breaking down food.

Symptoms of a pH Imbalance

Is there a way to know if your pH levels are out of balance? Luckily, a pH imbalance is easily detectable.

Firstly, many skin problems, such as redness, dry patches, eczema, psoriasis, and excessive sebum levels, can be attributed to an imbalance in your skin's pH level. When this imbalance occurs, your skin’s natural barrier is damaged, so it’s easier for unwanted chemicals and toxins to enter the skin and cause all sorts of problems.

Acidosis, the official term for excess acidity in the body, can manifest itself through several symptoms such as low blood pressure, low body temperature, lethargy, brittle nails, dry skin, fatigue, insomnia, water retention, teeth sensitivity, headaches, and sensitivity to acidic food.

Luckily, it's easy to return to a balanced skin pH and improve your overall skin health. You can heal these symptoms by making healthy changes in your diet and including more alkaline foods such as fruits, vegetables, molasses, and soy products.

Your Skin pH and Acne

Acne is the most common skin condition. Everyone can develop it - not just teenagers. It can be caused by a myriad of factors, which is why getting rid of acne for good is so hard. However, a pH imbalance is proven to affect acne negatively, leaving your skin more prone to developing other skin conditions.

So, how exactly are acne and your skin pH balance correlated? As we’ve mentioned before, the optimal skin pH is slightly more acidic. A proper pH balance can kill acne-causing bacteria before they have a chance to enter the body.

If bacteria gets trapped in the top layer, especially if it’s combined with excess sebum and dead skin cells, it can cause havoc in the skin and lead to acne. Therefore, you must do your best to attain the optimal pH level if you have acne-prone skin.

Optimize Your Skin Care Routine to Achieve a Balanced Skin pH

Keep your skin balanced, starting with your favorite skin care products. According to this study, skin care products have a "profound influence on skin surface pH." Use gentle cleansers on your face every morning and night. Pick a suitable moisturizer for your skin type. It shouldn't be too abrasive for your skin surface, but make sure it has acne-fighting properties. Toners are also an amazing option for keeping a healthy pH balance. Look for ingredients such as aloe vera, witch hazel, and rose.

Remember to exfoliate regularly to avoid clogged pores and remove dead skin cells. Avoid using harsh scrubs or tools for exfoliating since they can also affect the protective barrier. Instead, opt for gentle scrubs specifically designed for acne-prone skin. They should contain natural exfoliators such as coconut sugar, coffee, or fruit enzymes.

Some skincare products are designed to keep your pH levels intact. Avoid harsh cleansers and gels. Instead, look for pH-balanced products (as declared on the packaging).

Misumi has many great gentle, effective products that can improve sebum production, eliminate dead skin cells, and fight acne. They’re also gentle enough to help you maintain the optimal skin pH level. Get glowing skin with the Complete Clear 3-Step System. This set includes a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer - everything you need in one place.

Try it now!

How to Measure your Skin’s pH Levels

This test is quick and easy and will tell you exactly where your skin lies on the pH scale. The best thing about it? You can do it by yourself - all you need is a mirror.

Take a close look at your skin. There are a couple of signs that will show if your skin is healthy and the natural skin surface pH is optimal. If you have clean skin without any pimples, whiteheads, or blackheads, then your skincare routine is perfect, and you don’t need to worry about your pH levels.


Another sign of a healthy complexion is the color of your skin. Is your skin tone even? Do you have any dark spots or hyperpigmentation? Those are usually indicators of some kind of imbalance.

Touch your skin with clean hands. How does it feel? Is it elastic and stretchy? Having elasticity means that it’s properly moisturized and hydrated from the inside out. Remember, drinking enough water and incorporating healthy fats in your diet is crucial for maintaining moisturized skin.

Examine the texture of your skin. Is it smooth? Or is it bumpy, uneven, and full of pimples? If so, you have an unbalanced skin pH and may want to change up your skin care routine. If you notice any improvements, you’re good to go. If not, take a closer look at your lifestyle and diet because that might be the reason behind the rough texture.

Is Your Skin pH Off Balance?

Now we’ve covered all the signs of healthy skin, let’s examine how you can determine if your pH level is slightly off balance.

Is your skin dry and dull-looking? If that’s the case, your pH might be more alkaline than it should be. Other clear signs of a pH imbalance are redness, acne, and excess sebum. If this is your skin type, you might have acidic skin.

The pH levels fluctuate daily. Even something as small as washing your face with a harsh cleanser full of excess chemicals might change the pH of the skin.

pH-testing strips are a great way to test your skin's pH balance. These pieces of paper change color depending on the environment. They're easy to use, relatively cheap, and mostly accurate.

So, no matter which option you choose, remember that in your symptoms lies the diagnosis. Knowing our bodies makes it easier to observe any unwanted changes that might appear. If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t panic. There are many ways you can balance skin pH and get the healthy skin you deserve.

How to Restore Your Skin’s Natural pH Levels

Getting perfect skin might seem like something that’s out of your control, but there are many things you can do to restore the pH of your skin naturally.

Moisturize Daily

Get a good moisturizer. The acid mantle, which acts as a barrier to the bacteria and toxins on the skin, suffers some damage as you age. It’s important to stay hydrated with a quality moisturizer, no matter your skin type. (We're talking to you, too, oily skin types!) 

If you’re looking for a gentle yet effective way to hydrate your skin, try our wrinkle-free moisturizer

Implement antioxidant-rich skincare products in your daily routine. These include vitamin C and A serums. Topical antioxidants work wonders since they protect from oxidative stress and environmental pollutants, keeping your pH balanced and giving you happy skin.

Sunscreen is Your Friend

You’ve probably heard this one before, but you should never go out without sunscreen. Without adequate protection, the sun can damage your skin barrier function. That can wreak havoc with your skin’s pH level, destroy the skin's acid mantle and worsen hyperpigmentation.

Stay Away From Unknown Chemicals

While you’re in the process of restoring optimal pH levels, avoid using harsh chemicals or ingredients. If the ingredients list is made of long words that don’t sound familiar to you, chances are your skin won’t like them. Instead, try using products that contain more natural ingredients or ones specifically designed to balance the skin’s pH level.

Adopt Healthy Habits

Good skin care starts from within. You could also try improving your diet and incorporating the foods we’ve mentioned to help your body repair itself from the inside out. Avoid processed and greasy food as much as possible, and your skin's appearance will improve in no time!

Don't forget to drink plenty of water. Many doctors recommend at least eight glasses a day.

Switch up Your Water

The water you use to wash your face can affect your skin's pH level. If you’ve made changes to improve the pH of your skin and don’t see any improvement, tap water might be to blame. The best water for washing your face is non-alkaline and doesn’t contain minerals. However, tap water doesn’t always fall under this category.

Consider investing in a shower filter or a water softener. Water softeners work by softening the water and removing certain minerals such as magnesium and calcium, replacing them with more gentle minerals like sodium or potassium.

Beware of Hair Care

While we’re on the subject of sly troublemakers, you also might want to examine the ingredients in your hair products. Certain ingredients can shift the skin’s pH balance. Avoid ingredients like parabens, sulfates, and other chemicals. Instead, opt for natural, sulfate-free shampoos, hair masks, and conditioners to keep your skin healthy.


Many factors affect the pH of the skin, but dealing with skin issues doesn’t have to be hard and time-consuming. You can easily adjust your diet, lifestyle, and basic skin care choices if you suspect your pH levels are out of whack. Once you have a proper diagnosis, you can start healing your skin. Get that flawless feel in no time!


Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5

Skin Surface pH in Acne Vulgaris

Towards Optimal pH of the Skin and Topical Formulations

The Relation of pH and Skin Cleansing

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