Skincare Competence

What is pH neutral?

26 June 2024

Finding the right cosmetics for your skin or hair type can be challenging. There are many factors that can be taken into account when considering a cosmetic product. Some of these factors are better known than others; for example, whether they are environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, or all natural. But did you know that something as simple as the pH of a cosmetic can have a significant impact on your hair or skin health?

Knowing what to look for in your skincare and hair care products will enable you to make better and more informed cosmetic choices. In this article, we will take a look at what pH neutral is, why it’s an important factor for skin and hair health, and what we’re doing at ADA Cosmetics to offer health-conscious hotel amenities.

What is pH?

pH stands for ‘potential of hydrogen’ and measures how acidic or basic a solution is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. This scale was first introduced in 1909 by Danish chemist Søren Peter Lauritz Sørensen, and helps us understand the acidity or basicity of substances based on their hydrogen ion concentration. 

There are three ranges of pH:

  • Acidic: 0 – 6.9
  • Neutral: 7
  • Basic/Alkaline: 7.1 – 14

The higher the concentration of hydrogen ions, the more acidic the solution will be. On the contrary, chemical solutions with a low hydrogen ion concentration are more basic or alkaline. Strong acids or bases are known as corrosives or caustics, meaning they can cause severe skin irritation or burns. 

 

Base vs. Alkali

Substances and solutions with a high pH are known as either a base or an alkali. However, these two terms have slightly different meanings. The simple definition of a base is a solution with a pH greater than 7.0, and can neutralize acids. All alkalis are bases, but not all bases are alkalis. An alkali is water-soluble, whereas a base is not water-soluble. However, just like a base, alkalis also have a pH value ranging from 7.0 – 14 and can neutralize acids. Since the only difference between the two is water solubility, alkalis are sometimes referred to as water-soluble bases. 

 

pH of Skin

On average, the pH of the skin ranges from 4.1 – 5.8. A pH of 5.5 is considered optimal, but a healthy pH will differ depending on the person’s skin type and even the specific area of their body. Human skin is covered by an ultra thin film known as the ‘acid mantle’. The acid mantle is an antimicrobial protective barrier primarily composed of an oily substance called sebum and sweat. This layer’s pH ranges from 4.4 – 6. The acidity of the acid mantle supports the growth of normal flora and serves as the body’s first line of defense against external pathogens, bacteria, and other potential threats. It is also vital for locking in moisture and maintaining the skin’s smoothness and suppleness. 

 

pH of Hair

The natural pH of human hair is even more acidic than that of the skin. The pH of the hair shaft itself is about 3.67, while the pH of the scalp is slightly higher, ranging from 4.5 – 5.5. Just like the skin, the scalp is also coated in an acid mantle film that protects the hair follicles from pathogens and locks in moisture. However, the hair shaft doesn’t have this special layer of protection, instead, it is protected by a sheath of scaly, layered cells known as the cuticle.

What does pH Neutral in Cosmetics Mean?

You’ve probably heard of the pH scale before, but you may be wondering, what is a neutral pH? Simply put, a neutral pH, or pH neutral, has a value of 7, because it falls in the center of the 0 – 14 pH scale. It is called neutral because it is neither acidic nor basic. For example, pure water is pH neutral, and other substances, such as human blood (7.4 pH), may also be considered neutral since their pH value is very close to a 7 pH. 

In cosmetics, pH neutral has a slightly different meaning. Skincare and hair products that are labeled “pH Neutral” most likely don’t have a neutral pH of 7. Instead, cosmetics labeled “pH neutral” have a pH level similar to the pH of the skin or the hair. “Neutral” in the context of cosmetics means ‘not disturbing the natural pH balance’. It’s important to use products with a comparable pH to maintain balance and promote skin and hair health.

If the balance is upset, the body will react negatively. Long-term exposure to unbalanced or alkaline cosmetics may even cause permanent damage to your skin or hair. On the contrary, pH-neutral cosmetics can help maintain the skin’s natural pH balance, supporting its protective barrier and promoting overall skin health.

The Importance of pH in Cosmetics

The pH of cosmetic products plays a surprising vital role in how it affects the body either negatively or positively. All natural skin and hair care products that have a neutral pH level can be beneficial in several different ways, such as locking in moisture, promoting healing, or maintaining the skin’s acid mantle. 

Conversely, high pH cosmetics may provide a temporary appearance of healthy and vibrant skin or hair, but will have long-term negative effects and can even damage the hair cuticle or strip the skin of its natural acid mantle, leaving the skin exposed to external threats like pathogens or weather conditions. 

 

pH Neutral Shampoo

The hair and scalp are very sensitive and require pH balanced cosmetics to prevent damage and maintain strength. Using an all-natural pH neutral shampoo can benefit your hair and scalp health in many ways. 

  • Protective properties: Hair that’s maintained with pH neutral hair products is less likely to experience heat damage, brittleness, or frizziness. 
  • Maintains scalp health: A pH neutral shampoo can improve and maintain scalp health by locking in moisture, preventing itchiness, and regulating oil production.
  • Rejuvenating: A balanced pH helps to smooth the hair cuticle and locks in moisture, maintaining the hair’s natural luster and strength.
  • Gentle cleansing: pH neutral shampoos cleanse the hair and scalp without stripping its natural acid mantle layer. 

 

pH Balanced Skincare

Natural, balanced skincare products, such as pH neutral body washes, hand creams, or facial serums can also benefit your skin health and improve the protective function of its natural acid mantle barrier. Some of these benefits include:

  • Prevents irritation: Using pH neutral skincare products will help maintain the skin’s natural oil balance and strength; thereby preventing dryness, irritation, and acne.
  • Locks in moisture: pH neutral skincare products lock in moisture, leaving your skin nourished, elastic, smooth, and bright.
  • Maintains the acid mantle: Skincare cosmetics that are pH neutral assist the body in maintaining the protective function of the skin’s natural acid mantle barrier.

pH Neutral Cosmetics with ADA Cosmetics

At ADA Cosmetics, the well-being of our customers and the planet is our utmost concern. We never stop looking for ways to improve both our current and new cosmetic formulations. Our skincare products also undergo third party dermatological testing to ensure they’re safe and effective for our consumers. Most of our products are pH neutral, however, we are continuing to work toward our goal of making our entire cosmetic product line pH neutral.

At the end of the day, we want everyone to experience the joy and peace of mind that results from using our responsibly developed personal care products. 

FAQ

What is the safest pH for skin?

The safest pH for the skin is one that falls into the same range (4.1 – 5.8) as the skin’s own acid mantle. Cosmetics with a pH higher than 8.0 are generally too basic for the skin and will likely cause unwanted side effects, such as irritation, inflammation, or extreme dryness.

Is a neutral pH good for the skin?

Because the skin is more acidic, maintaining its natural pH is important for skin health. Ideally, skincare products should have a pH level in the same range as the skin. A neutral pH (7.0) is considered to be okay, but may disrupt the pH balance of sensitive skin.

How do I tell if my skin pH is off?

When the skin is healthy, it has a distinctly smooth and moisturized appearance. However, if the pH is unbalanced, it will react differently depending on whether the pH is too acidic or too basic. If the skin is too acidic, it will likely become oily, acne-prone, and irritated. In contrast, if the skin becomes too basic, it will become dry, irritated, and lose elasticity.