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Picky Guide: pH-Balanced Skincare

You’ve probably seen the term “pH-balanced” floating around on the latest skincare products. A lot of brands are racing to adopt this label, but why? Does pH matter? Let’s dive right in and really get to the bottom of pH in skincare!

What is pH?

Throwback to high school chem class when we first heard of pH and how it’s measured. This scale ranging 1 to 14 shows us how acidic or alkaline a surface is. 7 is neutral, with 1 the most acidic, and 14 the most alkaline. Basically, anything higher than 7 is considered alkaline, while anything below that is considered acidic.

Acid Mantle

We normally have a layer of acid on our skin’s surface to act as a barrier against bacteria and other contaminants. The acidity also drives our normal skin cell functions and helps to sheds dead skin cells. This layer is known as the ‘acid mantle.’ Typically, the acid mantle stays between a pH level of 4.5-6.

These days, more and more skincare products are trying to imitate the acid mantle functionality with pH-balanced products to keep our skin in shape! Essentially, the acid mantle is our skin’s first line of defense. So, for our skin’s sake, it’s important to keep it balanced!

What Affects Our Skin’s Acid Mantle?

There are a lot of external factors that can affect the acidity of our skin’s surface and actually make them more alkaline. Here are a few factors that can affect your skin’s acid mantle:

  • Pollution
  • Medication
  • Change in season
  • Harsh detergents
  • Sebum/skin moisture
  • Sweat
  • Water pH
  • Chronic sun exposure
  • Overwashing your skin

How To Maintain pH-Balanced Skin

Use a gentle pH-balanced cleanser

Washing your face is the most important step in your routine, but it can be the most damaging if you do it wrong! This is because your skin’s natural pH could be altered by your cleanser. So, to minimize any disruption, use a gentle pH-balanced product with a pH level ranging between 5 and 5.5!

Opt for an acidic toner

Using a toner to balance out or neutralize alkalinity has been widely commercialized these days. And although this isn’t entirely true since our skin has the natural ability to restore its own pH, using a product to help boost our skin’s functionality is never a bad thing!

Picky Recommends


COSRX – Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

The Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser from COSRX will help remove those impurities without stripping away your natural oils! Full of great ingredients such as tea tree leaf oil for antioxidants and allantoin to help condition and protect your skin’s precious pH balance!

Heimish – All Clean Green Foam

Heimish’s All Clean Green Foam has a pH level of 5.5, making it a perfect fit for balancing out you skin’s pH. Also includes centella asiatica extract to help keep external stressors away and witch hazel for inflammation. Great for all, but especially sensitive skin types!


Be plain – Chamomile pH-Balanced Toner

Talk about a package deal! Be Plain’s Chamomile pH-Balanced Toner contains both chamomile flower extract and licorice extract. Meaning it’s great for soothing irritated skin in addition to evening out your skin tone! This toner will help balance out your pH levels with it’s low level of 5.5 and keep it well hydrated.

Acwell – Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner

This Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner from Acwell was a smash hit in the K-beauty circle not too long ago. And for good reason! It effectively balances and brightens the skin thanks to its potent formula of licorice and green tea extract. This toner will sweep away any impurities your cleanser missed, so your skin is clean and ready for the next step!


Dr. Andrew Weil of Origins – Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion

Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion from Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins relieves redness instantly with its powerful combination of reishi -also known as the ‘mushroom of immortality’- and numerous seed oils! This lotion helps to balance and prep the face for another step, if need be. It’s also great for anti-aging!

CeraVe – Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream will keep that pH where it needs to be with its low level of 5.5! Not only that, but with three different ceramides, glycerin, and sodium hyaluronate this cream will hydrate and protect your skin barrier. Non-greasy and suitable for sensitive skin!

Ever tried a ‘pH-balanced’ product before? Write a review on Picky and tell us all about it! Click here to go to the Picky website, or here to go back to our blog.

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