Skincare pH: What it is and why it matters

You may remember learning about pH in high school—or maybe those memories went the way of trigonometry and the revolutionary war. Well, surprise! It turns out pH has real-world relevance after all, and if you’re the kind of person that wouldn’t describe their skin as flawless, it’s worth a refresher—your skincare pH could be what’s standing between you and clearer skin. So let’s get to finding that pH balance.

pH basics

pH stands for potential of hydrogen. It’s the scale we use to measure the acid to alkaline ratio of a substance. This scale ranges from 1 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline), and a measure of 7 is neutral. To give you a sense for how that scale comes to life, water has a neutral pH of seven. Meanwhile, lemon juice has a pH of 2 and bleach has a pH of 13.

So where does our skin fall? As it turns out, our skin actually tends to be a bit acidic. It has has a natural pH of 4.2 to 5.6 with the ideal pH coming in at just under five. More on that in a sec!

How pH affects your skin

Our skin’s health depends heavily on a thin protective film of sweat, natural oils, and amino acids called the “acid mantle.” It’s what helps the skin retain moisture and keep irritants and bacteria out. When the skin’s pH is thrown out of balance this acid mantle can be disrupted and create an environment that allows bacteria to flourish. Using products with a pH that’s too high or too low can cause the acid mantle to be less effective, leading to inflammation, acne, irritation, and dry skin.2

Keeping skin in its slightly acidic natural state is makes for healthier and happier skin. But the problem is that not every skincare product is made with this reality in mind. Many skincare products, from body washes to facial cleansers are formulated with pH levels significantly higher than our skin’s.

How to protect your pH

One of the best ways to keep your skin’s pH level where it should be is to make sure that the products you’re using on a daily basis aren’t too alkaline or basic.

Quick trick: does your face wash create a super sudsy foam? There’s a good chance it has a high pH. Your cleanser shouldn’t leave your skin feeling tight or irritated. This sensation is a indicator that the product you’re using is disrupting your skin’s natural pH.3 It’s also a good idea to watch out for certain DIY treatments. If that mask calls for half a lemon that will do a lot more to disrupt your acid mantle than it will to brighten up those dark spots.

Pro tip: it’s not just pH to look out for. If our goal is to protect our acid mantle it’s also important to be gentle with your skin. Seek out gentle exfoliants, keep skin hydrated, and watch out for astringent ingredients.

Let’s make this simple

Most companies skincare brands don’t list their products’ pH on the bottle, so it can be difficult to figure out which products will keep your skin in balance. But there’s good news: at Kura, we’ve done the legwork and have vetted every product in our lineup to make sure it’s not only made with the highest quality ingredients but also formulated to keep up that delicate pH balance.

To get started, head to, take our quiz and choose a budget. We’ll connect you with the right collection of ingredients to help keep your skin’s pH where it needs to be.

  1. Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora [PubMed]
  2.  The skin surface pH and its different influence on the development of acne lesion according to gender and age [Skin Research and Technology]
  3.  Evaluation of pH of bathing soaps and shampoos for skin and hair care [Indian Journal of Dermatology]

Team Kura