Why is Skin pH Balance So Important & How to Maintain It?

Okay, so you might’ve learnt the concept of pH in chemistry class in high school but, besides changing colors on a litmus test paper, what do you know about skin’s pH balance? Skin pH level is actually a good indicator to tell if your skin is in a healthy balance. And currently a lot of Korean skincare brands are trying to put the “low pH” or “pH balancing” label on their products and claim they are the better options for healthier skin. So how about we take this as a sign to learn all about the skin’s pH balance and maybe “ace” this chemistry refresher course—for the sake of our skin?

What is the optimal skin pH?

Basically, pH measures how acidic or alkaline a surface is, ranging from a scale of 1 - 14, with 1 being most acidic and 14 most alkaline (anything below the neutral 7 is considered acidic). So when it comes to our skin’s “acid” mantle, the magic number should be a solid 5.5 within the normal range of 4.5 - 6.

Etude House - Soon Jung PH 5.5 Relief Toner

soonjung ph 5.5 relief toner

Courtesy of Korean Skincare Brand - Etude House

As our skin’s natural defense system, the acid mantle has antibacterial properties to keep an optimal pH level for skin’s natural flora to thrive. Its acidity also drives our normal skin cell function to renew skin and shed old, dead skin. Having a pH balanced acid mantle is key to a strong protective skin barrier. That’s why there are more and more Korean skincare products formulated with a pH-balancing or low-pH formula to imitate the acid mantle to protect the skin and keep the skin functioning properly.

Factors that might affect our skin acid mantle

It’s hard to keep track of our skin’s pH level all the time. The best we can do is pay attention to the potential (mostly external) factors that might affect the acidity of our skin surface so we can be prepared. Factors like our age, sun exposure (wear your SPF every day!), pollution, medication, change in season or weather, and even our own sweat or our skin’s moisture level and sebum can affect the pH level of our skin acid mantle.

How to maintain a healthy, balanced skin pH?

Although our skin can naturally restore its own acidic pH and fix the acid mantle on its own, the external damages our skin faces every day surpass its natural capacity to fix the damage, which may result in dry skin, flakiness, and skin irritation. That’s when pH balancing cleanser or pH balancing toner comes in for the rescue.

Wash your face with a gentle, low-pH cleanser that has a pH ranging from 5 - 6.5 to neutralize the pH balance of the skin acid mantle. Etude House’s Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser is a trusted favorite in our book.

Etude House - Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser

etude house soonjung ph 6.5 whip cleanser

Courtesy of Korean Skincare Brand - Etude House

The lightweight whip cream texture and the fresh-faced finish, coupled with the pH-balancing, skin-soothing formula (and did we mention sensitive skin-friendly?), make this Etude House’s Soon Jung pH 6.5 Whip Cleanser a dream essential for your everyday double cleansing routine. It features panthenol + madecassoside (derived from centella asiatica) that helps repair skin damage and deliver deep hydration while restoring your skin’s pH balance. Follow it with the line’s signature Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner to set your skin up for a better boost!

If you’re more into gel cleanser, the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is an all-star staple that gets the job done. Its low pH formula will give you the peace-of-mind of removing the day from your face while leaving your complexion hydrated and refreshing. Its mildly acidic formula has the ideal balanced pH level of 5-6 which feels gentle and soothing on the skin.

COSRX - Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

low ph good morning gel cleanser

Courtesy of Korean Skincare Brand - COSRX

Besides pH-balancing cleansers, opt for an acidic toner to help boost and support the skin’s natural process of restoring its own pH level. Your dry, sensitive skin might love a dose of beplain’s Chamomile Ph-Balanced Toner in the coming wintry season.

beplain - Chamomile Ph-Balanced Toner

be plain chamomile ph-balanced toner

Courtesy of Korean Skincare Brand - beplain

Infused with 80.6% chamomile extract, this beplain face toner is a gentle, pH-balancing solution that is perfect for folks who are struggling with breakouts, skin irritations, and inflammations. Just pour it onto a cotton pad and wipe across your face and neck every morning and evening. Or soak the cotton pads and leave on your face for a quick masking session — and, obvs, don't forget to follow with a minimum SPF 30.

TOUN28 - pH Balancing Toner

toun28 ph balancing toner

Courtesy of Korean Skincare Brand - TOUN28

Since we’re on a streak for herbal toners, the TOUN28 pH Balancing Toner is not one to miss. This ultra-hydrating toner contains 50% organic Hibiscus flower water as its star ingredient, which is also laced with Korean sun-dried sea salts (0.9% saline) and amino acids to protect the delicate acid mantle of the skin, leaving your skin soft and smooth.

heimish - All Clean Low pH Balancing Vegan Toner

heimish all clean low ph balancing vegan toner

Courtesy of Korean Skincare Brand - heimish

If you’re a vegan skincare lover, make the heimish All Clean Low pH Balancing Vegan Toner your next add-to-cart favorite. It has a pH 5.5 formula that not only resets the skin with a gentle, satisfying finish but also helps exfoliate the skin with PHA + 90% of natural plant-based ingredients, leaving it with a revived glow.

Ready to swap out your skincare products for something more pH-friendly? It’s time to do your skin a favor and look after it with the help of our tried-and-loved pH balancing cleansers and pH balancing toners! Explore our range of cleansers and toners and give your skin a complete transformation. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get more instant product updates and skincare tips!