Debunking the myth of pH balance in your skincare products.

The pH scale is used to test the acidity and alkalinity of aqueous solutions. pH means potential of hydrogen. The pH scale of 1-14 measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance — most acidic being 1 and most alkali being 14, with 7 as neutral pH. But, does the pH level actually matter when it comes to soaps and cleansers?

Girl in a jacket

Don’t be fooled!

Some commercial skincare products market themselves as pH balanced or achieving a pH level closest to our skin at pH. This just isn’t true — pH is defined as the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion activity in a solution. Trying to measure the pH of a solid is like trying to measure the length of a liquid. It simply is not possible. So, when skincare companies make claims like this, you know they’re blatantly lying.   To go even deeper, a shower gel/cream pH level that’s close to the acclaimed skin’s pH at 5.5 is irrelevant (but that doesn’t stop companies trying to trick you!). Here’s why: during a shower, the cleanser mixes with water that contains chlorine and various minerals. As a result, the product’s pH will not be the same as it was when it was in the bottle.  It is a scientific fact that dilution with water affects the pH. Simply put, it will make an acidic solution less acidic and an alkali solution less alkali. The pH of an acid will go towards pH 7 (pH 7 is pH of neutral pure water) and pH of an alkali will also go toward pH 7. Furthermore, our skin naturally goes back to its acidic state 15 minutes after you shower. The pH of skincare products will not change the natural pH of skin secretions — which will always be acidic. 

What's the big deal about pH balanced cleansers?

With a boom in natural and organic products, a marketing war between commercial product companies and natural product companies and ensued. Commercial companies make claims that alkali soaps are bad for skin, with the claim that “pH balanced” cleansers are better for you. Sadly, it’s just marketing gimmicks and empty promises companies use to boost sales and profits. 

pH levels actually don’t matter…

The truth is, good skincare isn’t about pH levels. Buying based on a product’s pH level won’t do you much good; something can be pH 5.5 and still be damaging to your skin. For example, you can mix a highly acidic corrosive substance (like battery acid [pH 1]) with a base/alkali (like Ammonia [pH 11]) and balance it a pH of 5.5, but you wouldn’t want to bathe in that solution!  It’s about the ingredients. Mass-produced, cheap synthetic chemicals in commercial cleansers/soaps can damage skin as be harmful to your overall health.


Let your skin be the judge.

Your body keeps track of, and balances, pH on its own. Listen to your skin and trust it — if it feels good after you use a naturally-made soap, keep using it! At The Soap Haven, we have a range of GMO-free organic, vegan soap bars and goat milk soap bars. Our GMO-free goat milk bars contain as much as 25% fresh goat milk in a bar — not the powdered stuff.  

Handmade soaps and pH

A handmade soap made with Sodium Hydroxide/Lye (NaOH) or Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) which has the alkalinity pH of 12 – 14, does not have any Lye left after the fatty oils are mixed and allowed to react fully. This is because all the Lye is used up in a process called saponification, which forms a good gentle soap bar. Commercial soap bars can sometimes be Lye-heavy because the excess lye is allowed to preserve the bar for a longer time. That’s why it’s important to choose a natural soap company that knows how to make handmade soap correctly — so that it ‘s pH is not too alkali. Good handmade soaps (like ours) are super-fatted with more oils to ensure there is no remaining Lye, and the excess oils act as emollients in the soap which moisturize skin. That’s why our premium quality soaps, made with premium ingredients, come at a higher price than commercial “soap-free” cleansers or soap bars made with cheaper, low quality ingredients.