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How pH Affects the Formulation of a Product

By: Elaine Linker
Posted: September 28, 2012, from the October 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
professional skin care client

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Although maintaining the skin’s acid mantle is critical to good skin health, you don’t want to use too many products that are acidic. In a medical practice, peels can easily be as low as pH 1.7 in a solution of 50–70%. These peels need to be in trained, professional hands only. For the esthetician, a peel solution that combines AHA ingredients with select actives should be around a pH 3.0 in a solution of 30%.

Performing these peels in a series of five or six is much more beneficial and leads to better results without the risk of hyperpigmentation. Formulators of products have a responsibility to carefully test and buffer each of their formulations, taking into consideration the area of the body on which the product will be used—legs and arms can handle lower pH products than the face—and what skin concern the product will address.

A better understanding

It is known today that a lower pH value in a skin care product—provided it is not too low and is used properly—is an absolute requirement for product activity with a correlation between pH, concentration and optimal activity. Anti-aging benefits can be irritating, so these benefits need to be customized for each client and balanced with irritation, as well as overall skin health and well-being. The professional skin care industry keeps learning just how effective skin care can be, and testing continues to determine optimum levels for actives and pH. Professionals must continue working to obtain a better understanding of how to use chemistry to recommend better formulations without negative effects.

Elaine Linker is the director of corporate communications and education for Christina Skincare USA and has more than 20 years of industry experience. As co-founder of DDF, Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula, Linker helped de-mystify the science around skin care by explaining each skin concern in an easy-to-remember way. She is a sought-after speaker, as well as a published writer.

REFERENCES

  1. www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/184ph.html (Accessed Jul 16, 2012)
  2. MH Schmid-Wendtner and HC Korting, The pH of the skin surface and its impact on the barrier function, Skin Pharmacol Physiol 19 6 296–302 Epub (Jul 19, 2006)
  3. 3. www.sebamed.com (Accessed Jul 16, 2012)