Healthy Skin: The pH of Popular Soaps

Updated on April 20, 2017
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Miriam has been a freelance writer since 2013. Born in Whittier, CA, she now lives in Ontario (California) with her husband and family.

The pH of popular soaps
The pH of popular soaps

If you are like most Americans, you buy your family the bar soaps, body washes, and face cleansers that are advertised on television commercials. But by using most of these products, you are drying out your skin's pH balance, which leads to a multitude of skin conditions and diseases, including premature lines and wrinkles.

How Acidic Is Your Skin?

Your skin's natural pH is about 5.5. Soaps with that are too basic (have a high pH) remove your natural oils and disrupt your pH balance.

The pH balance of several name-brand soaps and cleansers are provided below. Recommendations are also suggested for pH-balanced facial cleansers and body wash.

What Is My Soap's pH?

Soaps in general have a higher pH than your skin's natural acidity. The higher the pH, the harsher it will be on your skin's acidity levels.

Is the soap you're using too harsh for your skin?
Is the soap you're using too harsh for your skin?

The pH of Common Bar Soaps

Caress, Oil of Olay
Basis, Coast, Lever 2000, Lava, Safeguard, Shield
Camay, Dial, Irish Spring, Ivory, Jergens, Tone, Yardley, Nivea, and Zest

The pH of Common Facial Cleansers and Body Washes

Facial Cleansers and Body Washes
Cetaphil, Dial, Lever 2000, Neutrogena Rainbath, Softsoap
Noxema, Palmolive

Testing Your Products

If you don't see your soap in the list above, you can easily test it yourself using a digital pH meter or litmus paper.

With a Digital pH Meter

I do not have any litmus paper (specially treated paper test strips used to evaluate the pH of a liquid), but Jerry (my husband) has a digital pH meter-pen that he uses to test the soil of his garden. I used Jerry’s pH meter-pen to test some Nivea bar soap.

I found that digital pH meter-pens are very easy to use. Here is how I tested the bar soap with the meter, and its resulting pH:

  1. I used distilled water for testing the soap, so the water's pH would not affect the soap's pH. (You can find distilled water in any grocery store or market). Pour a cup of distilled water into a pot (if using the stove) or a ceramic cup or dish (if using the microwave). You need to boil the water so it is hot enough to melt some soap shavings.
  2. While the water was heating, I shaved some soap chips off a bar of Nivea (green tea) bar soap with a potato peeler, and then added them to a small ceramic Pyrex dish.
  3. After that, I poured about an inch of the boiling water over the soap shavings so the water would melt them; then I stirred it.
  4. I waited for a little while so the water would cool off enough for me to test it with the meter.
  5. Once the soap-water mixture had cooled, I turned on the pH meter and stood it vertically in the dish of soapy water.
  6. The digital readout said that Nivea bar soap (touted as good for your face) is 9.9 on the pH scale—very alkaline and bad for your face!
  7. Lastly, remember to wash off the probe end of your pH meter with clear water and allow it to dry before storing.

With Litmus Paper

You can buy 100 pH test strips for about 10 dollars online, (and what's more, you can use both ends of each strip).

To test them, you simply have to wet the strip with the soap, wait for it to develop, and then compare the resulting color against a key to read the pH. To wet a strip with bar soap, first use a little water to create a lather. To wet a strip with a liquid soap, wipe off the excess product so that you can get a clear read. The video below demonstrates how.

Find the pH of Soap Using Litmus Paper

What Does pH Balance Mean?

A skincare product that is pH-balanced has roughly the same acidity as your skin so as not to disrupt its protective acid mantle.

The symbol pH stands for "potential of hydrogen" and is a method of measuring the acid or alkaline level of water-soluble liquids. The pH scale starts at 0, which is the most acidic measurement (ex: battery acid is pH 0).

As each number increases (pH 1-6), the acidity decreases tenfold; pH 6 is the lowest acid level.

Then, at 7 pH, liquids are neutral; distilled water has a pH of 7.

After 7 (neutral), pH 8 liquids have the lowest alkalinity, and with each increasing number, the alkalinity increases tenfold. Bleach has a pH of 13, while lye has a pH of 14 and is the most alkaline solution.

Our skin's pH is about 5.5, a little on the acidic side. This thin acidic film is known as the acid mantle and serves to block the entry of harmful bacteria and other environmental harmful things into the body and to retain natural oils for moisture.

When you use soap that is too alkaline, such as any deodorant soap you would buy in the market, that acid mantle is disrupted and your skin dries out, loses important oils, and can begin to crack. Skin is our body's first line of protection, so when it loses its mantle and becomes cracked, pathogens and other undesirable bacteria may enter our systems more easily.

As we continue using harsh soaps on our skin, we notice our skin becomes either dry or oily because it has lost its natural (pH) balance. Many people suffer countless skin ailments because they are using soap that has a pH of 9 or higher. Problems such as dermatitis, eczema, and other rashes could be solved by switching your soap to a pH-correct cleanser.

Soaps advertised on television commercials are touted as "gentle" or "1/4 cleansing cream," but in truth, they are very harsh and will dry out your skin or promote premature signs of aging, fine lines, and wrinkles.

That's why we need to use products that are specifically labeled "pH balanced" to maintain that acidity. pHisoderm, a brand that has been around since I was little, sells nothing but pH-balanced skin care products for all types of skin. Such products preserve both the natural pH balance of our skin and its acid mantle. Using pH-corrective cleansers will improve the condition of your face and can even help dry skin, acne problems, and other skin conditions diminish over time.

So Which Soaps Are pH-Balanced?

Below is a list of a few. There are so many soaps out there that this list is far from comprehensive—if you know of one that is not written below, please add it to the comments along with where you learned that it is pH-balanced.

Here are a few soaps that are pH-balanced. If you have one that is not listed here, try testing it on your own and share your results!
Here are a few soaps that are pH-balanced. If you have one that is not listed here, try testing it on your own and share your results!

Bar Soaps With a pH Close to 5.5

Redken for Men Acid-Balanced Cleansing Bar
Aveeno Moisturizing Bar With Colloidal Oatmeal for Dry Skin, Fragrance Free

Facial Cleansers and Body Washes With a pH Close to 5.5

Product or Brand
pHisoderm products
Clarisonic Refreshing Foaming Gel Cleanser
Alba Botanica Bath and Shower Gel, Honey-Mango
Body Drench Hand and Body Wash, Purifying
The skin's protective acid mantle on a pH scale
The skin's protective acid mantle on a pH scale

Other Tips for Healthy Skin

Besides a balanced pH, here are a few other things you can look for in your products, such as ingredients with beneficial vitamins and antioxidants. Also, correctly removing makeup and applying toner can help maintain your pH.

Beneficial Ingredients

Vitamins C, A, and E are good to use topically on your face (and on your skin, in general). Look for products that use rose hips, citrus fruits, or strawberries—all ingredients high in Vitamin C and antioxidants that are used in face serums to repair and reduce signs of aging.

Berries such as blueberries and strawberries are also extremely high in antioxidants as well, so you will often see them (or derivatives) in facial products because they protect the skin from harmful "free radicals" that age and damage the skin.

Taking Your Make-up off

The most important habit you can get into—removing your make-up every night—is explained here.


Toners are a way to balance your skin's pH after using a face wash. This helpful video explains the right way to apply toner.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • what is the pH of Ultra Olay, CeraVe facial cloths and Simple Foam foaming cleanser?

    I do not know the pH of the products you mentioned, but I searched for information and found this article which might help; here's the link:

© 2014 Miriam Parker

Know the pH of a Product Not Listed Here?

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    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      As a person who has had skin problems all my life, I can say certain things. It is true that ph isn't everything and that process is important but nothing with a ph greater than 7 is good for you. Also there is a cleansing bar produced by eucerin called Eucerin advanced cleansing that is not cheap but much more moderate than the others such as Sebamed and which has a ph of 5.5. Dove is quite good but it geves me an allergic type reaction. Eucerin in bar form has become quite difficult to find. I would love to know of other brands that won't bankrupt you.The correspnding Eucerin ph 5.5 body wash can be found and it is very good.

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      Cetaphil Pro Oil Removing Foam Wash - it’s new. It says on their website that it is ph balanced and I read and article that said they wrote the company and were told the ph was 5.4. I have used it and it is wonderful! It can be drying if you don’t have oily skin, though. I use Vanicream gentle cleansing wash which the company says has a ph of 6.5 - it is sulfate, paraben-free, fragrance free, no citric acid. I just love this cleanser - it removes all makeup, but leaves my skin soft & supple. I’ve always used expensive cleansers from my dermatologist’s office and I much happier with these less expensive cleansers.

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      Redken has came up with a new Mens bar that is ph balanced like baby shampoo (ph 7) they call it Brews, It is not the product that they have had out for 45 years with a ph of 5.54ph . They are trying to pass it off as the same saying ph balanced, not acid balanced.

      If your looking for acid balance you best go another product !!!!!

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      From Shikai Naturals customer service:

      Moisturizing Shower Gel: pH 5.0-5.1

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      12 months ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      CeraVe lotions are all right. They have an average pH of about 5.5 which is very good.

    • profile image

      Sue Fensome 

      17 months ago

      Hi, my husband has a recurring rash and has been td to use a ph neutral soap. I have switch him from imperial leather to a soap made by me from goats milk base with added honey and ground natural oats. Do you think this would be ph neutral?

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      18 months ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Hi, ganesh: If you want to use a "bar soap" the best one is the Dove Beauty bar; it is pH balanced at 6 on the pH scale. However, you should find a liquid face cleanser because it is made for your face.

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      22 months ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Hi. Jamal: I appreciate your feedback, but you should really use a facial cleanser on your face rather than any kind of bar soap. Estheticians (skin care specialists) recommend the use of facial cleansers because bar soaps are not made for the face and tend to be too alkaline, which further dries out the skin. There are several inexpensive facial cleansers on the market; you should try one and the condition of your face will quickly improve.

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Thanks for this very informative article...I am trying to make healthier choices and have been purchasing higher end 100% all natural vegetable soaps and find them way more gentle than any over the counter bar soap. Even more gentle than Dove for Men with my particular extra dry face. Surprisingly, what has worked that I discovered by accident while visiting family is dirt cheap Dial Antioxidant Glycerin Bar Soap. A six pack from the store is less than $3.00. Go figure. I found your article because I was curious about its pH balance and ingredients since it isn't so natural, but the high glycerin contact makes for my less dry face and rinses clean.

    • profile image

      Another Freelance writer 

      2 years ago

      To disappointed....

      Give the girl a break! Does she claim to be a soap expert? No! She's a writer, like myself and has to write about many different topics. From this post she has clearly researched and backed up her findings on PH levels both from a scientific and a personal point of view (side note: I'm completely with you on the dove soap, it's great for my face) if you are looking to pin point every which way a soaps quality can be determined, find yourself a thesis on it instead of writing a belittling comment about how disappointed you were with her article.

    • profile image

      Ahsan Raza 

      2 years ago

      The information you gave above was very useful, further more I want to know the pH value of the lava soaps and the lemon soaps

    • profile image


      2 years ago


      Farina is right in this case. pH is not the first thing to look at in determining the quality of soap. Even a soap high pH can be mild and moisturizing. It depends very much on the process and ingredients, more so than the pH.

      You put forward a blog post based on science, yet you're not taking into consideration all of the scientific facts and leading people to believe a faulty argument. This is very evident in your comment to Farina. Just because you've never itched using Dove isn't a scientific test nor an impartial result.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Baby Mild Soap PH and Garnier pure active facial foam?Do they have high PH level?

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      2 years ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Hi, Rosemary: Thank you for letting us know! I will have to try it soon!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Nu Skin body bar and wash is same pH as skin. We regularly demonstrate the pH of different soaps to our customers.

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      2 years ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Thanks for that information. Just going by experience, I have never itched after using Dove bar soap-- all other soaps make me itch.

      Therefore I think Dove is a good bar soap, mostly because it is pH balanced, and does not dry out my skin.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Dove may be close to neutral, but that doesn't mean it is good for skin. Nearly always, the process and ingredients used to turn soap into a bar will leave a film on skin and possibly irritate it. Dove has sodium tallowate.

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      2 years ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Without more information there is no way to tell the pH of the soaps you mentioned, sorry.

      Try Johnson's Baby Shampoo or Baby Wash for your son. They are both pH balanced so they are good for his skin, div.

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      2 years ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      No wonder it's great for babies!

      Thanks, RATAN LAL

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      What about CeraVe lotion?

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Hi, really thank u so much for this article.I have a doubt for my baby soap. Initially I have used sebamade soap but after 1yr I changed chicco soap for my son.could u plz tell abt this soap ph

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      2 years ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Hi, Warren Cross: Yes, acne, dry skin, and so many problems are due to the alkalinity of bar soaps! At least we are finally finding out what the culprit is! Thank you for your comment!

    • miriamyentraccm profile imageAUTHOR

      Miriam Parker 

      2 years ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Hi, Manny D: Thank you for this information! I never heard of this cleansing bar, but it sounds like it is similar to Dove (the white bar). It is good to know there are a couple of bars that are neutral, and good for our faces!

    • profile image

      Warren Cross 

      2 years ago

      Have been studying facial soaps related to dry eyes, styes, orbital cellulitis, etcin3176 pts and 42 month study. Soaps are very important and current ones have generated a 4 billion$ problem that did not exist 20 years ago

    • profile image

      Manny D. 

      2 years ago

      Sebamed cleansing bar pH 5.5

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Interesting! Thanks for the information.


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