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Much ado about pH testing –  the basics. 

Most people come across pH balance when discussing feminine hygiene, detox diets, etc. pH, (Pondus de Hydronium) is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of a compound, or mixture in a solution. When a substance can release hydrogen ions when dissolved in water, it is termed acidic; and when it releases hydroxide ions, it is an alkali. A standard pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 0 being most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. A pH of 7 is considered to be neutral. 

The Naija Formulator, Nigerian formulator
pH meter and strips



Why you should care about pH :

  1. The optimum pH of the skin is around 5.5 – mildly acidic. 
  2. In order to maintain optimal skin hydration and prevent microbial invasion, a thin layer of film, made up of amino and lactic acids spreads over the skin. 
  3. Maintaining optimal skin pH can address issues like: inflammation, skin infections, irritations, dry and thickened skin.
  4. Most extracts, preservatives, and cosmeceuticals act best at their optimum pH range. 

To maintain healthy, blemish-free, glowing skin, it is important to formulate your skin (and hair) care products with these in mind. 

pH testing can be carried out using litmus strips or electronic meters. Litmus testing relies on color changes on litmus papers (qualitative analysis) while the meters give a value between 0 and 14 (quantitative analysis). Both methods work well for formulators but a certain level of proficiency is needed to understand and alter pH of products if an unfavorable result is obtained, so you will need to do your research and learn a few skills. 

I hope I have done a good job of simplifying the basics. I might do a follow up post to provide more information about how pH balance of skin products affects the efficacy of your formulations. Until then, you can have a little fun experimenting with your pH meters and strips! 

3 thoughts on “Much ado about pH testing –  the basics. 

  1. This is a great post; thank you for sharing! Do you know if I would be able to buy an electronic meter? I would love to test the pH of products with my students.

    1. It depends on your budget but many Formula botanica students and tutors swear by the Hanna checker plus. I haven’t found this where I live but I plan to order from a supplier abroad.

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