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Is the pH of my soap important?

Posted on: May 31st, 2013

Soaps vary in their pH depending on how they are manufactured. Natural saponification usually results in a soap which has a pH in the range 10 to 11.5. This is very alkaline and can cause some irritation to sensitive skin. Common mass market toilet soaps, laundry soaps and even some ‘baby soaps’ can fall into this category.

Soaps that are based on milder saponification techniques or are ‘superfatted’ have a much lower pH of around 8.5 to 10. While this is still alkaline it is much less alkaline than mass market soaps. Any soaps that have a pH around 5.5 (the pH of normal skin) are synthetic soaps made from a selection of detergents and binders and are not based on the saponification of fats and oils.

Additives are also important. Glycerin, for example, is a by-product of the saponification of fats and oils (fat or oil + lye = soap + glycerine). Mass market soaps have most of this glycerine removed as it is a prized ingredient in its own right and it is then ‘recycled’ and used in skin care products where manufacturers get “better value for money”. Glycerin gives your skin a better feel due to its humectancy (to maintain better moisture balance). By leaving glycerin in the soap you not only get better moisturising capabilities but the soap will not dry out, it (along with the lower pH) will not clog pores and will not remove excess oils ultimately causing your skin to dry out.

Balanced Essential’s soap bars have been tested and have a pH around pH 9, which makes them one of the mildest soaps based on the saponification of fats and oils, the traditional method of making soap. They also contain pure essential oils in a base of coconut, sweet almond, Wheatgerm and macadamia oils – all very valued ingredients that moisturise and protect the skin’s delicate balance.