pH Adjuster



No known benefits

pH Adjuster at a glance

  • A type of ingredient used to modify the pH of water-based solutions
  • Plays a crucial role to ensure proper stability and efficacy of the finished formula
  • Examples of ingredients that require precise pH ranges include hydroxy acids and ascorbic acid
  • “pH” stands for potential of hydrogen

pH Adjuster description

A pH adjuster is an ingredient (or combination of ingredients) used to establish and maintain the pH of a cosmetic/skin care formula. This plays a crucial role to help ensure proper stability and efficacy of the finished product and/or key ingredients in a given formula. Certain types of ingredients require precise pH ranges in order to achieve their intended function and results. For instance, hydroxy acid exfoliants work best in a formulation with a pH range between 3-4 and the ideal pH environment for ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is 2.6-3.2. Almost all facial cleansers are formulated between pH 4.5–6, since this is the average pH range of human skin (it’s naturally acidic). The term “pH” stands for potential of hydrogen, which refers to the activity of hydrogen ions (ions are molecules that carry a positive or negative charge) in a water-based solution. Hydrogen makes up two thirds of water, water being two hydrogen molecules plus an oxygen molecule, H²o. The pH of a solution is indicated by a numeric scale that runs from 0-14. Anything below 7 (which is pH neutral) is considered acidic, while anything with a pH greater than 7 is considered alkaline. Products whose pH is in the alkaline range are capable of damaging skin’s acid mantle and disrupting its barrier; a classic example is how dry your skin can feel after washing with bar soap.

pH Adjuster references

  • Current Problems in Dermatology, August 2018, pages 1-10
  • The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, July 2017, pages 33-39
  • Acta Dermato-Venereologica, March 2013, pages 261-269
  • Photochemistry and Photobiological Sciences, April 2010, pages 578-585
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2006, pages 359-370

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not Rated