ImageWe are getting a bit obsessed about pH levels at Skin Shop. It all started with the creation of a new intimate range for feminine hygiene and has spiralled from there.

PH for those who were asleep in chemistry is a measure of acidity of any given thing. The range goes from 1 to 14. 1 is super acidic, 14 is super alkali and 7 is pH neutral. Water is generally seen as being neutral at around 7. I always thought that the skin was around 7. But I was wrong. Scientists used to think that the skin was around 5.5. But they were wrong as well.


The pH of skin is actually more acidic than we realised. Researchers have found that putting water on your skin or creams, ointments, sun lotions and just generally living pushes your skin pH higher than it should be. They give the example of water. It is meant to be pH 7. But out of the tap is actually more like 8. Putting something with a high pH on your skin will push its pH up. This is bad for skin and good for bad bacteria. One of the reasons the skin has a low acidic pH is to make the skin less attractive to bad bacteria. Basically good bacteria doesn’t mind a bit of acidity whereas bad bacteria prefers it a little bit more pH neutral. The skins natural antimicrobial secretions were better when the skin is more acidic.

The scientists found that the skin in a natural healthy state has a lower pH than previously thought. They found that natural healthy skin has a pH of 4.7. So when Skin Shop formulates products for the skin this is the pH we want.

The vagina is even more acidic. A healthy vagina has a pH of between 3.5 and 4.5.  If the pH rises above 4.5 it’s seen as a sign of problem.

The vagina, like the skin, is often having it’s pH pushed up. Water will increase the pH. Creams, washes and lubricants with higher pH than 4.5 will increase it. But also blood from menstruation and sperm both have a pH  above 7 and will push up the pH. This is why women can have more problems with vaginal health during their periods or with more sex.

Ironically sperm like the vagina more alkali. They don’t swim well in the normal acidity.

Skin Shop have tried to create an intimate range which helps keep the vagina at 4.5 or below. However we are aware that the skin is not as acidic as the vagina. Any product whether it is a moisturiser, lubricant or wash will also be in contact with sensitive skin near the vagina. So we have struck a balance between the skin around the vagina and the tissue within. We have picked 4.5 as our “Goldilocks” pH. As it’s not to high for the vagina and not too low for the skin. It’s a perfect pH for both. It is inside the normal healthy range of vaginal pH but is still close enough to skin to help it keep balanced as well.

If you think pH has helped or hindered your skin please let us know in the comments.





Organic HerbsWe’ve been trying to create natural products for almost ten years at Skin Shop. But natural is a tricky concept to pin down. Organic is even trickier. So why buy natural and organic and what are they… really?

Natural means derived from a plant source or renewable source like milk or honey. It also can’t be changed too much by an industrial or manufacturing process. For example milk is natural but we pasteurise it before we drink it. We take away or add cream depending on taste. But it’s still natural. Cheese goes through even more processes and most people would call cheese natural. But once you get to Philadelphia Soft Cheese Spread with its additives and preservatives… is it still natural?

Organic is stricter again. The source has to be from organically grown ingredients.

So who decides what is natural and what has been altered too much? There are two main bodies who used to certify goods as natural and organic in the UK. They were the Soil Association and EcoCert. But from 2016 all the separate certification bodies in Europe have agreed to combine the certification process  under one certification body, COSMOS.

EcoCert would allow a product to be labelled natural if it had just 50% plant based ingredients of which 5% were organic. However the new COSMOS certification is much more practical and informative. They state that a company must list on the side of the product what the actual percentage by weight is of natural ingredients. So rather than saying it is Natural under EcoCert some companies will now have to write the following if they just scrapped through before, “50% natural origin of total”. Which doesn’t sound so good!

You can see the whole certification rules on this PDF here. The rules are actually very clearly worded if a bit legal sounding. The definitions of what is natural are under clause 7 and what has to be written on the label is under clause 10.

Skin Shop is planning to apply the logic of COSMOS to their new products from 2014 onwards. So we will state on the label of our new intimate moisturiser that we have 99.3% of natural origin or on our lip balm 100% of natural origin.

Some of our products are much less, such as our shampoos and conditioners. But COSMOS also recognises that wash off products tend to have far fewer organic and natural ingredients. The stuff which removes grease and dirt from skin and hair is hard to make effective and 100% natural.

So Skin Shop’s policy is to balance effectiveness with naturalness. We formulate our products using only natural ingredients. But if when we are testing them they are not highly effective we will sometimes exchange a natural ingredient for a very safe effective ingredient.

For example we have to use preservatives. Preservatives are ingredients which stop the cream going off and  growing bacteria. Everything with water will grow bacteria unless it has a preservative in it. A cream would go off within a couple of weeks or less without preservatives. But natural ones don’t really work. Every year we are sent the latest and greatest natural preservative breakthrough. But the companies who send them will not guarantee their effectiveness and say the responsibility is all on us if the cream goes mouldy. We try them and most of them fail terribly. This is the reason almost all certified organic products still contain chemical preservatives.

So natural is not simple. But with the new labels explaining the exact percentage of natural, it should give consumers a better answer to how natural is natural.



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