The FIRST Emollient
Therapy That Sustainably
Lowers Your Skin’s pH.
The FIRST Emollient
Therapy That Sustainably
Lowers Your Skin’s pH.
In natural, healthy states, the pH within the body is generally between 7-9. This is vastly different from the pH of the topmost layer of the skin (stratum corneum) which in a healthy state is acidic, ranging from 4-6.R1

The acidity of the stratum corneum is often referred to as the “acid mantle” of the skin. Lactic acid from sweat and other biochemicals are responsible for maintaining the acid mantle.R1, R2


Figure 1: The stratum corneum, which is the topmost layer of skin is acidic (pH 4-6) compared to the skin’s deeper layers. This acidity is often referred to as the “acid mantle”. Adapted from Ali SM et al. 2013.

Both internal and external factors can influence the acid mantle of the skin.R1 Examples are:


Internal factors

Age – the older one gets, the higher the pH becomes (less acidic)
Production of sweat and sebum – the less sweat and sebum the skin produces, the less acidic it becomes
Skin moisture – the less hydrated the skin (dryness), the less acidic it becomes

External factors

Harsh detergents, cosmetics and soaps – most soaps for example, are alkaline in nature and this causes the skin to lose its acidity
Skin irritants – tend to increase the skin’s pH.
The skin has natural mechanisms to maintain its acid mantle. This is why, even though we use soaps to wash/bathe, our skin is able to maintain its health.R3, R4

The two main mechanisms are the ability of the skin:R3, R4

  • To replenish the acids by release of free fatty acids and protons (positive ions), both of which are acidic in nature
  • To buffer the increased pH with the release of amino acids (through the breakdown of a larger protein known as filaggrin).

Do you know? The skin’s normal pH is slightly acidic ranging from 4-6

The acid mantle is important for:R5

  • Maintaining a natural, healthy skin barrier
  • Maintaining the integrity of the stratum corneum
  • Defending against pathogenic bacteria which are unable to thrive in an acidic environment
  • The production of ceramide, which plays a major role in maintaining the skin barrier and structure of the stratum corneum
  • Controlling an enzyme (serine protease) responsible for maintaining the structure of skin cells.

When the skin is unable to maintain its acidity due to overexposure to various factors (e.g. use of harsh soaps for a long duration or due to increasing age), the pH starts to increase, and the acid mantle progressively weakens.

This causes:R5

  • Reduced production of ceramide and free fatty acids
  • Encourages bacterial growth that could lead to eczema-like symptoms or aggravate the condition
  • Accelerates the degradation of stratum corneum cells leading to it losing its integrity

Figure 2: When the skin starts losing its acid mantle, ceramide and stratum corneum cells are depleted leading to the breakdown of the skin barrier

Ceramide is a vital lipid in maintaining skin health. In eczema-prone skin, which is a dry and sensitive skin type, ceramide levels drop drastically (30% less than in normal skin) due to the increased skin pH.R6, R7


Figure 3:Eczema-prone skin has much less lipids in its structure making it an important issue to address when managing it.

In addition to this, activity of the enzyme serine protease is increased, leading to the stratum corneum losing its integrity and further compromising the skin’s healthy barrier. The increased serine protease activity further triggers another protein (PAR-2) that is thought responsible for the itching which accompanies eczema-prone skin.R5


Figure 4: A summary of the effects of increased skin pH in eczema-prone skin. Adapted from Lee H-J et al. 2014.

A study conducted in patients with eczema-prone skin found that the average skin pH was higher than healthy skin, leading to reduced hydration of the skin.R8


Figure 5: A study on 21 adults with eczema-prone skin and 21 adults with healthy skin found skin that is eczema-prone is drier (44 AU vs. 74 AU) and had a relatively higher pH (6.13 vs. 5.24). AU: arbitrary units, where hydration of skin is measured by determining the capacitance of the skin. Knor T et al. 2011.


Figure 6: Symptoms of eczema-prone skin resulting in xerosis, pruritus, erythema and, thick, cracked and scaly skin.

In eczema-prone skin, the resulting compromised skin barrier results in its symptoms:R9

  • Xerosis (dry skin)
  • Pruritus (itching)
  • Thick, cracked and scaly skin (due to the dryness and loss of stratum corneum integrity)
  • Erythema (raw and swollen skin) due to extensive scratching

In eczema-prone skin condition which exhibits more drastic symptoms, the recommended emollient-based products or newer ceramide-dominant lipid-based products may not be sufficient.

A new, patented technology combining ceramide-dominant lipid-based formulation with the ability to sustainably lower the skin’s pH may prove a better alternative.