Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Filter by Categories
15th National Conference of the IAOMFP, Chennai, 2006
Abstracts from current literature
Acne in India: Guidelines for management - IAA Consensus Document
Art & Psychiatry
Association Activities
Association Notes
Award Article
Book Review
Brief Report
Case Analysis
Case Letter
Case Letters
Case Notes
Case Report
Case Reports
Clinical and Laboratory Investigations
Clinical Article
Clinical Studies
Clinical Study
Conference Oration
Conference Summary
Continuing Medical Education
Cosmetic Dermatology
Current Best Evidence
Current Issue
Current View
Derma Quest
Dermato Surgery
Dermatosurgery Specials
Dispensing Pearl
Do you know?
Drug Dialogues
Editor Speaks
Editorial Remarks
Editorial Report
Editorial Report - 2007
Editorial report for 2004-2005
Fourth All India Conference Programme
From Our Book Shelf
From the Desk of Chief Editor
Get Set for Net
Get set for the net
Guest Article
Guest Editorial
How I Manage?
IADVL Announcement
IADVL Announcements
IJDVL Awards
IJDVL Awards 2018
IJDVL Awards 2019
IJDVL Awards 2020
IJDVL International Awards 2018
Images in Clinical Practice
In Memorium
Inaugural Address
Knowledge From World Contemporaries
Leprosy Section
Letter in Response to Previous Publication
Letter to Editor
Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor - Case Letter
Letter to the Editor - Letter in Response to Published Article
Letter to the Editor - Observation Letter
Letter to the Editor - Study Letter
Letter to the Editor - Therapy Letter
Letter to the Editor: Articles in Response to Previously Published Articles
Letters in Response to Previous Publication
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor - Letter in Response to Previously Published Articles
Letters to the Editor: Case Letters
Letters to the Editor: Letters in Response to Previously Published Articles
Medicolegal Window
Miscellaneous Letter
Net Case
Net case report
Net Image
Net Letter
Net Quiz
Net Study
New Preparations
News & Views
Observation Letter
Observation Letters
Original Article
Original Contributions
Pattern of Skin Diseases
Pediatric Dermatology
Pediatric Rounds
Presedential Address
Presidential Address
Presidents Remarks
Report of chief editor
Report of Hon : Treasurer IADVL
Report of Hon. General Secretary IADVL
Research Methdology
Research Methodology
Resident page
Resident's Page
Resident’s Page
Residents' Corner
Residents' Corner
Residents' Page
Review Article
Review Articles
Revision Corner
Self Assessment Programme
Seminar: Chronic Arsenicosis in India
Seminar: HIV Infection
Short Communication
Short Communications
Short Report
Special Article
Specialty Interface
Study Letter
Study Letters
Symposium - Contact Dermatitis
Symposium - Lasers
Symposium - Pediatric Dermatoses
Symposium - Psoriasis
Symposium - Vesicobullous Disorders
Symposium Aesthetic Surgery
Symposium Dermatopathology
Symposium-Hair Disorders
Symposium-Nails Part I
Symposium-Nails-Part II
Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses
Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis
Therapeutic Guideline-IADVL
Therapeutic Guidelines
Therapeutic Guidelines - IADVL
Therapy Letter
Therapy Letters
View Point
What’s new in Dermatology
View/Download PDF

Translate this page into:

Original Article
PMID: 17664779

A study on the pH of commonly used soaps/cleansers available in the Indian market

Gulrez Tyebkhan
 C/o Galderma India, 23 Steelmade Industrial estate, 2nd floor, Marol village, Andheri (East), Mumbai-400 059, India

Correspondence Address:
Gulrez Tyebkhan
C/o Galderma India, 23 Steelmade Industrial estate, 2nd floor, Marol village, Andheri (East), Mumbai-400 059
How to cite this article:
Tyebkhan G. A study on the pH of commonly used soaps/cleansers available in the Indian market. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2001;67:290-291
Copyright: (C)2001 Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology


Cleansers, commonly referred to as soaps (though all soaps are cleansers, all cleansers are not soaps), are an important adjuvant in the treatment of any dermatological condition. In order to recommend a cleanser, many aspect should be taken into consideration one important being its pH. pH of a cleanser tends to have an impact on the skin in several ways viz. alteration of bacterial flora and pH, moisture content and irritation. A study was conducted to evaluate the pH of various commonly available soaps/cleansers available in the Indian market. Most of the commonly used soaps have an alkaline pH.
Keywords: pH, Cleansers, Soaps


Considerable work has gone in the understanding of the relation of pH of the soaps and its effect on the skin. The general rule is that soap-based cleansers exhibit a higher pH than products based on synthetic detergents.

The skin′s surface is slightly acidic, giving rise to the concept of acid mantle. Intact skin exhibits an ability to recover from pH changes, even when exposed to highly alkaline materials although prolonged exposure to materials applied under occlusion may overwhelm the skin′s buffering capacity.

While some argue that the contact time of the cleanser with the skin is too little to cause significant change in pH, studies have proved other wise. Bechor et al[1] examined 41 marketed skin cleansing skin products and found that on an average, the skin surface pH increased by about 0.6 units after 30 seconds of washing and returned to the baseline within about 36 minutes. Even in the worst case, the surface pH was raised by 1.3 units and recovered within 90 minutes. Sauermann et al[2] reported that the skin′s surface pH recovered 2 hours after a 5-minute face wash with soap.

Korting et al[3] reported that skin surface pH recovered within several hours after a 2-minute wash of the forearm and forehead with soap. These authors also noted a small but persistent elevation in skin surface pH at both body sites over a 4-week use period involving twice daily, 2-minute washing with soap.

The impact of the alteration in the skin pH is clearly seen with the help of the study conducted by Korting et al.[3] The study demonstrated the effect of 2 cleansers, one at pH 5.5 and another at pH 8.5, on the resident bacterial flora of the skin. Subjects were asked to wash the forearm and the forehead with the 2 synthetic detergents at different pH levels. Neither of the cleansers affected the level of staphylococci on the forearm or the forehead. However, there were more Propionibacterium aches on the skin of the forehead at the end of the first week in the group using the alkaline synthetic cleanser.

The important conclusion drawn from this study was that preservation of the skin pH may be important to control the bacterial count on the skin surface in patients of acne.

In some studies it has been shown that the irritation potential of the cleanser is not related to the pH.[5] According to some, pH is an indicator of irritancy potential of a cleanser. They argue that, if the cleanser tends to change the pH of the skin, the stress on the skin buffering may alone cause irritation.[6]

The pH of a cleanser has an effect even on the moisture content of the skin. Gehring et al reported that a multi-component emulsion with a pH value of 7.5 had a greater drying effect on the skin than a similar emulsion with a pH of 4.5.[7]

Materials and Methods

Soaps commonly available and used by the public were taken for assessment of pH. They included the following categories of soaps-antibacterial, moisturizing, glycerin and sulphur containing, ayurvedic, baby soap, neem and lime containing, soaps sold as beauty bars, anti-acne face wash, routine bathing bar, dove bar soap, aquaderm and the new entrant into the ethical market cetapHil. Kindly note that all except, the anti-acne face wash, aquaderm and cetapHil were bar soaps.

The pH was determined with the help of litmus paper-Indikrom papers from Qualigens fine chemicals. In case of bar soaps, a few drops of tap water at room temperature, were poured onto the soap, rubbed to obtain lather and the litmus paper dipped into it where as in case of the liquid soaps, a few drops were poured on to the litmus paper. The colour change was then compared to the standard for determining the pH [Figure - 1]

A change of color to green and deep green, correlating with a pH of 7-9 was seen with most of the commonly used soaps. None of the soaps brought a color change to blue color relating with a pH of 9 and above by this method. Only dove bar, aquaderm and cetapHil did not change color, indicating that their pH was around 6 by this method.


The soaps commonly recommended and used by the population at large have a pH, which is neutral to alkaline in most cases, ranging between 7 and 9. Only 3 cleansing agents (from amongst the ones tested) aquaderm, dove - an OTC product and cetapHil had a pH in keeping with the normal skin. Even the glycerin and baby soaps, which are the so-called mild soaps showed a neutral to alkaline pH.

From the evidence available, the pH of the skin changes depending on the pH of the cleanser used. This has a multifold impact on the skin in terms of the moisture content, the irritability and the bacterial flora.

Thus, before recommending a cleanser to a patient especially in case of dermatitic, sensitive and acne prone skin, due consideration to the pH of the cleanser needs to be given.

Bechor R, Zlotogorski A, Dikstein S. Effect of soaps and detergents on the pH and casual lipid levels of the skin surface. J Appl Cosmetol 1988; 6:123-128.
[Google Scholar]
Sauermann G, Doerschner A, Hoppe U, et al. Comparative study of skin care efficacy and in-use properties of soap and surfactant bars. J Soc Cosmet Chem 1986;37;309-327.
[Google Scholar]
Korting HC, Megele M, Mehringer L, et al. Influence of skin cleansing preparation acidity on skin surface properties. Int J Cosmet Sci 1991;13;91-102.
[Google Scholar]
Rhein LD. Review of properties of surfactants that determine their interactions with stratum corneum. J Soc Cosmet Chem 1997;48:253-274.
[Google Scholar]
Mark Oestreicher. Detergents. bath preparations, and other skin cleansers. Clinics in Dermatology 1998;6:29-36.
[Google Scholar]
Gehring W, Gehse M, Zimmerman V, et al. Effect of pH changes in specific detergent multicomponent emulsion on the water content of the stratum corneum. J Soc Cosmet Chem 1991; 42:327-333.
[Google Scholar]

Fulltext Views

PDF downloads
Show Sections