The Important Role of pH in Baby Products
Parents analyze ingredient labels with a microscope these days and there’s one very important ingredient they may skip over which is often misunderstood – Citric Acid. Citric Acid is used as a pH adjuster in a formula and plays a critical role ensuring the safety of the bubble bath, shampoo, body washes or lotions you use on your child.
First of all, What is pH?
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It is a logarithmic scale that indicates the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) in a solution. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being considered neutral. A pH value below 7 indicates acidity, with lower numbers representing stronger acidity. A pH value above 7 indicates alkalinity, with higher numbers representing stronger alkalinity.
The pH scale is based on the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. When an acidic substance dissolves in water, it releases hydrogen ions, which increase the concentration of H+ ions in the solution. Alkaline substances, on the other hand, release hydroxide ions (OH-), which can combine with hydrogen ions to form water, thereby reducing the concentration of H+ ions.
The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that each whole number change on the scale represents a tenfold difference in acidity or alkalinity. For example, a solution with a pH of 3 is ten times more acidic than a solution with a pH of 4.
pH is an important parameter in various fields, including chemistry, biology, environmental science, and medicine. It affects chemical reactions, enzymatic activity, and the behavior of substances in solution. Maintaining the proper pH is crucial for many biological processes and for the functioning of ecosystems.
How does pH affect a shampoo?
pH is an important factor in shampoo because it affects the health and appearance of hair. The pH of a shampoo can influence the following aspects:
Scalp health: The pH of the scalp is typically around 5.5, which is slightly acidic. Shampoos that are close to this pH level help maintain the natural acidity of the scalp. Acidic shampoos can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that can lead to scalp issues like dandruff or itching.
Hair structure: The hair strand has a protective outer layer called the cuticle, which consists of overlapping scales. The pH of the shampoo can affect the condition of the cuticle. Shampoos with a slightly acidic pH can help flatten the cuticle scales, making the hair smoother and more manageable. This can result in reduced frizz and increased shine.
Product performance: The pH of the shampoo can affect the performance of other hair care products, such as conditioners or styling products, that are applied after shampooing. Using a shampoo with a pH that is compatible with these products ensures optimal results.
How does pH affect a bubble bath?
pH is a relevant factor in bubble bath products because it can affect both the comfort and effectiveness of the product. Here are a few reasons why pH matters in bubble bath:
Skin compatibility: The skin's natural pH is slightly acidic, typically ranging between 4.5 and 5.5. Using a bubble bath with a pH similar to that of the skin helps maintain its natural protective barrier. If a bubble bath has an extremely high or low pH, it can disrupt the skin's pH balance, leading to dryness, irritation, or even allergic reactions.
Bubble formation: The pH of a bubble bath can influence the formation and stability of bubbles. Generally, mildly acidic to neutral pH levels (around 6 to 7) tend to promote better bubble formation and longevity. Bubble bath products formulated within this pH range are more likely to create long-lasting and abundant bubbles, enhancing the bathing experience.
Cleansing efficacy: The pH of a bubble bath can also affect its cleansing properties. Some ingredients in bubble bath formulations, such as surfactants, work more effectively within specific pH ranges. For example, an alkaline pH can enhance the cleansing power of some surfactants, while acidic pH can be effective for removing certain types of residues. Manufacturers consider the optimal pH range to ensure effective cleaning while being gentle on the skin.
Sensory experience: pH can influence the overall sensory experience during a bath. Some people may prefer a slightly acidic or neutral bubble bath because it feels milder and less likely to cause irritation or dryness. Additionally, pH can affect the fragrance, texture, and overall feel of the product on the skin.
The Proper pH for Children’s Products
The typical pH range for baby products is generally around 5.5 to 7. This pH range is chosen to be mildly acidic or close to neutral, as it is considered compatible with a baby's delicate skin.
Maintaining a slightly acidic or neutral pH in baby bubble bath products helps preserve the natural pH balance of a baby's skin, which is typically around 5.5. This pH range is thought to be gentle and less likely to cause skin irritation or dryness. It’s essential to choose a bubble bath with a pH that is compatible with your skin type and preferences. If you have sensitive or dry skin, opting for a bubble bath with a pH close to the skin's natural pH is generally recommended to maintain skin health and comfort. There are a few reasons why a baby shampoo should have a pH within this range:
Skin protection: A baby's skin is more sensitive and delicate compared to adult skin. The slightly acidic pH of a baby shampoo helps maintain the natural protective barrier of the skin, known as the acid mantle. The acid mantle acts as a defense against harmful bacteria, allergens, and irritants. Using a shampoo with a pH similar to the baby's skin pH helps support the integrity of this protective barrier and minimize the risk of skin irritation or dryness.
Tear-free formulation: Babies have a higher likelihood of getting shampoo in their eyes during bathing. Shampoos with a pH within the appropriate range are less likely to cause stinging or irritation if they come into contact with the eyes. Formulating baby shampoos with a pH closer to the natural pH of tears (around 7) helps minimize the discomfort if accidental contact occurs.
Gentle cleansing: Baby shampoos are designed to cleanse the hair and scalp without stripping away the natural oils that help keep the baby's skin moisturized. The mild acidity of the shampoo helps maintain the proper balance of the scalp's natural oils while effectively cleansing away dirt and impurities.
The Reason Why We Thoroughly Test pH:
We perform pH testing and ensure the stability of pH in our products for several important reasons:
Product performance and efficacy: The pH of a cosmetic product can affect its performance and efficacy. Our formulations are optimized for a specific pH range to ensure their stability and effectiveness. For example, certain ingredients in cleansing products, such as Surfactants and Preservatives are most effective within specific pH ranges. Testing and maintaining the appropriate pH ensures that the product delivers the desired results.
Safety and skin compatibility: The pH can impact the products safety and compatibility with the skin. Products with an inappropriate pH level can cause irritation, redness, dryness, or other adverse reactions. By testing and ensuring the stability of pH, we can create products that are gentle, non-irritating, and suitable for babies and children.
Shelf life and preservation: pH stability is crucial for the preservation and shelf life of cosmetic products. Microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, can thrive in certain pH conditions. If the pH of a cosmetic product is not properly controlled and maintained, it can create an environment conducive to microbial growth and spoilage. By testing and ensuring the stability of pH, we can extend the shelf life of their products and maintain their quality over time.
Regulatory compliance: The FDA requires cosmetic and personal care companies to ensure the safety of their products. In order to do this, companies must perform stability testing, including pH stability, as part of product safety and efficacy evaluations. We take these steps very seriously as we want to have the safest possible product for children. We even have taken several extra steps such as conducting all of our testing in our packaging. Many brands may only test in a glass beaker, however that information is not as accurate as actually testing the product in its intended package. We also take the step of conducting accelerated stability testing which means we have tested the products at a higher temperature for long periods of time (mimicking what may happen during transportation or if left in a hot car, for example). We repeat these tests several times to ensure their accuracy.
Overall, testing the pH and ensuring its stability in product is essential for product performance, safety, shelf life, and regulatory compliance. It allows us to develop effective, safe, and high-quality products that deliver the desired results while minimizing the risk of adverse reactions or microbial contamination.
Citric Acid and its use as a pH adjuster
Citric acid is commonly used in bubble bath, shampoo and body wash products to adjust and lower the pH. We use Citric Acid throughout our product line as a pH adjuster. It is a weak organic acid found in citrus fruits and has natural acidic properties.
Here's how citric acid works to adjust pH:
pH regulation: Citric acid is an acidic compound with a low pH value. When added to a formulation, it reacts with water to release hydrogen ions (H+). These hydrogen ions help lower the overall pH of the solution, making it more acidic.
Acid-base balance: Bubble bath products often contain alkaline ingredients or surfactants that can increase the pH of the solution. By adding citric acid, which is an acid, the pH of the bubble bath can be balanced and brought closer to the desired range. Citric acid acts as a pH modifier, counteracting the alkaline nature of other ingredients, and helps maintain the desired pH level.
Preservative properties: Citric acid also offers preservative properties due to its acidic nature. It can help inhibit the growth of certain microorganisms, helping to maintain its stability and prevent spoilage.
Enhancing foam formation: Citric acid can aid in enhancing foam formation in bubble bath products. It promotes the stability and longevity of bubbles by interacting with the surfactants present in the formulation. This can contribute to a more enjoyable and bubbly bathing experience.
What does pH balanced mean?
When a company claims that its products are "pH balanced," it means that the pH of the product is formulated to be within a specific range that is considered compatible with the skin or other intended application area. As you can imagine, all of our products are pH balanced.
"pH balanced" products are formulated to have a pH level that is similar to the natural pH of the skin or the specific area of application. For example, The typical pH range for baby bubble bath products is generally around 5.5 to 7. This pH range is chosen to be mildly acidic or close to neutral, as it is considered compatible with a baby's delicate skin. By maintaining a pH similar to that of the skin, the product aims to be gentle and non-irritating, minimizing the disruption of the skin's natural protective barrier.
The acid mantle is a thin, protective layer on the skin's surface composed of sweat, sebum, and natural acidic substances. "pH balanced" products strive to maintain or restore the integrity of the acid mantle by not overly disrupting its pH balance. This helps to support the skin's defense against harmful microorganisms, retain moisture, and maintain overall skin health.
In the context of hair and scalp care products, "pH balanced" implies that the product's pH level is designed to be compatible with the scalp's natural pH, which is typically slightly acidic. This helps to maintain the health of the scalp, prevent excessive dryness or oiliness, and support the balance of the scalp's microbiome.
Overall, the term "pH balanced" suggests that the product is formulated to be in harmony with the natural pH of the specific application area, aiming to minimize potential skin or scalp irritation and maintain optimal conditions for healthy skin or hair.
And now you know more that you ever thought you needed to know about Citric Acid and its function in the products you use on your child. We list all of our ingredients with thorough descriptions on our website. That said, don’t ever hesitate to reach out about any of the ingredients that we use in our formulas if your questions aren’t answered on our Ingredients page as we are always happy to help educate and arm you with information you deserve to know.