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Maintaining Healthy Skin pH via Poly-Organic Facial Peels


Lawrence Samuels, M.D.

The body is composed of trillions of cells. The metabolic function of every cell is dependent on the pH of the skin and body. Outside the pH range compatible with life, the skin loses its ability to protect the body from environmental damage, enzymes lose their ability to function and the body is unable to sustain organ system function. The pH is tightly regulated by a complex system that works to maintain an acidic skin pH and an alkaline pH for the body. With age, the efficiency of this pH-regulating system decreases. The health of the skin is determined by products applied to the skin, the fluids we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe.      

The skin’s pH is regulated by glandular secretions and cellular components. The “acid mantle layer" is a combination of sebum (oily fats) and perspiration that is constantly secreted to cover the skin's surface and maintain a proper skin pH. Skin needs to maintain a pH of 4.5 +/- 1.0 for skin cells to function properly. Proteins in the skin and body are affected by the tiniest changes in pH and must maintain a specific geometric shape in order to function.

With increasing age, however, the skin’s pH becomes more neutral and more susceptible to bacterial growth and infections. The skin weakens as a result and begins developing problems. The pH plays a role in cell growth, cell metabolism, free acid concentration of biologic molecules, enzymatic activity, antioxidant activity, skin exfoliation, cell hydration and glandular secretion.

It is critical to maintain and restore skin pH for normal skin function and collagen synthesis. Insults such as sun, tanning beds, pollutants, cigarette smoke, radiation, change in diet, hormones, excessive washing and poor skin care products alter and damage the pH of the skin. Altered pH results in skin irritation, acne, skin infections and accelerated skin aging characterized by rough skin texture, large pores, poor skin tone, blotchy skin color and wrinkles.

Maintaining a healthy skin pH is important, but the pH of skin care products that a person uses is equally as important. The pH regulates the biologic activity, concentration, potency and clinical benefit of cosmeceutical skin care products. In healthy skin, the stratum corneum cells and epidermal layer is renewed about every 30 days. In sun-damaged and aging skin, the number of days required for epidermal cell layer renewal is increased. 

Restoration of the normal acidic pH of the skin is critical for skin health and its resultant appearance.  Natural, organic peels with ingredients found naturally in living organisms containing carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. Natural, organic peels accelerate restoration of the acidic pH of the skin, increase exfoliation of the stratum corneum, increase skin cell growth and stimulate collagen synthesis.

There are many single-agent peels, however, research has demonstrated that single-agent peels lack uniform results due to the variability of skin penetration at different sites. Peels have been created with multiple ingredients that produce a synergistic effect and more uniform sloughing of the stratum corneum and a reparative effect on the deeper layers of the skin.

Chemical skin peels can improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by removing discolored, melanin-laden skin cells from the surface of the skin to allow lighter, brighter and firmer new skin to grow. Skin peels may be superficial (mild), medium or deep.

The benefit of natural organic peels is enhanced by selecting a combination of complementary ingredients with different modes of action. The result is a poly-organic peel that brightens and lightens the skin and improves cell growth, exfoliation and firmness. Unlike the traditional exfoliating peels, the poly-organic peel is a unique blend of natural and safe, but effective antioxidants and skin lightening and brightening ingredients, in addition to the combination of exfoliative and reparative natural organic acids. The synergist effect of these ingredients creates a comprehensive, reparative and rejuvenating chemical peel that can be combined with other cosmeceutical products and treatments. A poly-organic peel is made up of a unique blend of peeling agents, alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic acid and lactic acid), beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic acid), dicarboxylic acid (azelaic acid), natural organic antioxidants (L-ascorbic acid and alpha lipoic acid), aromatic organic molecule (resorcinol), and a hydroxyl-pyrone (kojic acid) in a pure organic alcohol solvent at a pH of 1.2 +/- 0.05.

When applied by a dermatologist, cosmetologist or licensed aesthetician, patients with noticeable discoloration, scarring or uneven skin tone can usually see a lightening and brightening of the skin after just one treatment. A poly-organic brightening peel is stronger than a glycolic peel and far more versatile.

While some of the results of the poly-organic peel are immediate, the full benefits derived from the peel may not be seen for up to two weeks as the peel continues to work. More dramatic results can be expected after a series of peels spaced a month apart. A patch test is recommended on a small area of the skin two weeks before the actual peel to test for any extreme reactions to the products. Patients will experience peeling or flaking of the skin approximately 24 to 48 hours after the peel is performed, which may last for several days.

The results of the poly-organic peel are enhanced by both pre- and post- conditioning of the skin. It is recommended that patients use professional skin care products for two to four weeks prior to receiving the peel to fully condition the skin.  Pre-conditioning of the skin prior to the peel will provide for a more penetrating application and expanded benefits of the peel.

Lawrence Samuels, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist with a practice in St. Louis. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, in addition to being the Chief of Dermatology at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis. Samuels developed the Rx Systems PF® line of skin care products—a complete line of pH-balanced, glypoic complex- (glycolic acid and alpha lipoic acid) based products, vitamin C serum in a trademarked age-bloc delivery system, retinols, enzymes and moisturizers for the face and body.


  1. Samuels, Lawrence E. “Understanding the Science Behind pH and its Role in Younger, Healthier-Looking Skin" Cosmetic Dermatology, 2010;23(12):562-567.
  2. Yu, Ruey J., and Van Scott, Eugene J. “Bioavailability of Alpha Hydroxy Acids in Topical Formulations" Cosmetic Dermatology 1996;9(6):54-62.
  3. Slavin, J. W. “Consideration in Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels" Clinic Plastic Surgery, 1998;13:45-52.



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