Behind the science – Of Eucerin pH5

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Sensitive skin needs special care

That’s why Eucerin has been using its expertise to create highly tolerable and effective products since the 1950s. This pioneering spirit has led the way, first with a pH5 ointment, then with a complete range of body care products in the 1970s. However, developments in research methods led to a real breakthrough when three active ingredients were shown to protect the skin's acid mantle and activate natural enzyme activity from the inside out. 


A challenge for skin research

Dry sensitive skin is an increasingly common condition that affects both men and women. It can occur at any age and on any part of the body. Dry sensitive skin is unpredictable, and can look and feel very uncomfortable, with a range of symptoms that include redness, scaliness and itching. It’s only recently that we’ve started to understand its causes more fully, and to recognise the role skin’s pH plays in skin sensitivity.

1 Source: Eucerin: Usage & Attitude Study conductedin Germany and Spain by ISM Global Dynamics, 2010/11

The importance of skin’s pH

Skin’s surface is covered by a protective acid mantle (part of the hydrolipid film) which gives it a mildly acidic pH. This pH plays an important role in skin condition and is key to skin’s protective barrier. It neutralises alkaline-based aggressors (such as harsh surfactants), supports the essential process of shedding dead skin cells (known as desquamation), inhibits the growth of bacteria and creates the optimal environment in which skin’s natural flora can thrive.

All of these systems depend on enzyme activity. Any change in pH level reduces this activity and compromises skin’s barrier function. Water loss increases and skin dries out making it more susceptible to external irritants and sensitivity

explains Alexander Filbry, PhD, Head of Body Care Product Development at Eucerin.

Developing the Eucerin pH Balance System

The Beiersdorf Skin Research Centre in Hamburg.
Our researchers identified active ingredients that help restore skin’s natural defenses for more resilience and less sensitivity.

With this in mind, the Eucerin Research and Development team set out to identify active ingredients that would help restore and support skin’s natural pH.

The most effective ingredient they tested was Citrate Buffer.
“Citrate Buffer is a derivative of Citric Acid, and works to counteract any movement towards an alkaline pH,” says Filbry. 

We used Citrate Buffer to power a new pH Balance System which we knew would influence skin’s pH,” is as much about what you leave out as what you put in.

he explains, “but we needed to understand if the pH Balance System would also be beneficial to enzyme activity.” To do this the team had to devise a new test.

An award-winning test method

A new ex vivo testing method, developed by Eucerin, was used to test enzyme activity.

Dr Filbry and the team invented the Trypsin Assay test method which has since been internationally recognised and won multiple awards.

The Trypsin Assay test measures the activity of the Tryptic enzyme – the key enzyme in the stratum corneum (the outermost layers of the skin) – and is used to assess the effect of different products on the enzyme’s activity. It’s an ex vivo test, which means that it is conducted on skin cells that have been cultivated in a lab where the conditions are controlled to be as natural as possible.

According to Dr Filbry, “Our pioneering research methodology demonstrated that the Tryptic enzyme was more active after the application of mild surfactants at acidic pH levels. “ The Eucerin scientists then used the Trypsin Assay method to test the effectiveness of a formula containing the pH Balance System.  “The results were impressive,“ says Filbry. “They proved that the Eucerin pH Balance System creates the optimal environment for the enzyme activity associated with healthy skin.”


The added benefits of Dexpanthenol

The lab then explored additional ingredients, and Dexpanthenol proved to be highly beneficial for dry sensitive skin. Dexpanthenol, derived from Pantothenic Acid – also known as Vitamin B5 – is a powerful humectant. “It binds water in to the skin,” explains Filbry, “giving it the moisture it needs to operate as an effective barrier. It also stimulates skin regeneration. 

We found that the addition of Dexpanthenol to care products helped to protect skin’s natural defenses making it more resilient and less sensitive to environmental triggers,” says Filbry.

Unprotected and irritated sensitive skin

Disturbed skin barrier function

Sensitive skin protected with Eucerin pH5

A more resilient skin barrier
1. Dexpanthenol
2. pH Balance System

The Eucerin pH5 range for dry sensitive skin

The Eucerin pH5 range – which includes body lotions, creams and cleansers - has been specially formulated to restores skin’s natural defenses and make it more resilient and less sensitive.

As Dr Filbry explains, “The unique pH Balance System with Citrate Buffer helps to restore skin’s optimum pH. In the cleansers, it combines with extra mild surfactants to prevent skin from drying out even with frequent washing”

He and his team are equally proud of the range of care products, where the pH Balance System combines with Dexpanthenol to restore skin’s natural pH, make it more resilient and less sensitive, and boost moisture levels.

Importantly, as Dr Filbry adds, “all the products in the range are clinically and dermatologically proven to be ideal for daily use on dry sensitive and allergy-prone skin.”

“Of course we’re proud that the Eucerin test method was internationally recognised,” he concludes, “But what’s more important is that our pH5 products strengthen skin’s natural defenses and help people to soothe and care for their dry sensitive skin.”

Our brand values

Pioneers in skincare

We deliver a holistic dermo-cosmetic approach to protect your skin, keep it healthy and radiant.

Recommended by dermatologists

We work together with leading dermatologist and pharmacist partners around the world to create innovative and effective skincare products they can trust and recommend.

Committed to innovation

For over 100 years, we have dedicated ourselves to researching and innovating in the field of skin science. We believe in creating active ingredients and soothing formulas with high tolerability that work to help you live your life better each day.