Personalized Makeup: 3 Products That Magically Adjust To Your pH

And by "magically," I mean scientifically.
Publish date:
June 10, 2013
blushes, science, lip glosses, sephora, bronzers, physicians formula, Topshop Beauty, ph

Long before I learned about it in school, I remember hearing about pH from skincare commercials that claimed their cleansers were pH-balanced. Or was it douche commercials? Anyway, even after getting the whole pH lesson in middle school, I promptly forgot it, and it wasn't until I took an interest in skincare that I retaught myself what it all means.

If you retained pH information longer than what was needed to pass a test in seventh grade, you probably know that a pH number falls somewhere on a scale of 0 to 14, with increasingly acidic stuff on the low end and increasingly alkaline stuff on the high end. So when a cleanser is pH-balanced, it just means it's pretty close to your skin's own pH, which falls somewhere between 4 and 6.

That may not seem like a major difference, but it's those decimal fractions in between 4 and 6 that make some newish makeup products do their thang.

Depending on your super-special-snowflake skin, these products produce a pH-reactive color that looks like one shade on you and a different shade on someone else. There's pretty much no point in showing you how they look on me, because they won't look the same on you.

But we're gonna talk about them. USE YOUR WORDS.


I know all the cool kids shop at Topshop, but I've only shopped there once, and I didn't buy anything. I guess I'm not a cool kid.

That said, I received some of their awesome makeup recently, including pH Reactive Lip Tint in Jewel, a super-sheer gloss in easy-to-apply stick form.

It's formulated to turn "your own personalised shade of orange," which, on me, is apparently pink.

So if you like having total control over your lip color, this and other pH-reactive lip glosses are probably not right for you. But if you like a little surprise in a casual makeup look, it's a fun choice.


I'm always amazed by the wide range of blush shades out there, considering the majority of us fall back on something peachy or rosy. So unless you're creating a very specific, fashion-inspired look, like super-bright blush, pH-influenced blush will probably give you a color you like on yourself for everyday wear.

One good option: Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker pH Powered Blush.

This stuff has got some fancy-ass science magic. The color comes from fluorescein, and it senses your skin's pH, allowing the shade to adjust in about a minute. That's pretty cool on its own, right? But wait, there's more! The pigment powders are what Physicians Formula calls "photochronic," which I'm pretty sure isn't a real word but accurately describes how the color looks the same in different lights--inside and outside.


My reluctance to wear bronzer has always been rooted in how pale I am, but Sephora's Star Color Adjusting Bronzer has made me rethink things. Maybe it hasn't been my blinding whiteness that's made it hard to find a bronzer that looks good on me; maybe some pH clashing has been to blame, too.

Star Color Adjusting Bronzer comes in only one semi-shimmery shade, which, for me, has usually meant "This won't look good on you, Marci." But thanks to a buildable formula that looks really even--likely due to it being a pH whisperer--I really like how it looks on my skin tone.

Do you have any favorite pH makeup products? Are there any kinds of products you wish would come in pH-reactive formulas? Did you know pH stands for "potential of hydrogen"? Zany.