IS A BALANCED SKIN pH THE NEW BLACK?
Why the pH of skin is so important.
Our skin is an incredibly delicate organ. Taking care of our skin should be part of a healthy regime for living a happy, healthy lifestyle. When you look your best, it helps you perform and live life in the best way possible. Part of this is having balanced skin.
Balanced Skin. What does that mean?
Paying attention to the balance of your skin and using products that are built to balance the skin’s pH is all the rage these days and there is a reason why. Skin pH is the new black. Well-balanced skin is not too dry or oily, overall moisture and sebum is balanced and skin is glowy and plump.
According to hundreds of clinical studies, having a balanced skin pH is the secret to beautiful skin. If the pH of our skin is out of whack, it can cause an array of skin problems.
What is pH and why is pH-balanced skin so important?
Having a balanced skin pH is imperative for protecting and supporting skin. The term “pH” stands for the ‘potential of hydrogens’, describing our skin’s water-to-oil ratio. Skin’s hydrogen ratio is calculated using a scale of 0-14, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. Water has a pH of 7, which is considered neutral.
Thanks to the ‘acid mantle’, skin’s natural pH levels run slightly acidic, between 4.5 and 6.2. A slightly acidic environment is key to defending skin from disease, irritation and infection.
The Acid Mantle: Our natural shield
The acid mantle is the top, super-thin film that covers human skin, which is vitally important for skin health. Made up of lipids, natural oils, healthy bacterial flora and skin cells, it protects skin from contaminants, bacteria, viruses, growth of pathogens and other foreign bodies.
When the pH of the acid mantle is disrupted, it can cause skin sensitivities and irritation. If you are experiencing dermatitis, premature aging, acne, rosacea or dry skin, it could be because your acid mantle has been compromised.
The acid mantle’s pH level is easily skewed.
Excessive sweating, using the wrong skincare, misuse of products (eg. overwashing face) and hormonal imbalances can alter the acid mantle. Even water, with a pH of 7, can raise skin’s pH levels. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to how you treat skin and what you put on it.
The acid mantle is used to describe the acidic nature of your skin’s surface. “It’s this very thin film on the surface of our skin that acts as a barricade to bacteria and other viral substances trying to penetrate,” says Sandra Lee, M.D., also known as Dr. Pimple Popper. – Good Housekeeping (1)
Is your Skin pH off?
Skin is working at its optimum when it’s at 5.5 pH level. Good skin cell turnover, hydrated, plump and glowing.
“Skin with a balanced pH appears healthier, is slightly moist, looks plumper, and has a healthy glow, whereas skin that’s too alkaline may be acne-prone, dry, or excessively oily.” In other words, if you have a persistent skin problem, from zits to dermatitis, an upset pH could be to blame. – ELLE (2)
Trying to get it jusssst right can be a real balancing act! Knowing when your skin pH is off can be determined for the most part by its behaviour.
Disruption of natural oils and damaged microflora of the skin increases the risk of skin issues and decreased defense against bacteria. Skin is not unable to fend off enzymes that cause wrinkles and destroy collagen.
- Red, dry, flaky, sensitive, premature wrinkles, skin disorders
- Skin is dull in appearance
- Tend to notice more lines in the morning when first wake up
- Skin tends to sting after applying products
- Skin feels tight after cleansing
- You could be stripping your natural lipids, making your skin prone to bacteria, sun damage and premature aging
- Eliminate harsh skincare products
- Don’t over wash face & limit exfoliants
- Use a cleanser with a proper pH to rebalance skin
Increases chance of inflammation and skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema.
- Less common
- Greasy, acne, blemishes, itchy, increased sensitivity, irritated
- Common with DIY cleansers or solutions with lemon juice
- Skin prone to breakouts and exceptionally oily
- After cleansing, skin continues to feel slightly oily/not clean
- Products that skin is normally ok with cause skin sensitivity
- Lay off on the face peels, such as AHAs and BHAs and over-exfoliation.
- Using a cleanser with a proper pH to rebalance skin
A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic ScienceTrusted Source reported that the ideal pH level is just below 5. Healthline. (3)
Here are some tips to keep the acid mantle at a stable pH level.
- Move away from chemical products! No matter how much they claim to work “miracles” on your skin. Many of these skin-harming toxins are hidden.
- Healthy, well-balanced diet. You are what you eat! Lots of leafy greens, veggies (especially tomatoes), fruits (especially citrus) and whole foods. Try to refrain from eating a lot of sugars, processed foods and dairy.
- Use lukewarm water to wash face.
- Using the right cleanser is KEY! Ditch the face washes that contain foaming detergents.* Many cleansers can strip away skin’s natural oils, causing tight, dry, irritated skin. Swapping a harsh cleanser for a pH-balanced cleanser can transform skin. Look for a cleanser with a pH of 4.5-7.0, which is like skin’s natural pH.
Did you know: *some soap bars have an alkalinity of over 9
- Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. These will help repair skin’s barrier and replenish skin’s moisture.
- Wear sun protection! Protecting the acid mantle from harmful radiation will defend skin from premature aging and skin damage.
- Make sure you are using antioxidants daily to maintain the acid mantle. Vitamins A, C, E and green tea build a defence system for skin cells for optimal function and protection from environmental stressors.
- Use a toner that has the same pH as your skin. Even when using a quality cleanser, using a toner after washing your face is one of the best ways to ensure your skin’s pH is in perfect harmony.
- Be careful when using skin acids (AHAs, BHAs, retinol). Although they are one of the key ingredients to keeping skin looking its best, problems can arise if they are being used too frequently. If skin is becoming irritated, it is possible you might be using too often. Use glycolic acid and lactic acid no more than once a week if you have sensitive or dry skin.
The skin pH is affected by a great number of endogenous factors, e.g. skin moisture, sweat, sebum, anatomic site, genetic predisposition and age. In addition, exogenous factors like detergents, application of cosmetic products, occlusive dressings as well as topical antibiotics may influence the skin pH. (4)
Following these tips will help your skin’s pH reach a healthy balance, along with realistic expectations and commitment. It takes time for skin’s natural flora and oils to adjust.
Meet some of our Anti-aging Cleansers, all with your skin’s pH in mind.
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(1) Understanding Your Skin’s Acid Mantle and Why It’s So Important, Good Housekeeping, Danusia Wnek, 2020
(2) How To Get Balanced Skin, ELLE, April Long
(3)About Skin pH and Why It Matters, Healthline
(4) The pH of the skin surface and its impact on the barrier function, M-H Schmid-Wendtner, H C Korting
(5) Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora
(6)The pH of the Skin Surface and Its Impact on the Barrier Function