We’ve been seeing a lot of products—especially cleansers and toners—do multiple things including balance our skin’s pH levels, but what does that exactly mean? To help shed light on this, I shall explain what’s behind pH, the impact it has on your skin and how and why its balance is a healthy must.
What is “pH” and what is its ideal “balance”?
The pH scale is a numeric scale (typically between 0 and 14) that measures how acidic or alkaline something is. The skin, like every organ in the body, performs its best within an ideal environment, especially when it comes to pH. Skin maintains its barrier at an ideal pH level of around 5.5—slightly acidic. This skin barrier is known as the acid mantle. The acid mantle is a thin film on the skin’s surface composed of lipids from the oil glands mixed with amino acids from sweat. Along with the microbiome, it’s part of the delicate matrix that creates a healthy skin barrier. The acid mantle’s main job is to keep the good stuff (like moisture) in, and the bad stuff (like bacteria and pollution) out. Think of it as an essential invisible shield.
Why is pH balance important to skin?
Any great variation—either too high of a pH or too low—throws off the “ecosystem” of skin and causes inflammation and irritation when the natural oils and natural bacteria on the skin are disrupted. The disrupted relation between pH and bacteria comes from shifting the pH so far in either direction that the “good” bacteria are no longer able to keep inflammation and “bad” bacteria in check.
What are the signs of your skin’s pH being out of balance?
When people complain that their skin is too red, too dry, too itchy, too flaky, too oily—too anything—it’s potentially because the ideal balance of the skin is off and the pH has shifted, creating a cascade of inflammatory factors and unevenness in the natural flora. Although the concept of pH balance is still being extensively studied, the thought is that a pH that is too alkaline causes drying and decreased hydration of skin, leading to eczema flares and potentially highlighting signs of aging (like fine lines, wrinkles), while skin ranging too far low on the acidic pH spectrum creates increased redness and inflammation. The same is also possible internally: We have natural bacterial flora that helps boost the immune system and helps minimize bad bacteria. When we throw off this sensitive balance, newer studies suggest that inflammatory markers in the colon (and skin) increase, triggering acne, rosacea and perhaps other inflammatory conditions of the skin. Any deviation prevents skin from looking, feeling and performing its best.
What impacts the balance of skin pH?
The skin’s pH can be impacted by nearly anything: the beauty products you use, overuse of chemical peels, what you’re washing it with (classic soaps are too alkaline), how often you’re washing it and even most importantly what you’re eating. Too much sugar, refined processed foods (you know the drill) effect the skins pH as much as it effects other organs, even more so in my experience, as the body has a phenomenal tendency to expel all aliens from the internal organs out the skin.
How can skin pH balance best be restored?
The good news is that skin regenerates itself quite rapidly and with healthy nutrition and swapping out to pH balanced skincare, you will easily decrease the disruption of the good bacterial flora and pH as well. Using products that are pH balanced such as Pure Wash and our Hydra Mist toners, will help regain an ideal skin environment. In addition, remembering to treat your skin delicately (not over-washing, over-scrubbing or using random products) will help prevent the destruction of the sensitive acid mantle and will help protect your skin so it can radiate and protect you once again.
The short of it:
Its pretty important to keep the pH value of what you put on your skin close to 5.5. An out of whack acid mantle will show out of whack skin. So if you haven't already - go purchase Sabine G Holistics products where you know your skin pH is important to us.