What Is Skin pH And Why Is It Important?
By: Ashley Austin
You try to do everything right when it comes to skincare. You cleanse, moisturize, and apply serums nightly, but what if that isn’t enough to have healthy skin? What matters is having a balanced skin pH. Here we delve into why the pH level of your skin is an essential part of healthy and glowing skin.
What is pH?
Before we talk about why pH is so important in skincare terms, let’s break down what it means. First, pH is short for “potential of hydrogen,” and it measures how acidic something is. It runs on a scale from 0-14 -- 0 being most acidic and 14 being most alkaline. A 7 pH is neutral -- this is the pH of water.
Why does pH matter for skin?
Healthy skin is slightly acidic and has a pH level of around 5.5 -- though, a pH of 4.8 and 6 is also acceptable. With an ideal pH level, your skin’s protective barrier (or acid mantle) can do its job. This means your skin can absorb antioxidants, prevent acne, fight infection, and stave off premature aging.
However, when your skin’s pH is thrown off, this can introduce some issues like skin sensitivity, irritation, and signs of premature wrinkles. This usually signifies that your acid mantle is damaged. The acid mantle is an effective form of protection, but if your pH level is too alkaline or too acidic, the mantle is disturbed and skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, and rosacea may result.
Is your skin’s pH unbalanced?
While there isn’t a way to test your skin’s pH directly, there are some ways to tell if it’s unbalanced:
Too alkaline: If your skin’s pH is too alkaline, you may experience dry patches, irritation, or suffer from dry skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.
Too acidic: Skin more on the acidic side will produce excess oil and be prone to acne breakouts.
Perfect balance: Healthy skin with a balanced pH will be smooth, hydrated, and not easily irritated.
What affects skin pH?
Your skin is super delicate, so everything thing from what you put on your face to what you put in your body affects its health and pH.
Here are a few things that play a part in your skin’s pH balance:
Most cleansers and bar soaps on the market have a pH of about 9 -- this is too acidic. Acidic skincare products strip your skin of its moisture and irritate it. If your skin feels tight and squeaky clean after cleansing, chances are the product’s pH is too high.
At-home face peels
There’s nothing wrong with saving money with at-home beauty treatments, but proceed with caution. Most at-home face peels have a pH that is too low and can irritate your skin. That’s why it’s essential to find a facial peel that’s the perfect balance.
You may not realize it, but water quality has a considerable impact on your skin -- namely, hard water. Water that is too alkaline will disturb your skin’s outer layer and make it dry. Use pH testing strips to test your water’s pH.
Along with using water with a high pH, water that is too hot can damage your skins acid mantle as well. Instead, wash your skin with lukewarm or room temperature water.
Excessive sun exposure
The sun supplies us with vitamin D and warmth, but too much will chip away at our skin’s acid mantle and disrupt its pH. It’s important to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
You are what you eat -- this couldn’t be truer for your skin. When your diet is full of processed foods, sugar, baked goods, and caffeine, it wreaks havoc on your skin’s pH.
How can you balance your skin’s pH?
Thankfully, an unbalanced skin pH is an easy problem to correct. All you have to do is make a few adjustments to your skincare routine and everyday habits.
Some ways to keep your skin’s pH include:
Use pH balanced products
Aim for cleansers with a pH between 5.5 and 6. If you’re unsure, you can test the products using pH strips. But with pH7’s Gentle Face Kit, there’s no need for testing -- their products are formulated to maintain your skin’s pH.
Apply pH balancing toners
Toners are another great way to keep your skin’s pH level in check. If you have dry and irritated skin, you’ll love the calming and hydrating ingredients in toners like the pH7 Mango Facial Mist and the Chloe and Chad Organic Hibiscus Face Toner.
Use topical antioxidants and probiotics
Antioxidants strengthen the skin’s protective barrier. Although it can be acidic, vitamin C is excellent for balancing the skin’s pH. The Inua Organic Moringa Vitamin C Serum contains just the right amount of vitamin C to nourish the skin.
Clean up your diet
A perfectly pH balanced diet should be 80% alkaline and 20% acidic. This means that most of what you eat should be full of antioxidants like leafy vegetables and fruit while only containing grains, meats, alcohol, and dairy in moderation.
How do you keep your skin health and glowing? Tell us in the comments below.