pH has a lot of impact on the body, as a healthy internal pH allows the body to function properly the same way a healthy external pH also allows the skin to function properly.
What is pH?
pH stands for potential hydrogen and is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The pH scale ranges from 0 being very acidic to 14 being very alkaline. While it’s important to keep our internal bodies alkaline to best fight of illness and disease, it is just as important to keep our skin slightly acidic at about 5.5.
The skin has a thin protective layer on its surface called the acid mantle. The acid mantle is made up of free fatty acids known as sebum that have mixed with lactic and amino acids from sweat to create the skin’s pH.
The acid mantle protects the skin from external factors like allergens, bacteria, and pollution all while maintaining the skin’s moisture. The acid mantle can be damaged by anything from the suns UV rays, diet, weather, hormones or even the skincare products you are using.
Signs your skin’s pH is off balance
The easiest way to tell the pH balance of your skin is just by looking at what is happening on your face.
If you are experiencing dry, sensitive skin there is a chance your skin may be too alkaline. With its protective lipids removed, your acid mantle is not able to protect your skin from external factors. Skin that is too alkaline is more prone to show signs of premature aging like wrinkles, crows feet, and sun damage.
If you’re cleansing or scrubbing your skin too often you could be striping that protective layer. Bar soaps can also be causing your unbalanced pH as they are very alkaline and will alter your acidic barrier.
If your skin is overly oily, prone to breakouts or inflamed and red this may be a sign that your skin’s pH levels are too acidic. This can be a result of overusing peeling products (acids like AHAs and BHAs) in an effort to combat that excess oil. Its best to use products in moderation as too much of a good thing can lead to a bad thing.
How to balance your skin’s pH
The fastest way to bring your skin’s pH back to balance is to use skincare products that have a similar pH to that of the natural acid mantle (around 4.5 to 6). The quickest way to test the pH of your products is by using pH strips. The lighter the color the more acidic your product is as the darker the color the more alkaline the product is.
pH strips only work for watery products so if you are trying to test a cream or lotion add it to water that should have a neutral pH of 7 and test that way.