Why is your skin’s pH balance important?
There has been a lot of talk about this topic, especially when it comes to cleansers and toners that are multifunctional including balancing our skin’s pH levels. But what does this mean?
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 [neutral] something is. The skin, like every organ in the body, performs its best within a narrow ideal environment, especially when it comes to pH. Skin functions most effectively around 5.5, which is slightly acidic. At this level the skin is able to maintain its protective barrier and, together with natural oils, moisturizers and bacteria, to function as a true protective defence organ. The collection of factors creating this shield is called the “acid mantle.”
Why is pH balance so important to the skin?
Any significant deviation, 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 connection 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 is potentially because the ideal balance of the skin is off and the pH has shifted, creating a cascade of inflammatory factors. 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.
What impacts the balance of skin pH?
The skin’s pH can be impacted by nearly anything: the skincare products you use, what you’re washing it with (classic soaps are too alkaline), how often you’re washing it and even what you’re eating. Similarly (and more commonly), if you’re using products that are too acidic or too basic, you could alter the skin’s pH.
How can skin pH balance best be restored?
It is important to adhere to a good topical regimen and diet to decrease the disruption of the good bacterial flora and pH as well. In addition, remember to treat your skin delicately (not over washing, over scrubbing or using random products). This will help prevent the destruction of the sensitive acid mantle and will help protect your skin so it can protect you.