How many times have you heard that your skin-care products need to be pH balanced? But what exactly does that mean? Here are the plain facts about your skin‘s pH levels.
pH stands for “potential hydrogen“ and this is used to describe the acid to alkaline ratio of something. The range is from 0 – 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. Our ideal skin level is at 5.5 pH.
Why pH 5.5?
Our skin naturally produces protective barrier called the acid mantle. This layer has the important job of keeping moisture in, and keeping toxins and bacteria out. It needs a certain amount of acid to do this job well.
If the acid mantle gets too alkaline, your skin gets really dry and sensitive. Bad stuff starts to happen, like inflammation. Alkaline is a breeding ground for bacteria. The British Journal of Dermatology did a study that suggested that skin that is too alkaline is also more prone to develop wrinkles and crows feet, and is more vulnerable to sun damage. We don‘t want that! On the other hand, skin that is too acidic is vulnerable to nasty breakouts. We don‘t want that either!
But there is a level where the skin is happiest and that happens to be in the range of 4.5 – 6.5, depending on your gender and which area of the body. Keeping your skin pH balanced, means keeping it in that range.
So how do we create balance?
Well, it helps to note the levels of a few other things. The pH level of pure water is 7, which is right in the middle of the scale – neutral. Orange juice is around 4.5. Bleach has a pH level of 13. And normal bar soap ranges between 7-10, stripping a lot of the acid that our skin needs and drying it out.
It makes sense that to keep your skin happy and healthy, you need to be aware of the pH levels of the products you are using. Use a gentle cleaner for example, with a pH level close to 5.5. After an acid exfoliation it is also important to rinse thoroughly and moisturize to restore the pH balance and sooth the skin. As always in life – all things in balance!