June 15, 2022
You could be tossing out perfectly good cleanser by not applying this tweak, or using cleanser not right for your skin if you miss this detail. You could also be sabotaging the results of other skincare products if you overlook this detail in your skincare. What is it?
I'm talking about pH. The overall health of the skin is influenced by several factors, one of which is pH. What is pH and why does it matter?
The term pH stands for potential hydrogen and it ranges from 1 to 14. A neutral range is 7. Lower than 7 is considered acidic and higher is classified as alkaline. For most women, a healthy pH range is acidic between 4.5 to 5.5.
This matters because the pH balance of skin determines how well, or how poorly, the skin is protected, hydrated, and nourished.
The acid mantle, a thin film composed of lipids from oil glands and amino acids from sweat serves as the skin barrier. A compromised skin barrier can result in dry, irritated skin. A healthy pH in skin allows for optimal cellular turnover, the ability to stay hydrated, and a strong skin barrier.
Factors that impact pH are pollutants, pathogens, excessive occlusion, detergents, soaps, cleansers, and hard water. Cleansers are often a big offender at sabotaging the skin barrier and pH of skin. TIP: Just because a product is labeled organic or natural doesn't mean it has a safe pH for your skin.
The biggest clue is how skin feels after cleansing. If skin feels tight and dry, either too much product is being used, or the product is not ideal for your skin pH. If using less product leaves the skin feeling normal after a cleanse, it's likely right for your pH.
If your skin is still tight and dry after using less product, then the pH of the product isn't right for your skin.
Skincare isn't a one size fits all situation. What works will be different from person to person since every person's nutrition, health, hydration, and environment are different. The pH in skin will fluctuate as these conditions change.
Another common detriment to a balanced pH in skin is hard water. Hard water is tap water with a high mineral content causing it to have a pH of 8.5 or more. This means you can sabotage a good cleanser if you're using it with hard water. Hard water can prevent cleanser from rinsing well.
Picking up a gallon or two of distilled water for cleansing is an option (or a softener that can attach to a faucet) for the best results when cleansing. This will be especially important if you are prone to acne or have sensitive skin.
Here's a handy chart to demonstrate the pH range and an idea of where a few ingredients fall on the chart. A home pH testing kit can be found here.
It is very important to choose a quality cleanser to maintain a healthy pH on the skin. If you're using an astringent cleanser (or alcohol toner) and stripping the skin barrier of the "good stuff," the skin can become compromised, and when this happens, a long list of skin problems can occur.
I recommend a cleanser pH of 4.5 - 5.5 because that is the same pH of healthy skin. These are my faves.
The bottom line to why pH matters is, you will sabotage your skincare routine by starting with a cleanser (and/or hard water) that is not a balanced pH for the skin. You want to clean your skin, not strip your skin of the good stuff.
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