pH Balance Explained
I like to think that the term pH balance is equivalent to gluten; it's often thrown around and talked about but no one knows what it actually is. If you're one of those people who doesn't know what gluten is, I can't help you - but if you're still not quite sure what pH balance is, then keep reading!
Below you will find an answer to all of the most frequently asked questions regarding pH balance.
What is pH?
pH stands for potential for hydrogen. The pH level of the skin refers to how acidic or alkaline the skin is on a scale from 1-14. On the pH scale, 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic (0 being the most acidic), and above 7 is alkaline (14 being the most alkaline).
So what does that mean? Simply put, the skin must maintain a balance of acidity and alkalinity in order to combat germs, fight infection, retain/store nutrients and minerals and protect you against external stresses.
What happens if the pH balance is off?
If the pH balance is off, the skin can have adverse reactions. See for yourself:
- When the pH balance is too alkaline, one may experience acne, dryness, accelerated aging (fine lines and wrinkles). This can lead to conditions like eczema.
- When the pH balance is too acidic, one may experience inflammation and irritation. This effect is similar to what would happen if you put a harsh chemical peel on your skin; the skin becomes "burnt", sensitive, irritated and prone to break outs.
What is the ideal pH level?
The ideal pH level is on the acidic side; it falls between 4.5 and 5.5. An acidic pH kills bacteria and keeps the skin balanced, hydrated and rejuvenated. An acidic pH helps keep your skin balanced, hydrated, healthy, and radiant.
Does skin-type affect the pH level?
Yes, people with oily skin typically have a pH level that falls between 4 and 5.2. People with dry skin tend to have a pH above 5.5.
What factors affect the pH level?
Your pH level depends on a variety of factors such as: 1) diet; 2) sleep; 3) environment; and/or 4) skincare and cosmetic products.
How to restore balance in pH levels?
A balanced pH is maintained through healthy habits. Here is a list of some DOs and DONTs:
Moisturize your skin - When the skin is dry it is prone to cracking. In other words, dry skin is vulnerable to wrinkles.
Use products that directly say they are pH balanced - Products that are pH balanced are very good for the skin. If your product doesn't mention it - it’s probably because it doesn’t include pH balancing properties and hence isn’t going to be good for your skin
Go NATURAL - Look for ingredients that are natural and won’t throw off your pH balance. Here are a couple examples of great ingredients to incorporate into your body care routine
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice - nourishes and hydrates your skin.
- Shea Butter - a natural anti-inflammatory that soothes, tones, and tightens your skin
- Jojoba Oil - softens your skin and helps it retain moisture.
- Vitamin C
Use harsh cleansers - harsh cleansers strip the skin of its natural protective oils and can dry it out. Instead, opt for gentle cleansers with a balanced pH that are gentle on the skin and don’t strip it.
Use harsh ingredients & artificial fragrances - These tend to strip and dry out the skin.