WANT BETTER SKIN? SWITCH TO A CLEANSER THAT DOES THIS.
Happy, balanced, healthy skin – luck of the draw, or a plain and simple chemistry equation? Solving the problem of overly oily, excessively dry, and painfully inflamed skin might be easier than we previously thought because we can often blame our cleanser choice.
Everyone says to choose a cleanser based on skin type, but what we should be doing is using cleansers that reset our skin’s pH.
Ok, what is pH?
pH stands for potential hydrogen and measures acidity and alkalinity – the ideal pH level of skin is 5.5 (water’s pH is a 7). The pH of skin specifically refers to the pH of skin’s acid mantle. The acid mantle is a thin, protective layer on the surface of skin that protects against external influences like bacteria, allergens and pollution, and maintains moisture, too. We need it to be a little acidic (hence the name “acid mantle”) so that it can fight off these harmful microbes and damaging free radicals that accelerate the aging process.
How Do You Know if Your Skin’s pH is Unbalanced?
Just as hormones can become unbalanced, so can skin. Skin is an extremely delicate organ that performs best within a specific environment. Is your skin oily, dry, itchy, red or flaky? Chances are your pH is out of whack. When skin falls out of balance, it has a domino effect that creates inflammation and ruins skin’s ideal homeostasis.
Fun Fact: Overly alkaline skin is prone to dryness and premature aging, while overly acidic skin shows increased redness, inflammation and oiliness.
What Creates an Unbalanced pH?
As we age, skin becomes more acidic in response to lifestyle and environment. Air, water, sun, pollution – everything that contacts skin can break down the acid mantle, disrupting skin’s natural ability to protect itself. It’s up to us to help keep skin’s pH balanced so that it can stay hydrated and free of bacteria.
Can Skincare Affect my pH? Hint: Yes.
Using the wrong skincare products plays a big role in throwing off skin’s pH. For example, bar soaps and foaming cleansers often raise skin’s pH too high into alkaline territory, leaving skin feeling tight and dry. On the other hand, acid-based exfoliators and peels strip skin’s natural oils and disrupt the lipid barrier, exposing skin to bacterial infections and environmental damage if not used properly.
How Do I Get My Skin's pH Back Under Control?
When it comes to balancing skin pH, there are many things that are out of our control – water hardness and pollution levels to name a few. However, we DO have control over the skincare we choose. The most important thing to remember as you design your skincare routine is to select skincare products that work to restore skin’s pH to the ideal 5.5. At this level, products are actively working to support skin’s natural defenses.
You know that tight, squeaky clean feeling post-cleanser? It’s actually a sign that your cleanser is too alkaline.
Skin that is too alkaline can be more susceptible to acne and infection because a certain level of acidity is needed to inhibit bacterial growth on the skin. The solution?
Step 1: Cleanse
Use a cleanser that’s right around a 5.5 pH level. Think of this step as laying the foundation – without it, the other building blocks of a skincare routine can’t work effectively.
Step 2: Treat
Next, choose your treatment serums wisely. Aside from looking for an ideal pH level, scout out topicals with vitamins A, C and E. As antioxidants, these vitamins are able to fortify skin cells against environmental stressors and oxidation.
Step 3: Moisturize
As we age, the amount of oil skin produces decreases, thus weakening skin’s barrier and ability to protect itself. The right pH balanced moisturizer can help to rebuild this important barrier. Select a moisturizer with jojoba and olive oils, as they complement skin’s natural oils rather than compete against them.
Step 4: Protect
Last but not least, layer on sunscreen in the AM to keep skin’s pH in check throughout the day. Sunscreen defends the acid mantle by shielding skin cells from sun damage and supporting skin’s ability to arm itself against environmental aggressors.