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Skincare 101: pH Balance

April 30, 2020 3 min read

Our skin, like our other organs, has the ability to heal itself, fight off infections, and withstand pretty extreme conditions like super hot or cold temperatures. However, if your skin pH is out of balance, it’s at risk for problems like acne, eczema, and other burdensome skin conditions. 

You're probably wondering what skin pH is and why it's so important. Should you try to maintain a certain pH level, and how do you even achieve that? 

We’re diving in on the subject, so buckle up because it’s about to get scientific in here. 

What is skin pH?

The pH of your skin refers to how acidic or alkaline it is and is measured by a scale ranging from 1 to 14, with 7 being a neutral level. 

  • Acidic skin pH would be between levels 0-6 on the pH scale with 0 being the most acidic. 
  • Alkaline skin pH ranges from levels 8-14 on the pH scale with 14 being the most alkaline. 
  • The ideal pH of your skin is around 5.5, making it ever so slightly acidic. This is the level where your skin is working optimally to heal and protect itself.

The pH scale

The acid mantle, which is the thin layer of sebum and sweat, is a protective layer that determines the pH. It’s affected by both your skincare regime and diet, which is why it’s so important to eat skin-loving foods on a regular basis.

How does your skin pH become imbalanced?

A woman tugging at her skin

We’re always being told to wash our faces, tone, moisturize, massage… the list goes on. But overusing skincare products containing harmful ingredients may actually be disrupting our acid mantle, causing problems like acne or dry skin. There are four main factors that contribute to a balanced or imbalanced skin pH.
  1. Chemicals and toxins in products we use and in the environment
  2. Hormone levels
  3. Unbalanced skincare products (Very alkaline or acidic)
  4. Diet
How do you know whether your skin is actually out of balance? It’s pretty simple:
  • If you have dry or fragile skin, that probably means the pH is too alkaline
  • If you have acne-prone or oily skin, you may have an overly acidic skin pH

How do you improve/balance your skin pH?

Doodles of skincare products.

While there are definitely a lot of great skincare products out there that will help maintain a balanced skin pH, the simplest solution to this problem is to keep your product use to a minimum. 
  • Just use a mild cleansermicellar water, and alcohol-free toner for daily face washing.
  • Washing with water most of the time is sufficient, especially if you have super sensitive skin. This is a good idea for the morning when you don’t have any makeup on your skin. You may want to test the pH of your tap water. 
  • Don’t overdo it with acid exfoliants, such as alpha-hydroxy acids andbeta hydroxy acids. While these have some awesome benefits, they can also cause over-acidity and weaken your skin’s ability to defend itself. 
  • Choose a moisturizer that’s right for your skin type.
If you enjoy maintaining a multi-step skincare routine and want to keep it that way, be sure to avoid the following commonly seen ingredients in both skincare products and makeup:
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS
  • Urea and DMDM Hydantoin
  • Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol
  • Diethanolamine (DEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Parabens (Did you know our stacks are paraben-free?)
The topic of balancing your skin pH may seem complicated, but the most important thing to know is that most healthy skin will maintain its own balance. So many factors contribute to the health of your skin, so it’s important to take a well-rounded approach to your care routine and choose products that work for your specific type of skin.

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