In an online space rooted in wholly contradicting information, it can seem like there is endless amounts of confusing skincare advice. You couldn’t be blamed for thinking that all skin care is, is a bunch of buzz words, questionable marketing tactics and a whole lot of phooey made to deliberately confuse the masses and sell more overpriced and ineffective products. Things like pH in cleanser (what even is that?), the war on “chemicals” (side note: everything – even water – is a chemical) and gluten free everything (I’m sorry to say, but gluten free skincare is much more a marketing tactic than science). With such a confusing landscape, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to throw in the towel at the single mention of glycerine, alpha-hydroxy acid or even a pH test. But trust, if nothing else, in this article and I promise your skin will feel better for it.
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.
Your facial skin is made up of a very delicate acid mantle balance of which the health of it depends on maintaining the pH. But what is pH I hear you ask?
pH is the degree of acidity or alkalinity of an aqueous solution and ranges from 0 – 14. The pH of 7.0 is neutral, with those lower being acidic – like lemon at pH 2.0; and higher being alkaline (a base) – like drain cleaner at pH 14.0
Interestingly too with pH, it is a logarithmic scale rather than incremental, which simply means that each one unit step in the scale is 10x higher or lower than the last. This would make the difference between even pH 8.0 and pH 9.0 for example quite substantial and significant to acknowledge.
But why does pH in your skin care matter?
The natural pH of healthy skin sits between 4.2 and 5.6, with men’s skin slightly being more acidic than women’s. When you invite neutral or higher pH products onto your skin layer – yes, even water (pH 7.0) – but especially harsh cleansing formulations , the natural acidity of your skin is compromised. Studies have shown that repeatedly using a cleanser with a high pH will increase the skin’s pH over time. When the skin’s pH sits at around pH 6.0 or higher, you risk dryness, infection, and damage to your skin.
If you are using a cleanser with a high pH, it is not only temporarily increasing the pH of the skin upon topical application, it is also removing the acids from the skin that help to restore the skin to its normal pH over time.
When the pH is increased, both lipid organisation and lipid metabolism is inhibited, limiting its ability to regenerate and protect from diseases like ichthyosis (conditions causing dry skin), psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, as well as rare dermatoses like the Netherton syndrome and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Even at the less catastrophic level, disrupting the acidity of the skin has been proven to exacerbate acne and inflammatory lesions, as well as increasing the risk of irritation, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and cause hyperpigmentation in the long term.
So how should you regulate your skin’s pH?
Using a cleansing product with a lower pH will work effectively to keep your skin at its desired acidity level. The optimal pH of soap or cleansers for use on human skin is between 5.5 and 6.5, but ideally the lower of the two.
Goat Milk Soap is widely regarded as having a naturally occurring low pH, similar to that of human skin. That is due to the natural composition and fatty acids present in the dairy product. The slightly acidic nature of the soap will ensure that your skin’s pH is maintained and is at its healthiest and most resistant to undesirable skin conditions.
There are also some great online resources that you can use to browse cleansers by their pH. Some well populated databases listing popular cleansers can be found at these websites, [source] [source], [source] and [source].
Another interesting read: http://www.snowwhiteandtheasianpear.com/2014/09/skincare-discovery-why-ph-of-your.html
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