Maintaining the Balance: pH Levels

Image by RMS Beauty

Image by RMS Beauty

Skincare professionals or sales associates often mention having the right products for the pH of your skin. You will sometimes even see this on your toner or cleanser labels. When I first started hearing about pH balanced skincare, I either knew I was doing skincare right or totally wrong. What does “pH balanced” even mean? And why is it important?

What is pH?
The pH (potential hydrogen) level is a measurement that ranges from 0 to 14, and it helps you understand how acidic or alkaline something is — 0 being the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline, 7 is neutral. Apparently the best pH is to be slightly acidic around 5.5. If your skin’s pH level is at that sweet spot, it helps balance the natural oils and bacteria on your skin. This balancing act is actually working within a thin layer on our skin called acid mantle, that is made up of sebum (fatty acids and oils).

What does it mean to be balanced or out of balance?
Basically the goal is to make sure your pH isn’t too high or low, which means our skin can become irritated or inflamed. So anytime your skin is looking too red, or dry, or oily the balance of your pH is probably off.

What causes this imbalance in pH?
The pH scales can be tipped based off of age, diet, environment, lifestyle, or anything and everything that comes in contact with our skin. So making sure you have a balanced skincare routine is kinda important. Some irritations can be caused by the soap you are using to wash your face, how frequently you are washing your face and what you are putting in your body. If you are using skincare products that are too neutral or too high in acid, you may also see a shift in your skin’s inflammation.

How do I know what products are screwing me up?
There are actually at-home kits you can purchase to test the pH of a product. You can also talk to your doctor about testing your skin’s surface to better understand your overall pH level.

How do you maintain a proper pH balance?
It would be good to look at your diet and your current skincare routine if something is triggering acne, rosacea, or any sort of skin irritations. You want to treat your skin with care, so find skincare products that contain probiotics or specifically say they are pH balanced. Easy fixes: don’t over wash or over scrub your face, and don’t introduce so many products into your routine at once. Start learning about what helps and what hurts your skin.

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