Do you know what skin PH is? Maybe you’ve caught yourself staring in bewilderment at one of your favourite skincare products, wondering why its PH value is printed on the bottle - and just what to make of that information. If so, you’re not alone! It’s a detail that can be easily overlooked but could prove to be incredibly valuable to your skincare routine. Let’s get down to the brass tacks of PH balance and why maintaining it can play a pivotal role in achieving beautiful, healthy skin.
The basics. PH stands for potential of hydrogen and the PH scale is used to measure how alkaline or acidic a water based substance is. It ranges from 1 to 14 with 1 being most acidic and 14 being non-acidic or alkaline, which means that 7 is neutral (for example - pure water holds a neutral value).
Why it plays an important part in skincare. As you can see above - gastric acid, lemon and vinegar are in the acidic realm which you probably could have guessed, while soap and other heavy duty cleansing agents are in the high alkaline range. It may surprise you to learn that skin is actually mildly acidic with its optimal value ranging from about 4.7 - 5.75. The condition of the skin is very much dependent on the health and integrity of its acid mantle, a component of the hydrolipid film or layer which covers the surface of the skin. The acid mantle helps protect the lipid barrier from environmental stressors, pathogens, chemicals and the elements. There are a number of external culprits to blame for the disruption of the skin’s PH balance including: harsh soaps and cleansers, washing too frequently, skincare products which are too alkaline, exposure to the elements, severe temperature variations, sun exposure, etc. Internal factors such as genetics, age, hormones and diet can also have an impact. When the acid mantle becomes compromised the skin can grow increasingly susceptible to irritation, inflammation, dermatitis, eczema, dryness, acne and blemishes. It is therefore favourable to keep the PH level of your skin nestled into that sweet spot on the scale.
4 Ways To Keep Your Skin PH in Check
1. Consider Your Cleanser
We recommend using very gentle cleansers that match the skin’s physiological PH (usually 5.5) if they are water based, or pure cleansing balms and oil cleansers which don’t actually have a PH value to consider as they are non-aqueous (such as our Beurre Beauté). Keep in mind that pure water does have a PH of 7, so following up any face cleansing with a balancing toner is ideal.
2. Use a Balancing Toner
The application of a slightly acidic corrective toner such as our Eau Florale Toning Complexion Mist is an excellent way to keep your acid mantle happy. It can help acidify the skin and restore its PH to optimal range if it’s hovering too far towards either extremity of the scale. Misting periodically throughout the day is helpful, and a generous application after washing your face is especially beneficial.
3. Use Serums and Moisturizers That are PH Optimized or Oil Based
Much like cleansers, your moisturizers and other skincare products should respect the skin’s natural PH. Usually a product or brand will indicate when a product is PH optimized. These products’ value will normally fall between 4.5 - 5.5. Gravitating towards quality oil based serums and balms can be extremely helpful since oil doesn’t have a PH value and can help nourish the lipid barrier.
4. Use Acids in Moderation + Don’t Forget SPF
Many alpha and beta hydroxy acids and plant enzymes can be extremely helpful with keeping skin smooth and exfoliated, but be mindful of using stronger acids which can cause skin irritation or at least limit application frequency, especially if you have sensitive skin. We recommend using milder AHAs and BHAs such as lactic or mandelic acid and following use with a serum or moisturizer. Since acids are photosensitizing (which means they make your skin extra sensitive to the sun) don’t forget to apply a daily SPF.