What is pH?
Skin pH refers to the measurement of acidity or alkalinity of the skin’s surface. It is determined by the concentration of hydrogen ions present in the skin. The skin’s pH level is measured on a scale ranging from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH level below 7 indicates acidity, while a pH level above 7 indicates alkalinity.
The skin’s natural pH level is slightly acidic, typically ranging between 4.5 and 5.5 on the pH scale. This acidic environment is known as the acid mantle, which acts as a protective barrier for the skin. The acid mantle helps to maintain the skin’s health by supporting its natural defence mechanisms and regulating moisture levels.
What is the average skin pH level?
- Skin pH can vary and be anywhere between 4-6
- Skin pH is more on the acidic side. This increase in acidity in the skin means it can combat microbes and harmful free radicals that speed the aging process.
Should l be worried about the pH level in my skincare products?
Some skin care brands market products that claim to be pH balanced. Skincare manufacturers are aware of the ideal pH for the skin in order not to cause skin concern for their consumers. For this reason, the vast majority of skincare products fall within the optimal range of 4-6. The skin care companies that create these products would not benefit at all if they diverge from this level and produce products that burn the skin if it was too acidic or too alkaline.
It is also important to keep in mind that our skin is generally very good at recovering from skin products that are higher or lower in pH.
How do l find the pH of my skincare product?
You can purchase a pH strip testing kit to determine the pH of a product however most skincare products are pH balanced, which means they fall between the 4-6 pH level. You will need to dip the strip into the skincare product and match the color on the strip to the color on the scale.
Another simple way to determine how much pH of a product is to purchase it and just use it. Observe how much foam and lather the product produces. If it produces a lot of foam and lather then we can assume it has a high alkaline pH. The products that don’t produce as much lather have a higher acidic pH. Gel like substance or cream-like substance won’t be as alkaline and they will be more on the acidic side of the pH scale.
Factors that effect your skin pH? What products should l use?
Throughout your life, your skin type may not stay the same. Your skin may require a different cleanser depending on where you are at in life and many environmental factors and stressors. As we age our skin will produce less oil and lipids and the skin is more susceptible to dryness and sensitivity. If this is the case avoid high pH or high alkaline skin care products.
Hormonal changes are brought about through pregnancy, age, menstrual cycle. As women menstruate the oiliness of the skin increases and are dryer other times.
- Climate and the environment
Where you live has a major role in what types of skincare products you should use. Higher humidity environments mean you may be able to easily use higher pH products. However, in dryer climates, a more gentle low pH product will decrease the dryness of your skin and boost moisture levels.
What cleanser pH should l use for my skin?
- Oily skin
Oily skin types can especially tolerate stronger and wider pH levels that consist of higher detergent action. It takes less than an hour for the skin to replenish oil levels after using such cleansers. And they can be used regularly and even more than once a day.
- Dry and irritated skin
For dry skin types, it is important to steer clear of harsh high pH detergent skincare products. Your overall skin care routine may collectively have a negative effect on your acid levels of the skin. Try to use a minimal amount of skincare products within your routine in order to minimise the disruption to your natural skin pH.
Low pH skincare products
Bar soaps, foaming cleansers are high detergent cleansers
Bar soaps used on the face can be very drying to the skin so it is not recommended to use them as a cleanser. Many bar soaps leave skin feeling squeaky clean which means you have essentially stripped your skin barrier and disrupted your skin biome leaving it more prone to skin dryness and skin sensitivity, acne, and other skin concerns.
Quick tips to maintaining and supporting healthy skin pH balance!
- Gentle cleansing: Use mild and pH-balanced cleansers that help preserve the skin’s natural acidity without stripping away essential oils.
- Avoid over-exfoliation: Excessive exfoliation can disrupt the skin’s pH balance. Limit exfoliation to 1-2 times per week and choose gentle exfoliants suitable for your skin type.
- Use pH-balanced skincare products: Opt for skincare products that are formulated to be pH-balanced, as they are less likely to disrupt the skin’s natural pH level.
- Moisturise regularly: Hydrate your skin with moisturisers that help restore and maintain the skin’s moisture barrier, promoting optimal pH balance. After cleansing your skin barrier will be disrupted so it is important to apply a moisturiser after your skin while your skin is still damp after you use a cleanser. This ensures your skin maintains its optimal pH, restores the skin barrier, and keeps your skin healthy and hydrated.
- Use the right pH cleanser to suit your skin: If the product you use to cleanse your skin is not pH balanced (anywhere between the range of 4-6) it can lead to dryness and irritable skin. Some products will market and advertise that their product is pH balanced but most products are at this level anyway! You will not be able to find a product that has an extremely high or extremely low pH because this would harm your skin regardless of the skin type you have. There is no real concern to worry too much about the pH level of skincare products.
- Healing powers of the right pH: Low-pH cleansers can improve acne and eczema.