You might remember hearing about pH levels back in chemistry class, but did you know that it’s actually a vital part of maintaining the health and protection of your skin? Being aware of acidity and alkaline ingredients, how acidic your skin should be, and what you can do to keep it in balance is key to keeping your skin feeling healthy and looking younger.
What Is Skin pH?
Your skin’s pH level, which stands for potential hydrogen, is the acidity level of your skin. On the pH scale, levels range from 1 to 14, with 1 being strongly acidic and 14 being strongly alkaline. Typically, healthy skin leans more towards the lesser acidic level (from 4 to 7), due to the acidity helping your skin fight harmful microbes and free radicals. According to a 2006 study, the ideal and normal skin pH level is just below 5.
Why Is pH Important to Your Skin?
As you get older, the pH levels of your skin rapidly decrease; an average newborn has a skin pH level of about 7, while the average adult’s level is 5.7. Maintaining a good level of acidity is important in protecting your skin, but too high levels of skin acidity may end up damaging your skin more than protecting it. This is why balance is vital. Having a skin pH level that’s too high or too low can end up causing inflammation and irritation, disrupting your skin’s natural bacteria and oil ecosystem.
How to Balance Your Skin PH Levels
In order to keep your skin healthy and strong, it’s important to implement a pH balanced skincare routine daily. Here are the essential pH balanced skincare products that you should be looking to add to your repertoire:
By washing your face with a gentle cleanser that’s specially formulated for your skin type, you can help to maintain balance for your skin’s pH level. A more acidic skin cleanser is typically used for fight acne, while a more alkaline skin cleanser can help with certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema. When choosing a mild cleanser, try and avoid those that contain sodium laureth sulfate, as it has an alkaline pH level of 10 and can irritate and dry the skin.
2) Oils & Moisturizers
The natural oil that our skin produces, called sebum, slowly decreases as we get older. This may end up throwing off the pH balance of your skin, causing damage. By using an oil that can replicate your skin’s sebum, such as Organic Rosehip Oil and Gold Dust Elixir, you can restore balance to your skin and help influence the acid mantle to protect it. You can also use face creams packed with nutrients like collagen, such as Skin Lightening Cream with Collagen, to reduce dark spots, hydrate your skin, and improve dermal elasticity.
Just like it’s important to moisturize your skin, it’s also important to provide it with the acid that it needs to keep protecting it from free radicals and other forms of damage (which cause premature aging.) By using a facial moisturizer with the natural acid compound your skin makes, such as the Fresh Rose Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid & Diamond Dust, your skin will be more hydrated and protected, as well as show a minimized amount of fine lines and wrinkles. Another option is to use an oil or lotion that contains salicylic acid, such as The Original+ Drying Lotion, to reduce the appearance of acne on your skin while promoting hydration, elasticity, and cell regeneration.
By applying antioxidant-rich products to your skin, you’ll be able to empower your skin’s cells so that they function properly, and you’ll be protecting your skin cells from oxidation and free radicals. One of the most potent antioxidants is activated charcoal due to its ability to pull toxins and impurities from your skin. By using an Activated Charcoal Facemask or an Activated Charcoal Powdered Face Mask, you can easily apply powerful cleansing antioxidants to your skin to help protect it from the environment.
4) Capsules & Supplements
You’re not only limited to topical solutions to balance your skin’s pH levels and maintain it’s overall health. There’s also the option of beneficial supplements, providing you with nutrients that your body can use to help protect your skin from aging and damage. One example is using Anti-Aging Capsules, which are filled with aloe vera gel, mineral oil, and vitamin E, to encourage skin health and strength.
Maintaining the Right Balance Over Time
To make sure that you’re maintaining the right pH balance for your skin over time, there are a few things that you’ll want to practice regularly:
Wearing sunscreen daily: A great way to protect your skin’s acid mantle is by applying sunscreen daily because whenever your skin is exposed to the sun, it could be damaged. This is regardless of whether or not your skin is going to be directly exposed to the sun. It can still be damaged, and your pH levels can be thrown off balance.
Establishing a daily skin routine: It’s vital that you maintain a daily skin routine to keep your skin pH levels balanced every day. Start with a mild cleanser, then move to acid or toner, follow up with an oil and moisturizer, and top it off with antioxidants and sunscreen.
Avoiding products that are too acidic or too alkaline: As we’ve discussed, certain products meant for your skin may end up causing more damage than preventing. Some skin products have too much acid or are too alkaline for your skin, meaning that they can throw off your pH balance quickly if not avoided.
Activities and Products to Avoid
If you want to maintain a healthy skin pH level, there are a few things that you should avoid at all costs. Here are the most damaging things to avoid using or doing to protect your skin:
1) Products with Harmful Acids
When looking for products with acid to help your skin protect itself and maintain pH balance, be sure to avoid the following types of acids in ingredients lists:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid
- Retinoic Acid
- Beta Hydroxy Acid
- Amino Fruit Acid
These acids can easily end up weakening the skin’s defense systems, enabling bacteria and environmental factors to cause damage. Always keep an eye on your skin’s reaction to certain products. If you notice dry spots or red irritation, you should stop using the product you’re using.
2) Cleansers with Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Like we discussed previously, sodium laureth sulfate is a typical skincare ingredient that has an average alkaline pH level of 10. This level is way too high for most skin types, ending up causing dryness and irritation to the skin when used in a cleanser. Thankfully, many cleansers are moving away from using this ingredient in their products; however, it’s still a popular ingredient, so be sure to check any skincare products before buying to make sure they’re sulfate-free.
3) Exposure to Too Much Sunlight
If you expose your skin to a lot of sunlight, especially without the protection of sunscreen, then you’re opening your skin up to a considerable amount of potential damage. Your skin’s acid mantle is sensitive and can be damaged easily if exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Applying sunscreen at the end of your daily skincare routine is an excellent way to prevent sun damage from decreasing the integrity of your skin’s protective acid layers.