You’ve probably heard the term “pH balanced” applied to different skincare and body care products, but what does it actually mean? And why should we care about skin pH anyway? In this blog post, we’re covering everything you need to know about your skin’s pH and why it’s important for overall skin health.
What is skin pH?
Let’s start with a mini science on the basics of pH levels. Potential hydrogen (aka pH) measures the acidity level of substances. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral; everything from 0 to below 7 is acidic, and everything above 7 is alkaline.
The pH range for our skin and body ranges from 4.7 to 5.75, meaning it’s slightly acidic. This range can vary somewhat from person to person and differs based on the areas of your body. Men, for example, tend to have more acidic skin than women. Women’s skin also tends to become more alkaline post-menopause, which can lead to increased skin sensitivity. Oily skin types also tend to be more acidic than those with dry skin since sebum is acidic.
Our skin prefers to stay around a 5 to support a fully functioning microbiome, which needs a more acidic environment to thrive. An acidic pH is essential for hydration levels, skin barrier function, cell turnover, and keeping skin balanced and healthy. If your skin’s pH becomes too alkaline, your acid mantle becomes compromised, creating an environment prone to dryness, irritation, acne, and bacterial growth.
The acid mantle
The acid mantle is a light acidic film on the top of the skin’s epidermis made up of natural oils and amino acids that function as a protective barrier. You don’t really notice it’s there, but without it, your skin is susceptible to dirt, bacteria, viruses, toxins, other contaminants, and dehydration. Basically, it’s essential for maintaining skin health and function.
What causes a pH imbalance?
Many factors can disturb your skin’s natural acidity levels, such as genetics and age. PH-disrupting cleansers, detergents, antibacterial products, and other cosmetics can also throw off the acid mantle (our skin’s first line of defense).
How do I know if my skin’s pH is off?
Common signs of an unbalanced skin pH are dryness, inflammation, skin tightness, accelerated skin aging and an increased appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, acne, increased sensitivity, rosacea, yeast and fungal infections, and inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and contact dermatitis.
What’s the best way to balance my skin’s pH?
Maintaining a healthy acidic pH comes down to lifestyle, habits, and a gentle skincare routine. When it comes to skincare, avoid harsh cleansers and sulfates that strip your skin of its natural oils and make it feel dry and tight after rinsing. You also don’t want to overwash your skin, so wash only twice daily. Avoid over-exfoliating and using alcohol-based toners, so you don’t damage the acid mantle.
Instead, reach for skin barrier-supportive skincare products like hydrating serums, creams, and facial oils to help maintain the protective moisture barrier. Our Superfood Beauty Oil is ripe with botanical oils and omega fatty acids that help moisture, balance, and support the skin barrier.