If the title didn’t scare you away, you’re already one step closer to a world of wisdom… Ok, maybe that’s a little too far fetched, but you can certainly get closer to achieving a healthy skin and that is no small thing!
This might seem to be a boring chemistry lesson but stick around and you will learn:
- Why pH matters and is an important part of skincare
- What you can do to buy the right products
What the heck is pH anyway?
pH tells us how acid or alkaline substances are, in a scale from 1 to 14, where 7 is neutral. Below 7, the pH is acidic and above that it’s alkaline. For example lemon juice is acidic and baking soda is alkaline.
Why is this important?
It’s important because our skin has a pH. That is true also for the cosmetics we buy.
The skin has a pH gradient that goes from 4-6 in the most outer layers and increases to 7 in the deepest layers.
When we apply skincare, it has an effect on the top layers of the skin and in the long run it can be the cause of skin barrier issues.
For example, cleansers with an alkaline pH can change the composition of the bacteria and enzymes, especially those necessary for the synthesis of ceramides, very important components for an intact skin barrier. A weakened skin mantle entails many possible conditions that range from dehydration to infections.
What can we do to choose skincare with the right pH?
Several companies are finally starting to disclose the pH of many products, but if this is not the case we suggest you to:
1) Contact the company and ask about the pH of a specific product. They should be able to supply you with this information
2) You could test the pH with Litmus test strips. Though not very accurate, this test can give you an indication on whether the product is alkaline or acidic
If you already bought something that doesn’t have an ideal pH, unless it readily bothers your skin, don’t fret! When the skin barrier is healthy, if you use a product that has a slight alkaline pH, the skin will reset itself to the right pH and it’s not going to be a big deal. Especially if you include in your regimen other products with beneficial ingredients that work to restore and maintain a balance skin barrier.
However, a prolonged use of alkaline skincare can impair the skin barrier, so we don’t consider these kind of products the best investment, especially to whom ever has already an inflammatory skin condition, like eczema or dermatitis.
Whatever you decide, make sure to pay attention to your skin, be very gentle and treat it well.