Potential hydrogen. Better known as pH, it’s the acid-alkaline ratio of a material. It plays such a big role in my life as an esthetician, cosmetics formulator and manufacturer. So why should you care? Because if you want healthy skin, it matters.
Here’s a quick lesson. pH is a scale that determines how acidic or alkaline (also called basic) a water-based substance and specifies the concentration of hydrogen ions in a material. The lower the pH, the more acidic a material is. The higher the pH, the more alkaline it is. The pH scale goes from 1 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline), and a pH of 7 is considered neutral.
Now back to skin. Skin typically falls between a 4.5 and 5.5 on the pH scale (a 2006 study indicated that the ideal pH for skin is under 5), which is a good thing, as its acidity protects us from things like UV rays and pollutants. But our pH can be thrown out of whack easily by the products we use, the activities we participate in, and our habits. Yes, that bar soap you wash your face with, your love for the sun and working out can all affect your pH. And when your pH is off, your skin’s barrier (or as we chemistry buffs like to call it, your microbiome) becomes unbalanced. Symptoms of an unbalanced pH include acne, eczema, oiliness, dryness, premature aging, and more. Nobody has time for that!
What’s a girl to do? If you’re experiencing symptoms, the name of the game is balancing your skin’s pH. And that means choosing the right products. Because, spoiler alert, the products you use have their own pH levels, too. Your skincare routine just so happens to be a chemistry experiment you had no idea you were conducting.
So where to start? Find out what your natural pH is. You can do this with the help of your dermatologist (another key person you need in your life, just like a good esthetician). Then, depending on your findings, assess your current skincare routine and make a plan. If you’re too acidic, choosing more alkaline based products can help you find balance. And vice versa. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask your dermatologist or esthetician for product recommendations.
In general, for all skin types, we find that choosing gentle, plant-based products with a pH ranging from 3.80-7, that won’t disrupt the delicate microbiome in the first place, is the best approach. Some products such as exfoliating serums and toners are pH dependent and should hover below a pH of 4 to be effective. But achieving a balanced pH in the skin doesn’t have to be complicated. Contrary to popular belief and what you’ve probably been told, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a gazillion products. A simple, three step daily routine comprised of cleansing, hydrating, and moisturizing in the AM and PM, and a weekly exfoliation is the ticket for staying balanced. Our Universal Skin Routines take all of the guesswork out of creating a daily regimen for oily/combo/acneic or dry/mature skin types. Rest assured that each and every product was formulated for its safety and efficacy, and to keep your pH in check, so you have one less thing to worry about. Because you’ve got better things to do.