One of the biggest keys to maintaining healthy, smooth, vibrant skin is properly regulating your skin’s pH balance. A good amount of the American populace isn’t even aware of the correlation between the two. Now, if you remember from Chemistry class, pH ranges from 0 (the most acidic) to 14 (the most alkaline). A pH of 7 is perfectly neutral; it’s even the normal pH level for water.
Ideal pH for Skin
Surprisingly, human skin has a pH of around 5.5 (slightly acidic). Maintaining that balance supports the acid mantle that acts as your skin’s protective barrier. The acid mantle protects your skin by retaining moisture, absorbing beneficial antioxidants and repelling harmful microbes and toxins.
Skin that is too acidic tends to be oily and susceptible to irritation. In contrast, skin that is too alkaline appears dull and is prone to dryness and loss of elasticity. In fact, that’s the progression of skin as it ages. That’s because hormone levels have profound effects on your skin’s pH balance. As you age and your hormone levels decrease, your skin becomes more alkaline. The first step to balancing your pH is to get a measurement of your skin’s current pH. For the most accurate measurement, we recommend you come in and get measured on our pH meters as part of your examination.
Check the pH of Your Water
Most people assume treatment plants pump neutral-pH water into our pipes, this isn't always the case. Hard tap water can have a high concentration of minerals and even chlorine (as sodium hypochlorite), which can alkalinize your skin. Alkaline-heavy water can strip the skin of its natural, protective oils. This, in turn, can lead to irritation, itchiness, and inflammation. If a water softener for your shower is beyond your budget, you can still use filtered, pH-balanced water for washing your face. PH-balanced shower water can help reduce acne breakouts.
Use pH-Friendly Products
Soaps, shampoos, toners, cleansers, lotions, and beauty products should be neutral or even slightly acidic to maintain the skin's ultimate pH level. However, many bar soaps are very alkaline with a pH of around 9, making them too harsh & abrasive for daily use. Slightly acidic toners containing alpha- or beta- hydroxy acids can recalibrate skin pH back to its more acidic state after cleansing. Also, make sure your toner doesn't contain alcohol. Alcohol strips the skin of its necessary oils and dries it out.
Additionally, check your products for synthetic ingredients such as surfactants and sulfates, like SLS. Though they may help build up a nice sudsy lather, they can leave your skin feeling tight. They too strip the oil your skin needs to feel and appear healthy and hydrated.
You may want to check the products you currently use with pH strips to find out if any of your go-to products are detrimental to your skin’s health. Products that help maintain natural oils and support pH balance can aid in reducing acne breakouts. Ask your dermatologist how the pH of your shampoos and skincare products affects your skin.
Eating Habits That Support Skin pH
While our shampoos and skincare products tend to be too alkaline, our diets are usually the opposite. Many everyday foods are either overly acidic like sodas, coffee and beer, or prone to producing acids, like meats, dairies, sugars, and highly processed foods. If any of these foods feature regularly in your current diet, some dietary changes could drastically improve your skin’s health.
Try incorporating more fruits, whole grains and leafy vegetables to make your diet less acidic. A diet that helps support your skin’s pH can aid in reducing acne breakouts. Please be sure to ask your dermatologist more about how your diet may be affecting your skin.
5 Steps to Correct Your Skin pH Balance
- Vet your skincare products more carefully by checking their ingredients and pH levels
- Use natural products that are rich in vitamins & minerals that your optimal skin pH
- Use lukewarm water to rinse your face since hot water can strip skin of oil and leave it feeling dry
- Eat a balanced diet, especially be sure to avoid excess sugar
- Test the pH of your shower water and use filtered pH-balanced water for washing your face
To receive expert advice from a dermatologist about maintaining proper skin pH, improving the overall health of your skin, and reducing acne breakouts, contact us today.