We’ve all heard the term “pH balanced” in relation to skincare, food, and general health. And we know that it’s something we should strive to achieve, but have you ever wondered why that is? Well, we have all the answers.
Continue reading to find out what exactly determines your pH levels, how it correlates with acne, how you can test it yourself and how to restore your natural pH balance.
The pH level on our skin tells us how acidic or alkaline it is.
The pH scale goes from 1-14, 1 being most acidic, 14 being most alkaline while 7 being neutral.
Naturally, our skin has a protective layer that doesn’t allow environmental pollutants, the cold, the sun and other toxic substances. It’s made of sebum, and combined with the lactic and amino acids create the skin’s pH level.
So, you might be wondering, on a scale from 1-14, which number is ideal for skin health? According to dermatologists, ideally, your skin needs to be slightly acidic – so around 5.5. Thankfully, the natural pH level of our skin falls between 4.5 and 5.5.
The reason why our skin leans on the acidic side is that the acidic environment acts as a defense mechanism for our bodies when foreign elements attack it. Being acidic allows for our skin to fight these elements, which could be bacteria, pollutants, and allergens.
When the skin is alkaline, it speeds up the aging process due to the breakdown of collagen. It can also result in inflammation that leads to acne and other skin conditions. Not to mention, it will most likely dehydrate the skin and make it appear dull-looking.
There are a couple of factors that can influence your skin’s natural pH levels. Our skin naturally becomes more acidic as we age. However, the degree to which aging plays a role in pH balance is determined by our lifestyle choices as well as environmental factors.
Using low-quality skincare products, exposing our skin to the sun without SPF protection, smoking, and pollution all influence the skin’s protective barrier, making it more prone to a negative pH balance.
Other factors that influence the skin’s pH level are your internal organs. If the lungs and kidneys aren’t working properly, the pH imbalance can show up in the blood as well. This can lead to conditions such as acidosis and alkalosis. It’s important to note that these conditions require special medical attention, and can’t be solved by a diet or lifestyle shift.
Another major key in a healthy pH balance is our diet. The best diet for our skin is the one that’s less acidic and more alkaline. Having an acidic environment in our bodies can lead to a number of skin issues.
The interesting thing is that foods which are labeled acidic become alkaline in our bodies, and vice versa. The acidic food group includes meat, eggs, grains, dairy, and alcohol. Neutral foods include starches and sugars, as well as some fats, while fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes are considered alkaline. Including more alkaline foods in your diet will result in an improvement in your skin and a greater pH balance.
Keep in mind that your stomach has a pH level of 2-3.5 due to hydrochloric acid. Some acidity is necessary for breaking down food.
Is there a way to know that your pH levels are out of balance? Luckily, a pH imbalance is easily detectable.
Firstly, many skin problems such as redness, dry patches, eczema, psoriasis, and excessive sebum levels can be attributed to an imbalance in pH levels. When this imbalance occurs, your skin’s natural protective barrier is damaged, so it’s easier for these unwanted chemicals and toxins to enter the skin and cause all sorts of problems.
Acidosis, the official term of excess acidity in the body, can manifest itself through several symptoms such as low blood pressure, low body temperature, lethargy, brittle nails, dry skin, fatigue, insomnia, water retention, teeth sensitivity, headaches, and sensitivity to acidic food.
These symptoms can be healed by making healthy changes in your diet and including more alkaline foods such as fruits, vegetables, molasses, and soy products.
Acne is the most common skin condition that everyone can develop, not just teenagers. It can be caused by myriad factors, which is why it can be so hard to get rid of acne for good. However, a pH imbalance is proven to affect acne negatively, leaving your skin more prone to developing other skin conditions as well.
So, how exactly are acne and pH levels correlated? As we’ve mentioned before, the ideal skin pH is slightly more acidic. The protective function of a proper pH balance is that it’s able to kill the acne-causing bacteria before they have a chance to enter the body.
If bacteria gets trapped in the top layer, especially if it’s combined with excess sebum and dead skin cells, it can cause havoc in the skin and lead to acne. Therefore, if you have acne-prone skin, it’s important to do your best to attain the optimal pH level for your skin. Use gentle cleansers on your face every morning and night. Pick a moisturizer that won’t be too abrasive, but one that has acne-fighting properties. Toners are an amazing option for keeping a healthy pH balance. Look for ingredients such as Aloe Vera, witch hazel and rose.
Remember to exfoliate regularly in order to avoid clogged pores and remove dead skin cells. Avoid using harsh scrubs or tools for exfoliating though, since they can also affect the protective barrier. Instead, opt for gentle scrubs that are specifically designed for acne-prone skin and that contain natural exfoliators such as coconut sugar, coffee or fruit enzymes.
Some skincare products are specially designed to keep your pH levels intact. Look for cleansers and gels that are pH balanced (declared on the packaging).
This test is quick and easy and will tell you exactly where your skin’s pH levels lie on the scale. The best thing about it? You can do it all by yourself, and all you need is a mirror.
Take a close look at your skin. There are a couple of signs which show that your skin is healthy and the pH levels are optimal. If you have clean skin, without any pimples, whiteheads or blackheads, then it means that your skincare routine is perfect and you don’t need to worry about your pH levels since it’s probably already optimal.
Another clear sign of a healthy complexion is the color of your skin. Is your skin tone even? Do you have any dark spots or hyperpigmentation? Those are usually indicators of some kind of imbalance.
Touch your skin with clean hands. How does it feel? Is it elastic and stretchy? Having elasticity means that it’s properly moisturized and hydrated from the inside out (remember, drinking enough water and incorporating healthy fats in your diet is crucial for a moisturized skin in the long run).
What you want to examine next is the texture of your skin. Does it have smooth texture or is it bumpy, uneven and full of blind pimples? If so, you may want to switch your skincare routine around. If you notice any improvements, you’re good to go. If not, then you should take a closer look at your lifestyle and diet, because that might be the reason behind the rough texture.
Now that we’ve covered all the signs of healthy skin that has optimal pH levels, let’s examine how you can determine that your pH level might be slightly off balance.
Notice if your skin is dry and dull-looking. If that’s the case, then your pH might be more alkaline than you’d want it to be. Other clear signs of a pH imbalance are redness, acne, and excess sebum. If this is your skin type, then you might have acidic skin.
The pH levels fluctuate daily. Even something as small as washing your face with a harsh cleanser full of excess chemicals might change the pH levels of your skin.
If you don’t feel like testing the pH levels out on your own, then there’s another option for you. There are pH-testing strips on the market. They are pieces of paper that change their color depending on the environment in which they’re put in. These stripes are easy to use and relatively cheap, and they’re mostly accurate.
So, no matter which option you choose to go for, remember that in your symptoms lies the diagnosis. Knowing our bodies makes it easier to observe any unwanted changes that might appear. If you do notice any of these symptoms, don’t panic. There are many ways you can restore your skin’s natural pH levels and restore its health, glow, and smoothness.
Even though it might seem like something that’s out of your control, there are many things you can do in order to restore your skin’s pH levels naturally.
One of the most important tools you can use is a good moisturizer. If you’re on the lookout for a gentle, yet effective moisturizer you could try our wrinkle-free moisturizer. The acid mantle, which acts as a barrier to the bacteria and toxins on the skin, suffers some damage as you get older. It’s important to stay hydrated using quality moisturizer, no matter which skin type you have.
An easy step you could take in order to restore the balance is to implement antioxidant-rich skincare products in your daily routine. Topical antioxidants work wonders since they protect from oxidative stress and environmental pollutants.
You’ve probably heard this one before, but you should never go out without putting sunscreen on. Not using protection from the sun can damage your skin’s pH level as well as destroy the acid mantle and worsen hyperpigmentation.
While you’re in the process of restoring optimal pH levels, try to avoid using harsh chemicals or ingredients you can’t pronounce. If the ingredients list is mainly made of long words that don’t sound familiar to you, chances are your skin won’t like them. Instead, try using products that contain more natural ingredients or ones that are specifically designed to balance the skin’s pH level.
You could also try playing around with your diet a bit and incorporating the foods that we’ve mentioned so that the body repairs itself from inside out. Avoid processed and greasy food as much as you can, and you should start to see some improvement in your skin’s appearance in no time!
Another sneaky thing that can shift the pH level is the quality of water you use to wash your face. If you’ve gone through all these steps and you don’t see any improvement, then tap water might be to blame. The optimal water for washing your face is non-alkaline and doesn’t contain any minerals. However, tap water doesn’t always fall under this category, so you might want to think about investing in a shower filter or a water softener. Water softeners work by softening the water-removing certain minerals such as magnesium and calcium and replacing them with more gentle minerals like sodium or potassium.
While we’re on the subject of sly troublemakers, you also might want to examine the ingredients on the hair products that you use. There are certain ingredients which can shift the skin’s natural pH balance. You want to avoid ingredients like parabens, sulfates and other chemicals used in most conventional hair care products. Instead, use natural, sulfate-free shampoos, hair masks, and conditioners.
Now that you know everything about skin pH levels, you can easily make a few adjustments in your diet, lifestyle and skincare choices if you suspect that your pH levels are out of whack. Dealing with skin issues doesn’t have to be hard and time-consuming. Once you have a proper diagnosis, you can start healing your skin and it will look flawless in no time!