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There’s 1 thing that a lot of people who love skin care don’t know about.
You may have heard of it before when you learned about it back in science class.
It’s called pH and you need to know about it if you’re going to keep your skin healthy and beautiful.
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What is pH?
To put it simply, pH measures how acidic something is on a scale of 1-14, 1 being acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being alkaline (the opposite of acidic).
- Battery acid is a 0 on the scale because it’s very acidic.
- Water is a 7 on the scale because it’s neutral.
- Drain cleaner is a 14 on the scale because it’s very alkaline.
(Note: These numbers aren’t exact but they’re an approximate number).
(Photo from Brgfx on Freepik)
If you mix an acidic substance with an alkaline one, they will neutralize each other.
See how in the photo our stomach acid is a 1 and stomach tablets are a 10?
We take stomach tablets to calm down the acidity in our stomach (what we call heartburn). This works because when we swallow alkaline tablets, they neutralize our stomach (or raise its pH) so that we feel better.
So Why Does pH Matter in Skin Care?
Our skin’s barrier is slightly acidic. It sits at a pH of 4 to 5.5. (It’s called the acid mantle).
This allows it to protect itself from external things like pollution and allergens and it also allows the skin to retain moisture.
If we use a product on our skin that is too acidic or too alkaline, it’ll do exactly what the stomach tablets did and it will mess around with our skin’s pH.
Use a product that’s too acidic and you’ll lower the pH of your skin.
Use a product that’s too alkaline and you’ll raise the pH of your skin.
(By the way, pH only applies to products that have water in them).
When your skin is too acidic or too alkaline, its protective barrier has been damaged and your skin will become more prone to dryness, irritation, and breakouts since moisture is now able to evaporate from your skin and your skin can no longer protect against bacteria.
The Product You Need to Watch
The one product in your routine that’s most likely to cause these problems? Cleansers.
Because of the ingredients used in cleansers, they usually end up with a pH that’s way too high for the skin which destroys its acidic barrier by making it more alkaline.
Switch to a low-pH cleanser and your skin will improve. Other products such as moisturizers and serums are usually fine with their pHs (unless, of course, you find that it’s irritating your skin; that could be a sign its pH is off).
Because your skin sits at 4 to 5.5, cleansers (and other products) with a pH of around 3.5 to 6 are fine.
But how can you tell what the pH is? Use pH test strips like these. Yes, it’s annoying but they’re not very expensive, they’re easy to use (dip it in the product and see what colour it turns), and they’ll make sure your skin stays healthy.
Also, avoid bar soap. Their pH is too high.
Here are some great low-pH cleansers:
- CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin (pH is 6)
- CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for Normal to Oily Skin (pH is 5.5)
- Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (pH is 5.5)
Does your cleanser make your skin dry or break out? Leave a comment!