Many of us have fallen into the rabbit hole of skincare as we find ourselves investing more time and money into trying upgrade our routines with all the latest product releases and trends. But for what? Perhaps our skin is overly dry, oily, sensitive, etc.
While it’s temping for us to believe that it’s our skin’s natural tendency to act this way, we want to ask you, “Have you considered your skin’s pH?”
pH basics (no pun intended)
For a short refresher, pH stands for ‘potential hydrogen’, and is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity of a substance. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, with anything under a 7 being acidic, and anything above 7 more alkaline (or more basic). Any substance that falls directly at 7 would be considered neutral.
“The skin’s barrier, which is known as the acid mantle, is responsible for keeping in lipids and moisture while blocking germs, pollution, toxins, and bacteria,” Patricia Wexler, M.D., explains. “To work its best, the acid mantle should be slightly acidic, at a 5.5 pH balance.”
Depending on the chemistry of your skin and the products you’re using on the skin, the skin’s pH can range anywhere from 4.5-6.5. However, it’s crucial to keep the skin happy in its slightly acidic state. Using the wrong products might do more harm than you think by wonking up the skin’s acid mantle.
So how does pH affect the skin?
“When it’s too alkaline, skin becomes dry and sensitive; you may even get eczema,” Dr. Wexler continues. “You may also experience inflammation, which inhibits the skin’s ability to ward off matrix metalloproteinases [MMPs], the enzymes that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles and sagging.”
On the flip side, skin that is too much on the acidic side of the spectrum will often be defined by redness, irritation, and more frequent breakouts.
These large changes in the skin’s pH prevent important enzymes found on the skin’s barrier from allowing the skin to completing its normal shedding process.
So how do we maintain this balance that will keep our skin plump and glowy, just the way we like?
Well if the wrong care can put your skin’s pH out of whack, then the right care and right products are a lifesaver. Here are some of the best products to kick pH in the butt and get the skin shipshape again.
The right products
First is cleansing. “To maintain a healthy balance in the skin, it’s best to avoid harsh soaps that have an alkaline pH and instead use neutral or slightly acidic soaps,” Dr. Miriam Hanson of Sanova Dermatology explains.
“Many facial cleansers on the market have a strong alkaline pH of 8~10,” Klairs brand manager Alex Song explains. “[It] then causes the skin to momentarily become more alkaline – the reason our skin will have tight dryness after cleansing.”
The term ‘pH balanced’ is not a marketing ploy. Cleansers that have a low pH of around 5.5, like the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cleanser, is the first step you can take in maintaining the skin’s natural, ideal pH.
While it may not seem that important to pay attention to the pH of your cleansers, note this: “on the pH scale, a difference of 1 number is a power of 10,” meaning that a ph of 4 is 10 times more acidic than that of pH 5. (We’re getting shudders just thinking about what that means for our skin.)
Toners are also great promoters of a balanced pH, but removing excess oils and keeping the skin hydrated.
Try gentle options like the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner, which is ultimately moisturizing and effective in keeping the skin soft and supple, all while staying mild for oily, dry, and sensitive skin types.
Now that we’re all on the same boat about what our skin is trying to tell us about our pH, take control of your skin and skincare routine to keep your skins pH on track.