What is skin pH?
Skin pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the skin is. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH of less than 7 is acidic, while a pH of more than 7 is alkaline. Healthy skin has a slightly acidic pH of between 4.2 and 5.6.
Why is skin pH important?
Skin pH is important for a number of reasons. It helps to:
- Maintain the skin barrier function. The skin barrier is a complex system that protects the body from the outside world. It is made up of the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the skin. The stratum corneum is composed of dead skin cells that are held together by lipids (fats). The acidic pH of the skin helps to keep the lipids in place and prevent the skin barrier from being compromised.
- Inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. The skin is home to a variety of bacteria, both good and bad. The acidic pH of the skin helps to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections.
- Promote wound healing. The acidic pH of the skin helps to create an environment that is conducive to wound healing.
- Protect the skin from environmental damage. The acidic pH of the skin helps to protect the skin from environmental damage, such as pollution and UV radiation.
How does looking after the skin pH improve the health and appearance of the skin?
Looking after the skin pH can help to improve the health and appearance of the skin in a number of ways. It can help to:
- Reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a major contributor to skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. The acidic pH of the skin helps to reduce inflammation and keep the skin calm.
- Improve hydration. The acidic pH of the skin helps to keep the skin hydrated. This is because the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin, is made up of dead skin cells that are held together by lipids (fats). The acidic pH of the skin helps to keep the lipids in place, which helps to prevent the skin from losing moisture.
- Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. The acidic pH of the skin helps to promote the production of collagen and elastin, which are proteins that keep the skin looking firm and youthful.
- Give the skin a radiant glow. The acidic pH of the skin helps to remove dead skin cells and reveal the brighter, healthier skin underneath.
How to look after the skin pH
There are a number of things that you can do to look after the skin pH. These include:
- Use a compatible cleanser. Avoid using harsh cleansers that can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin pH. Choose a gentle cleanser that is designed for your skin condition.
- Avoid skin toners. These are mostly made by beauty houses as an add on product to make more sales.
- Use a compatible moisturiser with a pH of 5.5. A moisturiser will help to keep the skin hydrated and protect your skin barrier.
- Avoid using products that are too alkaline. Products such as soap, baking soda, hair products and some toothpastes can be too alkaline for the skin. Avoid using these products on your skin.
- Use sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. The sun’s UV rays can damage the skin and cause oxidative stress, a state that occurs when there is an excess of free radicals in the body’s cells. This will cause a lot of harm and disrupt the skin pH. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ or higher.
Additional tips for looking after the skin pH:
- Avoid using hot water when bathing or showering. Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin pH. Use warm water instead.
- Pat your skin with a clean towel gently after bathing or showering. Rubbing your skin dry can irritate the skin and disrupt the skin pH.
- Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet will help to improve the overall health of the skin, including the skin pH. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grass fed proteins, bone broth, fermented foods, nuts and seeds.
- Drink plenty of filtered or rain water. Staying hydrated helps to keep the skin healthy and maintain the skin pH. Aim to drink a healthy amount of water per day.
Skin pH and specific skin conditions
Certain skin conditions can be exacerbated by an imbalance in skin pH. For example, people with acne-prone skin often have a higher skin pH. This can create an environment that is more conducive to the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Using products with a pH of 5.5 can help to lower the skin pH and improve acne symptoms.
People with eczema also often have a higher skin pH. This can make the skin more susceptible to irritation and inflammation.
Another skin condition that can be affected by skin pH is psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. People with psoriasis often have a lower skin pH than those with healthy skin. Using products with a pH of 5.5 can help to raise the skin pH and improve psoriasis symptoms.
How to measure skin pH
There are a few different ways to measure skin pH. One way is to use a pH strip. pH strips are small paper strips that are coated with a chemical that changes colour depending on the pH of the substance it is placed on. To use a pH strip, simply wet the strip and place it on your skin. The strip will change colour within a few seconds. You can then compare the colour of the strip to a pH chart to determine your skin pH.
Another way to measure skin pH is to use a pH meter. pH meters are electronic devices that measure the pH of liquids and solids. To use a pH meter, simply place the probe of the meter on your skin. The meter will display the pH of your skin on the screen.
If you have any concerns about your skin pH, or if you have a skin condition that could be affected by skin pH, you should speak to a practitioner. They can test your skin pH and recommend products and treatments to help you maintain a healthy skin pH.
Here are some additional tips for maintaining a healthy skin pH:
- Avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals. Harsh and toxic chemicals can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin pH. Choose products that are gentle and free of harsh chemicals.
- Use a humidifier in your home. Dry air can dehydrate the skin and disrupt the skin pH. Using a humidifier in your home can help to keep the air moist and prevent your skin from drying out.
- Manage stress. Stress can trigger the release of hormones that can disrupt the skin pH. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
- Get enough sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can disrupt the skin pH. Aim for consistent hours of sleep per night.
Skin pH is an important factor for maintaining healthy skin. It helps to maintain the skin barrier function, inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, promote wound healing, and protect the skin from environmental damage. Looking after the skin pH can help to improve the health and appearance of the skin by reducing inflammation, improving hydration, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and giving the skin a healthy, radiant glow.
There are a number of things that you can do to look after the skin pH, such as using prescriptive skincare best suited to your skins condition and needs, avoiding products that are too alkaline, using sunscreen every day, and avoiding hot water when bathing or showering.
If you have any concerns about the health of your skin, your skin pH, or if you have a skin condition that could be affected by skin pH, you should speak to a licensed practitioner. They can test your skin pH and recommend products and treatments to help you maintain a healthy complexion.