How do you choose skin care products? By looking at certain ingredients or specific claims? Or do you pick up a product of your favorite brand? Whatever your process is, there’s one thing you need to check while buying your products: pH.
The pH, or potential of hydrogen, measures alkalinity. On a scale from 1 to 14, a pH of 7 is neutral. Anything below 7 is acidic, while everything above it is alkaline.
Skin is healthiest when the pH is just under 5. That’s right – your skin is slightly acidic! While it sounds scary, some acidity is needed to keep your skin strong and healthy.
If you’re prone to acne, your skin is probably too acidic. You’ll need products with a high pH to balance it out. On the other hand, if you have dry skin, you will need to go for products with a low pH. Ageing also increases the pH to 6, so experts recommend using products with a pH of 3.5 or 4.1
The ultimate goal is to balance your skin’s pH to ward off these 5 conditions
Acidity is needed to keep the epidermal barrier healthy and strong. However, if the skin is too alkaline, thinness is likely.
If your skin is very weak, it’s probably too alkaline. Give it a boost with low pH products.
Thin, alkaline skin is the perfect set-up for wrinkles. Other factors, like smoke and sun exposure, can also decrease elasticity. The less elastic your skin is, the more wrinkles you’ll have.4 To strengthen the epidermis, use low pH products.
Acidity is also needed for hydration. If your skin is dry and flaky, its pH is probably too high.
Also, the sebaceous glands make less oil as we age. Less oil production in the skin can lead to dryness, which could make your wrinkles more noticeable. 5 If this sounds like your skin, it’s a good reason to try low pH formulas.
A balanced pH offers antimicrobial defense. Unfortunately, very low pH makes it easy for bacteria to grow. Extreme acidity provides the perfect setting for bacterial colonization.
This makes way for acne, which is technically an infection. The most common culprit is Propionibacterium,6 but all types of bacteria can cause damage. Aim for products with a higher pH to balance it out.
Poor Wound Healing
Slight acidity is needed for a strong epidermal barrier. This is crucial for wound healing! Without the right pH, cuts and scrapes will slower the process of healing.
Specifically, pH affects the bodily fluids needed for wound recovery.7 If your minor wounds aren’t healing properly, look at the pH of your products. You might need something that’s lower or higher.
Several products don’t list pH levels. To test it yourself, use pH test strips. It can be a game changer for your skin.
|↑1||Blaak, Jürgen, Rainer Wohlfart, and Nanna Y. Schürer. “Treatment of aged skin with a pH 4 skin care product normalizes increased skin surface pH and improves barrier function: results of a pilot study.” Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications 1, no. 03. 2011|
|↑2, ↑5||Blaak, Jürgen, Rainer Wohlfart, and Nanna Y. Schürer. “Treatment of aged skin with a pH 4 skin care product normalizes increased skin surface pH and improves barrier function: results of a pilot study.” Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications 1, no. 03, 2011.|
|↑3||Aging changes in skin. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Wrinkles. National Institute on Aging.|
|↑6||Bhatia, Ajay, Jean-Francoise Maisonneuve, and David H. Persing. “Propionibacterium acnes and chronic diseases.” In The Infectious Etiology of Chronic Diseases: Defining the Relationship, Enhancing the Research, and Mitigating the Effects: Workshop Summary., Knobler, SL et al.(eds.), pp. 74-80, 2004.|
|↑7||Schreml, Stephan, Michael Kemper, and Christoph Abels. “Skin pH in the elderly and appropriate skin care.” Eur Med J Dermatol 2. 2014.|