Source: Noah Buscher via Unsplash
By: Shilpa Bhim
You probably remember sitting in Chemistry class learning about pH levels, and testing solutions to see how acidic or alkaline they were.
What your Chemistry teacher probably didn’t tell you was that your skin has pH levels, and that it’s important to keep your skin’s pH levels balanced.
That’s right, science and skin care go hand in hand and understanding how the two interact is pretty critical to keeping your skin happy and healthy. So, let’s get to it Zovers!
WHAT IS PH?
pH, or ‘potential of hydrogen’ is a scale that measures the acidity or alkaline levels of a substance.
The pH scales ranges from 0-14. Anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above 7 is alkaline. Anything that measures at a pH level of 7 is neutral, aka, water!
HOW DO PH LEVELS AFFECT YOUR SKIN?
Our skin has a natural protective barrier, known as an acid mantle, which keeps moisture sealed into your skin and germs and toxins locked out.
The acid mantle forms when your skin secretes sebum and mixes with fatty acids and water from your sweat, and creates your skin’s pH level.
The acid mantle needs to strike the right balance between acidity and alkaline in order to keep your skin healthy and well protected from external factors.
Believe it or not, the optimal pH level for your skin is slightly acidic - sitting at a 5.5.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR SKIN'S PH LEVELS BALANCED?
Basically, skin that is at or around the optimal pH level of 5.5 is living its best life!
Anything below this level is considered to be too acidic and can make your skin itchy, irritated and red. Acidic skin tends to be affected by acne or eczema.
Skin with a pH level of 7 or above, aka alkaline skin, is usually sensitive and dry. It can also become inflamed and experience signs of ageing (like wrinkles) which are associated with particular enzymes that can damage your collagen levels, yikes!
WHAT AFFECTS YOUR SKIN'S PH LEVELS?
So many factors, including age, sun exposure and diet.
Did you know that as we get older, our skin becomes more alkaline. Which is what leads to fine lines and wrinkles.
Using Soap On Your Face
Ok Zovers, I hope most of you know that using soap on your face is a big no-no. But in case you didn’t know, or didn’t realise why, let’s break this one down a little bit further.
The pH level of bar soap is usually around a 9, so significantly higher than the pH of your skin. Remember the pH scale? Anything that’s a pH 7 or above is alkaline.
Using bar soap on your face leaves behind an alkaline residue, making your skin susceptible to skin issues and damage.
Similarly, using a harsh cleanser (for example, one that contains sodium laureth sulfate, which has pH level of 10) can also affect the balance of your acid mantle making your skin dry, itchy and red.
High Amounts Of Sun Exposure
We all know the sun’s UV rays are harmful to our skin. Prolonged exposure to the sun weakens your skin’s acid mantle and makes your skin more alkaline.
As we’ve established by now, alkaline skin is not happy skin! Sun exposure can lead to dullness, pigmentation and acne.
You know what they say, you are what you eat!
Your diet plays a critical role in determining your pH levels - both internally and externally.
Now, I’m guessing this sounds fairly straightforward. In order to thrive, our skin’s acid mantle needs to be slightly acidic. So, all you need to do is eat a ton of acidic foods and your skin will be glowing, right?!
Not quite. Eating too many acidic foods affects your blood’s pH levels, making you more likely to suffer from fatigue, weight gain, inflammation and skin issues.
Meanwhile maintaining a slightly alkaline state internally is associated with higher energy, better digestion, increased mental function, lower inflammation and healthier skin.
Foods like meat, cheese, dairy, pastries, white bread and caffeine tend to be more acidic. Whereas alkalising foods include things like kale, spinach, garlic, carrots, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR SKIN'S PH LEVELS BALANCED?
Basically, the key is to maintain and protect your skin’s acid mantle!
Oils And Acids Will Help You Strike A Balance
As we get older, the amount of oil or sebum naturally produced by our skin decreases. This affects the acid mantle’s ability to protect the skin.
Using a small amount of jojoba, coconut, argan or olive oil on your skin regularly will help support the skin’s natural oil secretions. Don’t forget to use your Zove facial roller to help massage the product into your skin. PS: Our upcoming product release may include some of the ingredients listed above.. keep your eyes peeled!
Meanwhile, we also want to keep our skin slightly acidic. But, in the same way that high alkaline skin is no good, highly acidic skin is also no good.
Using ingredients like retinoic acid, beta hydroxy acids, alpha hydroxy acids, and amino fruit acids can weaken your acid mantle if you use too much of it.
While most over the counter products containing these ingredients will be diluted and suitable for daily use, it’s important to pay attention to how the product interacts with your skin.
If your skin starts to become dry, itchy or red, you may need to apply acids to your skin less frequently.
Use Mild Cleansers
We want to avoid using products that make our skin more alkaline. Most cream cleansers tend to be mild which is a good start.
When in doubt, double check the ingredients to make sure your cleanser doesn’t contain sodium laureth sulfate, or opt for cleaners that are suited to sensitive skins (they are less alkaline).
Wear Sunscreen Every. Single. Day.
Using sunscreen daily defends your skin’s acid mantle by shielding the skin cells from sun damage and increasing the skin’s ability to protect itself.
So remember to put on your sunscreen everyday, rain or shine, summer or winter and it doesn’t matter whether you’re inside or outside.
Eat Alkalizing Foods
That’s right Zovers, it’s time to eat your greens! (as well as garlic, carrots, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar).
Maintaining an alkaline state internally will help keep your acid mantle in check externally, winning!
So there you have it, Zovers. Keeping your skin’s pH balanced is super important to keeping your acid mantle (aka the thing that keeps the good things in, and the bad things out) in check. This will support happy, healthy and glowing skin.