What is PH and Why It Matters For Your Skin
[rev_slider alias=”home”]There are few things more important to the health and beauty of the skin than keeping the perfect pH balanced. For our faces, and the skin on our bodies, that means maintaining a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. In case you were asleep through chemistry class, here is a recap of the basics. The abbreviation ‘pH’ stands for ‘power of hydrogen,’ which refers to the concentration of hydrogen ions in a water-based solution. The number 7 on the scale is neutral, and equates to the pH of distilled water. Lemon juice is much more acidic, at a 2, while baking soda, a ‘base,’ or ‘alkaline,’ is closer to a 9 or 10. When the pH of the skin is too acidic, it can cause redness, sensitivity, and deep painful breakouts. Too alkaline and our skin becomes dull and flaky and can feel tight after cleansing. Too much alkalinity can also cause breakouts and premature aging.
The skin’s defense system is called the ‘acid mantle,’ also sometimes called the ‘barrier function,’ and its job is to protect the skin from all kinds of damage. The acid mantle is formed by oils (sebum) and sweat that are released from the pores and mix together on the surface of the skin to create the perfect pH balance. This is why it is so important NOT to remove all the natural oils from our skin when we cleanse. Removing too much of the natural oils from our skin will also cause the oil gland to go into overdrive, trying to compensate for the oil we just washed away. Most drugstore skin cleansers, and quite a few professional brands as well, fall on the alkaline side of the scale, often as far up as 9 or 10. When we wash our faces over and over with an alkaline cleanser it becomes harder and harder for our skin to balance itself correctly, eventually leading to problems. Sometimes an alkaline cleanser will seem excellent at first, because the high pH allows it to dissolve extra oils on the skin, making our skin feel “squeaky clean.” Over time, though, the absence of natural lubrication on the skin will lead to bacteria growth and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
So what can we do? What products should we choose? How will we know which cleansers will remove dirt and toxins, but not strip our faces of their natural defense? The answer is relatively simple. Nearly any cleanser that has a foaming or lathering action is going to remove too much natural defense. This is especially problematic for those of us that deal with dry skin. Most of us are very accustomed to using detergents (foaming soap products) to cleanse our skin, but there are other ways to remove unwanted ickies that will leave our skin clean, clear, soft, and glowing.
- Begin with about a quarter sized amount of your favorite carrier oil and apply to the face and throat.
- Massage in upwards circular motions for a few minutes
- Using a washcloth and very warm water, simply wipe the excess oils from the skin.
In chemistry, ‘like’ attracts ‘like’, so the carrier oil dissolves the excess sebum on the skin and then it is whisked away with a nice warm rinse. Our skin is left feeling super clean, but also super hydrated. The other option is the “Clay Cleansing Method.” This technique combines natural clays with herbs and essential oils to gently remove dead skin and impurities from our faces, while maintaining the skin’s healthy pH. The ‘cleanser’ can then be left to dry for a few minutes as a mask, refining the texture of the skin even more, and absorbing extra oils for those who need it. Both of these cleansing options are a wonderful, healthy alternatives to the harsh products that are so widely available.