By Suramya Jain

All You Need To Know About Your Skin’s pH

Have you noticed changes in your skin when you stay out in the sun for too long or when the weather changes? The reason for all such changes is disturbance in the skin pH. Infact, The pH of your favorite cleanser, toner, and moisturizer also affects your skin, whether you realize it or not.

In pure chemical terms, pH is potential of hydrogen, or the measuring index that states how acidic or alkaline (basic) a substance is in comparison to distilled water which has a neutral pH of 7. The ideal skin pH is somewhat acidic and ranges from 4.7 to 5.8. So, the typical pH of skin is somewhat acidic. 

Why Is The pH Balance Of Skin Important?

The more acidic skin is, the stronger it is against threats of damage and infection. The acidic layer functions as the final barrier between you and the outside world — to keep in moisture and nutrients and keep out pathogens, allergens, and toxins.

How do you know that your skin pH is off?

An off-balance pH are signs of a damaged barrier—flakiness, increased sensitivity, inflammation, redness, premature aging, and breakouts. 

Your skin becomes more prone to the following side-effects if the pH gets too high for any reason: 

  • Dry or tight skin even after washing with mild soap/cleanser
  • Unusual dullness in the morning
  • Uneven rough or flaky patches
  • Frequent irritation or redness

 Moreover, if the skin pH gets too low, you might experience the following side effects: 

  • Excessive oiliness
  • Extra sensitivity to beauty products
  • Sticky skin 
  • Uneven dry patches
  • More frequent breakouts, acne and pimples

What causes a pH imbalance on the skin?

Several factors can be blamed for destroying skin’s pH:

  • Your skincare products: When you put alkaline products on the skin, it's going to raise the skin's pH and cause issues like dryness, tightness, cracking, and maybe a higher propensity for fine lines and wrinkles along with a broken skin barrier. On the contrary, with too low of a pH, inflammation, redness, and irritation can occur.
  • Tap water: The water you bathe yourself in could be to blame for an impacted pH. If you have hard water, consider investing in a water softener or use bottled water to rinse facial skin and see if that gives improvement.
  • Sweat: Sweat consists of different compounds like free fatty acids, other lipids, chemicals, and acids that can create an alkaline (high pH) environment on the skin for which it has to recover from. Just make sure that you are cleansing your skin in an appropriate amount of time.

How to Maintain the pH Balance of Your Skin?

  • Don’t use hard water to wash your face: Hard water has a high mineral composition containing heavy metals like iron, copper, zinc, and nickel that can lead to irritation, inflammation and itchiness. In addition, it can even breakdown collagen and elastin. Hard water contains chlorine, which is drying so it strips the top layer of the skin of its natural oils.
  • Avoid harsh cleansers and toners: Cleansers or toners that have an alkaline pH should be avoided. Instead use skin care products that are neutral or slightly acidic that do not make your skin dry.
  • Include foods in your diet that help maintain your pH balance: A healthy diet will leave your skin looking healthy and glowing. Avoid excess of acidic foods such as meat, poultry, cheese and dairy, baked pastries, white bread, caffeine and processed foods and embrace alkaline foods such as kale, cayenne pepper, garlic, carrots, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar which are known to have pH balancing properties.

How to read pH of products?

Here are common pH ranges for the major categories of our skin care products:

  • Cleansers: pH 4.5–7
  • Toners: pH 5–7
  • Sunscreens: pH 5–7.5
  • AHA and BHA Exfoliants: pH 3.2–3.9, with any reading between 3 and 4 considered most effective
  • Moisturizers: pH 5–7
  • Serums: pH 4–6
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) products: pH 2.6–3.2
  • Retinol products: pH 4–6.6

Now that you know everything about skin pH levels, you can easily make a few adjustments in your diet, lifestyle and skincare choices if you suspect that your pH levels are out of whack so that your skin can start healing and look flawless in no time!