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What is Skin pH? How to Balance It and Why It Matters

Posted by Ella Pflueger on

What is Skin pH? How to Balance It and Why It Matters

What is the pH of the Skin? 

If you’ve ever taken a chemistry course, you’ve likely heard a thing or two about pH. The term “pH” refers to “potential of hydrogen,” which concerns the concentration of hydrogen ions in liquid solutions. The pH level indicates how acidic or alkaline (basic) a substance is. Lower levels of pH are more acidic and higher levels of pH are more basic. 

You may be surprised to learn that the skin’s pH tends to be more on the acidic side. The skin’s resting pH is weakly acidic, typically at a level around 4.7. Ideally, you want to keep your skin’s pH at an acidity level between 4 and 7. More acidity allows your skin to better combat harmful bacteria, free radicals, and other agents that can wear down the skin and accelerate the aging process. 

Because pH levels are an important part of skin barrier maintenance, an imbalance in the pH levels of your skin can negatively impact your skin’s overall health. 

What Causes Imbalance in Your Skin's pH?

If overused, harsh exfoliants, toners, soaps, and other skincare products can throw off your skin’s pH levels. While these products can be beneficial to the skin, it's important to remember to use them in moderation. For example, when it comes to exfoliating products, it's best to keep your use to a maximum of 1-2 times a week to avoid throwing off your skin’s pH levels. 

Harsh products and overuse are not the only factors that can cause changes to your skin’s pH levels. 

Other factors that can impact skin pH include:

  • Acne 
  • Excessive skin washing 
  • Changes in season
  • Air pollution
  • Cosmetic products
  • Sweat
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Detergents/dyes

How Can You Tell if Your Skin's pH is Off?

The skin’s pH is an important part of skin barrier maintenance. So, when your skin’s pH is disrupted, this can lead to a compromised skin barrier. Signs of skin pH/barrier disruption can include: 

  • Increased skin sensitivity
  • Irritation
  • Dry, flaky, and/or tight-feeling skin
  • Redness
  • Breakouts 

Research has also shown that when the skin’s pH is off for a prolonged period, this can lead to an increase in wrinkles and fine lines. 

How to Restore Your Skin's pH Balance

If you feel like your skin’s pH may be out of whack, there are ways to help! 

Pick pH Balanced Skincare Products

The pH of skin is weakly acidic, so the best products to use on your skin should have a similar pH level. When searching for products, try to look for ones that are pH balanced, meaning that they are around a pH level of 4.5-6. This will help to restore your skin to its optimal pH level.

Maintain a Consistent Routine

Consistency is key when it comes to your skincare. Changing up your skincare routine and products too frequently, without giving your skin time to adjust, can cause the skin’s pH levels to fluctuate. This means finding the right regimen that works for you and your skin and sticking to it! 

Avoid Overwashing

Overwashing your face can strip the skin of essential oils, which can disrupt the skin’s pH levels and compromise the skin barrier. To avoid overwashing, stick to washing your face at a maximum of twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening) and/or after excessive sweating. Using lukewarm water when washing is also recommended to avoid further removal of your skin’s natural oils. 

Use a Gentle Cleanser 

Cleansers with harsh soaps and surfactants can be disruptive to your skin’s pH. That’s why we recommend choosing facial and body cleansers that are gentle, moisturizing, and unscented, like our Dandy hydro-rich shower gel! Dandy is a powerful cleanser and moisturizing body wash that won’t strip away your body’s natural, essential oils and will leave your skin feeling fresh, clean, and hydrated. 

Handy Dandy Hydration - Try Dandy Today! 

References

Everyday Health: What Is Skin pH? How to Tell if Yours Is Healthy, and Why It Matters | USGS: pH Scale | Healthline: About Skin pH and Why It Matters | Women’s Health Magazine: pH Level - The Key to Great Skin | National Library of Medicine: Effect of skin pH for wrinkle formation on Asian - Korean, Vietnamese and Singaporean