In the part 1 of the skincare series we will talk about what is pH and why it is very important to maintain a healthy pH level for those suffering from acne or those that want healthy looking skin.
What is a pH?
pH is a chemistry measurement of the acidity vs alkalinity of an aqueous solution, aka a solution of water + something. pH 7 is the ‘neutral’ point, and anything below it is considered an ‘acid’, down to hydrochloric acid which has a pH of 0, and anything above pH 7 is considered a ‘base’ (or alkaline) all the way up to concentrated sodium hydroxide which has a pH of 14.
Why low pH matters?
The pH range of ‘healthy’ adult skin is actually acidic, not neutral. That is, between 4.2 and 5.6, and men have slightly more acidic skin than women.
So anything you put on your skin that is higher or lower than it’s natural pH will correspondingly raise or lower the skin’s pH as well. This can either be bad (weakening your skin’s defenses) or good (restoring its natural state).
That is the reason it is NOT a good idea to use lemon juice on your face which is highly acidic as it has a pH of 2 and can result in chemical burns.
Healthy, acidic skin in a ‘good’ pH range does all sorts of wonderful things for you, like resisting bacteria, preventing your skin from losing water (called TEWL or transepidermal water loss) and resisting disease among many other things.
Why pH level is important for acne prone skin?
Bacteria (specifically acne causing bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes) grows better at a neutral pH, but an acidic pH is less bacteria-friendly. We already know healthy skin is acidic and hence a bacteria-no-grow-environment.
That is why it is not a good idea to use baking soda on the skin as it is alkaline in nature (pH 9.5) and raises the pH level of the skin hence inviting bacterial growth.
In conclusion, whether you are acne prone or not, anything you put on your skin, from cleansers, toners to creams should be of optimal pH if you want to keep your skin bacteria free and healthy.
In the coming parts of this skincare series, we will discuss how you can best care for your skin if you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. You will also:
- Learn what age specific ingredients to look for in your products.
- Get tips from women who would like to share their experiences and thoughts on how to best take care of your skin.
- Learn a number of DIY natural skincare remedies.