What is skin pH, why it’s important, and how to tell if yours is balanced.
Our acid mantle is the outermost film-like layer of our skin, responsible for maintaining hydration and preventing environmental damage to skin cells. It’s home to around 1,000 different species of healthy bacteria, which are responsible for our skin’s structure through cell regulation and skin renewal, and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria or fungi. This is why it’s also referred to as our skin’s microbiome.
To maintain it’s optimum homeostasis, our skin is dependent on being slightly acidic, a pH of around 4 - 5.5. Changes to our skin’s pH, levels of hydration or the environment can disrupt the acid mantle’s delicate balance and change the composition of the bacterial flora and activity of enzymes. Even minor disruptions could lead to sensitivities to external stress, inflammation, enlarged pores, increased water loss (dehydrated skin), increased chance of infections, reduced healing, and dry, scaly skin. Continued disruptions in our skin’s pH compromise our defence system and can give way to pathogens that cause diseases such as contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, acne and candida infections.
HOW TO MAINTAIN SKIN PH BALANCE NATURALLY.
Skin pH can be affected by many things - sweat, sebum, pollution, genetics, age, water hardness, topical antibiotics, and of course, the products we use. Detergent based or soaping ingredients are highly alkaline, which strip the skin of its natural oils, giving you that squeaky clean feeling, and unfortunately greatly disrupting the acidic balance of our skin. Look for skincare and makeup products that are pH balanced, especially for items you use regularly, and after washing with water (a neutral pH of 7), use a gentle toner to return your skin to the 4 - 5.5 it’s happiest at.
Cumulative evidence has demonstrated that our gut health also has a direct influence on our skin health and microbiome. Studies have shown oral supplementation of various probiotic strains result in a significant decrease in transepidermal water loss, a significant increase in corneal hydration, decreased sensitivities, and an overall positive effect on skin barrier function, which are all key roles of our acid mantle. Taking a daily probiotic is a great starting point to care for our gut health and skin.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY PRODUCTS ARE PH BALANCED? ARE PLANTED PRODUCTS PH BALANCED?
Unless the pH is listed on the product itself, the only way to find out your product’s pH is by checking the company’s website or asking. You can also purchase litmus pH strips and test them yourself, though it’s difficult to get an accurate reading.
Only aqueous solutions contain a pH, and with most of our products being anhydrous (not containing water), they don’t contain a pH and therefore will not affect your skin’s natural pH.
Our Nutrient Rich Face Cream is our only water-based product and we were careful to optimise its pH. Instead of distilled water as a base, which is typical for most facial moisturisers (listed as aqua on the list of ingredients), we use organic rose hydrosol, which is naturally a pH of 5.5, and offers other skin soothing, hydrating and cleansing properties.
We also use aspen bark extract as part of the preservation system, which is naturally high in salicylic acid and therefore contributes to the gentle acidity of our face cream formula.
1. Influence of Buffers of Different pH and Composition on the Murine Skin Barrier, Epidermal Proliferation, Differentiation, and Inflammation
2. The Influence of Calcium on the Skin pH and Epidermal Barrier During Aging
3. The pH of the main Brazilian commercial moisturizers and liquid soaps
4. Differences in the skin surface pH and bacterial microflora due to the long-term application of synthetic detergent preparations
5. pH and Buffer Capacity of Topical Formulations
6. Effects of soap and detergents on skin surface pH, stratum corneum hydration and fat content in infants
7. The pH of the skin surface and its impact on the barrier function
8. The alkaline pH-adapted skin barrier is disrupted severely by SLS-induced irritation
9. Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora
10. The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis
11. Effect of heat-killed Lactobacillus brevis SBC8803
12. Effects of oral intake of heat-killed Lactobacillus brevis SBC8803 on dry skin conditions
13. Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effect of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC 2461 on skin reactivity
14. Oral intake of Lactobacillus helveticus-fermented milk whey