What is pH?
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with 7 being the neutral middle. Anything zero to six indicates a solution is acidic (with zero being the most acidic), while eight to 14 indicates a solution is increasingly alkaline. Each whole number on this scale represents an increase in hydrogen ion concentration by tenfold: for example, pH 6 is ten times more acidic than pH 7. Who would ever believe that chemistry would have such a significant place in your everyday skin care?
Not only does chemistry have a place in our daily skincare, but it naturally has a place in our skin. In fact, skin pH is slightly acidic- around 4.5-5.5 and that’s relatively generous on both ends of the scale. This is important for several reasons, including the fact that it helps keep bacteria, fungus, parasites, and toxins from what we encounter daily out of the body through its ability to prevent them from thriving in a low-acid environment.
Our skin is able to regulate its pH through its own natural protective barrier- this is what we call the Acid Mantle. This protective barrier is a mixture of sebum (our skin’s natural oil), and sweat. Both of these bodily substances come together to form this barrier to offer this protection to the skin and body. An increase or decrease in pH can break down this protective barrier, allowing the opportunity for an increase in bacterial growth on the skin.
So, what happens when our skin is too acidic?
Remember- our skin LOVES to be acidic. But just as the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing. While our skin does need to be acidic to keep out the bad guys we’ve mentioned above, if we move too low on the acidic side of the pH scale, things can also go awry.
We normally see skin that is too acidic from new guests who have attempted some skin DIYs and are incorporating things like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or toothpaste into their routines. They may also be using other homemade products. The skin can become red, have an overall tough feel to the skin, looks very shiny, with an overabundance of oil to accompany acne or breakouts. This is usually in addition to signs of aging looking exponentially worse.
While we want our skin to stay in a more acidic place to keep moisture in and the bad guys out, being too acidic will also throw off the moisture balance and cause inflammation that can be easily avoided.
Okay.. then what happens when our skin is too alkaline?
When skin is too alkaline, it means there has been an increase in pH. This increase in pH can make the skin become dry, tight, and flaky. It can also make the skin red, itchy, and inflamed. Due to the lack of hydration in the skin, it not only takes on a dull appearance, but our most superficial layers of skin lose their ability to function properly.
The increase in pH is what breaks down our protective barrier, allowing the opportunity for an increase in bacterial growth on the skin. This lack of protection can allow fungal conditions to take over and thrive, and it could allow for even c. acne’s bacteria to grow out of control. All of this can look like an excessive amount of breakouts, skin conditions that are or look similar to rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and the lack of moisture can definitely increase signs of aging.
What am I doing that could be causing these disruptions?
Disrupting your acid mantle is pretty easy to do. Using harsh products like gel or foaming cleaners if your skin tends to be drier, using scrubs or soaps, over-cleansing, over-exfoliating, overusing AHA’s and BHA’s, using lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, toothpaste and other at home DIYs, not replacing your acid mantle after cleansing, not taking EFAs, certain medications, stress, and harsh weather are a few baseline things that can disrupt your acid mantle.
It’s important to get the pH of your skin back in balance
If your skin is dry, flaking, red, inflamed, shiny, dull, has the presence of acne or breakouts, and even possibly distended veins- your pH may be out of balance and in need of restoration.
Luckily, we know that combatting it mainly has to do with rebuilding or reinforcing the skin’s natural protective barrier. We can repair your barrier with proper treatment and the proper use of home prescriptives. Taking EFAs and using acid mantle replacements like Herb and Mineral Mist with either Seba-E or Herbal Pigment Oil can help restore your acid mantle. We also recommend going a step further and sealing in the moisture you’re putting back into your skin with either Solar Damage or Hydroloc. Of course, you should always be wearing sunscreen, too.
So here’s what we recommend:
If you are suffering from inflamed skin and the symptoms that follow, we encourage you to go online and book an appointment with SPA Melissa Allen. You can have the beautiful skin you really want, and we are just the right people to help you get there!
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