Everything You Need To Know About Your Skin's pH Balance
- Skin & Hair Care Consultant
Who doesn’t desire soft, glowing, healthy skin? Almost everyone right? We all wish we can look like those beautiful models, with radiant skin, displayed on skin care products. But realistically, ‘flawless skin’ is quite difficult to achieve. In everyday life most of us have to grapple with skin problems such as acne, pimples, pigmentation etc. But one aspect that we can focus on to make our skin look and feel better is the pH balance. Many of you must have read the words ‘pH balanced’ mentioned on beauty products. But what is pH balance exactly and why is it so important in your skin care routine? Let us find out…
·What is pH balance?
Remember school chemistry classes and practical? Where you had to dip those small colour changing strips into separate solutions and check where they stood on a scale of 1 to 14. Anything below a pH of 7.0 is acid (these substances taste sour, e.g. lemon) and anything above a pH of 7.0 is alkaline or basic substance (these taste bitter, e.g. baking soda). Exactly 7.0 is neutral, which is water.
So 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. 
·What is the pH of skin?
The ideal pH of skin is 5.5, (you can measure it by a litmus paper) and is fairly acidic. As the skin is a delicate organ it performs its best under controlled, ideal environments. But any deviation from this pH balance of 5.5 can trigger skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea or skin inflammations and outbreaks such as acne or pimples.
The sweat, dead skin cells and sebum in the skin come together to form an ‘acid mantle’ that protects the skin against harmful bacteria and fungi, helps retain moisture, and keeps the skin firm. The acidic conditions help to maintain the skin barrier function as well as the body’s ability to keep away infections. 
·Why is pH balance important for skin care?
The pH balance of the skin has a wide ranging influence on its overall health. It is essential that the acidic and alkaline balance is maintained so that the acid mantle stays strong to protect the skin against infections and to keep it sufficiently hydrated.
Actually, the acid mantle gives our skin its pH and can range from 4.0 to 7.0 with an average of 4.7. Any interferences in the acid mantle can adversely affect skin health leading to skin problems, inflammations, dry skin, dehydrated skin or skin sensitivity.
With age the acid mantle on the skin reduces and becomes less acidic. This is one reason why the skin becomes dry, gets wrinkled and shows fine lines in later years. On the other hand, skin that is too acidic can appear reddish, irritated and itchy.
Just like there is good bacteria in our gut that keeps our digestive system healthy, the acid mantle maintains healthy bacteria on our skin that is essential to fight off skin diseases such as psoriasis, dermatitis, acne etc.
Ideally, the skin pH levels that are maintained at or near 5.5 works just right for keeping the skin healthy. ,  & 
·What disturbs the acid mantle and pH balance of the skin?
Our skin is regularly exposed to pollutants, chemicals, skin care products even water or technically hard water. The higher the pH of something, the more disrupting it is to the acid mantle and therefore moisture barrier.
Hard water has a high mineral content and a pH of 8.5 which can have a negative effect on the pH balance and the acid mantle.
Alkaline soaps (some of them have a pH balance of 9.5) and substances (like baking soda which is an ingredient in some anti-acne products), cleansers with a pH balance higher than 6.0, all should be avoided as they alter the skin pH and negatively affect the acid mantle of the skin. 
·Why is the pH balance of skin care products significant?
As the pH balance and acid mantle of the skin are essential to protect against infections and maintain sufficient moisture in the skin, it is necessary that when you use skin care products, be it a toner, cleanser or a moisturizer, make sure they do not affect the pH levels of your skin.
The significance of pH balance in skin care products cannot be stressed enough. When a skin care product says on its packaging that it is ‘pH balanced’ it means that the levels are at or close to the 5.5 mark. This means that the chances of the product working in a positive manner to help keep your skin youthful, radiant and healthy are high.
Skin care products which have high pH levels are alkaline and a big threat to your skin. Alkaline skin care products can remove sebum and natural oils from the skin making it itchy, red, irritating, inflamed, flaky or scaly.
It is better to use skin care products with a low pH level, which is closer to the skin’s optimal pH level of 5.5. But some products (like homemade exfoliants) can have a too low pH and can cause the same troubles for your skin as the ones with high pH.
In general though look for skin care products that are in the range of 4. 5 to 7.0 of pH levels (slightly acidic is more preferred for skin). 
·How to maintain the pH balance of your skin?
The simplest way to maintain your skin pH balance is to use skin care products that do not have an adverse effect on the acid mantle and pH levels.
Don’t use hard water to wash your face
A simple beauty tip for face is to avoid washing it with hard water. 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.
The famous Micellar water (a big hit with French women) was invented in France, in the 1990s, which is made up of micelles or cleansing oil molecules that are suspended in soft water. The micelles draw out impurities without drying the skin. 
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
As any skin care tips will tell you, what we eat, first shows up on our skin. A healthy diet will leave your skin looking healthy and glowing.
Avoid acidic foods-
When the body is functioning well the cells maintain a solid blood pH but if our food intake is a little more on the acidic side (foods such as meat, poultry, cheese and dairy, baked pastries, white bread, caffeine and processed foods are acidic in nature) our body needs to work more to filter these foods and maintain blood pH levels.
Include alkaline foods–
On the other hand alkaline foods help the blood to absorb more oxygen and aid the digestion process which in turn results in clearer skin.
Foods such as kale, cayenne pepper, garlic, carrots, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are known to have pH balancing properties and should be included in the diet on a regular basis. Avoid caffeine & carbonated drinks. Consume green juice (a combination of spinach, kale, lemon and cucumber) and green tea which is more alkaline.  We hope that you found this article on pH and its importance in skin care regimen useful.
If you have any queries on skin care or skin troubles, contact your dermatologist/skin care expert at https://www.skinandhairacademy.in/