The term ‘PH’ may already be something you remember from chemistry classes but for anyone who might have forgotten, here’s a quick run-down.
PH stands for ‘potential hydrogen’ and it refers to a level (typically between 0 and 14) that indicates the acidity or alkaline level of any water-based substance. When it comes to our skin, because our cells are made up of roughly 60% water, the skin also has a PH level.
But how does the PH level of our skin affect our complexion? We chat to Lucy Macdougald, Dermal Specialist at Biologi to give us the details.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OUR SKIN’S PH?
The most important thing to know is that the PH of the skin’s microbiome has a huge impact on your skin and your overall complexion. The skin microbiome, or acid mantle as it is otherwise known, is a light film made up of sebum and water. This thin layer covers the surface of the skin and works to lock in moisture and nutrients while acting as a barrier against toxins, bacteria and environmental pollutants. As a guide, PH 7 is neutral, however for your skin to function at its best, it should naturally sit between 4.5 and 5.5 (which makes it slightly acidic). The optimal PH level for skin is slightly more acidic than tap water and about the same level as a tomato or black coffee.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN OUR PH IS OUT OF BALANCE?
Most skin problems occur when the acid mantle of our skin is out of balance. Constant disruption to the acid mantle can lead to an array of skin problems such as dryness, breakouts and premature ageing. What’s more, skin that is too acidic or too alkaline can also cause serious skin concerns including eczema and dermatitis.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT FIXING OUR PH LEVELS?
One of the best ways to keep your PH levels balanced is by preserving your skin’s natural oils. These oils make up part of the skin’s acid mantle and when they are stripped, your acid mantle can become too alkaline. This can result in red, dehydrated or sensitive skin.
The first step to preserving the skin’s natural oils is by being mindful of the products you use. Steer clear of harsh toners, exfoliants or cleansers that can dry out the skin rather than hydrate. Some soaps and cleansers can be too alkaline which can impact the microbiome. As an alternative, opt for a gentle double cleanse of the skin using natural ingredients.
I recommend Biologi’s new Microfibre Cloths, followed by Biologi’s Bc Refresh Cleanser which harnesses the pure plant extract of soapberry and is gentle and hydrating for the skin.
Also try to keep your shower temperatures not too hot, as the heat can strip the natural moisture from your skin. In fact, excessive hot water usage or having showers and baths are consistent high temperatures can disrupt the skin’s natural balance because it prevents the skin from locking in any moisture. It also damages the keratin cells that are located in the epidermis, which strips the skin’s surface of its natural oils it needs to regenerate.
One of the best tips we advise to maintain this healthy balance is to reduce the toxic load on your skin. This is often a gradual process and ideally you can start this by looking at all the ingredients in your products and learning what they really mean.
Another way to keep your skin’s PH balance in check is by looking at your diet and understanding how certain food’s affect the skin. Probiotics, or good bacteria found in foods like yogurt or probiotic supplements can have a positive impact on the skin by making sure your gut stays healthy and toxin-free.