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Beauty / Health and wellbeing | 28.07.2017

pH balance and skincare products: what you need to know

Do you know if your skincare products are pH balanced? It's worth investigating, because if they're too acidic or too alkaline, you're setting yourself up for a host of potential skin issues.

'pH' is is short for 'potential to free hydrogen ions' and is a measure of how acid or alkaline any aqueous solution is. Applied to your health, it's basically a measure of how much oxygen is in your blood. The higher a liquid's pH, the more acidic and oxygen deprived it becomes, with fewer free hydrogen ions available; the lower its pH, the freer hydrogen ions it has. 

The pH scale ranges from (0.0-14.0). A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7.0, alkaline. The pH of the skin is slightly more acidic and should sit at around (4.5 - 5.5).

Acidity plays a key role in your skin by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and activating certain enzymes in your stratum corneum. When the skin's pH sits in a normal range, it stimulates the production and secretion of healthy lipids and natural oils that allow the skin to repair and heal itself and stay in a balanced state. The natural shedding process that occurs can be disturbed if the pH is not correctly maintained.  

Examples of pH

The skin is made up of various layers. The outer most layer, the stratum corneum is the protective barrier from the external environment. Sweat and sebum (lipids) sit on the surface of the skin creating an important physical and chemical barrier known as the acid mantle. It’s basically your skin’s first line of defence. If your acid mantle is disrupted the skin becomes more permeable and susceptible to bacteria, chemicals, pollutants and other microorganisms. Once the barrier is impaired it becomes challenging to keep the skin hydrated and for it to repair itself. From first hand experience this is one of the worst case scenarios because nothing you do seems to help.

The pH of skincare products is super important. A pH difference of 1 may not seem like a big deal, but the pH scale is logarithmic not linear, and works on 1 to the power of 10.

To understand the significance of the scale:

Products that are high in alkalinity can dilate and cause swelling of your skin follicles and increase the permeability of your skin. Changing the pH on a continual basis and repetitive use of products that aren't pH balanced can create problems.

Emulsifiers found in moisturisers and cleansers tend to have a higher pH. Their alkalinity can disrupt the skin's acid mantle. Extreme pH levels can cause inflammation, irritation, dryness and skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and redness.

Ideally, the products you are using should stay within the pH range of the skin and sit around (4.5 – 6.0) Products you use regularly and leave on your face should be pH balanced accordingly and sit around the (4.0 – 5.5) range.

A couple of exceptions would be an exfoliating product that contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s) that are used to create an acidic environment to assist with desquamation (shedding) of the skin. Another would be a professional treatment like a chemical peel that’s designed to neutralise the acidity of the skin.

You can test the pH of products using pH litmus strips from a pharmacy or if you want to get techy, invest in a simple pH meter. If the pH of a product is less than 4 or more than 6 then you should discontinue using it. You can also test your makeup as well.  

Because soap is high in alkalinity (8.0-11.0) you should never use it on your face unless it’s specifically pH balanced and labelled as such. 

All Mukti Organic products are pH balanced between (4.0 - 7.0).  

Diet and pH

When it comes to an alkaline diet, there’s evidence to suggest it can create clearer skin, more vitality, stable moods, weight loss around the belly and fewer sugar cravings.

The theory is that after digestion, all foods have either an acid or alkaline effect on the body. Based on the belief that a more acidic body creates a breeding ground for disease, the diet advocates an 80/20 ratio of alkaline to acid forming foods to create the optimum pH balance in the body.

Alkaline-forming foods are naturally very high in the exact vitamins and minerals needed for good skin — antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. 

Eat:

Drink:

Reduce or eliminate:

Have you used products that aren't pH balanced and had a bad experience? Leave a comment and be in the running to win $150 worth of products of your choice.

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