Having problems with dry or oily skin? Your skin pH balance may be off.
But don’t worry! Balancing your skin’s natural pH level is easier than you think! We’re here to help you with that.
Learn all you need to know about pH in our guide! We even have a couple of product recommendations at the end!
Your journey to healthy and beautiful skin starts here. It all lies in your skin PH!
What is Skin PH: Why Your Skin Gets Crazy at Times
Let’s start off by answering this question.
Simply put, “pH” stands for “power of hydrogen” or “potential hydrogen.” It’s the measure of hydrogen ion concentration in any substance. It’s used for measuring acidity and alkalinity.
With that in mind, your skin’s pH level basically means how acidic or alkaline your skin is.
If you’ve heard of “pH balance”, pay attention to it. Our conversation will somewhat revolve around it.
Apparently, you’ll have happy skin that functions well when it’s at a sweet spot right in the middle.
If you throw that balance off, your skin GOES WHACK. It reacts negatively and we experience problems like acne breakouts or dry flakiness. You wouldn’t want that, right?
Causes of Unbalanced Skin PH
There are several factors that can disrupt your skin’s pH levels. Some of them are external, some are natural, and some even involve your habits as well.
1. Your Age
Your skin becomes more alkaline as you get older.
This causes dryness and sensitivity which can make you prone to the following:
- Fine lines
2. Too Much Sun
Prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays weaken your skin’s acid mantle. This makes it more alkaline.
You’ll be more prone to issues such as:
3. Using Bar Soap on Your Face
Most bar soaps‘ pH levels are usually around 9.
That’s so much higher than your skin’s normal pH level!
This makes your skin more vulnerable to skin problems.
Though most bar soaps do cause dryness, those that contain glycerin or lanolin are the ones that are good for your skin!
4. Your Diet
Your eating habits have a direct impact on your skin’s pH level.
Your diet shouldn’t be very acidic. Too much acid in your system actually affects your skin.
Try to ingest these in moderation:
- Processed grains
The same applies for alkalinity. Hint: What’s good for your body may not be good for your skin.
Nutritionists may say that an alkaline state is good for your body. Dermatologists see no benefits for skin, however.
Women with more alkaline skin experienced more fine lines and crow’s feet over a period of eight years. This was stated in a study published by the British Journal of Dermatology.
5. Your Skin Care Routine
Certain skin care habits disturb the pH level of your skin too! They’re habits such as:
- Washing your face or skin with hot water
- Scrubbing too much
- Using harsh cleansers
- Taking long showers
They actually strip off your skin’s acid mantle and that’s not good!
“But how do I prevent that and bring my skin’s pH levels back to normal?” We’ve got you covered! Let’s go through ways to do that next.
9 Ways to Restore Your Skin's PH Balance
Effectively restoring your skin’s pH level requires you to REPAIR your skin’s barrier function. This maintains your skin’s hydration and ensures a radiant and glowing complexion.
Here’s how you can restore the pH balance of your skin:
1. Say Goodbye to Soaps and Harsh Cleansers
Don’t use bar soaps on your face and avoid any cleanser that contains harsh chemicals. Avoid any products that don’t mention all its ingredients to keep your skin PH-balanced.
Use cleansers that contain pH-balancing components.
- Choose pH-balanced skincare products.
- Avoid products that contain harsh ingredients like parabens, SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), fragrance, and BHT (synthetic antioxidants).
2. Your Water Quality is Important
Water quality is actually one of the biggest culprits that cause unbalanced skin pH!
Do your scalp and skin feel dry no matter what type of hair care product or body wash you use?
Hard water may be your problem. Consider investing in a water softener. A shower filter is an excellent and a more affordable option too!
Pro Tip: Hot water dries out your skin. Use lukewarm water whenever possible to open your pores.
3. Toners are Helpful
After cleansing, immediately apply a toner. This helps calibrate your skin’s pH.
Pro Tip: Before applying any skin care product, read the ingredient list first. Ingredients like alcohol strip your skin of moisture rather than nourish it.
4. Use Only Good Oils and Moisturizers
Your skin’s ability to produce sebum decreases as you age. Your acid mantle gets damaged as a result. We recommend using non-comedogenic products!
Pro Tip: Keep your skin hydrated and rebuild its moisture barrier by using gentle moisturizers and natural oils.
5. Be Careful When Using Acids
Some ingredients such as retinoic acid and amino fruit acid are good for your skin since they maintain its acid balance. They can damage your skin’s natural defense if not used properly though.
Pro Tip: Over-the-counter products containing these acids should be safe to use.
Though some acids naturally have downtime. Redness, dryness, and flaking may only last for two weeks and you’re good to use it regularly!
If irritation, burning sensation, or itching occur, consult with your doctor.
6. Sun Protection is a Must
Sunscreen is crucial for shielding your skin from sun damage and maintaining your skin’s pH level.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for any extended outdoor activity.
Pro Tip: Use a good non-comedogenic sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF.
7. Topical Antioxidants Help
Topical antioxidants actually strengthen your skin cells, help them function properly, and protect them from damage too!
Pro Tip: Use Vitamin C. It balances the pH of your skin. Their formulations are slightly acidic, but they’re actually safe.
8. Better Diet, Better Skin
Having a diet that contains antioxidant-rich foods does wonders for your skin! Some examples are:
- Leafy vegetables such as spinach
- Fruits such as bananas, berries, and watermelon
- Avoid eating processed food. It increases your body’s acidity.
- Ease up on the sugar intake too!
9. Use a PH-Balanced Shampoo
Don’t forget that your scalp needs special attention too! Double-check the ingredients in your hair care products!
Avoid sulfates! These substances actually cause negative reactions for people with sensitive skin.
The alkaline makeup of sulfates disrupts your skin’s natural pH levels too!
- How often you should wash your hair depends on your hair type and scalp health.
- Washing your hair every few days may be better to retain moisture.
Product Recommendations to Balance Skin PH
After going through all of our tips, of course, an important thing to remember is to always take care of your skin.
Here are a couple of product recommendations that balance skin pH and should help you have healthy skin!
1. Sebamed Liquid Face and Body Wash
This cleanser by Sebamed is soap-free and alkali-free. This face and body wash keeps your skin moisturized too! What more can you ask for?
2. Puracy Natural Shampoo and Conditioner
This shampoo and conditioner by Puracy both fall between 5-6 on the pH scale. They’re also sulfate-free and utilize natural ingredients that are gentle on your scalp and hair!
About the PH Scale
Before moving on, let’s talk about the pH scale quickly.
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. The neutral pH level is 7.
Take note any level below 7 is considered acidic and levels above 7 are considered alkaline.
Just to give you some context:
- Something like battery acid or lemon juice has a very low pH level and is acidic.
- Pure water, not tap water, has a neutral pH level of 7.
- Products like ammonia and drain cleaner have a very high alkaline pH level.
Why You Should Care About Your Skin’s PH Level
Now that you know what skin pH is, let’s talk about why caring about it matters.
Your Skin's Acid Mantle
Your skin has an acid mantle that acts as its BARRIER. The skin barrier forms an acid mantle when it produces and secretes sebum, then breaks down fatty acids.
If you’re wondering what sebum is…
- It’s actually the oily substance that our skin secretes. It’s made from our skin’s natural oils and that’s what gives us oily skin.
- Sebum keeps your skin healthy and moisturized by blocking germs and toxins from harming it.
Using products that have a high pH (alkaline) affects your skin’s permeability. If that’s compromised, your skin becomes vulnerable to infections and harmful bacteria.
When the acid mantle is too alkaline, your skin also becomes sensitive and dry.
You could even experience inflammation and signs of premature aging because of enzymes that destroy your collagen levels.
Pro Tip: This can happen if you change skin care products too often. Don’t do that.
The Ideal PH Level for Your Skin
What’s the optimal skin pH level for balanced skin? The ideal pH level should be 5.5.
This means having SLIGHTLY ACIDIC skin pH is ideal. It’s fine if it’s somewhere between 4.8 and 6 though.
You might be thinking, “Why is that ideal?”
Well, it’s actually ideal for fighting off free radicals and slowing the aging process.
It ensures your skin barrier function is active too! Hint: This is correlated with our sebum production.
How to Find Out Your Skin’s pH Level
You now know why caring for your skin’s pH level is important, but how do you find out what it is? Here are a couple of ways.
1. See a Dermatologist
It’s tough to measure your hair or skin’s pH level directly. A dermatologist can help you with that though.
They analyze your skin’s surface thoroughly using a pH meter. With that, they can identify shifts in your pH level and evaluate your skin’s condition or the state of your skin issues.
This actually helps you learn about your skin type. You can identify products or lifestyle changes that effectively balance your pH level too!
There are other ways to know if your skin pH balance is off though. Your skin actually gives you signs when something isn’t right.
2. Listen to Your Skin
How does this work? You can determine the pH of your skin depending on how your skin behaves.
Note these two main points:
- FRAGILE and DRY skin means it’s TOO ALKALINE.
- IRRITATED and ACNE-PRONE skin means it’s OVERLY ACIDIC.
These are signs of damage to your skin’s acid mantle.
Were We Able to Help You?
Hopefully, we were! As you know, your skin’s your body’s largest organ.
It experiences a lot of problems and caring for it is very important.
The secret to smooth skin is balanced skin! It’s all in the pH levels.
Just follow the tips we gave you and you’re good to go!
August 24, 2021 – Updated article content
August 17, 2021 – Updated article formatting and content
July 15, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links