Written by Molly Carlson. Medically reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson.
What is skin pH and why is it so important? If you suffer from dermatological issues, balancing your pH levels might just be the key to healthy, beautiful skin.
Whether you suffer from a dry, oily, or acne-prone complexion, the expert tips in this article should help you find your ideal balance.
What Is the Normal pH Balance of Skin?
pH (which stands for “potential of hydrogen”) is a way to measure how acidic or alkaline a given substance is. On a scale of 0-14, water has a pH of 7. Therefore, it’s considered “neutral.” Anything below a 7 has greater acidity (think vinegar, which has a pH of 3), and anything above that is more alkaline (like bleach, with a pH of 13).
The general assumption is that skin pH is slightly acidic, between 5-6 on the pH scale. That said, some studies have proposed that the optimal pH level for skin may even be a touch below 5.
When skin is at an optimal pH level, it has improved barrier function, with better moisture retention and less scaling. Additionally, a slightly acidic skin pH helps normal bacterial flora (associated with healthy skin) remain attached to the epidermis. When the pH of the skin is higher than optimal (or more alkaline), it can potentially be associated with – and partially causal – in the following diseases: eczema, irritant contact dermatitis, diaper rash, and acne, as well as fungal, yeast, and bacterial infections of the skin.Dr. Julie Jackson MD, FAAD, reports, “There are several proposed scientific mechanisms that correlate slightly acidic skin with healthier function of the skin. These include an improved formation of the lipid (or fat) layer of the skin, which helps to keep the skin moisturized. A low pH also suppresses the function of enzymes (serine proteases) that cause flaking of the skin.”
Water Quality Greatly Impacts Your Skin's pH Balance
Your daily shower routine dramatically affects your skin. If your scalp and skin feel dry no matter what type of shampoo and body wash you use, then you might have hard water. In this case, homeowners should consider investing in a water softener. Meanwhile, a shower filter is an excellent and affordable option, especially for renters.
When showering, the best water for bathing is soft, non-alkaline, and has low minerality. Because hot water dries out the skin, it’s best to stick with lukewarm water whenever possible.
Best Products to Naturally Balance pH Levels
Cleansers and moisturizers dramatically affect your skin's pH levels. The optimal range for pH-balanced skincare products is between 4 and 6. Unfortunately, typical bar soaps can have a pH as high as 12 (and are especially hard on facial skin). pH testing strips are easy and affordable, allowing you to determine whether your skincare products are pH-balanced.To keep your skin healthy, stick to a pH-balanced soap like Puracy Natural Body Wash (which has a pH between 5 and 6). Specially-formulated with a gentle blend of coconut cleansers, clinical-grade moisturizers, and Himalayan pink sea salt, this pH-balanced body wash is free from harsh chemicals that might strip your skin's natural oils.
Why a Toner Is Important to Skin
Immediately after cleansing your skin, apply a toner that helps calibrate your pH. Before applying anything, read the ingredient list: If alcohol lands high on its list of ingredients, it will likely strip your skin of moisture (rather than nourishing it).
Double-check the ingredient list on your hair care products, too. Many cosmetics companies consider sulfates (like sodium lauryl sulfate [SLS]) to be perfectly fine to use in “natural” shampoo ingredients. These chemicals, however, can be extremely drying and can disrupt your skin's natural pH levels, especially since SLS is alkaline.
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Moisturize, Moisturize, MoisturizeWithin three minutes of stepping out of the shower, lock in crucial hydration by applying a nourishing pH-balanced moisturizer.
Restore Your Skin’s pH Balance with Puracy Products
Beauty is in the balance: The pH levels of Puracy soap, shampoo, and conditioner all fall between 5-6, while Puracy lotions land between 6-7. All of these have been scientifically formulated to work in harmony with your skin’s natural pH levels.