pH is something most of us generally think of only when the pool starts to look a little off. After all, there are all those nice kits that let you keep checking on the pool’s pH level as well as guides that will tell you what you need to add to the water to keep it healthy to swim in. Most of us entirely ignore that a lot of things have a pH. For instance, the juices in a lot of the foods we eat necessarily have a pH. Your stomach acid likewise has a pH. Your skin does too. It may seem out of place when we’ve largely been listing liquids, but your skin is coated in those. Your natural oils and sweat all contribute to an overall layer that helps protect your skin when it is healthy. It generally has a pH somewhere between 5.0 and 6.0. That means, amusingly enough, that your skin is actually slightly acidic. It is actually important to keep it in the healthy pH range too. Let’s take a closer look at why your skin needs to maintain that range of acidity and what you can do to restore it.
We’ve been throwing around pH like everyone automatically knows what it is, but for a lot of us it has been a long while since science class. In basic terms, it is a measurement of the acidity or basicity of a given substance. Acidity is fairly easy for most of us to grasp. Acids are substances that tend to burn in higher concentrations or at least tingle mightily before we wash them off. Most of our skincare products tend to use acidic compounds as cleansing or exfoliating compounds depending on their concentration. Basicity is actually fairly similar, but bases, the opposite of acids, cancel out their opposite numbers. A substance with a high basicity is just as likely to burn you as an acid if you’re not careful. More or less every compound can be measured on the pH scale regardless of the number of ingredients involved in its creation. Different kinds of life each require separate average pHs in their environment and that’s what brings us back to your skin.
Your Skin Is A Home
We’re not talking about being at home in your own skin, though. Hopefully, we all are, but your skin is literally home to countless bacteria. They live on your skin and actually contribute to your skin’s active defenses against threats. Your friend skin bacteria actually actively try to remove anything that doesn’t belong in their environment. This is actually one of the causes of acne. Outside strains of bacteria try to set up colonies while at least one of your own strains likewise attempts to make more of itself to kick the invaders out. It’s a nice sentiment at least, right? Scientists are fairly certain that the acidity of your skin plays a vital role in keeping your personal biome of bacteria happy and healthy. The pH of your skin is just right for them to live in and keep everything going smoothly. When we start to disrupt that pH, the bacteria begin to have issues and we may soon after finds ourselves having skin troubles.
Prevention and Fixing Things Up
Remember how we highlighted your skincare products all have their own pH? When you apply them to your skin, you’re adding or taking away from that nice balance that your skin likes. Most of the time we’re making it a little more acidic, but not always. Prevention is one of the biggest things you can do to protect your skin’s pH. Look for products that have been properly pH balanced for skin and in general you won’t need to bother with anything other than occasional maintenance. However if you’ve been chronically harsh to your skin, you’re going to need to make them up to it. A good first step is to ditch any harsher cleaning products like a bar soap. Similarly, if your skin feels tight and dry after using a product, then you’ll want to consider switching to a gentler product. Gentle, oil-based cleansers are typically a safe bet for most people. You can also incorporate a toner into your routine to start bringing your skin’s pH back into line. All else failing you should talk to your dermatologist.
Your skin’s pH is important to its health. None of us necessarily like to think about the fact that we play host to countless bacteria, but there’s no reason to hate our personal biomes. We’re generally as health as we are thanks to them. So try to keep your skin healthy by ensuring that you’re using appropriately pH balanced products or at the very least using a toner to help even out any extremes. Listen to your skin. If it seems dry and irritated, then you need to do something to help it be happier.