They’re terms we often use.
But what do they really mean?
Put simply it’s the difference between premature ageing, breakouts, acne, inflammation or healthy, glowing skin.
That’s right, get these conditions in check and you’re on your way to beautifully balanced skin.
Extremely Important when you think were quick to make judgement about someone based on their skin.
From the amount of stress their under, dietary habits, general health and even how sun damaged they are.
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH YOUR SKINS pH
pH is one of the most important things you should know about your skin.
On average a skins pH sits around 5.5 which is slightly acidic, but it can range from 4.5 – 6.5 depending on your skins chemistry and the products your using.
There’s a reason for this acidity, it inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.
THE ROLE OF THE ACID MANTLE
Both sebum and sweat form a barrier on the skin known as the acid mantle.
This mantle is crucial, it forms a protective shield and if disrupted, it becomes permeable to harmful bacteria, harsh chemicals, and pollutants.
Concerned your protective mantle may be impaired?
Stop, don’t panic because I have you covered, with an entire article on everything you need to know about your acid mantle.
SKIN, ITS AN ACID MANTLE, pH THING
So let’s return to why skin pH is so important.
Well if your SKIN is NATURALLY ACIDIC, then ideally you should be APPLYING PRODUCTS that are CONSISTENT with the NATURAL pH of your skin, makes sense right?
You don’t want to change the pH, because this will disrupt your skins protective mantle.
The exception to the rule is when there is a specific treatment objective, such as exfoliating with a hydroxy acid, in this case an acidic pH is required for the treatment to work.
For instance in a facial, a skin professional giving a chemical peel will always bring the skin’s pH back to normal, after the acidic treatment is completed.
WHY AVOID STRONG PRODUCTS?
Higher pH ingredients such as alcohol, are often referred to as astringents.
They are damaging for the skin because they break down keratin, stripping the acid mantle which increases the permeability of the skin.
Manufacturers often use clever marketing claims to say they reduce pore size; this is one claim that really infuriates me.
Because what these ingredients are really doing, is causing the skin to swell temporarily which dilates the pore.
And remember skin that is more permeable, is more vulnerable to microorganisms.
REPEATED USE of skin care products not pH BALANCED, will create CHRONIC SKIN CONDITIONS including inflammation, dehydration, lines, wrinkles and dryness.
There are quite a few skin care products that are pH-inappropriate.
And whilst I’m not in the habit of naming and shaming, I think you would be really surprised just how many popular brands fall into this category.
ACID MANTLE CREAM WHAT’S THAT THEN?
If you’re a sensitive skinned gal like me and many of my clients, I suspect your skin has seen it’s fair share of frustrating flare ups.
But be warned, repeated inflammation in the skin can lead to many things as discussed including premature ageing.
But can an acid mantle cream really balance the pH and restore an impaired mantle and barrier?
Whether one cream alone is enough, or whether you need to focus on layering, depends on the severity of your skins impairment.
What I mean by this is how much has the skin broken down, what level of inflammation currently exists in the skin, and has the lipid barrier been compromised.
Addressing these concerns with my clients is a three step process, that you to at home may like to consider:
- The first step is to bring the pH back into the balance, the only way to achieve this is to use very gentle, calming formulas with minimal additives and fragrance; This also means avoiding the use of sunscreens, because their ingredients are too strong, (tricky I know because environmental rays play a big part in inflammation).
- Before you address the acid mantle; you are first going to have to work on barrier repair, especially if your skin is lipid dry, itchy or flaky. This can be done by restoring the protective film that coats your skin, your essentially building your skins resistance to pathogens and bacteria.
- Finally you need to focus on the acid mantle, this is all about creating an environment where the delicate micro flora will once again flourish. This is achieved by using skin identical ingredients such as copper peptides, ions and vitamins, which will strengthen and increase the density of your skin, thus returning it to optimum health so it’s less likely to suffer from damaging inflammation.
THE NAKED TRUTH
On a final note, bar soap for the body is at an alkaline pH, that typically sits around 8.0-11.0, this is far too alkaline when you consider your skin’s pH sits around 5.5.
So cleansing your face with body bar soap is a big no in my beauty book, which you can read all about here.