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  • What is Your Skin pH?

    Like most things in life, your skin needs balance to be happy. And your skin’s pH is a pretty good indication of how happy – or not – it is. The health of your skin – and indeed your body – can be linked to maintaining that healthy balance between acidity and alkalinity.

    Power of hydrogen

    pH stands for either potential hydrogen or the power of hydrogen (the exact meaning is somewhat disputed) and the pH level of the skin refers to how acidic or alkaline it is. It is measured on a scale of 1 to 14, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. The skin has a very fine film on the surface called the acid mantle, secreted by sebaceous glands, which acts as a crucial barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potentially harmful things that exist in the environment around you. Research has shown that the skin functions best when the acid mantle is slightly higher in acidity, at around 5-5.5 on the scale.

    Now obviously assessing yourself in the mirror and deciding ‘Ah! My skin is a 6 today’ is not the most accurate way of judging pH, but your skin has ways of telling you when it is not happy. It is much more common for your skin to be too alkaline than it is acidic, and the signs of this include dryness and sensitivity, even eczema and inflammation in more extreme cases. When skin is overly alkaline it has a decreased ability to fight off enzymes that destroy collagen. According to a 2010 study in the British Journal of Dermatology, those with a more alkaline outer skin layer developed more fine lines and were more prone to sun damage than those with acidic skin.

    Again, it is rarer for skin to be overly acidic but, if it does happen, you may experience breakouts, redness, inflammation and even pain to the touch. But your skins pH level can be maintained with small adjustments in your diet and your skincare regime.

    The importance of diet and the pH of your skin

    We know our body uses food to function through metabolizing. Once a food is metabolized, or absorbed, it leaves behind either an acidic or alkaline residue. Typically, protein and carbohydrates leave an acid residue and vegetables and fruit an alkaline residue. An acidic food does not necessarily have an acidic effect on the body – for example, citrus fruits taste acidic but are actually alkalizing. So it is important to understand the nature of the foods you are eating regularly. Acid-forming foods include barley, bread, honey, mushrooms, oats, pasta, hazelnuts, to name only a few, and foods high in animal proteins such as meats and cheese. Alkaline foods include apples, bananas, broccoli, garlic, coconut, grapes (though wine is more acidic!), cucumbers, vegetable oils, citrus fruits, soybeans and spinach. One is not necessarily better than the other – there is a misconception that acidic foods are bad for you because processed foods, for example, are typically acidic, but once again, it is all about balance. A healthy, balanced diet is the best way to keep your body, and skin, happy.

    So that’s the diet part – what about the skincare part? There are some straightforward changes you can make if your skin does not seem balanced. As a general rule, stay away from harsh soaps and cleansers, which are too alkaline, use lukewarm instead of hot water to prevent irritation and dryness, check the ingredients of products you are buying for hidden, harmful chemicals, and try to use only products that are properly pH balanced.

    Restoring your skin’s pH balance with the right products

    Restoring your skin’s pH balance is actually quite easy once you know what to do – and who best to advise on pH than pHformula? Whose treatments are based on decades of experience and characterized by products that are simple to use, multifunctional, unique, scientific, safe – and perfectly pH balanced, of course.

    pHformula’s H.Y.D.R.A gel mask is a refreshing, moisturizing and calming gel mask which helps to soothe dry and irritated skin. The combination of ingredients work to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, reducing water loss and increasing moisture reserves to leave your skin supple and smooth. Hyaluronic acid functions as a molecular sponge, ensuring extensive hydration, while chicory root extract lifts the skin and increases the synthesis of collagen. Chicory root extract can also erase the signs of fatigue and dehydration that are seen in winter.

    The EXFO cleanse is a gentle cleansing exfoliant that effectively removes makeup and impurities. Rooibos extract works as an antioxidant that scavenges for free radicals. Vitamin B5 has calming, anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties, and papain enzymes help to wear down the linkages between damaged or dead cells.

    And for regular, twice-daily use, the pHformula Foam Cleanse is a soap-free, airy, gentle cleanser made up of a natural blend of aloe vera and lactic acid to effectively cleanse and remove makeup while soothing your skin and leaving it radiant and refreshed. For women, Aloe Vera prevents dryness and for men, it has important healing properties that can soothe the skin after shaving.

    So if your skin is not happy, it could all be down to its pH. And with a few small tweaks in your eating and skincare, balance can be restored and your skin can go back to being happy and healthy.

    Contact pHformula for more information.

    Petru van Zyl
    Petru van Zyl
    Petru van Zyl is the founder of pHformula and one of South Africa's leading skincare therapists with over 18 years of experience to share. Petru is also a researcher and author of some of the most acknowledged and influential educational material used and applied in more than 28 countries today.