Hey cream puffs!
pH is so important for our skin (and hair) health. Let's take a moment to talk about the significance of pH, our skin, and the products we opt to use.
Our skin's pH is acidic and ranges from 4-7, however the average pH of skin is 4.7.
That being said, our skin barrier is disturbed when there are elevations in its pH. Disturbance could result in weakened barrier function and increases in enzymes that reduce the efforts of ceramide-generating enzymes. "Oh no!", indeed, as ceramides help fortify the elasticity and firmness of our skin.
It has also been observed that certain skin conditions (certain types of eczema, dermatitis, acne, dryness, and more) have been linked, but not limited, to elevated pH levels in the skin.
Studies have also shown that high pH cleansers (...yes, our beloved handmade soaps included) are known to have a higher potential to irritate our skin than syndet bars.
The positive? - Our skin can recover from pH disturbances. However, it can take up to 90 minutes for normal skin to recover from something as innocent as using a high pH product. If our skin is subjected to these disturbances daily, what could be the long term effects?
This is where discovering the pH of our skin and hair products is important. We want to maintain the acidity as best we can. For skincare, we recommend keeping an eye out for products in the pH range of 4-6 and for hair, 4-5.5.
If you like handmade soaps, keep in mind that their pH ranges from 9-10 (sometimes as low as 8 and sometimes as high as 11). There's very little my fellow Soap Makers and I can do to lower the pH of bar soaps. Attempts to lower the pH will compromise the integrity of the soap. If you choose to use these types of soaps just be sure to help your skin restore its acidic nature by using a low pH, water based body cream, lotion, or butter.
Why water based? Products like water free (anhydrous) body butters do not have pH values. pH (or potential hydrogen) only applies to water based ingredients/materials. Anhydrous body butters are amazingly moisturizing and serve their purpose very well. We recommend using them when moisture is needed throughout the day but not necessarily directly after using a high pH cleanser.
What's your take on the topic of pH and skincare? Let us know below.
Disclaimer - Please consult your Medical Provider should you have any questions or concerns about you skincare.
Ali SM, Yosipovitch G. Skin pH: from basic science to basic skin care. Acta Derm Venereol. 2013 May;93(3):261-7. doi: 10.2340/00015555-1531. PMID: 23322028.