women pointing towards face | the pH of the skin

Skin maintenance and pH: How does it work?

What is Skin pH? How to Know Your Skin is Healthy?

What is pH?  

The pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a given substance. A pH of 7 is neutral, while values below 7 are acidic and above 7 are alkaline. The biological fluids that have a pH between 4 and 9 are considered to be slightly acidic with a slightly alkaline lather being between 7.4 and 7.6.

The human skin is naturally acidic. The pH of the skin measures between 4.5 and 5.5. The pH balance of the skin is maintained primarily by sweat and sebaceous (oil) glands which secrete an acidic substance to keep the pH at a healthy level.

An alkaline substance called lactic acid is released by the sweat glands to maintain the skin’s natural acidity while preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria on the skin’s surface. Not only does this help regulate temperature, but it also serves as a barrier to preventing the loss of water by evaporation. 

toner

The skin's natural acidity is balanced out by an alkaline substance called lactic acid. This prevents the overgrowth of bacteria and sweat 

The skin is the largest organ of the body with a surface area of approximately 20 square feet. Skin is composed of 2 main layers, the epidermis and dermis. The epidermis is where all the magic happens. It is responsible for protecting, nourishing and moisturizing the body, it contains most of the immune system, produces melanin for protection from the sun and it is full of nerve endings that detect pressure, temperature, pain, happiness and more.

Layers of Skin

The epidermis is made up of 4 types of cells:

1) Keratinocytes: 

These are the building blocks of the epidermis. They are what make up all the layers of the epidermis. These cells are constantly being shed off to make room for newer cells.

2) Langerhans Cells: 

These are specialized immune defence cells that are constantly patrolling the skin to check for anything foreign.

3) Melanocytes Cells: 

These cells of the neural crest originate and form a close association with keratinocytes via their dendrites. They can produce and distribute melanin.

4) Merkel Cells: these cells act as the sensory receptors in the skin and make direct contact with Merkel disks, sensory neurons of the dermis, which provide the sensation of touch.

plant based collagen

Factors Affecting pH of the Skin

The pH of the skin is the most important thing which should be kept in mind as it impacts the condition of your skin. This can be done by treating your skin with natural and organic products. Natural and organic products work to maintain the pH level of the skin.

The skin also deals with pH levels which act as a barrier to protect our internal organs from infections. When the pH levels increase it results in the formation of acne, pimples and rashes along with clogged pores which could result in whiteheads, blackheads, acne breakouts and rashes if not taken care of. It is important to take care of your skin as prevention is better than cure.

  • Skin pH levels get altered due to numerous factors like hormonal changes, lifestyle choices like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption that contribute to imbalanced pH levels.
  1. sebum and skin moisture.
  2. sweat.
  3. area of the body.
  4. genetics and age.
  5. detergents.
  6. cosmetics and cleansers.
  7. antibacterial products like soaps and gels.
  8. certain skin conditions.
  • You must monitor your skin pH levels; normally, the pH levels for healthy skin lie within the range of 4.7 to 5.7. If you notice that your pH levels are outside these optimal ranges, there are certain things that you can do to maintain your skin’s pH levels and prevent issues about skin health.
  • Skin pH is an important factor that makes your skin look and feel healthy. You must know that human skin has a pH level of 4.7 which is mildly acidic, thus creating the best environment for healthy skin.
  • Measure your skin pH level to keep it acidic which will help you avoid problems related to dryness, roughness, acne, ageing or sun damage. Knowing this helps you identify how to maintain your skin pH. 
  • One needs to know if their skin pH is within the normal range because an imbalance causes skin issues to arise. One may have dry skin, oily skin, acne, dullness, fine lines, or dark spots. It is important to maintain skin pH because blemishes are signs of unhealthy skin.

Several ways to balance your skin’s pH:

The first way is to determine your body's internal pH level. Your saliva has an internal pH of 6 which makes it slightly alkaline. Drink more water so that it creates a balance between your saliva and internal organs' pH levels.

You can also lower your internal pH by avoiding processed foods, alcohol and tobacco since they increase the acid levels in the body. 

Secondly, maintain a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that help nourish your skin from within.

Steer clear from using any bar soap or cleanser that contains harsh chemicals. Choose pH-balancing skin care products. Avoid products that do not mention all the ingredients on the packaging. Also, make sure you wash your face and skin using lukewarm water only.

When it comes to sunscreen, most of us are aware of the importance of using it but you should know that sunscreen also helps in balancing the pH of your skin. It is crucial to remember that UV rays are extremely harmful and can cause many different types of cancer later in life. So, always wear your sunscreen before stepping out in the sun.

Take Away

As pH is an effective factor for both health and beauty, it is very important to know the healthy pH level to keep your skin healthy.

The skin pH is determined by the balance between the substances contained in the skin, such as sebum and sweat, which are acidic. If the ideal value of your skin is not within the required range, you might experience various types of skin issues. Therefore, everyone needs to take care of their skin in daily life, which includes how to control their body pH (also called "acid-base balance"), avoiding external pressures, and taking precautions against external irritants to keep their skin healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to restore skin balance?

  • Avoid using strong cleaners and soaps (alkaline)
  • Remove any chemicals or contaminants that may be harmful to your skin.
  • Choose botanical items that are high in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
  • Use only PH-balanced skin care products.
  • Rinse your face with lukewarm water.

2. Does toner balance skin pH?

Yes, Toner balances the skin pH.

3. How does sunlight affect skin pH?

The sun's UV rays damage the acid mantle of your skin, making it more alkaline and prone to skin disorders such as pigmentation, dullness, and acne.

References:

1. About Skin pH and Why It Matters - Healthline