Everything You Should Know about pH in Skincare

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Do you really know what the pH of the skin is and why you should pay special attention to it? If you don’t not to worry because that’s exactly what we’ll tell you in this article.

The first thing you need to know is what we call skin pH, or hydrogen potential. This is a chemical parameter whose measurement tells us how acidic or basic a given solution is. The neutrality value is 7, below which are acidic values (the more acidic, the lower) and above which are basic values (the more basic, the higher).

Our skin, or rather the protective acid mantle that covers it and which is formed by the union of the air mantle (layer of water vapor and carbon dioxide released by cellular metabolism) and the epicutaneous emulsion (or hydrolipid film), has a certain pH. More precisely, it is an acidic pH that varies under normal conditions between 4.5 and 5.9.

The hydrolipidic film is formed by the mixture of secretions from the sweat and sebaceous glands (fatty acids, squalene and ceramides) with the products of keratinization of the cells of the horny layer.

The substances that give our skin an acidic pH are mainly lactic and urocanic acids, which are eliminated by sweat, and fatty acids supplied by the sebaceous gland.

Why is the Acidic pH of the Skin Important?

Variations in the pH of the skin can cause pathologies. For example, a more basic pH than normal can cause itching, so it is important to know the pH we have to take care of our skin. With an inadequate pH, we lose water and dehydration occurs.

The increase in pH also produces an inadequate functioning of the enzymes necessary for the proper functioning of the defensive function of the skin.

On our skin, in the acid mantle, there is an important colonization of micro-organisms that form the natural microbiota of the skin. These micro-organisms start to appear at the very moment of birth and remain – with certain variations – in equilibrium as long as the pH of the skin is within the usual acid values, around pH 5.5.

But if the pH increases, i.e. if the skin becomes alkaline for a certain period of time, the defense function will not work properly and other types of microorganisms will develop, which are or can be harmful and which can produce pathology or the appearance of infections.

Factors That Can Alter the pH of Your Skin

Various factors can cause an alteration in the normal pH values of your skin:

Cleansing:

How you perform your daily skin hygiene and with what you do it is very important to maintain a proper pH in the skin.

Too much or too frequent cleansing, even with the right product, will lead to dryness and irritation

Most soaps, gels, shampoos and other cleansing products are alkaline, which causes a change in the skin’s pH. This change in pH can take an hour or two to neutralize on healthy skin, or even a few hours in some cases. During the time it takes your body to readjust the pH, the skin will not be adequately protected.

When we talk about neutral pH in hygiene and skin care products, we are not referring to a pH around 5.5, which is the average value for healthy skin. These products will be “neutral” with the skin and will not cause any changes in its pH.

Unsuitable Cosmetic Products:

In addition to hygiene products, any other cosmetic that we put on the skin without an adequate pH can cause an imbalance and with it a dysbiosis (alteration of the microbiota) and an alteration of the barrier function of the skin.

This is why it is advisable to use products that respect the pH of healthy skin. In addition, products containing alcohol can also alter the acid mantle.

Age:

The skin of babies and children until puberty has a higher pH. As we get older, the tendency to be more alkaline returns, while in middle age, the pH is more acidic.

These natural differences make children and older people’s skin more delicate, making it even more important to choose the right cleaning and care products for them.

Temperature and Humidity Changes:

Temperature and humidity, by changing the amount of water in the hydrolipidic film, can also produce changes in pH.

In addition, dehydrated skin is more sensitive and less protected against the action of external agents.

Certain Medications:

Medications such as antibiotics, diuretics and chemotherapy drugs, among others, can alter the pH, eliminating its protective barrier function.

Hormonal Changes:

During adolescence, pregnancy and menopause, changes in hormone levels can also lead to changes in skin pH, especially in certain areas such as the genitals.

There you go! Now that you know the importance of pH for your skin, we recommend you clean and care for your skin with products that don’t alter its optimal pH so you can keep your skin beautiful and healthy. What’s your thoughts on this subject? Do you have any product to recommend? Share everything in the comments below.

Everything You Should Know about pH in Skincare

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