Skin type, climate, hormones. If you’ve accounted for each of these and are still battling unruly skin, you may have a different type of imbalance. Are your pH levels out of whack?
You’ve heard of pH levels and the whole acidic versus alkaline way of eating. The idea is to keep your body’s pH levels balanced for optimal health. But what the heck are pH levels and what do they have to do with your skin?
You may remember a bit about pH levels from science class. Yep, everything from soil to skin has a delicate pH balance. pH (potential hydrogen) is a measure of how acidic and alkaline a substance is, ranging from 0 to 14. With 7 being neutral, anything over 7 is considered more alkaline, anything under 7 is more acidic. A balanced pH level for skin is slightly acidic at about 5.5.
The skin’s barrier, or acid mantle, keeps lipids and moisture in while helping to block pollutants, bacteria, and toxins. When its pH levels are too alkaline you may experience signs of premature aging, inflammation, acne, or irritation. A 2010 study by the British Journal of Dermatology tracked 122 women over eight years and discovered that those with more alkaline skin showed signs of faster wrinkling.
If pH that is too high causes wrinkles and dryness, skin that is too acidic must have other issues, right? Yep, pH that is too low (acidic) shows up as red, angry breakouts and inflammation.
So what causes pH imbalance and how do we bring, and keep, our skin back into balance? Chemical surfactants, harsh drying ingredients, excessive exfoliation, junky diet, and stress all take a toll on skin. Using natural, synthetic free skincare, eating an alkaline diet, and keeping stress low will all help to keep your skin clear and glowing.
Balancing cleansers and toners will get skin close to that magic number of 5.5, allowing it to absorb healthy moisture and protect against damage. Oil cleansing is ideal, but there are other pH balancing cleansers as well.
You know those foaming cleansers that leave skin feeling squeaky clean and shiny looking? They likely contain harsh chemical surfactants, SLS or SLES, which strip skin of natural oils and disrupt pH balance. Natural, plant-derived cleansers keep pH levels in check and clean without stripping or drying. Try Yuli Halcyon Cleanser, Odacite Rejuvenating Cleanser, and Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser.
Regular use of toner is another good way to keep skin in a state of equilibrium. Ingredients like witch hazel, aloe vera, rose, and lemon are excellent pH balancers. Use daily post-cleanse to prepare skin for serum and moisturizer. Try B Leaf Botanics Clear and Pai Lotus & Orange Blossom BioAffinity Tonic.
Exfoliation is an important step in a healthy skincare routine but over zealous scrubbing and too harsh ingredients lead to damage and upset. Let raw sugar and fruit enzymes do the work gently with Living Libations Papaya Lime AHA Mask and Vered Organic Botanicals Le Chocolat Citrus Foaming Face Scrub.
Keeping pH levels in check may seem like one more item on the ever growing list. Using nontoxic skincare is the first step in the right direction.
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