The skin is the body’s largest organ and comprises three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous layer. If you know what skin pH is, you probably already know that it is produced in the hypodermis, a layer that lies between the two outermost layers.
Its function is to help the skin maintain balance to fulfil its mission, providing a protective barrier against mechanical, thermal, and physical injury and hazardous substances. In addition, it prevents moisture loss, helps regulate temperature, reduces the harmful effects of UV radiation, boosts vitamin D generation, helps the immune system detect infections and acts as a sensory organ.
The skin is not only an essential protective organ. Skin also has permeability and transmits components into the bloodstream, hence the importance of choosing natural products for care and beauty routines, always taking care that they are compositions that help us maintain the pH.
What is skin pH
What is skin pH, and what is its function?
Ph stands for potential hydrogen. This parameter measures a substance’s acidity or alkalinity level. Each part of the body has a different optimum pH level, with values ranging from 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral; below this, it is considered acidic and basic (alkaline).
The skin’s pH maintains the optimal balance of acidity and alkalinity that our body needs. Keeping the correct parameters ensures excellent protection against external agents, such as bacteria or other toxic substances. Another function of pH is to preserve the body’s moisture levels.
Skin pH values
The pH varies from area to area
The pH range of skin on the face and body fluctuates between 4.7 and 5.75. At around 5, your skin is slightly acidic and must stay within this range. When it is not, its overall function suffers, primarily due to the role of the skin’s microbiome, which prefers a relatively acidic environment. In addition, the skin in the inguinal folds, armpits and interdigital area has a slightly more alkaline pH, making it more vulnerable to external aggressions.
The pH varies by gender
It should be noted that skin pH varies slightly between men and women, with men having more acidic skin. This may be due to enhanced immune function in women and differences in skin colonisation between men and women.
The pH varies by age
The pH level of our skin changes as we reach maturity, a time when the skin becomes more sensitive. We notice this by the greater ease with which it becomes irritated or suffers from reactions. Skin also begins to show signs of becoming more alkaline with age, especially for women at the menopausal stage.
The pH varies with skin type
Skin type can also affect pH, as oily skin tends to be more acidic (sebum itself is quite acidic). Thus, we find that the pH of dry skin exceeds 5.5 while the pH of oily skin is set between 4 and 5.2.
Importance of knowing the pH of the skin
What happens if the pH is altered?
It is not necessary to measure the pH to have healthy skin; if you do, you will find that pH levels vary. The lack of constancy of the results would be related to our habits (sleep, diet and products in contact with the skin affect these values).
The effect of a substance with a different pH (either acidic or alkaline) influences the skin, which, fortunately, has an impressive ability to recover. The skin’s pH can be affected by what it comes into contacts with, such as air, skin care products or even water. However, if these fluctuations are too significant or if they occur too constantly, then problems can arise.
Therefore, it is vital to know that pH significantly impacts the skin’s barrier function, moisture retention and micro-organisms. If habits or changes cause the skin’s pH to become too alkaline, the skin’s lipid layer can be compromised, resulting in increased dryness or even problems with hypersensitivity or irritation.
Keeping the pH at its ideal level helps keep skin healthier and from problems that can deteriorate its condition. An example of this is related to the bacteria that cause acne. You cannot talk about the skin’s pH without the acid mantle. The acid mantle is the film of acidity that protects the skin and is the mixture of your natural sebum (oil) and sweat. This acidity is a vital part of the skin’s protective function because it helps inhibit the growth of pathogens. The reason is that bacteria tend to thrive in alkaline environments.
How to keep your pH balanced
The way to do this starts with knowing how to recognise the signs that your skin’s pH is out of balance. There are several warning signs that this is happening, such as:
- Inflammatory skin conditions. Eczema is one of the skin conditions that indicate an imbalance. The same goes for acne, as mentioned above, or rosacea. These conditions have one factor in common: inflammation. The impact of pH on the skin’s microbiome can make the skin more susceptible to inflammation. As a result, we see dermatitis, allergies, dandruff, ulcers, fungus, infections or accelerated skin ageing.
- Dry and tight skin. Your skin’s barrier function is essentially its ability to hold moisture. When the skin’s pH is too alkaline, it disrupts the skin’s ability to retain water. When this is compromised, water is lost through the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and evaporates into the air.
- Increased sensitivity. Sensitive skin is caused by a permanently compromised skin barrier function closely related to pH.
As you can imagine, many common skin conditions and problems can be traced or linked to pH.
How knowing your skin’s pH helps to care for it and how to maintain it
An acidic pH is optimal for proper cell turnover, hydration and skin barrier function, helping to keep skin balanced, healthy and radiant. When it doesn’t look like this, and you notice some of the above signs, you must look for ways to balance the pH.
Natural remedies restore the balance by providing the skin with the nutrients and minerals it needs. This comes from antioxidants in fruits and vegetables (especially berries and dark green leafy vegetables). Their beneficial effect can be enhanced by drinking water to maintain hydration, with at least eight glasses of water a day.
Other ways to protect the balance that those who know what skin pH is applied:
- Avoid using too hot water when showering, or washing your face or hands to prevent damage to natural lipids.
- Limit the duration of showers. This is recommended because the water pH is higher than the skin’s and can affect the skin’s barrier function, especially if the contact is repeated with too long exposure.
- Try not to use products containing sulphates. One of the most common reasons for altering our microbiome and pH is that harsh soaps and sulphates have a very alkaline pH.
- Do not over-exfoliate as you risk damaging the skin’s natural sebum layer, a critical element of the acid mantle.
Now that you are clear on the skin’s pH, how it varies and what affects it, you can make choices that will help you maintain its balance effectively, for example, by nourishing the microbiome to achieve a constant, even pH.
You can also achieve this result by using specific natural beauty, hygiene, and care products, such as Silicon, which raises the skin’s level of protection, helping to maintain its health and beauty, with beneficial effects that extend to nails and hair. To experience its benefits, you can include a Rosehip cream in your beauty and care routines to provide extra hydration and luminosity to the skin, and G7 Beauty, an ideal food supplement for skin, hair, and nails.