We’ll be honest, the science behind pH balance is a little confusing.. The truth is, pH balance is important to your skin, and keeping your skin healthy means keeping your skin’s natural pH balance well… balanced.
The team at Three Ships Beauty understands that skin care can be confusing, especially when it gets a little technical. We make it easy to understand everything you need to know about your skin, including pH balance.
Let’s talk about pH balance, what it is, how it determines your skin’s overall wellness, and learn the secrets to keeping it within a healthy range.
What Is pH Balance?
First things first — “pH” stands for potential hydrogen.
PH balance is the measure of hydrogen ions to hydroxide ions. Everything has a pH balance, and determining the pH balance of a surface or substance can help us understand how to interact with it better.
In terms of your skin, that means that understanding your skin’s pH balance helps us understand how to use the best ingredients to help keep your skin healthy.
What Is the pH Scale?
The pH scale measures the acidity level of different substances, including your skin. The ph scale ranges from 1 to 14. The lower the number, the more acidic the substance. A substance with a rating of 7 is considered neutral. The higher the number, the more alkaline (or basic) the substance.
- Acidic substances include battery acid, lemon juice, and coffee.
- Alkaline substances include ammonia and drain cleaner.
Your skin is slightly left of the middle, making it a bit acidic. Most dermatologists agree that skin’s natural acidity varies from person to person but usually falls between 4.0-7.0.
Your skin’s pH balance is also sometimes referred to as its acid mantle because the pH balance is on the skin’s protective outermost barrier, also known as the stratum corneum.
What Gives Skin Its pH Balance?
Your skin already has a pH balance, but certain factors can affect it. One of the most important ways your skin’s pH balance stays healthy is due to your skin’s flora.
The Skin Microbiome
Like your gut, your skin is home to a host of microorganisms that help keep it safe, protected, and balanced. We call this collection of healthy bacteria the skin microbiome, or the skin flora. The skin flora helps keep the skin pH balance in the proper range and helps ensure that harmful bacteria don’t overgrow, causing either a low pH or high pH.
This is why using antibacterial products can change your skin’s pH level. If you’re suffering from certain skin conditions, a natural plant-based ingredient with antibacterial properties (like coconut oil) can help bring skin back to its normal, slightly acidic pH range.
Other conditions can change the pH balance of your skin’s acid mantle:
- Free radicals (from sources like smog and UV rays)
- Your sweat
- Tap water that contains minerals
- Laundry detergents
- Too much sun
- Improper skin care (like washing your face too much, using too many antibacterial products, or using products that contain harsh chemical ingredients).
It might not seem like a change in your skin’s pH balance is a big deal, but some of the most common skin issues happen because of a change in its pH balance.
Why Is pH Balance Important?
Your skin’s ph balance determines the overall health of your skin. When the pH of your skin is within a healthy range, your skin has good texture, fewer blemishes, and a healthy glow that you simply can’t get from peels or scrubs.
If you’ve tried everything to fix your skin only to feel like you’re spinning in circles, it could be a pH balance problem. Here are a few signs your skin’s pH balance is unbalanced.
Acne bumps can ruin your day, but they might be totally fixable and not simply due to having oily skin. When your skin’s pH balance strays to higher pH levels (aka alkaline), you can begin to develop bumps.
Suffering from dry skin conditions can happen to anyone from time to time. Still, if you are experiencing severe dry skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis, it could be a sign your skin is once again on the alkaline pH side.
Normal skin is neither dry nor oily. While skin type does account for some excess oil or dry patches, skin that isn’t properly pH balanced can develop dryness, too.
Sometimes, skin that becomes too acidic can become inflamed, sensitive to touch, or even prone to rosacea. Irritated skin isn’t happy skin, and if pH balance is to blame, we’ll tell you how to fix it.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
When skin is too alkaline, it becomes dry, accelerating the aging process and causing your skin to look older than it actually is.
No one wants to deal with skin problems if they don’t have to, and improving your skin’s pH balance can be incredibly simple.
How Can I Protect My Skin’s pH Balance?
Improving and protecting your skin’s delicate pH balance isn’t rocket science and doesn’t even require a degree in dermatology. You can easily handle the heavy lifting at home.
1. Level Up Your Skin Care Routine
Your skin barrier function is compromised when the pH level of your skin changes. Improve your skin’s pH balance by protecting it with better skincare products.
- Cleansing. Choose gentle, plant-based cleansers that don’t strip skin of natural moisture or cause irritation.
One to try: Clarify Tea Tree + MCT Cleansing Oil. When the skin gets too acidic, red areas of irritation and blemishes appear. This cleanser contains tea tree and coconut oil to soothe, balance, and protect your skin. Unlike harsh soaps, this cleanser won’t strip your sensitive skin of its moisture.
- Toner. Tighten your pores, clarify your skin, and balance your pH all at once. Toners are skin tonics that easily absorb into the skin to help keep pores clean and minimize their appearance.
One to try: Awake Rose Hydrosol Toner. Rose hydrosol sounds intimidating, but it’s simply a plant extract that helps maintain the skin’s pH balance after you’ve washed your face.
While it helps keep you balanced, it also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Better balance and looking younger? Yes, please!
- Moisturize. Hydration is important to your skin and its health. Healthy skin needs to be hydrated from the inside out with adequate water intake and topical lotions to help keep the uppermost layer of your skin quenched.
One to try: Radiance Grape Stem Cell + Squalane Day Cream. Loaded with antioxidants, grape stem cells protect your skin from UV radiation and help keep your skin looking healthy. Also inside: prickly pear, argan oils, and natural squalane to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized for hours.
2. Limit Sun Time
Too much sun can dramatically damage your skin’s pH balance. When you’re exposed to the sun, you’ll also end up prematurely damaging your skin (aka making it look older than your actual age). Wearing sunscreen and staying in the shade helps protect your skin from unnecessary damage.
3. Up Your Antioxidant Protection
Your skin is constantly under attack from free radicals. Protect it by adding antioxidant-rich products to your lineup.
Antioxidants act as a shield, protecting your skin cells from the attack of free radicals that can harm them and interfere with your ideal pH balance.
Product to try: Dew Drops Mushroom Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C Serum. Packed with 100 times more vitamin C than an orange, kakadu plum helps this serum elevate your antioxidant game. Hyaluronic acid from tremella mushrooms gives added hydration to keep your skin incredibly moisturized in its deepest layers.
Improve Skin Health With Optimal PH Balance
Your skin has a pH balance, just like every other surface and substance in the world. Maintaining it is important because your skin suffers when its pH balance changes. With smart lifestyle choices and smart skincare, you can protect your skin’s pH balance naturally.
Three Ships Beauty makes it easy for you to take care of your skin and support its pH balance.
Balancing your budget? That could be a challenge. Balancing your skin? That should be easy. Three Ships Beauty helps you keep skincare simple and effective so you can focus on more complicated matters in your life.