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PH value and why it is important

PH value and why it is so important in skincare
(If you suffer from acne, eczema, psoriasis or rosacea this is a must read)

What is pH value and why do we use it in skincare?
 PH value is made up from a scale of 1-14, in which 1 is the most acidic, 14 is the most alkaline and 7 is neutral.  Our skin is made up of several layers in which the surface layer is referred to as the acid mantle. This acid mantle is made up of free fatty acids (sebum) which is excreted from the skin’s sebaceous glands. These fatty acids mix lactic and amino acids from our sweat to create our skin’s pH, ideally this should be slightly acidic around 5.5 ( Please note, the requirements for our skin and our internal organs are different, i.e., doctors recommend an alkaline diet. So what we eat should not be compared to what we put on our skin!)

Factors to consider
Almost anything and everything can affect our skin’s pH value. Our skin can be affected by sun, water, pollution, smoke and other environmental factors. Over time these factors slowly cause our skin’s acid mantle to break down which affects the skins ability to protect itself. In Australia and other parts of the world we tend to have a lot of chlorine in our water which can have a negative impact on our skin if we shower or bathe too often. In addition, water has pH 7 (neutral) which may seem good for the skin, however, as our skin’s pH is around 5.5 water can affect our skin’s natural balance. It is recommended not to shower or bathe too often, especially for those who suffer from eczema as water (especially hot water) can trigger eczema very quickly.

PH value in skincare
When buying skin care (especially moisturizers and soaps) pH numbers are important to consider. However, most of the products you are able to buy from shops are very alkaline because the main ingredient is often water (pH neutral) which is blended with a variety of artificial ingredients and preservatives that are often very alkaline such as Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).  Since our skin’s pH is slightly acidic, the alkalinity of these products can cause your skin to dry out, feel irritated and cause rashes, acne and even trigger skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis over time. So when buying skin care products always look out for products that are pH tested and contain natural ingredients and are mild on the skin. If you feel like doing your own experiments most pharmacies sell kits that will help you identify the pH value of a product.

A word about soap
Soap is such a tricky thing… You can find moisturizing soap made with shea butter, coconut oil, goatsmilk, oats and more. However, all soap is made with water and lye to create that lathering and soapy effect and because water is neutral and lye is alkaline, it is almost impossible to find soap that is pH balanced to suit our skin – I have never found one with a pH value of 5.5 even though the label states “mild on the skin and pH tested”! If you can’t live without soap like me, I recommend that you use it sparingly and find soaps that are mild and contains ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, goatsmilk, to add antioxidants and vitamins back to the skin.  In addition, always use a moisturizer afterwards that is pH valued to suit the skin to restore its balance.

Help your skin protect itself
There are ingredients that can help maintain and care for your skin and the acid mantle. Antioxidants are proven to be beneficial as well as vitamin A, C and E. Surprisingly when you start to research natural ingredients, you will find that many of these such as coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, avocado oil and almond oil, naturally contain many vitamins and antioxidants which will help protect your skin from the environment. It is also crucial that you always use sunscreen with UV protection to protect your skin from too much sun (especially in Australia).

Last words
Having gone through my life with mild eczema, I learned to deal with it without really looking into what could be causing it or what could be done to prevent it. However, what made me deeply research skin conditions and skincare was when my first daughter began suffering from eczema. Every night she would scratch her legs bloody to the point I needed to bandage them every day.
Although there are so many factors besides pH value, something that we should all start to learn is to care for our skin using natural products. I will be writing many blogs about why some skin care products can be dangerous with long term use, what ingredients to look out for, why diets play an important role and many other topics. Until then, should anyone have any questions regarding skincare I am always free for a chat!