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PH Levels and Your Skin

Posted March 2020 by Biodermis
PH (potential hydrogen) is a scale used in chemistry to determine how acidic or basic (alkaline) a substance or solution is. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14 with zero being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. The range of seven, being the middle number on the scale, is considered to be neutral (not acidic or alkaline). While pH is often a scale used to test the acidity of water or other substances, it can also be used to determine the pH level of our skin. If our skin is too acidic or if it is too alkaline, mild to moderate skin conditions can result.

Continue reading to learn more about pH and how pH levels might affect your skin throughout your lifetime.

How do pH levels affect the skin?

pH and the body

The skin is made up layers and sublayers that work in conjunction to provide our bodies with a natural shield that keeps us safe. The skin is responsible for repelling germs, infections, and other environmental stresses that can harm us. The surface of our skin contains an oil-based layer called the acid mantle. The acid mantle is made up of sebum (fatty acids) that is secreted from sebaceous glands in the skin. The sebum mixes with lactic and amino acids from sweat to create the skin’s pH level. The pH of normal, healthy skin should be slightly acidic at about 5.5 on the scale. Throughout our lifetimes and especially as we get older, the pH balance of our skin usually changes by becoming more or less acidic.

A lot of things can disrupt our skin’s natural pH and break down the acid mantle. Factors such as what kind of products we put on our skin, the kinds of foods we eat, sun and UV exposure, smoking and drinking, and many others can disrupt the way the skin protects itself. Our diet in particular plays an important role in determining our internal pH and the pH levels of our skin. Everything that we eat gets processed by our kidneys as either acidic or alkaline. A majority of the cells in our bodies function optimally at pH levels that are slightly acidic. Paradoxically, foods that are generally considered acidic before we eat them, such as lemons, become alkaline in the body after digestion. Foods that are considered acid-forming in the body include meats, sugars, coffee, eggs, dairy, and many others.

pH and skin health
So how does all of this play into skin health and can an imbalanced pH cause skin-related disorders? Because the skin is the body’s first line of defense against bacteria, if there is a disruption in the pH balance, bacteria can find its way onto the skin and cause acne breakouts. Most people experience acne breakouts at some point in their lives, usually during their teenage years with the onset of puberty. Acne breakouts are thought to occur in people who have slightly higher alkaline levels in the body. Apart from keeping our skin safe from bacteria, the acid mantle also plays a role in keeping our skin soft and supple by inducing adequate levels of moisture. A disrupted pH balance can therefore lead to dry, cracked skin and, in more serious cases, eczema (atopic dermatitis).

Skin-related conditions caused by imbalanced pH levels are generally mild and nothing to stress over. However, if you are struggling to maintain a healthy pH, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that will be healthy for your body and skin. Being mindful of the types of soaps, lotions, and other skin care products you use can make a big impact. Many of these products will list their pH levels on the packaging to help you make knowledgeable decisions regarding your skin. A change in diet is likely the best lifestyle choice you can make to improve your body’s pH. Eating less fast and processed foods and switching to a more organic diet will help. Giving up heavy smoking and drinking will also improve your pH balance.

It’s important to note that pH in the body and what factors influence it aren’t entirely clear to the scientific community. Apart from diet and environmental factors, genetics and underlying health conditions can cause pH to fluctuate. If you are concerned about your body’s pH balance, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional.


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