Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Skin looking dull? Your Skin’s pH level might be off

Yes, skincare products can be too alkaline or too acidic.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Nov 13, 2021

Do you ever experience redness or inflammation from certain products? Or an allergic reaction after cleansing your face? Or even the dryness that comes in the winter months? These are red flags that your skin’s pH balance could be off. The pH, or potential of hydrogen, can be either acidic or alkaline. Depending on what side you tend to lean on, it can be the difference between healthy skin and dry, endangered skin.


Certain skincare products can be too alkaline or too acidic and can directly produce wrinkles, dryness, and inflammation. Understanding your skin’s pH level and what external factors to avoid is key.


What is skin pH?

Put simply, skin pH is a protective barrier of the skin. Not to get too scientific, but the acid mantle (the outermost protective layer of the skin) is made up of sebum that mixes with sweat and lactic acid to create the skin’s pH.


There is a pH level ranging from 1-14 (optimal level is between 4.7 and 5.5) that your skin would fall under. It functions to maintain the balance of acidity and alkalinity to protect us from germs and other environmental factors. Basically, it ensures proper cell turnover, hydration, and barrier function.


Your skin pH might be one thing one day and dramatically different if you start using certain products, change your diet, don’t drink enough water, or don’t fuel properly.


How does pH impact the skin?

Skin pH works with the microbiome, affecting the way your skin looks and feels, as well as your body’s overall health. The two work in tandem to fight bacteria and fungi. In order to function at its best, the acid mantle must maintain its natural pH level. When things are off balance, harmful bacteria can creep into the skin and affect the natural hydrating oils already in the skin. You could start experiencing irritation, dryness, and even acne.


How to determine skin pH

This is slightly tricky but, if your skin feels tight, cracked, or has dryness, your skin pH could be off. If you do feel this, rest assured that you can correct it and get back on track.


To do this, avoid harsh cleansers and opt for a gentle skin care regimen. If things are a bit more extreme, you can incorporate alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy/​salicylic acid (BHA) products to lower your skin’s pH. And be cautious of over exfoliation, that can affect the pH level as well.


If you want to learn more, find out what skin type you are, how to transition to a winter skincare routine and why your gut health will play a factor in skin health.


Photo via Hellogiggles