Friday, September 17, 2010

The pH Balance of your skin

' The Power of Hydrogen' or 'Potential Hydrogen'

When we talk about the pH of a thing, we're referring to the measure of acidity and alkali in it. The skin's acid mantle has a layer of lactic acid, amino acids and free fatty acids that protect our skin and body from absorbing bacteria it doesn't need.
The level is scored on a scale from 1-14. Anything under 7 is considered acidic, above 7 is alkaline while a score of  7 is considered neutral. When your skin's pH balance is off this leads to dryness, oiliness and other irritations.

It may seem like its best that the skin remain a good neutral 7 but that's not the case. The best pH balance for your skin falls at about 5.5 on the scale.

Once I learned about pH balance, I began to understand the marketing of skin care products with alpha-hydroxy acids in them as well as the reasoning behind milk (lactic acid) facial treatments. Skin needs a bit more acid than it does alkaline.

What does this mean when purchasing skin care products? 
Firstly, I always suggest  staying away from 'soaps' the average pH of soap is 9 to 10.5. As I mentioned in a previous post; soaps containing dyes, fragrance and sodium laureth sulfate are not beneficial to the skin. These ingredients can contain too much alkaline. Chose a creamy, mild cleanser.

Using a toner can also help swing back the scale to a more acidic level if needed. I prefer using plain old witch hazel. I've also heard of people using a mixture of apple cider vinegar and distilled water to restore the pH balance after cleansing.

Moisturizing for me means applying a mixture of jojoba oil, olive oil and coconut oil to my face at night. These oils are similar to the natural sebum in our skin and can help soothe and protect it from dryness and irritation. This is just what I personally use because I know its safe for my skin. I encourage you all to give it a try.

Lastly, I should mention that diet plays a huge role in the pH balance of skin as well.  Two things I really enjoy are desserts and coffee. Both sugar and caffeine help contribute to boosting the body's acidity level and can be too much.

Deirdre Earls, RD, LD writes:

When you are trying to recover naturally from disease, it is good to have a diet that is ~80% alkaline-forming and ~20% acid-forming. This is challenging but to the extent that the vast majority of your diet is built around whole grains, vegetables and fruits, you will alkalize your system. This will enhance the ability of your immune system to rid your body of toxins and create natural healing. After symptoms are resolved, you still want a majority of your intake to be alkaline-forming. A general guideline for maintaining optimum health is ~60% alkaline forming and ~40% acid forming.
A few of the alkalizing foods you may want to eat more of include:
  • Broccoli
  • Lentils
  • Dark leafy vegetables such as collard and mustard greens
  • Molasses
Some highly acidic foods to avoid:
  • Beer
  • Beef
  • Sugar
  • Coffee
As always, it is important to drink lots of water throughout the day, not only to flush toxins but to raise alkalinity as well.

If you ever want to get your 'Mad Scientist' on and test the pH balance of your products, testing strips can be purchased at most health and drug stores or even here online. Also, shout out to fellow natural hair enthusiast and vlogger KimmayTube for making pH test strips available at her online store LUVNaturals.

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