We already know that pH is a vital component of our epidermal makeup, but why is pH balance so valuable? Ok, first a quick recap on pH. pH stands for potentia hydrogenii, a nifty little Latin word that translates into potential hydrogen. Basically, we think of pH on a scale, and this scale determines the acidity level of any given substance.
pH Balance on a Scale vs. Skin
When you look at the pH scales out there, they’re all numbered from 0 to 14. 0 is the most acidic you can get. Think battery acid and lemon juice. 14, on the other hand, represent the most alkaline substances, like lye, ammonia and even some soaps. The middle of the scale is neutral and ranges between 7-10.
Logically when you look at this scale, you may think that “pH balance” is a value of 7, as it’s right in the middle of 0-14. You’d be right about that, but only within the confines of a clinical pH scale. When it comes to skin, “pH balance” is actually a value of 5.5. Let me explain.
The Acidic Surface of Skin & pH Balance
So interestingly enough, our skin is slightly acidic. And there are some pretty amazing evolutionary reasons behind this. In fact, the pH level of human skin is – yes, you guessed it – right in the 5.5 region. This means that, in the context of our skin, “pH balance” is likewise a value of 5.5 in order to match and reinforce the skin’s natural pH level.
The surface of our skin acts as a defensive barrier between our vulnerable organs and the outside world. Slight acidity on the top layer of the barrier pulverizes infection and inflammation-causing microorganisms, arguably the most threatening of which are cytokines. Having skin that’s properly acidic also regulates our enzymes (you can learn more about that here), a life-sustaining function.
Yet, our skin is still an organ itself (our bodies’ largest, actually) and requires care to remain an effective barrier. This is where pH balance comes in.
Maintaining pH-Balanced Skin
The cool thing about all this stuff is that you have full control over maintaining pH-balanced skin. And the value of that, as discussed above, is enormous. It’ll help keep – not just your skin healthy – but your whole body in general. Why?
Because of the barrier factor. pH balance, remember, keeps your skin barrier protected from environmental threats. Check out my post on repairing a weak skin barrier for more specific tips, but if you want to get started on enjoying the value of pH balance right now, try Sebamed. Their products are all formulated at a pH level of 5.5. Start with the Liquid Face & Body Wash. It’s pretty awesome.