What is ‘pH balance’ with respect to my skin? How does pH help my skin? Can a disturbance in this balance contribute to premature ageing? Can external factors (e.g., pollution, water quality) disturb this balance? And what role does the humble soap play in all of this? Here's all your skin pH questions answered in plain English!
pH literally stands for "potential of hydrogen". It is used to describe the acid-alkaline ratio of a substance, which ranges from 0 (the most acidic) to 14 (the most alkaline). Water is neutral and has a pH of 7.
The human body maintains a certain acid-alkaline balance, and any deviation brings problems - whether it’s our tummy or whether it’s our skin.
Our skin's optimum pH should be 5.5, i.e. slightly acidic. The topmost layer of our skin is an “acid mantle”. This acid mantle is our skin's safety barrier. It keeps the moisture IN and germs, infections, toxins and disease OUT. When this acidity is disturbed (i.e., the pH goes out of balance), our skin becomes prone to irritation, breakouts, blemishes, and other skin-related problems. This could also lead to premature ageing.
Using soap and harsh surfactants (which are alkaline in nature) is the No. 1 everyday reason for loss of pH balance. External factors like air pollution, water pollution and excessive exposure to the sun, lifestyle factors like smoking and internal factors like poor diet and insufficient water intake can also lead to a change in the skin’s pH. This in turn leads to the skin losing its ability to protect itself.
Here are some simple, everyday tips to keep the balance!
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