Young woman touching face in front of bathroom mirror

Let’s face it, with everything else going on in your life, the pH level of your skin isn’t likely to be something that you have given much thought to. 

However, while it may not seem that important, your skin’s pH level is actually key when it comes to the health and appearance of your skin. 

Why? 

Here is everything you need to know…

Why is Skin pH Level So Important?

The surface of your skin consists of a thin and protective layer, which is designed to help keep moisture in while preventing environmental contaminants from entering into the skin. 

In order for this surface layer to function in the way that it should, your skin’s pH level needs to be balanced. 

What is a pH level? 

It is basically a measurement for how acidic or alkaline something is. The scale runs from 1 to 14, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. 

Ideally, your skin’s pH level should be around 5.5. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many people. 

Why? 

Because there are so many factors out there that disrupt the skin’s pH level. Everything from smoking and sun exposure to certain skin care ingredients can interfere with your skin’s natural pH level, causing it to either rise or fall. 

What happens then? 

The protective surface layer of your skin begins to break down…

This can lead to a number of different skin issues, from dryness and wrinkles to acne breakouts and psoriasis. 

The best way to prevent all of that from happening is…

Keep your skin’s pH level balanced. 

How? 

Read on for some tips…

Make Sure You’re Using a Mild Cleanser

Cleansers are an essential part of a daily skin care routine, but many cleansers contain ingredients that make the product quite alkaline. 

Foaming cleansers are usually a common culprit, and bar soaps are even worse, as these usually have a pH of around 9. 

Using these on your skin leaves behind an alkaline residue, which interferes with the slight natural acidity of the skin, raising its pH level. 

What happens if your skin’s surface is on the alkaline side of the pH scale? 

Research shows that you will likely experience the following: 

  • More prone to sun damage 
  • Faster-developing fine lines 
  • Deeper crow’s feet 
  • Dryness 

Wondering how you can tell if your cleanser is mild enough? 

It will usually state on the label that it is a mild or gentle cleanser, or may even say that it is formulated to balance the skin’s pH level. 

If you aren’t sure, a micellar water is always a good choice, because these tend to be slightly more acidic than alkaline. 

Start Using a Toner

If you don’t use a toner, but feel as though your skin’s pH level would benefit from being rebalanced, then this is a product that you should quickly introduce into your skin care routine.

Why? 

Because a toner is designed to counter the pH-disrupting effects of a cleanser, rebalancing your skin’s pH level back to normal. 

This is why it is designed to be used directly after a cleanser in a standard skin care routine, so that by the time you move on to applying serums and creams, your skin’s pH level will be balanced, and therefore more receptive to other ingredients. 

How should you choose a toner? 

By making sure that the one you go for has been formulated for your skin type. This is extremely important in order for your toner to benefit your skin in the way that it was designed to. 

One more thing to keep in mind…

The term “toner” is now being frequently used interchangeably for other types of products. The most common are astringents, which are designed to strip away excess oil from oily skin. 

Whether you could do with this or not, this isn’t the same type of toner that will rebalance your skin’s pH level, so make sure that you opt for a general facial toner instead. 

Moderate Your Use of Acids

From salicylic acid in acne washes to alpha hydroxy acids in exfoliating products, acids are commonly used for many different skin care purposes. 

While they may bring with them several different benefits, using them too often, or in the wrong way, can lead to your skin becoming overly acidic. 

What happens if your skin is too acidic? 

You may experience some of the following: 

  • Inflammation 
  • Redness
  • Sensitivities 
  • Itchy areas 

If you are experiencing any of the above and feel that it could be down to the acids in your skin care, you would be best off completely cutting these out and taking your skin care routine back to basics for a few weeks. This will give your skin some time to heal, before you can then slowly introduce acids back into your life. 

When it comes to choosing these acids…

Make sure that you are using products, as well as strengths, that are suited to your skin type. You should also make sure that you aren’t overusing them, as this will quickly lead to overly acidic skin. 

Restrict Your Use of Hard Water

Hard water refers to water that contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. 

This may sound like a good thing, but hard water also contains potentially harmful bacteria, and this is water that comes out of the taps for so many people around the world. 

It goes without saying that this extra bacteria isn’t going to be doing your skin any favors, but how does hard water affect your skin’s pH level? 

Well, hard water is actually extremely alkaline, meaning that it can quickly raise the skin’s pH level. 

It is also not as effective as reacting with soap when compared with soft water, meaning that products often leave a residue behind. For those who use in alkaline cleanser, this residue along with the alkalinity of hard water can really cause havoc on your skin!

Now, you might be thinking…

If hard water is coming out of the taps around my home, how am I meant to avoid it? 

You have a couple of options: 

  • Clip-on filters – these are available for showers, sink taps and more, and basically filter out the water’s “hardness”
  • Skin care products designed for hard water – these specialized products will contain chelating agents to counter the effects of hard water

Make Use of Probiotics

Probiotics have been in the headlines quite a bit recently, and for good reason too. 

Wondering what they actually are?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, which is why they are commonly referred to as good bacteria. 

When it comes to your skin, there are two ways in which probiotics can have an effect…

The first is when probiotics are consumed. 

This triggers beneficial changes in the immune system and gut, which then leads to positive changes in the skin. 

In particular, probiotics can really help with acne, eczema, aging skin and rosacea. In fact, research has shown that not only does consuming probiotics help to speed up the rate at which standard acne treatments work, but it also enables patients to better tolerate treatments containing antibiotics.  

What does this have to do with your skin’s pH level? 

Well, keeping your immune system healthy from within enables your skin to better regulate its own pH level, but, when you use probiotics topically, this has an even stronger and more direct impact. 

Didn’t know that you could use probiotics topically? 

You definitely can, and this is something that is becoming increasingly popular. 

There are now so many skin care products out there containing probiotics, and these can help to significantly thicken the skin’s surface layer, while also reducing the pH of the skin. 

It is able to have this effect on your skin’s pH level due to its acidic compounds, such as lactic acid. 

Convinced that probiotic skin care products are what you need? 

Don’t rush out to the shops just yet…

You need to first be aware of the fact that, when it comes to cosmetics, there is no legal definition of what a probiotic is, or how much is needed in order for it to be effective. 

Many skin care products will claim to contain probiotics, but actually only feature these in such tiny amounts that they do not have any effect at all. 

Before purchasing a probiotic skin care product, make sure that you do some research, not only on the ingredients and the product itself, but also on the company producing it. 

You should also check that the product you are interested in contains a range of different probiotics, rather than just one. Probiotics work harmoniously together, and the more you have, the better. Some of the most beneficial include Lactobacillus, Vitreoscilla and Bifidabacterium. 

Practise a pH-Balancing Diet

Your diet has such a significant effect on your skin, along with its pH level. 

In order to keep the pH level of your skin and body at where it needs to be, the food that you eat needs to be on the alkaline side, as this helps to balance the body. It also enables the blood to better absorb oxygen, which improves digestion, all of which result in healthier skin and a stronger skin surface. 

So, what exactly are alkaline foods? 

They include the following: 

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts

On the other hand, acidic foods, and therefore foods that you should cut back on, include: 

  • Red meat, poultry and fish 
  • Eggs
  • Grains
  • Dairy 
  • Alcohol

It might seem difficult at first to make these adjustments to your diet, but start off slow, cutting out one acidic food and adding in one alkaline food a week. It won’t be long until you begin noticing a difference in your skin, and all of this will also slowly build up to a more dramatic dietary change. 

How to Test Your Skin’s pH Level

After learning about how your skin’s pH level can have such a major impact on the health and appearance of your skin, you are likely wondering…

Is there any way for me to test my skin’s pH level?

There is if you visit a dermatologist. They will be able to use a pH meter to test the pH level of your skin. 

However, the best way to determine where your skin lies on the pH scale is by observing it. 

If your pH level is too high…

Your skin’s surface has been stripped of its protective oils, making it overly alkaline. 

You will experience: 

  • Tightness 
  • Dryness 
  • Flakiness 
  • A dull complexion 
  • Increased lines in the mornings 
  • A stinging sensation after applying certain products 

If your pH level is too low…

Your skin is too acidic. 

You will experience: 

  • Oiliness
  • Breakouts
  • Sensitivities
  • Redness 
  • Irritation 

If you don’t tend to experience much of any of those symptoms, then your pH level is likely to be right on track. 

Still want a more scientific way to determine your skin’s pH level? 

Well, while you can’t test your skin yourself, there are home tests for checking the pH level of your body. 

Saliva pH tests tend to be the most accurate, and will give you a reading of your internal pH level, which will then give you an indication of where your skin falls on the scale.

If you decide to try this, keep in mind that your skin’s pH level can still differ from that of your internal body, since your skin faces a number of elements that the inside of your body doesn’t have to deal with. 

By keeping your skin’s pH level balanced and stable, your skin will really be able to thrive. Its protective surface layer will strengthen and become more effective, giving you a brighter, clearer, smoother and more youthful complexion.