Skin is the ultimate multi-tasker, performing several essential roles for our overall wellbeing.
The most important role it plays is as a protective barrier between our bodies and the outside world, and skin’s pH is one of its key protective mechanisms. The pH of our skin is constantly challenged by external aggressors such as pollution, temperature changes and harsh chemicals. Superior skincare products help to maintain skin’s optimal pH and support and restore its natural defenses. This makes it more resilient, less sensitive and better able to carry out its vital work of protecting us.
WHAT IS SKIN'S pH?
The optimal pH value of skin on most of our face and body lies between 4.7 and 5.75. A pH of 7 (that of pure water) is considered neutral. Anything below that is acidic and above it alkaline, so skin’s natural pH is mildly acidic. This mildly acidic pH is created by skin’s acid mantle, the water part of the hydrolipid film that protects the external layers of skin. Read more in skin structure.
Skin’s pH varies slightly according to both gender and where it is on the body. It also fluctuates at different life stages.
WHY DOES SKIN'S pH MATTER?
Skin’s pH plays an important role in skin condition. The acid mantle is key to skin’s protective barrier. It neutralises alkaline-based aggressors (such as harsh surfactants), inhibits the growth of bacteria and restores and maintains the optimal acid environment in which skin’s natural flora can thrive.
If skin’s pH rises into the alkaline range, its natural balance is disturbed. Essential epidermal lipids cannot be synthesised and skin loses water and dries out. In this condition, the outer layer of skin (or epidermis) is no longer able to work as a protective barrier.
When skin’s barrier function is compromised it is less resilient and more sensitive to environmental triggers. It can become dry, sensitive or hypersensitive, and is susceptible to infections, diseases such as Atopic Dermatitis and conditions such as Rosacea.
WHAT CAN AFFECT SKIN'S pH?
There are many external and internal factors that may have an impact on skin’s pH. Skin’s location on the body can also affect its pH and certain skin conditions, such as Atopic Dermatitis, alter the pH of skin.
Chemicals with an alkaline pH are particularly detrimental to skin pH. They overtax skin’s natural neutralising capability, damage cell structure and impair the skin’s
- Changes in temperature and humidity
- Dirt and pollution
- Washing too frequently
- Alkaline cosmetics
protective barrier. Certain medicines (e.g. chemotherapy, diuretics and antibiotics) and medical procedures (e.g. radiotherapy and dialysis) can also affect skin’s natural defence, alter its pH and impair its