The Science Behind Your Skin: How to Balance Your Skin pH

We all spend a lot of time seeking balance in our lives: work-life balance, a balanced diet, a healthy bank account balance. But most of us never realize that we also need balance when it comes to our skin care. Specifically, we need skin care products and treatments that are pH balanced to maintain the health and normal function of our skin.

To start, what is skin pH?

First, let’s get a quick refresher on our long-ago science classes! The pH scale measures how acidic, neutral, or alkaline a substance is. A pH of 0 is extremely acidic, and 14 is extremely alkaline. Healthy skin has a pH of about 4.6-5.6, which is slightly acidic—about the same as black coffee, tomatoes, and bananas. This comes from what’s called the “acid mantle”, a thin protective layer that’s part of the skin’s natural barrier functions, made up of a mix of sebum with lactic and amino acids produced by sweat.

skinph_compared to_common_food

Now let's talk about how to improve our skin's pH

Too often, when we think we’re taking care of our skin, we’re actually disrupting the acid mantle and leaving our skin open to dryness, breakouts, or even flare-ups of conditions like eczema or rosacea. It’s hardly our fault; skin pH was something we were probably never taught about, and we’re encouraged to do things like wash our hands regularly with soap. It’s a good hygiene habit, but ordinary hand soap has a pH of 10 or 11—very alkaline!

So, what if you have a skin condition like eczema?

Likewise, eczema patients are often encouraged to take baths using a diluted bleach solution. But bleach ranks a whopping 13 on the pH scale, the same as oven cleaner and just one step below liquid drain cleaner. Considering that eczema patients usually have a skin pH around 6 or 7 to begin with, you can see that bleach baths are only going to add to the problem.

If you suffer from eczema, Dr. Cheryl Lee Eberting, M.D., founder of CherylLeeMD Sensitive Skin Care, recommends using a dilution of vinegar (particularly apple cider vinegar) instead of bleach to treat symptoms and support the acidity of the skin barrier.

You can also view our selection of  CherylLeeMD products for skin care that is carefully pH balanced, non-toxic, and free of the 88 most common allergens found in skin care.

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