Is Your Skin’s pH Off Balance? It Could Be Causing Premature Aging

Updated 10/07/17

Talking about pH level takes us back to seventh-grade science class. Unfortunately, there must have been an oversight in Mr. Carlson’s lesson plan because the topic of pH-balanced skin definitely wasn’t stressed enough. Luckily, Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical spokesperson for Sebamed, is willing to pick up where our education system left off. Why exactly are we discussing pH levels? Because, according to the reports of more than 130 clinical studies, achieving the perfect pH is the secret to beautiful skin. “A study published in British Journal of Dermatology by Greg Hillebrand, PhD, revealed that patient's skin which was too alkaline (their pH balance was too high) developed more fine lines and crow's feet than those with acidic skin (their pH was balanced),” Dr. Nussbaum says.

Keep reading to find out more about your skin’s pH!

ph balance skin

The Ideal pH

There is a magic number that leads to a lifetime of happy skin. “Balanced skin is achieved when skin maintains the ideal pH of 5.5,” Dr. Nussbaum says. “At this slightly acidic pH, the skin is optimized to seal in hydration, while protecting us from free radicals, pollution, and environmental irritants.”

Unbalanced Skin

How do you know if you’re off-balance? Generally, skin that isn’t behaving can be traced to pH problems. Dr. Nussbaum says that skin issues like eczema, redness, dry patches, acne, oiliness, psoriasis, and premature signs of aging all indicate that your skin’s pH is off-balance. That means your skin’s barrier is damaged, and its exposure to the elements exacerbates everything from dry skin to clogged pores. 

How Did It Get That Way? 

If your skin is off-balance, Dr. Nussbaum says it’s because you’ve been too hard on it. Most likely you’ve been scrubbing too aggressively, using too much hot water, and using harsh cleansers. Washcloths are too abrasive to use for cleansing the gentle skin on your face. Even if you’re not using them to wash, your vigorous drying could be to blame. Washing with hot water (that’s anything warmer than lukewarm) strips your skin’s protective layer, while showers longer than five minutes could also be depleting your skin’s moisture levels. Finally, if your cleanser isn’t soap, alkali, and surfactant-free, you’re stripping your skin’s acid mantle, which causes pH to rise. 

How to Get It Back on Track

“When we correct our skin’s pH balance, what we’re doing is bringing the skin barrier function back to its optimal state of equilibrium where it can effectively absorb the hydration our skin needs, and repel things that irritate the skin, thus minimizing the above-mentioned conditions,” Dr. Nussbaum says. The first step to getting your skin back on track is stepping away from harsh ingredients and switching to balanced products, which will heal your skin. “Going back to basics (with balanced face wash and lotion) for a few weeks can calm skin problems, and prep skin for more targeted treatments.”

Balanced and Beautiful 

What can you expect out of balanced skin? According to Dr. Nussbaum, your skin will appear healthier overall. It will look and feel adequately moisturized and have a healthy glow, which is ultimately what we’re all hoping our skincare products will deliver. Once balance is restored, your products will work better too. “If your skin isn’t properly balanced, those powerful ingredients won’t have the opportunity to really penetrate the outer layer of skin, and they even can become irritating due to a broken-down skin barrier,” Dr. Nussbaum says. “You want to apply your moisturizers to a surface with the right pH so they can actually work.”

Keep scrolling to shop the products that will get your skin’s pH balance back in order!

Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Oil-Free Foaming One-Step Cleanser $35
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Sebamed Liquid Face and Body Wash $13
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Perricone MD Firming Facial Toner $39
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Clarins Toning Lotion $23
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Shiseido Pureness Mattifying Moisturizer Oil-Free $34
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