Do you know why new born babies have a very sensitive skin?
It is because the “acid mantle” of their skin hasn’t developed yet. It takes some time for their skin’s acid mantle to develop.
Until then their skin is liable to dryness, irritation and rashes.
Normally, our skin has slightly acidic pH of 4.5 to 5.5 known as acid mantle whereas our body’s interior environment is alkaline, having a pH of 7.4.
This pH gradient provides an amazing defense system against viruses and pathogens.
However, using Soaps and Cleansers which are not pH specific disrupts this natural acid mantle. Read on to know how and why maintain your skin pH
Our Wrong Priorities While Choosing Facial Cleansers:
You may be using the best available cleanser or an aesthetically beautiful looking soap promising you the goodness of Aloe-vera, the anti-oxidant rich Chamomile and Green tea extracts, the soothing lavender and many more botanicals, the names of which you have never heard.
Yet, you don’t get that yippee feeling on looking at your bare face in the mirror.
Truth to be told, the botanical extracts in your cleansers gets rinsed down the drain, giving little to nothing benefit to your skin.
Funnily, most of the skincare brands cash on the added botanicals in their cleansers.
So, what matters in a Cleanser?
You may be using a certain facial foam/cleanser/soap because it claims mildness and has the goodness of all the popular trending oils- Olive, Jojoba, Sunflower seed, Tea tree etc..,
No doubt, oils in cleansers have an added advantage compared to botanical extracts.
They reduce the drying effect of cleansing agents aka surfactants present in your cleanser.
In spite of that, in reducing your skin concerns the pH of the cleanser takes the precedence.
Even Cleansers get rinsed with water then how does their pHs affect skin?
When Cleansers and Soaps high in pH come in contact with the skin they cause swelling of skin cells, something like hyper hydration of cells.
This swelling of cells facilitates entry of cleansing agents which upon their entry into skin barrier act as irritants.
Once you are done rinsing the hyper hydrated cells lose moisture pretty quickly. Does this ring a bell for the skin tightness after using certain cleansers and soaps?
Additionally, the cleansing agents aka surfactant molecules now attached to the skin cells prevent restoration of moisture.
For your skin to regain its original moisture it takes around 40 minutes.
Most importantly, even your skin pH changes to the pH of your cleanser. It takes from 20mins to 2 hours for the skin pH to get back to the normal pH of 4.5-5.5.
Besides, if hard water (pH 6.5-8.5) is used then skin may take even longer up to 6 hours to reset to its normal pH.
What could go wrong during brief periods of increased Skin pH?
Fat waxes aka Ceramides form cement like structure between the outer layers of the cells of skin.
They are important for maintaining the integrity and structure of skin barrier.
Frequent increase in skin’s pH reduces the Ceramide content of the skin. Not-so-Surprisingly, skin liable to acne and allergies has lesser amount of Ceramides.
Also, the irritants entering during the brief period of elevated skin pH impair the natural exfoliation process of skin that reflects by dry and dull textured skin. Hence, this is one of the main reasons why maintain your skin pH.
Correlation between skin pH and a certain skin type – Oily and Acne prone.
For better understanding you can refer to my short instagram post on skin types.
It goes without saying Oily skin has over-active oil producing glands, the Sebaceous glands.
The excess oil produced in Oily-sensitive skin type has a lot of hormonal play at the background with oil glands frequently activated by the circulating free hormones.
This alters even the fatty acids produced by the oil glands thereby increasing the skin pH. Furthermore, in women with PCOS the circulating higher levels of male hormones off sets skin’s pH balance.
The internal factors in oily-sensitive skin push the skin’s pH towards alkaline scale.
Additionally, when you use non-pH balanced cleansers or Soaps then these two factors offers a breeding ground for the acne causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes.
This acne causing bacteria cannot thrive in a pH balanced skin. But, alterations in pH due to alkaline cleansers, soaps and hard water gives a friendly environment for Propionibacterium acnes.
So, now you know what you need to do to reduce the frequency of your acne breakouts. Just go and get your hands on a pH balanced cleanser. (pH 5.5) as well as install a shower head if your supplied with hard water.
Correlation between skin pH and Dry Skin Type:
Even if acne and oily skin are not your concerns, you should still care about your skin cleansers and maintain your skin pH.
This is because even dry skin and itchy skin was found to have higher than the normal range of pH.
Also, when the areas of skin affected with eczema, contact dermatitis, Athlete’s foot and Candida infections were tested even they had higher levels of pH.
What role does Cleanser of pH 5-5.5 has in addressing your Skin concerns?
Balances and controls the oil factories of your skin:
Tired of trying everything under the sun to control the oil? Well, most of the hacks or remedies you come across more or less focus on getting rid of oily skin.
You need to balance the oil production on your face not get rid of it. One of the perks of oily skin is that it combats premature aging of skin.
So to balance and control the oil slick on your face start using a pH balanced cleanser and also cut down on sugar.
Yes, diet factors are equally important in controlling oil. You can’t really expect external skincare solely to solve deep rooted problems.
And regarding pH balanced cleansers, from my own experience I can vouch that Sebamed pH 5.5 Cleanser is godsent gift for balancing oil on my face.
Helps in reducing pore size:
Enlarged pores are a result of excessive oil aka sebum pumped out of pores, causing the pores to stretch.
So, again it comes down to balancing your skin’s oil factories by maintaining your skin pH with pH balanced cleansers.
Greatly reduces the frequency of Acne breakouts:
Regular use of pH 5-5.5 cleansers lowers your skin pH as well as the Propionibacterium acnes count in your skin pores.
By the way do know that Propionibacterium acnes bacteria exist even in individuals with clear flawless skin. To know more and choose better treatment options for Adult acne read my post on
Besides, skin pH lowered to normal range of 4.5-5.5 aids in proper exfoliation of skin that prevents clogging of pores.
Restores anti-bacterial properties of your Sweat:
Sweat has an antimicrobial peptide known as Dermicidin. It has maximum activity when our skin’s pH is within the normal range.
Any deviation from the normal range reduces the activity of this natural antibiotic. Hence, a pH balanced cleanser boosts the natural defense system of our body.
Reduces the side effects observed with usage of topical anti-acne medications:
Benzoyl peroxide and Retinoids applied on acne prone areas often act as irritants as well as have drying, itching and peeling effects on skin.
These side effects are prominent in disturbed skin barriers. When some one says disturbed skin barrier, it means a skin that gets easily irritated.
Restore the integrity of your skin by using low pH products. Doing so benefits your anti-acne treatments. You may most likely continue using your anti acne topicals without discarding them.
Therefore, whether you use OTC acne medications or cosmetic Retinoid serums include pH 5.5 Cleansers in your daily skincare regime.
pH Balanced Cleansers are as good as tea tree-oil and you can even stop using tea-tree oil:
You may have tried countless DIY remedies with tea tree oil for acne spot treatment. Although it works I stay away from essential oils given their high potential to act as irritants.
As an alternative to spot treatment with strong essential oils, I cleanse specifically those spots on my face (not my entire face though).
Not to forget, dermatologists recommend limiting the number of face washes in 24 hours to 2 times.
My top picks for pH balanced Cleansers:
In my next post, I’ll give a detailed review of my top picks. But for now I am just going mention my top picks.
From Korean Brands:
As much as I obsess over maintaining skin pH, I have come to realize that just because a cleanser claims pH balanced doesn’t imply it works as expected😲. Click the below image to know how to choose a pH balanced cleanser:
Update: So, here’s the post-