It's all about the balance
'Perfect skin' doesn't really exist - we all have our own issues that we're dealing with, everything from bags under our eyes, to adult acne and rosacea. However, there is something that we can all do to ensure that our skin is looking and feeling better: keep the skin's pH levels balanced with some pH balancing skincare.
What is pH?
You would have learnt about pH in Chemistry class back in the day. It's a figure that shows whether something is acidic or alkaline, based on a measurement of 0-14. Anything below seven is acidic, anything above is alkaline and bang on seven is neutral (water is 7).
Why do you need to keep your skin's pH levels balanced?
Skin's ideal pH is 5.5, which is slightly acidic. When it's balanced on 5.5, then skin is working to it's optimum. Throw this balance out of whack (by using the wrong products or eating the wrong foods) and your pH levels will suffer resulting in sensitivity, wrinkles, inflammation or acne. Mega dermatologist, Dr Colbert of Colbert MD products, tells us that the phrase ‘pH balanced’ is more than a marketing ploy. “Our body and skin require a balance between alkaline and acidity for our acid mantle – the barrier that keeps moisture in and germs and toxins out. Anything over seven is considered alkaline. Skin that falls on this end of the scale tends to be drier and more wrinkly, while skin that’s too acidic can appear red, irritated and itchy. Slightly acidic, around 5.5, is epidermal heaven.”
How do you keep your skin's pH levels balanced?
The easiest way to keep skin's pH balanced is to use products that don't muck the pH around. Here's is our roundup of the best pH balancing products...
Rumour has it that Cameron Diaz uses Evian to wash her face. Whilst this might seem to be fairly excessive (not to mention super spenny), she might actually be on to something. Nichola Joss, facialist and Decleor ambassador tells us why: “Hard water has a high mineral composition containing heavy metals like iron, copper, zinc, and nickel that can lead to irritation, inflammation and itchiness and it can even breakdown collagen and elastin. It can also contain chlorine, which is drying so it strips the top layer of the skin of its natural oils.” Yikes! To her patients with hypersensitive skin, she recommends not using hard tap water. If there’s a build-up on your shower head you know your water is hard and this is the same residue that ends up on your face. Shock horror. French women are spearheading the anti-tap-water movement. In its place they’re using their favourite micellar water, which was developed in France in the nineties to combat their harsh water and has become as much an essential in the French girl beauty kit as a reliable hyperpigmentation treatment.
Cleansers and toners
“To maintain a healthy balance in the skin, it’s best to avoid harsh cleansers that have an alkaline pH and instead use neutral or slightly acidic ones with alpha or beta hydroxy acids, these especially help the bacteria/pimple cycle,” says celeb facialist Anastacia Achiellios. “I have seen thousands of skins transform from just making changes to cleansing routines.” Though lathering up might help you feel squeaky-clean, harsh cleansers dry you out, leaving skin feeling tight.
SebaMed is a product range created specifically so that it has a pH value of 5.5 - the same as your skin's ultimate level.
pH BALANCING FOOD
Another way to help keep your pH in check is watch what you eat.Your body is a machine, and the things you put inside it affect the way it looks on the outside. “When your body is functioning at its best, your cells are able to maintain healthy blood pH easily,” explains Nutritional Therapist and Founder of GP Nutrition Gabriela Peacock. “However, when our bodies have to work to filter the foods you eat to maintain blood pH, then you could be more susceptible to illness and our diets sometimes tend to be on the acidic side.” Acid-producing foods include meat, poultry, cheese and dairy and, sadly, baked pastries, white bread, caffeine and processed foods. “Alkaline foods balance the body and allow our blood to absorb more oxygen to aid digestion, which will in turn lead to clearer skin,” says Peacock. Eat plenty of pH balancing kale, cayenne pepper, garlic, carrots, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar. Dalton Wong founder of TwentyTwo Training recommends drinking green juice, which is like a ‘salad in a glass’, with spinach, kale, lemon and cucumber. Give yourself a hand; avoid fizzy drinks and swap your morning coffee for green tea, which is more alkaline.
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Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.
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