What exactly is skin pH?
It’s short for ‘potential hydrogen’ and it refers to the acidity level of the skin. A pH of 7, which is the acidity level of pure water, is considered neutral. Anything below that value is acidic and alkaline above it. The optimal pH value of human skin – on most of our face as well as our body – lies somewhere between 4.7 and 5.75. This means that skin’s natural pH is mildly acidic.
It should come as no surprise, that changes in skin pH can be a contributing factor to all kinds of skin diseases and disorders, like eczema, acne, and dermatitis, to name just a few.
With all this in mind, it becomes clear that the effects of exogenous factors have greatly increased in recent years due to pollution, as well as the behaviors and habits that tend to make skin disorders an increasing problem, especially for those with sensitive skin When talking about the pH of the skin, we must differentiate between the pH of men and that of women, because it is different. In men, the pH is slightly more acidic (4.8) than that of women. In addition, depending on the area of the body, the pH is also different. For example, in the armpit area, the pH is more acidic than between the fingers. The pH of the skin is produced by a layer between the epidermis and the dermis called the hypodermis. The function of the hypodermis is to lubricate the skin and protect it. The increase in the pH of the hypodermis, making it more alkaline, occurs with dermatitis or inflammation of the skin. This happens, for example, when we wash our hands with the wrong soap, which promotes the growth of bacteria and the weakening of the skin’s protective barrier.
Different pH levels for different parts of the body.
Your pH levels are not the same all over the body. The reason is very simple. Not all cells, enzymes and tissues work at the same pH. They have different functions and need a specific pH range to fulfill them. Let’s see some examples. Your skin maintains a pH of around 5.5. It hits a slightly acidic side, which helps the skin to fight off germs in the environment. Saliva, on the other hand, has a pH of around 6.5-7.4. This slightly neutral pH is important for the proper functioning of the salivary enzymes. The digestive tract has the most interesting and varied pH readings – ranging from 1.5 to 7.0. In the stomach, you need mildly acidic conditions for a digestive enzyme like pepsin, which is needed for protein digestion, to function properly. Pepsin breaks down proteins into smaller peptides and requires a low pH to function. Things change when food moves from the stomach to the small intestine where the pH rises. Again, this is because the enzymes that work in the small intestine need an alkaline environment to be active and function properly.
How to maintain a balanced pH
To maintain a balanced pH, we must pay attention to three main factors: our diet, our environment, and our skincare ritual. What we eat plays an important role in our health, both internally and externally. A study by the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology suggests that skin health is intimately linked to diet. Eating fresh, natural, and unprocessed foods provides more vitamins and nutrients, thus providing our skin with the ingredients it needs to stay healthy. In particular, favor leafy green vegetables, which are rich in nutrients and help maintain healthy skin.