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Balancing Act

The ins and outs of pH Balanced products!

There are certain buzz words that cause women to blindly buy products. “Sulfate free”? Great! “Antioxidants”? I don’t know what they are but yes, please. “pH Balanced” is one of those phrases that tend to show up on bottles and if you are like me (before I looked into it), you have no idea what it means. Here is what I found!

Our skin has a thin, protective layer on the surface called the acid mantle that works best when the pH level is correct. On a scale from 1 being the most acidic to 14 being the most alkaline, 7 is considered a neutral reading for your skin’s pH. The ideal pH should be slightly acidic at about 5.5. When your pH is too alkaline or too acidic, this mantle is disturbed, causing skin problems such as dermatitis, ecxema, and rosacea. Have I lost you? I promise it gets better!

What affects your pH level?

Many things can interfere with the skin’s delicate pH level. Your skin-products, sun exposure, pollution, and water all contribute to the breaking down of the acid mantle. And as if getting older didn’t already suck, aging causes our skin to become more acidic. Even diet plays a role in our pH level. Foods that are considered acidic before digestion (like lemons) become alkaline-forming in the body. Most animal products, which are alkaline on your table, are considered acid-forming in your stomach. Confusing, I know… Overall, it’s best to have a less acidic diet. Opt for leafy greens and vegetables and you’ll be good to go!

When shopping for skin care products…

Check your Cleansers!
Most cleansers are too alkaline for the skin, stripping away natural oils and causing dryness and irritation. Watch out for heavy duty acne fighting cleansers because the skin actually needs a certain level of acidity to fight bacteria. A beneficial trend right now in shampoos and cleansers is, “Sulfate Free”. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (the long name) has an alkaline pH level of 10 and can be very harsh on the skin. Choosing mild cleansers and toners that are slightly acidic (close to 5) will help maintain the acid mantle.

Careful with Acids
Overly acidic products can also over-strip natural oils and weaken the skin's defenses when not used properly. Most over-the-counter products are made with the assumption that you and I don’t know how to test and regulate our pH levels (can you imagine?) and are safe to use. However, it is still important to pay attention to dryness, redness, or sensitivity when using any product containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Retinoic Acid, Beta Hydroxy Acids, and Amino Fruit Acids.

Choose the right Moisturizer
The amount of oil produced naturally from our skin decreases as we age, reducing the acid mantle and its ability to protect the skin. Using moisturizers with Jojoba, Coconut, Aragan, and Olive Oils will help build this barrier. Moisturizers containing sunscreen add an extra layer of defense for the acid mantle.

All this science and acid talk can leave a girl scared to make a purchase! I’m a firm believer that you are your skins best expert- pay attention to how your skin reacts and buy what works best for you. As always, if you have a question or run into a problem- don’t be afraid to ask Alana on our Live Chat!


I recently started using a toner after cleansing at night and in the morning i only splash warm water on my face. It’s made an improvement on my skin’s dryness. Should I also use a toner in the morning?

Esmeralda Larios @ 2011-08-03 1:35pm

Great post! Using a toner after cleansing is highly recommended in order to balance the pH of the skin, and yet most people skip this step.

Renata @ 2011-08-02 10:05am

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