First thing is first, pH stands for "potential hydrogen" and is used to measure the acidity of basicity of a product that contains water.
When I teach the pH scale during our chemistry portion, I always get slacked jaws and eyes drifting shut. I'll be honest, if you were to pull out a chemistry test I would, run away with my tail tucked between my legs! It's once you get past the "not knowing/ not understanding" part and relate it back to things you already know...that's when it starts to make sense and gets enjoyable.
So I always tell this story:
The pH scale represents highschool and ranges from 0 to 14.
People that are "0" which mean that they have no friends, and they are bitter (like an acidic product). (Then I go on into polarity where I say for them to feel better they need to (
And those magical "7"s are juuuusssttt right! Not too little and not too many
Too much of on one side of the scale is a problem...think of it this way...you leave a really low pH chemical peel on your skin, you will experience irritation and sensitivities. You put something with a high pH like..let's say...lye on your skin, this too will cause extreme irritation and sensitivities. So pretty much, my point is that the goal of your skin care regimen should be to find a balance and maintain your skin's pH/health.
Our skin has a pH of 4.5-5.5 and is slightly acidic due to our acid mantle. The acid mantle consists of our sebum (oil) and other fatty materials and is used to protect our skin. So when people remove all of the oil from their skin, essentially this is a poor move because this eliminates some of our skin's protection factor. A regular bar of soap has such a high pH that it can actually dry your skin and cause your skin to lose moisture. In return, your skin sends a signal to your brain ,"help!" and the brain signals for the skin to produce even MORE oil to compensate. That's why those of you who have oily skin types that wash their face a lot, actually seem to make the problem worse! With that being said, the cleansers that we use are generally on a more alkaline scale, this is used to help neutralize some of the oils and acidity and remove dirt and debris. This is perfectly fine as long as you aren't using too much. That's why it's really important to use a toner or other products within your regimen to achieve balance. So moral of this paragraph : STAY AWAY FROM REGULAR BAR SOAP! If you're dry, this could be your culprit and if you're oily, it can make you even more so.
Another thing that consumers don't really consider is when they "cherry pick" their favorite skin care products. A rule of thumb is to usually use the same brand of products of a regimen for at least a month to test it's efficacy. Sure, you may like certain products in other lines BUT you have to take into consideration that all of the products in professional lines are tested and pH balanced with one another. This is ideal when looking for results in skincare, especially if you have challenged skin like acne.
pH is also important when you are looking into AHA's and BHA's or receiving chemical peel like results! Whether you are looking at products are talking to your esthetician about your next treatment, pH plays a part. For example, over the counter skin care products that have AHA's/BHA's usually contain about 15% where as professional products that you can use at home usually have 11-15%. In your head you may think that you are getting the better deal with OTC, however the percentage of these are ingredients only tell you how MUCH of the ingredient it contains. The pH of the product will tell you how effective or "deep" the ingredient will penetrate. OTC usually have a pH of 3+ whereas, estheticians can use a lower pH. And as we visited in my other post, All Acids Aren't Your Friend, these ingredients work better at a lower pH to give to you benefits whether you have acneic, dry, or aging skin!
So whether you are a nerd or not, this little piece of chemistry advice can help you tweek your regimen and can even give you some health benefits ( drinking pH water can help balance your internal pH and therefore help you fight diseases!). To test your pH and the pH of your products look for pH testing kits usually found in the area of your grocery store in the water aisle or online! Maybe there will be another post on pH balancing your body but until then...remember, balance is key!