The nip in the air, the wind in your hair, the coldness of your palm and feet, the need for a warm hug from someone, longing for a soft blanket and an incessant requirement of coffee are indicators that winter is here! And while the weather is amazing, it does spell disaster for dry skin. If you too dread winters because your skin turns into Sahara desert as soon as the mercury starts dipping, then we’ve got you covered. Maintaining the pH of the skin is imperative to make sure that its moisture barrier remains intact. Once the acid mantle of the skin, is breached, you will face a variety of skin woes, that can otherwise be avoided by taking a little extra care of your skin.
With the winters knocking at the door, we have already started experiencing dryness of the skin. In such a scenario, it will be best if we start protecting our skin's moisture barrier to make sure that it doesn't feel rough and flaky. Balancing the pH level of your skin is also crucial in maintaining healthy and hydrated skin throughout winter. In this blog we will explain what is an acid mantle, why is it important to protect it, and what are products, ingredients, DIYs we can try to maintain it.
What Is The pH Level Of Skin?
When it comes to skincare you should get down to the basics and understand what makes your skin truly beautiful.
You might have come across the term ‘pH Balance’ in many skincare advertisements on social media. Have you ever thought what is the pH level of the skin and why is maintaining a pH balance necessary for maintaining healthy skin?
The long-form of ‘pH’ is ‘potential of hydrogen,’ which means the measure of hydrogen ion concentration in any substance. In the early 1900s, the pH scale was invented by Danish chemist SPL Sorensen for measuring acidity and alkalinity. The pH measuring starts from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline).
Your skin’s pH level of 5.5, which means that your skin is slightly acidic. It is imperative to know that the soaps and beauty products that you use have a pH ranging from 8-10. Maintaining the correct skin pH level is crucial to having problem-free skin. The acid mantle is another crucial factor in having problem-free, healthy skin. When the acid mantle of your skin is compromised, it can trigger dry skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis.
What Is Acid Mantle?
Skin's acid mantle is a thin film composed of lipids from oil glands and amino acids from sweat. It forms a protective barrier over the skin which keeps your skin healthy by keeping in good stuff such as moisture and bad stuff such as pollution, skin infections away from your skin.
You can consider an acid mantle as a protective shield that protects your skin from external aggressors. When this protective shield gets compromised, it leads to various skincare issues such as dry, itchy and flaky skin.
How Is Acid Mantle Related To Skin pH?
As the skin's ideal pH is slightly acidic, about 5.5, anything that can cause it to become too alkaline can disrupt its ability to function optimally. According to experts when this slightly acidic pH of the skin is maintained, it remains healthy. This slightly acidic pH of the skin acts as a defense mechanism for your skin protecting it against micro-organisms responsible for causing skin infection and bad bugs that thrive on alkaline pH. Acidic pH also protects your skin from ageing.
Why Is Maintaining The Right pH Of Your Skin Important?
When the acid mantle of your skin is compromised, making it too alkaline, this leads to dehydrated skin, sensitivity and redness. You may notice signs of ageing and have a burning sensation when collagen level is destroyed by certain enzymes. Changing your skincare products frequently can result in increasing the alkalinity of the skin.
Using products with a high pH (alkaline) affects the permeability of your skin, resulting in various skincare issues such as dry skin conditions, allergic reactions on the skin and various skin infections. The imbalance in the pH level of the skin also contributes to accelerated ageing, resulting in dry, flaky skin.
Factors Affecting The pH Level Of Your Skin
The normal pH of your skin is 5.5 and anything between 4.6 to 6 is fine. But when the pH scale tilts on either side it becomes a cause of concern as it makes your skin more prone to bacterial invasion. There are several factors affecting the pH level of your skin.
1. Exposure To Sunlight
Long exposure to sunlight can damage the acid mantle of your skin making it more prone to dryness, acne and pigmentation.
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Ageing plays a vital role in increasing the pH level of your skin, resulting in the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
3. Application Of Soap Bar On Face
Soap is alkaline in nature, with its pH being 9 which is much higher than the normal pH of your skin. The alkaline nature of the soap can damage the skin barrier function resulting in dehydrated skin which is more prone to itchiness and breakouts.
4. Unhealthy Eating Habits
Unhealthy eating habits such as processed food, baked food and canned food can increase the acidity of the stomach. This affects your skin as well.
5. Skincare Habits
Following wrong skincare habits can also disturb the pH level of your skin. Use of skincare products containing harsh chemicals, washing your face with hot water, frequent scrubbing and exfoliation play a vital role in disturbing the pH balance of the skin.
So, what can we do to prevent it and get it back on track? Let’s see how to get back the radiance and youthfulness of your skin back.
How To Maintain The pH Balance Of Your Skin?
Experts say that improving the skin’s barrier function can help to restore the pH balance. With proper nourishment and boosting the hydration level of your skin, you can restore the normal pH level and maintain it.
1. Avoid Soap And Skincare Products Containing Harsh Chemicals
Soap and other synthetic skincare products can strip the skin of its natural oil, thereby disturbing the pH balance of the skin. Use a mild cleanser and skin care products that are gentle on your skin.
Also Read : 10 Harmful Chemicals to Avoid in Your Soap
2. Use Natural Oils And Moisturizers
Natural oils are rich in vitamins and essential fatty acid which boosts the hydration of your skin. Mixed with moisturizers they are beneficial in improving the skin’s barrier function. Natural body butter is considered to be the best lotion for dry skin.
3. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent remedy for maintaining pH balance of your skin. Dilute 1 cup of ACV to 4 cups of water and store it in a spray bottle. You can use this solution as a toner.
4. Use Acids Moderately
Alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acid and retinoic acid is beneficial for boosting the hydration level, enhancing the skin’s barrier function. But if these acids are not used properly it can damage the acid mantle of the skin, making your skin prone to dryness, sensitivity and breakouts.
5. Sunscreen Is A Must
Slather your skin with a good sunscreen containing SPF 30 or above. Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays.
6. Use Antioxidants
Powerful antioxidants such as VItamin A, C and E should be incorporated wisely in your skincare routine. Antioxidants scavenge the free radicals which damage the skin cells.
Including fresh fruits and veggies which are rich in antioxidants such as citrus fruits, berries can help maintain healthy skin. Having a regular skincare routine in place can help in sustaining the natural pH balance of your skin. Use skincare products that are gentle on your skin that works on the skin without disturbing its pH level.
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