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Goldilocks and the pH Bears – Why pH is important in your skincare

Have you have ever wondered why a skincare product with the greatest reviews ever wasn’t right for you?

Well, like Goldilocks, if a certain little detail (the pH) is too big or too small your skin will throw a tantrum.

The acid/alkaline balance of any skincare product needs to be juuust riiight for your skin to gobble it all up.

In the world of skincare formulating pH isn’t a little detail. It’s the thing that can make or break a formula.

What is this all-important pH thingamajig?

pH is a scientific way of measuring how acidic or alkaline a substance is and values range from 0-14, with 0 being very acidic, and 14 being very alkaline. Water is neutral at 7, and healthy skin is slightly acidic at 5.5 (and conventional soap is quite alkaline at a pH of around 9 to 11).

pH of skin

Why the pH of a product is important when we’re creating new formulas

For some ingredients to kick into gear and provide your skin with their magical benefits they need to have a certain pH.

Some of the most pH-dependant ingredients are natural preservatives (which we use – no synthetic preservatives here!). If the pH is too high or too low the preservatives in the product are as pointless as blowing up a balloon with a hole in it. They no longer protect against bacteria and active botanicals no longer help your skin. Boo.

So as you can see selecting the right combination of ingredients that work together is very important. There’s no point having fancy pants botanicals that need a pH of 6 or above and using a preservative that needs a pH under 6. It simply doesn’t work and neither ingredient will do its job properly.

Why the pH of a product is important for your skin

It all comes down to taking care of your skin’s acid mantle which is linked to its pH. You may remember us talking about your skins acid mantle in the past, and for good reason.

Your acid mantle is your skin’s protection against bacteria, pollution, allergens and keeps moisture in.

For good skin you need to keep your acid mantle at its naturally slightly acidic pH of 4.5-5.5. This is a bit of a challenge because UV light, air pollution, climate and your skincare products can all change the pH of your skin.

Too Alkaline

If your skin is too alkaline it will become dry and sensitive. This leaves it open to eczema and other conditions caused by dry skin. It also makes you more prone to deeper wrinkles, crow’s feet and UV damage.

Using highly alkaline products like soaps, SLS/SLES based cleansers and other foaming cleansers can make your skin’s pH too high.

Too Acidic

If your skin is too acidic then your skin can be oily and sensitive. You’re no stranger to the angry breakout and it can also become red, inflamed and tender to touch.

Over-doing face peels and acid-based exfoliators (AHA, Salicylic, Glycolic) can leave your skin acidic and open to the issues of breakouts and sensitivity.

Agh! How do I rebalance my skin’s pH?

Now if you are reading this and think that you need to dunk your head into some apple cider vinegar or jump into a bicarb soda bath to rebalance your skin’s pH: please take a breath. You don’t need to be extreme.

All you need to do is look for and use products that have a pH between 4.5 – 6. Sometimes these will be described as “pH balanced”, ”soap free” or “pH neutral”. If this isn’t made clear on a product you’ll have to contact the brand, or maybe even do your own pH test with litmus paper.

A quiet side note – “pH neutral” doesn’t mean better. Remember your skin likes things slightly acidic, not neutral which is a pH of 7. A neutral pH is also very hard to preserve as bacteria loves pH neutral more than you love a holiday.

Using mostly products in that good 4.5 – 6 pH range will help your skin maintain its acid mantle and stay healthy.

But as always there’s a caveat. Everyone’s skin reacts to pH changes differently. Even though a product may have a suitable pH it still may not suit your skin. Even a small pH difference may be the reason why for you one product was brilliant and the other one a little ho-hum.

All of Woohoo Skincare’s products are formulated within the good pH range of 4.5-6. The only one that doesn’t is the Woohoo Body All Natural Deodorant which is slightly alkaline.

The Woohoo deodorant needs to be alkaline to keep the smelly bacteria away. Unlike other bicarb deodorants we have adjusted the pH so that irritation potential is as low as possible (no irritation reports to date!!!) while the smell busting power is strong enough to withstand searing summer heatwaves.

If you do start to notice some dry skin around your armpits, simply moisturise under your arms after showing at night and give them some very gentle exfoliation once a week.