The pH Equation: Why Proper Balance Matters When It Comes to Your Skincare Products

Could the pH levels of your favorite products be compromising your skincare routine? If it’s been a minute since you sat through high school chemistry, a quick refresher is that pH refers to “potential hydrogen” and the acidity of a substance. Using this system, any solution can be measured on a pH scale of 0-14. A 7 on the spectrum is considered neutral, so anything that measures below a 7 will be considered acidic, and anything above a 7 is referred to as being alkaline. Skin ph scale bellavana beauty

So where are we going with this? Well, as it turns out, pH levels are a big part of cosmetic chemistry and how we treat (or mistreat) our skin. Here is what you need to know:


pH and Your Skin: What's the connection?

If you’re familiar with hearing about the skin barrier, then you’re probably already aware that it is an important aspect of your skin’s overall health, working to retain just the right amount of moisture and safeguard the epidermis against bacteria as well as other harmful irritants.

What you may not know is that this protective layer is also sometimes referred to as the skin’s “acid mantle.” This is because your skin is slightly acidic, with a natural pH that sits somewhere between 4.6 and 5.5.

Maintaining this range is critical to healthy skin, so when it becomes disrupted, you’re more likely to incur all kinds of issues, including acne, irritation, redness, dryness, as well as feelings of tightness or sensitivity. If your skin is currently struggling with any of these symptoms, there’s a good chance your skin pH may be out of balance.

So how do pH levels become imbalanced in the first place? On one hand, your skin is inherently a very intelligent and sophisticated ecosystem, able to easily maintain an optimal pH level on its own. However, on the other hand, we have to consider that anything that your skin comes in contact with externally can influence this delicate interplay, and this includes your cosmetics.


pH and Your Skincare: Why formula composition is important

An easy way to think about it is to imagine your skin’s pH level as a number that can be added to or subtracted from, depending on what other numbers get added to the mix. Since all of your topical products have their own specific pH number, formulas that are on the acidic end of the pH spectrum can decrease pH levels in your skin, while those that are more alkaline may cause an increase, at least on a temporary basis. In other words, the pH of your products plays a direct role in either helping or harming your skin health.


Supportive Skin Chemistry: How to choose the right products according to pH levels
So what exactly does this mean for your skincare? According to experts, slight fluctuations and variations to the skin’s pH are not always problematic.

When used with caution and in moderation, some cosmetic formulas with a lower pH can be beneficial for certain skin types. For example, acidic ingredients like Vitamin C or alpha-hydroxy acids can be used in moderation to address certain aspects of skin health, such as exfoliation or targeting imperfections like discoloration. These are effective because healthy skin can tolerate some small-scale disruption, if it has proper time to recalibrate and recover.

That said, balance is generally better. The best products to use on your skin on a day-to-day basis will be those that feature a neutral pH or one that is similar to the skin’s natural acidity. To ensure that you choose the right treatments, here are a few additional recommendations:

  • Say no to DIY - For controlling the pH of a product, every single ingredient has an impact and an influence on the total pH. We’ve all seen those at-home Pinterest recipes containing highly acidic ingredients like lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar but these are a huge skincare “don’t” and could end up seriously damaging your skin. Instead, let’s leave this one for the qualified cosmetic chemists who are the experts at formulating with your health and safety in mind.
  • Do a little investigating - When shopping for products, it’s becoming more and more common for companies to list a formula’s pH value right on the label. While it may take some time for this to start becoming a universal practice, you can still typically find this information either by doing some research online or contacting brands directly. Reputable manufacturers should have this information readily available and be happy to disclose it to you. For our new Body Butter and Body Scrubs that contain active ingredients Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramides, and Lactic Acid, we include the pH directly on the labels for your convenience and to remain transparent.
  • Skip acidic products when your skin is struggling - A popular misconception that many people have about skin care is that stinging, tingling, or “feeling the burn” from a product is proof that it’s working. However, this is often a sign that a formula is too strong for everyday use or it’s just the wrong product for your skin’s condition. If you experience this type of reactivity with a formula, and are also noticing signs of a compromised barrier, it may be time to take a break or ditch it altogether.

  • Avoid mixing and matching between brands - Although we all like to try new products, it’s worth noting that formulating philosophies vary greatly between brands, or even between skincare collections within a brand. Different products may have different pH levels and delivery systems, so if your skin is particularly sensitive, you may want to consider finding just one line that works for you and sticking with it.
  • Layer your products correctly - One more important strategy for supporting balance for your skin, is to always apply products in the correct order - from thinnest to thickest. This will help to ensure that each formula is optimally absorbed by your skin and work according to the way it was designed. Thinner formulas like toners and serums tend to utilize smaller molecules and can penetrate the skin quickly, whereas thicker products like creams absorb slowly and have more of a buffering effect.


Better Beauty: Bellavana’s approach to pH safe formulation

Based on our holistic approach to skincare, all Bellavana Beauty products are created with consideration to proper pH balance for the skin. When developing products such as our body butters and scrubs, we work closely with our lab team to ensure that formulas consistently feature a pH of 5.5 and are regularly tested for quality control. Doing so is what allows us to provide safe, naturally skin-friendly products for all our customers, and we think you’ll be as obsessed as we are, once you experience the results.

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