Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Skin trouble: pH level

It's common knowledge that human skin has a pH level of 5.5, I've known that ever since I was a little kid watching Johnson&Johnson soap commercials on TV. What I didn't know until very recently though, is why this exact number seems to be so important for keeping my skin healthy. So what's behind the pH buzz?

Indeed, healthy skin's pH level should be somewhere between 4.5 - 5.5, which means that the skin is able to maintain a protective lipid layer against dirt, pollution and bacteria. This acidic layer also helps to keep the skin hydrated and allows it to heal faster. Now for the tricky part: this protective mantle is VERY easily damaged, usually through using something as basic and harmless looking as soap.

Soaps are highly alkaline and therefore damaging to the skin's protective layer. There's no such thing as an acidic soap, but there are cleansing substances called syndets with pH levels closer to that of human skin. It's a tough matter to establish the pH level of your cleanser as in most cases companies avoid putting it on the packaging; if that rings a bell, you can be pretty sure your product is not pH 5.5. Check out the pH levels of common cleansers here, it's really astounding.

Why did all this spark my interest? Lately, I've been suffering from a massive spot attack (this is why you haven't seen any FOTD from me for some time now). I felt as if my anti-acne ingredient of choice, salicylic acid, stopped working. I read on the topic and found out that acids used in skincare only work in the acidic environment of 3.0 -4.0. So, if skin's pH is raised closer to 7.0, the acids' effectiveness is greately weakened. Plus, more alkaline environment causes the bacteria to multiply much faster.

All this caused me to ditch my Deep Cleansing Face Wash from The Body Shop immediately and buy Sebamed Cleansing Bar with pH 5.5. I only got it 2 days ago and it takes between 14 to 17 days for damaged acid mantle to repair, but I can already say the Sebamed bar is less drying and irritating. It has a very distinct, sort of herbal, male scent, which I actually like, and foams very nicely, leaving the skin refreshed and soft to the touch. It's also very affordable, I got it on sale for the equivalent of 3 pounds.

Fingers crossed this is going to work, because it definitely makes sense to me on paper. If you're interested, you can read more about skin's pH level and acne here. Hope some of you might find this helpful. xxx


  1. This was a really interesting and insightful post! I caught my mum washing her face with soap the other day, I am going to have to make her read this! x

  2. This was a very informative pots. In fact I started using a sebamed syndet too. Only I got the one that is especially made for use on facial skin. Up to now I can't tell if it is working but I only started a week ago.

  3. Honey, you need to look at your diet and lifestyle, not just skin care regime. Skin only shows what's happening inside, so spots are a good sign that your body isn't in balance at the moment. If the problem doesn't go and you still struggle, you can always book a nutrition consultation with me (I work via skype, too) and hopefully I will be able to help.

    Take care.


  4. @Taj Acosta: I hope so too! At least it's worth trying :)

    @Lydia: I never really cared about it that much before I started reading on the subject, now I stay away from all soaps!

    @Chrissy: Let me know how it works on you, I've heard great things about it! xxx

    @Little Rus: Thanks for help, sweetheart :) I know the problem must be much deeper and more complex so I'm trying to fight on as many fronts as I can. I also paid a visit to my doctor to discuss it and hope that some changes she introduced to my routine will work out too :) xxx

  5. omg. i love this brand so much! I swear by anything they sell!!! I have used it for years!

  6. I'm also curious to try their face lotion, it looks very interesting! I'll post an update on how the bar is working in about 2 weeks :) xxx