Is Your Skin’s pH Off Balance? It Could Be Causing Premature Aging

While acid mantle might sound like some kind of mind-altering cloak placed upon the shoulders of an aging psych-pop front man, the reality is that everybody’s got one going on—right on their very faces, in fact. But what exactly does that mean? And is there anything to do about it?

(+) The Ideal PH - 5.5
Well, like its name implies, it’s a film of amino/lactic acids and oils protecting skin from environmental factors (bacteria, pollutants) that contribute to premature aging and irritation. The relative success or failure of your own personal acid mantel depends upon its pH level (the real reason to write this). This is where your remnants of high school chemistry come back into play. A refresher: The pH scale measures hydrogen concentration at a range of one to 14; anything over seven is considered alkaline (or basic, though not in the “bitch” sense of the word). Skin that falls on this end of the scale tends to be drier and potentially more susceptible to wrinkles. While somewhat less common, skin that’s too acidic will often appear red, irritated, and is more prone to breakouts. Just right skin, Goldilocks? This will register only slightly acidic, around 5.5, while conjuring desirable adjectives such as “plump” and “glowing.” It’s the epidermal sweet spot, so to speak.

For the most part, you can determine the pH level of your own skin by its behavior; again, dry/fragile probably means it’s alkaline while irritated, and acne-prone means it’s overly acidic. Ultimately, consulting your dermatologist will give you the most accurate reading where skin is concerned. We speak to the beauty experts at The Sloane Clinic for more insights. 

The Skin Radar: How do you know if your skin is off-balance? 
Dr Low Chai Ling: Generally, skin that isn’t behaving can be traced to pH problems. Skin issues like eczema, redness, dry patches, acne, oiliness, psoriasis, and premature signs of aging all indicate that your skin’s pH is off-balance. That means your skin’s barrier is damaged, and its exposure to the elements exacerbates everything from dry skin to clogged pores.

The Skin Radar: How did it get this way?
Dr Low Chai Ling: If your skin is off-balance, it’s because you’ve been too hard on it. Most likely you’ve been scrubbing too aggressively, using too much hot water, and using harsh cleansers. Washcloths are too abrasive to use for cleansing the gentle skin on your face. Even if you’re not using them to wash, your vigorous drying could be to blame. Washing with hot water (that’s anything warmer than lukewarm) strips your skin’s protective layer, while showers longer than five minutes could also be depleting your skin’s moisture levels. Finally, if your cleanser isn’t soap, alkali, and surfactant-free, you’re stripping your skin’s acid mantle, which causes pH to rise.

The Skin Radar: How do we get our skin back on track?
Dr Low Chai Ling: When we correct our skin’s pH balance, what we’re doing is bringing the skin barrier function back to its optimal state of equilibrium where it can effectively absorb the hydration our skin needs, and repel things that irritate the skin, thus minimizing the above-mentioned conditions. The first step to getting your skin back on track is stepping away from harsh ingredients and switching to balanced products, which will heal your skin. Going back to basics (with balanced face wash and lotion) for a few weeks can calm skin problems, and prep skin for more targeted treatments.

The Skin Radar: What can we expect out of balanced skin?
Dr Low Chai Ling: Your skin will appear healthier overall. It will look and feel adequately moisturized and have a healthy glow, which is ultimately what we’re all hoping our skincare products will deliver. Once balance is restored, your products will work better too. If your skin isn’t properly balanced, those powerful ingredients won’t have the opportunity to really penetrate the outer layer of skin, and they even can become irritating due to a broken-down skin barrier. You want to apply your moisturizers to a surface with the right pH so they can actually work.

(+) Problem Solvers: 
If your skin’s barrier is already damaged – or you just want to make sure it doesn’t become that way – a using skincare products that will give your skin what it needs to heal is critical. The best way to do that is to pay close attention to the ingredients in every step of your skincare routine

1. Gentle is REALLY the way to go

A consistent, gentle skincare regime minimises irritation to reactive skin. Avoid using harsh cleansers which will irritate your skin even further. Sloane Inc's Gentle cleansing gel removes impurities while soothing and comforting with aloe and cucumber. This pH-balanced ultra-gentle cleanser is made from only pure, non-irritating ingredients so skin is conditioned, balanced and calmed with continued use. Gentle enough to be used several times daily, this non-irritating cleanser is a godsend for sensitive or traumatized skin. Ideal following skin rejuvenating procedures. Skin is refreshed and balanced with continued use.

Our skin has a natural moisture barrier and when this protective layer is breached, your skin will be more susceptible to external irritation leading to increase sensitivity. Luminizing II is a moisturising pro that soothes dehydrated and sensitive skins. Its non-comedogenic formulation ensures that skin is well-hydrated without leaving a greasy trail on skin’s surface turning your dull complexion supple and dewy fresh. It also reinforces your skin’s natural protective barrier with natural lipids and ceramides. It instantly replenishes cellular water and boost dermal immune system to increase skin health and overall resilience.

A beautiful marriage of Nature and Science, this serum concentrate acts like a veritable GPS for hydration – using adaptive technology to carry the mega-moisture and pollutant protection of naturally-sourced, antioxidant-loaded organic olives right down to the heart of the epidermis. With an exceptional silky touch, highly prized pure olive squalane delights the senses as it deeply conditions, strengthens and brings relief to dry, flaky, irritated skin, and nurses it into a supple, healthy glow without plugging pores or causing breakouts.

2.  The Clinical Solution: The Balancing Program

When the rescuer needs rescuing, this transformative triad delivers TLC to restore peace and wow-inducing luminous clarity to stressed out skin. Vbeam laser quells acne-causing inflammation, heals red scars, and soothes blotchy redness of sensitive skin and rosacea. Ultrasonic Deep Pore Cleansing gently purifies congested skin and prevents future breakouts, while the Epicuren Green Tea & Ginger facial uses all-natural products for deep detoxification and conditioning to bolster the skin’s defensive barrier.

You might also want to consider applying active products like AHA or BHA exfoliants and retinol treatments at different times of the day if applying them at the same time results in redness or flaking. For example, you can apply your exfoliant in the morning, and retinol product at night.

By following these steps, you can see smoother, softer, and yes, even younger-looking skin. If you’ve been doing all you can to improve your skin without the kind of results you’re hoping for, a few simple but effective changes can finally get the skin you’ve been wanting!


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The Skin Radar is an online avenue which documents my tumbling thoughts, ideas and musings from my daily life, mainly based on skincare and beauty. It is designed to take the clutter out of beauty journalism to provide trustworthy and objective insights, new finds and sneak peaks- all in a beautiful and clean platform.

I test all products & treatments with age and skin colour in mind, break down the latest health fads, and source for expert opinions from international skincare leaders. All in all, my goal is to make sure that I am on top of every beauty innovation and skincare trend the world has to offer.