Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Importance of pH to Your Skin

In the past several years, a lot has been written and discussed regarding the pH in our bodies and the role acid and alkaline levels play in our health. Keeping pH levels in balance internally is vitally important to the functioning of your cells, but in order to give your internal system a fighting chance against disease and aging, your first line of defense begins with your skin.

In order for your skin cells to function properly, its pH levels need to remain at 4.5+/-1.0. Each day your skin wages a battle against forces that can, potentially, throw levels out of whack:

  • The environment and injuries it causes
  • Foods and liquids ingested
  • Waste products produced by the cells

The body’s natural defense mechanisms routinely work to maintain the pH levels through:

  • Neutralizing systems in the cells
  • Elimination of carbon dioxide by the lungs
  • Excretion of blood toxins by the kidneys

The skin’s ability to keep pH levels in line is aided by the mixture of sebum (oily fats) and sweat that coats the skin, creating an acidic barrier that fights bacteria and helps in the healing process should injuries occur.

As you age, however, the pH level of your skin becomes less acidic and more neutral, leaving it more susceptible to bacteria and infection. While this is happening, there are also biochemical changes taking place below the skin in the collagen and elastin that provide firmness and elasticity. As these changes progress, your skin becomes drier, less elastic, less supple and wrinkled. It also can be injured more easily and heals more slowly.

The skin’s pH levels affect acne, as well. With pH levels more on the alkaline side, bacteria on the skin have a chance to grow and thrive. While “normal” skin bacteria helps maintain the acidic pH of your skin, washing your face with ordinary soap not only makes your skin more alkaline (in essence removing its protective acid cover), but it also kills the “normal” bacteria that helps keep it acidic.

These are reasons why using a skin care regimen that helps adjust the pH levels on your skin is so important. As I noted in my article for Beauty Link last year, normal skin pH is essential for epidermal cell function, normal skin flora, molecular integrity…and normal skin hydration. It is critical to maintain and restore skin pH for normal skin function and collagen synthesis. Your skin is on the front line when it comes to defending against aging. Using skin care products based on pH and free acid concentration of active ingredients in the products is key to a successful outcome.

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