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Why “pH-balanced” Means Nothing

Why “pH-balanced” Means Nothing

The pH-balance of skincare products tend to be the unknown culprit behind our many skincare woes (dry skin, break outs, fine lines etc). If you check your cleansers in your bathroom, you’ll notice most of them do not disclose their pH level. You may not have previously considered pH levels at all, but knowing the pH level of your products could be critical to achieving healthy skin.


Why ‘pH-balanced’ Means Nothing

You will find that some cleansers claim that they are “pH-balanced” but what does that actually mean? Well actually… not much at all. This term has essentially become a buzz word for marketing hype. It’s rather useless information to us as consumers, since we all have slightly different pH levels. So “pH-balanced” is rather ambiguous unless we know the actual number. 

Many “pH-balanced” cleansers are created with the pH level around 5.5, which is the ideal pH level for skin BUT it can vary depending on your skin type. Unless it is disclosed by the manufacturer, your cleanser may actually be too alkaline or too acidic, which can wreak havoc on your skin. 

 

If You Suffer from Acne-Prone Skin, You Must Read This:

A few of the girls at the kaia naturals HQ suffer from acne-prone skin. When they come to me for advice, the first thing I always ask is what kind of cleanser they use. Most of the time, they would be using a foaming cleanser and if formulated with a high pH that leaves their skin feeling squeaky clean… this might be the actual culprit for your breakouts!  

Acne-prone skin is more acidic, so consumers tend to gravitate to a cleanser that is foamy and more abrasive. 

It’s likely that these types of cleansers are more alkaline and has a high pH.  The main problem with using a high pH/alkaline cleanser for a long time is that it will actually start producing more of the acne-causing bacteria called ‘propionibacterium’ because your skin’s natural protective layer, aka the acid mantel, is disrupted.

Therefore, when the girls at the office were using these cleansers, they were unknowingly creating more of a problem, constantly stripping their faces of its natural oils, which led to more irritation and inflammation.

 

Photo by Adrienne Andersen.

 

Understanding the pH of Dry & Mature Skin

As we age our skin becomes more alkaline, which eliminates collagen in our skin and eats away at acidic products that restores our pH. That’s why as we grow older, our skin develops more wrinkles and begins to droop.

My skin is becoming more alkaline and sometimes I find that cleansers around pH 5.5 are still a little drying for my skin type. I find that slightly acidic cleansers or oil cleansing work best. 

If you are experiencing dry skin or aging skin, avoid over washing, especially with alkaline cleansers, as it will dry out your skin, causing more signs of aging.  

 

How to Find the pH of Skincare Products

There’s no perfect answer for this unfortunately, but I would always start by enquiring directly from the manufacturer of the product. If the manufacturer does not share this information, you can buy litmus paper and do a pH level test yourself (which is highly unlikely you will do). So you may want to return the product if your skin skin feels squeaky clean and dry.

 

From a Product Developer’s Point of View

(Full disclosure kaia naturals is not putting pH levels on labels but if you ask you will receive.)  

I must admit that I never thought about disclosing the pH of our facial cleansing wipes as I did not really think anyone would care except for our chemist. Consumers never asked about it and we are often tight on space for our packaging, but I now realize that we should set an example as leaders in the industry. 

We have now added this to our website for our facial cleansing cloths and have pledged to continue to educate consumers on this topic.

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the vitamin cleanse is formulated at the appropriate skin pH of 5.5 and this will be included on our website so that customers know that these wipes won’t disrupt their skin’s pH.

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Want Perfect Skin? Check the pH.

Want Perfect Skin? Check the pH.

Last week, I discussed the game changing method of double cleansing using a cloth to remove excess makeup and dirt when you wash your face. Now that you have the basics down, the next step is to learn all about pH levels, and how it is the key to achieving balanced and healthier skin!

 

Getting the right pH cleanser for your skin is key

Most beauty companies do not disclose the pH levels of their product. Whether it is a foam cleanser with a lot of lather or a makeup remover that leaves a squeaky-clean feeling, they focus on creating instant gratification. Think about that sense of satisfaction you feel when you see the physical traces of makeup transferred from your face to the wipe or cotton pad!  Although this may feel clean there are actually many long-term dehydrating and inflammatory effects on your skin, and this has everything to do with pH levels especially in your cleansers.

 

Understanding pH

pH measures acidity in liquids on a scale that ranges from 0 to 14. It is often measured by an electronic device called the pH meter or with litmus paper. Your skin pH level is determined by the hydro-lipid layer, which helps control the ecosystem in which the bacteria and oils thrive on your skin. When the pH level is too high or too low, it disrupts your skin’s natural composition, which can lead to breakouts and redness. In fact, it can even increase the production of fine lines and age your skin.

The ideal pH level for skin is 5.5, but it can vary depending on your skin type. For oily skin, the pH is between 4 and 5.2, while it ranges from 5.2 to 5.7 for normal skin, and 5.7 to 7 for dry skin. Therefore, cosmetic products are produced with a specific pH level in mind to resolve or control specific concerns.

This scale will give you a better visual understanding of pH:

skin pH scale - weekly acidic skin goals pH 5 to 6

This should give you a basic education on skin pH and help you understand the scale. In the next DECODED blog post, I will help you determine what pH level is best for your cleanser and why.

Stay tuned for DECODED every Thursday, where Mary decodes your skin products.

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the vitamin cleanse – the wipes without waste

the vitamin cleanse | $10
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the vitamin cleanse | $16
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the vitamin cleanse | $20
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What Happens When You Just Wash Your Face with Your Hands

What Happens When You Just Wash Your Face with Your Hands

Everyone swears by specific products and methods, but a common way to cleanse still involves people using their hands and lathering up with a cleanser.

I am going to share why cleansing with your hands is not going to give you the deep clean your face needs.

 

The Way Your Cleanser Works

Cleansers usually contain surfactants, which are known as surface active ingredients. They all work on the same basic principle, that every molecule in nature is either water-loving or oil-loving:

The lipophilic molecule binds to the makeup, oil and dirt on your skin. Then the hydrophilic molecule attracts water to break down those impurities and are washed away when you rinse

 

Photo by Matthew Tkocz.

The Problem

The formulation of cleansers vary as some contain more oil dissolving molecules and less water replying molecules. Although cleansers are formulated to remove oil, makeup and debris, using only your fingers and rinsing with water does not allow for a deep cleanse in and around the nose, mouth and eye and hair line. 

Residue from the cleanser and makeup often settle in these “outer limits” resulting in blemishes because they are easily missed during rinsing, and have nothing to bind to when you are just using your hands. 

 

using a cloth to wash your face

Photo by Dr Hauschk.

 

The Solution

Using a cloth is simply the best double cleanse you can get. Overusing the surfactants  can dry and dehydrate your skin, while a clean cloth actually binds to any leftover residue, oil or debris not broken down by the cleanser. It can also cover more surface area than your fingers, giving you a deep second cleanse.  

I would suggest not using the same cloth over and over since bacteria growth is very common. Use a special cloth for your face made of muslin or bamboo as they are softer and more gentle for your skin than terry cloth. 

Feature photo by Into The Gloss.

shop the collection

the vitamin cleanse – the wipes without waste

the vitamin cleanse | $10
SHOP THE 10 PACK

the vitamin cleanse | $16
SHOP THE 30 PACK

the vitamin cleanse | $20
SHOP THE 20 SINGLES