What is pH and How Does It Relate to Skin Care? The term “pH” refers to “potential of hydrogen”. It concerns the activity of hydrogen ions (ions are molecules that carry a positive or negative charge) in a water-based solution. Hydrogen makes up two thirds of water, water being two hydrogen molecules plus an oxygen molecule, H²o.
Acidic and basic (alkaline) are two extremes that describe chemicals, just like hot and cold are two extremes that describe temperature. Mixing acids and bases can cancel out their extreme effects, much like mixing hot and cold water can even out water temperature. A substance that is neither acidic nor basic is neutral.
The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. Less than 7 is acidic and greater than 7 is basic. Pure water is neutral, with a pH of 7.0. When chemicals are mixed with water, the mixture can become either acidic or basic. Vinegar and lemon juice are acidic substances, while laundry detergents and bar soaps are basic or alkaline.
An acid is a substance that donates hydrogen ions. When an acid is dissolved in water caused the balance between hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions to shift. Now there are more hydrogen ions than hydroxide ions in the solution. This kind of solution is acidic.
A base is a substance that accepts hydrogen ions. When a base is dissolved in water, the balance between hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions shifts the opposite way. Because the base “soaks up” hydrogen ions, the result is a solution with more hydroxide ions than hydrogen ions. This kind of solution is alkaline.
pH Protects the Skin
The acid mantle is a protective film on the surface your skin. The acid mantle plays a vital role by working with skin-natural ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, enzymes, sweat, and even our skin’s own oil to protect the skin’s surface and lower layers from external threats.
The skin’s acidic pH also plays a role in keeping its delicate microbiome balanced. An acidic microbiome makes it more difficult for harmful pathogens to multiply, but lets the good stuff flourish.
A healthy skin pH is more on the acidic side. With more acidity, your skin can combat harmful microbes and damaging free radicals that might increase the aging process.
Kathleen Flanagan, CEO and Founder of Espirit de Vie Day Spa, Aromatherapist, Harmonic Healer, Esthetician and Author.