The delicate systems of your body are affected by your hormones, your diet, and so much more—and all that affects the acid mantle on the outside of your skin, which, when altered, can cause inflammation and breakouts. But what is an acid mantle, exactly, and what does it have to do with pH levels? Is there a way to tell when it’s off balance? What’s the solution when it is off balance? We checked in with esthetician and founder of January Labs Skincare (we are sort of obsessed with her restorative mist), January Olds—she explains everything right here.
Q — CHARLOTTE’S BOOK READER
I’ve been hearing a lot about the pH balance of my skin: what does this mean, exactly? Does redness or breakouts mean my pH is off balance? How can I tell?
A — JANUARY OLDS, ESTHETICIAN AND FOUNDER OF JANUARY LABS SKINCARE
pH is the layer of amino and lactic acids (acid mantle) as well as oils protecting skin from environmental factors. It should ideally be slightly acidic, at a 5.5. You can tell that the pH of your skin is off by just looking at what is happening on your face (i.e., breakouts, dryness, inflammation) but there are also pH sticks available (you can buy these easily on Amazon).
When the pH is off various things can happen. Drying, dehydration, and even inflammation can occur when the skin is too alkaline; breakouts and irritation can happen when the skin is too acidic. It’s important to keep a balance to the skin so situations like these can be avoided.
There are many factors that cause someone’s pH to become unbalanced. It can be from a variety of things like medication, diet, weather, and hormones. This is why it’s very important to stay in tune with your body. I notice my skin changes hormonally: every month, my pH changes. When you’re aware of that it’s easy to solve the issue by diet, nourishing your skin, and hydrating. Travel is also another big factor. I’m a huge proponent of keeping the skin hydrated when you’re in the air. My restorative tonic mist is rich in sodium PCA, rose, licorice, calendula and aloe.
Even if the pH of our skin is at the right level sometimes our body is trying to tell us something. So you need to deal with the issue internally by loading up on probiotics and Manuka honey. I often incorporate kimchi and raw sauerkraut, which are a great way to replace good bacteria in my diet when my skin is inflamed and/or breaking out. Using Manuka honey topically—as a mask—as well as internally works incredibly well.
Lastly, I am a big proponent of a proper face wash. I believe that it can make or break your skin regimen. Definitely avoid sulfates, alcohols, and parabens in a face wash (or any product you’re using). These are unnecessary and disrupt the pH as well as inhibiting any benefits of the serums or creams you will apply next.
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