Cleansers are the foundation of any skincare regimen. Using the wrong one can affect how other products work on your complexion, which is why knowing your cleanser's pH level is important. To learn more about acidity and alkalinity in facial washes, we interviewed Dr. Maria Margarita Macachor of SkinStation.
What is the skin's pH?
On a scale from zero to 14, with zero being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline, our skin has a balance of five or 5.5. This is because our skin's barrier, which is called an "acid mantle," helps keep in moisture and protects it from pollutants and bacteria. [Via Women's Health]
Dr. Maria says that most skin problems like dryness, acne, and irritation "occur when your skin’s pH is off-balance," meaning it’s more alkaline.
Why is a cleanser's pH important?
Most cleansing soaps are alkaline, according to Dr. Maria, because they're made by "treating fats and oils with a strong alkali." (In case you didn't know, alkali is a compound that neutralizes an acid.) Using an alkaline cleanser or facial soap will cause your skin's pH to increase, leading to a dehydrated complexion. And we all know what happens when your skin's dehydrated! Enter: acne.
Switching to a cleanser with a low pH will keep your skin balanced and hydrated and will lessen your risk of irritation, according to Dr. Maria. "It is recommended to keep the pH of our skin at around 5.5 to maintain the 'acid mantle,' our skin's natural protective barrier."
How can you find out if your cleanser is acidic or alkaline?
You will need three things: water, your face cleanser, and litmus papers. (You can buy them here!) Mix your cleanser with tap water and gently press the litmus strip into the mixture for a few seconds. Once the paper dries, compare its color to the guide on your litmus paper's package. [Via Beauty Tap]
Remember, if the hue is anywhere between zero to six, it's acidic, which is good! If its pH level is seven, that means it's neutral. But if your paper's hue is somewhere between eight or 14, then you might want to shop for a new facial wash!
Found out that your cleanser has an alkaline pH? Try some of these low pH options instead:
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, P600, The Skincare Curator
First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser, P1106/142g, Sephora.ph
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, P1400, The Makeup Store MNL
SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, P1450, BeautyMNL
*This story originally appeared on Cosmo.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.