“pH”- The word might seem confusing to some people, and one would think of it as some complicated science topic. But, in reality, it is simple and easy to understand the concept. Through this concept, you will get a better understanding of personal care/skincare and its products. So, let’s get started with the science & truth of pH.
What is pH?
pH means or its complete form is “Potenz Hydrogen,” “Potential of Hydrogen,” or “Power of Hydrogen.” pH is a scale to measure the acidity or basicity of aqueous solutions. The pH scale consists of values from 0 to 14. Anything below the pH value of 7 is acidic, whereas anything above 7 is basic. Anything which has a pH value of 7 is neutral.
Some essential properties of acidic substances are:
· They tend to donate H+ ions.
· They have a pH value of less than 7.
Some essential properties of basic substances are:
· They tend to accept H+ ions, or they tend to donate OH- ions.
· They have a pH value greater than 7.
The mathematical expression of pH is as follows:
pH = -log10[H+]
Where pH is the negative value of the logarithmic value of H+ ions concentration.
There is no need to worry about the mathematical expression as it is straightforward. But, it is there for an insight into the pH value.
The pH value seems to differ only a tiny amount, which is a significant change defined in a logarithmic scale. Change of pH from 5 to 7 means a shift is 100 times the concentration of H+ ions in the solution. You can relate it with the Richter scale, which is used to measure the size of the earthquake. Change in the Richter scale by a single unit means a lot, and the chance of damage increases significantly. Change in Richter scale value of earthquake from 6 to 7 can have tremendous potential for harm.
The pH of skin:
Our skin’s outer surface or layer is called Stratum Corneum, protecting us from dehydration, infections, injury, pollutants. This layer is made up of dead cells, keratin, sebum, and microbiomes. The stratum corneum is acidic. Usually, our skin pH varies from 4-6, but the research shows that the average pH value comes around 5.5. The pH value of men’s skin tends to be more acidic than of women’s skin. We are born with neutral skin pH, but it becomes acidic within some weeks and is natural. Our skin's pH increases with age, but it always remains acidic.
The acidic nature of our skin helps a lot. Under the acidic environment of the skin, the microbiomes present in our skin stop the pathogens from entering our skin and help the good bacteria to grow.
The pH change is opposed for normal people, and it automatically comes to the original pH value without any adverse effect on the skin. When our skin’s natural pH gets disturbed, it tends to negatively impact us, like we may feel itching and dryness. But under some conditions, even normal people's skin will have an adverse effect due to pH disturbance of the skin. Using very acidic or very basic products can even give you burns. But we will talk here about the impact of skincare and haircare products on our skin.
Products whose pH value matters:
The pH value of cleansers that we use matters a lot, and it should be close to our skin pH. Other products like sunscreens, AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) products, BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids), and specific cream's pH value differ from our skin because those products must have a particular pH range work. But, the pH difference of these products from our skin is not a problem because our skin’s pH adjusts to its original value within no time.
But for cleansing products like face wash, body wash, shampoo, the pH value should be close to the skin pH. It is because every cleansing product strips off oil, sebum, lipids from our skin barrier. Under this condition, it becomes difficult or takes time for our skin pH to restore its original pH. It will take even more time when the pH of the product differs by a considerable value from our skin pH value.
So, it is always advisable to use cleansing products whose pH is close to our skin pH. The cleansing product pH should not exceed pH 7 and should not be less than pH 4. It is also recommended to use gentle cleansing products, so the cleaners do not damage the skin barrier. Using very harsh cleansing products and cleansing products with a pH greater than 7 many times can disturb your skin pH for a prolonged time. Disturbance of pH can lead to dehydration, itching, infection, dryness, and skin acne.
Do you know the pH value of the Body Wash, Face Wash & Shampoo you use? Try to learn because it’s crucial for your skin.
Few more blog posts are coming about importance of pH in other products in personal care apart from cleansers. Subscribe to our newsletter to know about the updates of personal care.
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