Here's How To Tell If Your Skin's pH Balance Is Off

The skin is the body's largest organ. In tandem with our nails and hair, our skin works to protect our bodies in many ways. In addition to supporting the immune system, it prevents bacteria from entering the body. For these reasons, it's important to keep it healthy, and maintaining your skin's pH balance is part of the equation.

In short, potential hydrogen (pH) is measured on a numeric scale to register how alkaline or acidic something is, like your skin. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, according to Everyday Health, making 7 the "average" or neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic, and a ranking above 7 is alkaline. "The pH of your skin is normal at 4.7," plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn explained to Everyday Health. "The thought is that if you alter that pH, you're altering how healthy the skin is."

That being said, how do you know if you've altered your skin's health by changing its pH? These days, there are several skincare products on the market that include "pH" as an ingredient buzzword. Many of us use these products without knowing the full extent of how they could be changing the health of our skin. Here is what you need to know about the importance of your skin's pH, and how to tell if it is off-balance.

How to accurately determine your skin's pH level

Before you run out and buy any pH-labeled products to rehab your skin, it's worth taking the time to determine if its pH balance is actually off. One of the easiest ways to do so is by contacting your dermatologist. They can help you address any skin concerns you may have, and they might even offer pH testing in their office.

These days, there are also pH test kits you can buy to determine your level in the comfort of your own home. They often consist of paper strips that are applied to your skin to take a pH measurement. It's important to note that while some pH test kits measure your levels via bodily fluids, such as saliva, a test that adheres to your skin is more likely to be accurate. However, it's best to contact your dermatologist if accuracy is your top priority, as at-home kits leave room for error.

Observing your skin over a brief period of time can also give you an idea of whether your pH is off-balance. Redness, acne, and dryness are all signs of high alkalinity, for example. Again, a test conducted by a medical professional is still a more efficient way to receive an accurate measurement. From here, you can use this information to determine if you need to alter your skincare routine.

How to restore your skin's pH balance

If you've always wondered why you were struggling with issues like dryness and blemishes despite using the trendiest skincare products on the market, your skin's pH level may be to blame. Even worse, the ingredients in some of your skincare products could be exacerbating the problem. Everything from fragrances to alcohols can alter the pH profile of your skin, for example.

Once you have an idea of your skin's pH level, you can begin to look for products that are designed to benefit your specific skin issues. Healthline recommends using gentle cleansers, with acidic varieties potentially being best for those who are looking to reduce acne or eczema. You might also want to consider using a water-based toner if you're looking to reduce alkalinity. As always, follow up your face-cleansing routine with a moisturizer to protect your skin. Keep in mind that the moisturizer you use should also be based on your skin type. For example, those with oily skin may want to look for a non-comedogenic moisturizer to prevent pore clogging.

Many skincare product manufacturers now list pH levels, so keep an eye out while you're shopping. If you're unsure of whether specific products are safe to use on your skin, contact your dermatologist before adding them to your routine. Your dermatologist can give you more insight into how they may impact your skin's health, as well as what you should avoid based on your personal health.