Saturday, July 2, 2016

Why the PH value of your cleanser matters!

As much as I love Clinique and its bestselling Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm (one of my favourite cleansers), their other cleansers do not make the cut. All because of ingredients that raise the PH level of the product. A recent example was this cleanser, given to me as a sample.
PH value of 7-8 indicated by the strip turning blue
One of the things you need to be careful about when putting a cleanser on your face is its PH level. PH (stands for potential for hydrogen) is a "figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale". If you put that down on a simple scale, it would look something like this:


Our skin is slightly acidic by nature, with a PH of 5.5.

This PH of 5.5 is necessary for the skin to maintain its healthy state. A disruption in this level can cause the skin to either burn (if it goes to the acidic level of 4 or lower) or be vulnerable to infection (if it goes to the alkaline level of 7 or above). Did you know that there are microorganisms on the skin that protect it from skin infections and serious skin conditions like acne and rosacea?

When you use conventional soap or face washes with a high PH (anything above 5 is potentially damaging), you're getting rid of the healthy microorganisms that are keeping the skin healthy and immune to infections.

Harsh cleansers may give you that squeaky clean feeling that immediately feels fresh, but that's actually a warning sign that you have gone too far. What these cleansers are really doing is stripping the face of its natural moisture barrier and healthy microorganisms along with the dirt and grime, making you feel "clean".

On the other hand, if you use a cleanser with an optimum PH (5.5), it still removes the dirt and grime but does not disturb the moisture barrier.

I'll be honest and say that not all cleansers are created equally. The majority of cleansers on the market, irrespective of how big a brand is, are high in PH. Which is a shame because they mess up the skin, cause acne and other conditions and then make you buy another product to deal with that condition. A vicious cycle that must stop!

Using harsh cleansers also strip away more oil than is necessary, leaving the skin dry and irritated, and then causing it to produce more oil (sebum) to compensate for the loss. This, in turn, makes the skin more oily, which makes you think that you need an even stronger cleanser. Another vicious cycle that must stop.

So, treat your skin wisely.

1) As a rule of thumb, avoid cleansers that create a supreme lather. 9 out of 10 times, they are loaded with harsh detergents, which help create that rich lather.

2) If you have to use a face wash that lathers, try to find a cleanser that has the right PH value, although such cleansers are rare. In Indian brands, Just Herbs is on the right track with its Silksplash face wash. I have tested its PH more than once. (A thorough review coming up soon)
PH of 5 indicated by the strip turning yellow

3) Cleansing oils and balms are much better to clean the skin with as they are essentially oils, so you're using oil to remove dirt and grime, and not harsh detergents. This takes some time to getting used to but your skin will thank you for it. If you're in India, The Body Shop's Camomile Cleansing Oil is a great cleanser to try out.

Overseas, there are plenty of cleansers (face washes, oils and balms) that are made keeping the right PH value in mind but here in India, such cleansers are hard to find. I have listed two good ones above, and I will update this post as and when I find more.

Lastly, remember that PH is not the be all and end all of great skin as there are several factors at play, but if you are having skin troubles and were wondering how to deal with them, this is a good place to start at.

Hope this was a helpful post. :)