-“You’re acidic!” - “…Excuse me?!” Being called “acidic” is never a good thing… or is it? Although I love lemons and grapefruits, I’m not sure I want to be likened to one! I’m not sharp, sour, or ill-natured (most of the time). But—putting on our lab coats for a moment—the scientific meaning of “acidic” as a component that neutralizes alkalis containing hydrogen, I can take it in stride. Because in this context, being acidic, refers to my pH level. For those who don’t know, pH stands for power of hydrogen, which is a measurement of the hydrogen ion concentration in the body and recently health experts have expressed the importance of our pH balance for our general health. Scientists measure the pH levels on a scale from 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH less than 7 is said to be acidic, while a pH level above 7 is alkaline. You can test your pH levels with litmus paper (available online or in local drugstores) and your saliva or urine first thing in the morning.
The Effects of Diet on Your pH
You may have heard how diet can affect your body’s pH level. Poor dietary choices can lead to an acid pH level, which creates the perfect setting for illness and disease. “Eating alkaline” and balancing your diet, doesn’t necessarily mean changing your diet significantly–unless you are eating fast food every day of the week. The ideal alkaline diet consists of alkalizing foods such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, carrots and soybeans. A healthy pH balance in your diet can lead to more energy, better digestion, less inflammation, sharper mental focus and generally being in a better mood.So, how does pH relate to your skin? On average, skin is said to have a pH balance of 5.5 – which is slightly more acidic than your overall body pH. To work its best, the acid mantle should be slightly acidic, at a 5.5 pH balance. When it's too alkaline, skin becomes dry and sensitive; you may even get eczema. Skin that is too
acidic appears red, leads to angry breakouts and nasty inflammation.
The Acid Mantle
Our skin has a thin, protective layer on its surface, referred to as the “acid mantle”. This layer is made up of sebum (fatty acids) excreted from the skin's sebaceous glands naturally, which mixes with lactic and amino acids from sweat to create the skin's pH. Ideally it should be slightly acidic–at about 5.5. The skin’s barrier, or acid mantle, keeps lipids and moisture in while helping to block pollutants, bacteria, and toxins. When its pH levels are too alkaline you may experience signs of premature aging, inflammation, acne, or irritation. The minerals in a clay mask should “buffer” the pH, while not completely neutralizing your pH. They ensure that your skin doesn’t become too acidic or too alkaline. But not all clays have a high mineral content (buyer beware!), and some are simply ineffective. Most cleansers, including bars and detergent soaps, tend to be too alkaline for the skin, as they strip away natural oils causing dryness and irritation. Skin that is too alkaline can be more susceptible to acne because a certain level of acidity is needed to inhibit bacterial growth on the skin. In non-natural products, chemicals that are added that can strip your skin of its natural oils and disrupt pH– this is why it is important to use products that are natural. A regular use of toner is a good way to maintain the skin’s equilibrium of 5.5 pH. As we age, the amount of oil or sebum naturally produced by our skin can decrease, influencing the acid mantle and its ability to protect the skin. As you age, using effective moisturizers helps rebuild this important barrier. So, if someone ever says you’re acidic… take it as a compliment on your glowing complexion!
NENA Moisturizing Cream Made with Canadian Glacial Mineral Water