The skin is the largest organ in the body and protects the muscles, bones, ligaments, and internal organs. The skin has many important roles, and one of the most significant is keeping its pH in the appropriate balance. The skin should maintain a slightly acidic pH of around 5 or so in an effort to protect the body from bad bacteria and other harmful pathogens. This ideal pH supports the growth of skin-healthy microflora, which serves as the skin’s defense mechanism. Additional responsibilities of the skin include working to insulate and guard the body, controlling body temperature, and helping to produce vitamin D.
The skin is CONSTANTLY under attack from both internal distress and external elements. Poor diet, dehydration, environmental toxic buildup, overexposure to the sun, harsh winters, dry heat, excessive sweating, and lack of movement are all contributors to the premature aging of the skin. Keep in mind, when the body is too acidic the skin will fall out of balance as well. Most often when the skin is unbalanced it becomes too alkaline. This may sound a bit confusing, but yes, when your body is overrun by excessive acids, various systems in the body can fall out of balance. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will also be too acidic. Remember, different systems in the body require distinct pH ranges. As far as the skin goes, the majority of the time that there is an imbalance it will fall on the alkaline side.
A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology monitored women’s skin for eight-years. Women with an alkaline epidermis developed more fine lines and crow’s-feet as well as increased risk for sun damage than women with acidic skin. (1)
Without getting into exhausting detail, the skin is composed of six layers with the outermost surface of the skin forming a shielding layer called the acid mantle. This layer consists of the sebum, or skin oil, and is released through the sebaceous glands. This oil is primarily composed of fatty acids which infuse with lactic and amino acids from sweat to develop the skin’s protective layer. As you age, the skin’s protective acid mantle can become damaged a lot easier and doesn’t replenish itself like it used to. When skin pH becomes unbalanced, collagen and elastin (which give the skin its firmness), break down. Then the skin loses moisture and begins to sag.
- Poor sebum production results in dry and premature wrinkling of the skin.
- Conversely, when this oil is overproduced, acne and blemishes can surface.
- Unbalanced pH levels can cause disruptions in the functioning of the skin, leading to numerous conditions.
- When the skin pH becomes too alkaline resulting from an exceedingly acidic body, mineral loss occurs, and muscles begin to atrophy in the face, leaving the face sunken in with a gaunt appearance.
- As the body becomes more acidic, antioxidant enzymes in skin cells become damaged, depleting collagen, and leaving the body more susceptible to damage from sun radiation, consequently elevating risk for the development of skin cancer cells.
- Additionally, when the skin becomes overly alkaline it can result in hyper-pigmentation, lack of elasticity, eczema, rashes, and compromised brain function, all of which accelerate the aging process!
As you can see, when acidic conditions overwhelm your body systems the skin is directly affected!
According to early studies as far back as 1958, patients with chronic acidosis show symptoms of dryness, scaling, itching of the skin, and loss of hair, particularly on the arms and legs. It was found that urea in the skin was directly proportioned to the urea in the blood. This shows that either the kidneys are not doing a great job excreting urea, the liver is making too much, or a combo of both. (2)
Keep in mind, NEW skin cells are regenerated about every 30 days. They are formed in the inside layers of the skin and work their way to the outermost epidermal layer. The outer layer is composed of a firm protein called keratin, and a balanced pH is essential for the protein fibers to remain tightly bound. If the skin becomes too alkaline then the protective keratin fibers can separate permitting bacteria, viruses, and other toxic substances entry into the skin.
Needless to say, what you consume in your diet and how you treat your body has a direct effect on the health of the new skin cells that surface. Skin conditions develop on a cellular level. Skin conditions might be labeled with different names and express themselves in various and unique ways. Depending on the individual, the root cause is always going to be toxic acidic waste buildup and the resulting immune over-reactivity from poor daily diet and lifestyle choices. So, I guess you CAN say beauty is ‘skin deep’ and starts from the inside out!
Dr. Young, author of the pH Miracle, highlighted that “the skin is a reflection of what is going on inside the body. To have supple, wrinkle free skin, you need a slightly alkaline internal environment. If your diet is too acidic your skin isn’t going to be healthy because your cells are not getting adequate minerals and oxygen.”
INFERIOR SKIN CARE PRODUCTS
Cosmetics and beauty care products are a MAJOR factor in the disruption of the skin’s pH levels. Alkaline pH solutions higher than 7-8 are extremely irritating to the skin. Sadly, the majority of skin care products on the market, even the ones targeted for dry skin, are way too alkaline! Most conventional cleansers in the US, are at a pH of 9.5 and as high as 11. Household cleansers are worse, like 10 and 12, and can have a pH up to 13! Is it any wonder why dry skin is such a common problem?
According to Dr. Lisa Benest MD and certified dermatologist from the National Skin Care Institute, the majority of skin care products (even those for dry skin), are too alkaline. Just like skin care products, common household cleansers are most often too alkaline or too acidic as well, causing skin irritations at the very least.
Mainstream commercial cleansing products, soaps, detergents, products containing ammonia and bleach, and toners made with alcohol or acetone, are all known to alter the ideal pH of the skin. The high pH of these products strips the skin of its own protective oils (sebum). The skin may start out dry, but as the skin tries to repair the acid mantle, it can cause the body to produce excess oil to replace what was lost. This can result in clogged pores and inflammation, leading to pathogenic bacteria accumulation, which can cause further skin irritations and other conditions like acne to develop.
Studies have shown that the pH of the skin increases proportionately to the pH of cleanser used. Increase in pH leads to dehydration, irritation, and increased pathogenic bacterial count. (3)
Our skin has an absolutely amazing ability to balance and heal itself as it reacts to internally produced and external environmental disturbances. Poor diet and lifestyle habits are the main reason why skin pH becomes altered. When you regulate your pH through proper and regular cleansing, a pH balanced diet, hydration, consistent exercise, and spiritual based stress management, the skin will be far better equipped to protect itself from harsh environmental elements and toxic acidic waste. The idea is to revitalize and fortify your skin’s own natural ability to heal itself instead of suppressing the symptoms with inferior skin care products that only interfere with the skin’s natural pH balance. Even if you show some improvement in dry skin using these inferior products, continued use is required and you never address the root cause of the problem!
The skin, like any other organ, must retain its ideal pH range. Skin diseases or other problems are a clear indication that the pH of the skin and the rest of the body is out of balance. The good news is that since the skin cells regenerate every 30 days, a positive change in diet and lifestyle can make a remarkable difference in skin health in just a month!
2- Olmstead, E. G., & Lunseth, J. H. (1958). Skin manifestations of chronic acidosis. AMA archives of dermatology, 77(3), 304-313.