Being the aesthetician that I am, I am all about the pH of a product!But first, what is pH?
The term pH stands for “power of hydrogen” and it measures how acidic or alkaline a solution is. The pH range is from 0-14 and the lower the pH, the more acidic a solution is. The higher the pH, the more alkaline a solution is. The pH of water is 7, and it is a neutral pH. The skin’s natural pH, interestingly enough, is slightly acidic with a range between 4.5 and 5.5. So when a product says it is “pH balanced”, it is within the same range as the skin’s pH, between 4.5 and 5.5.
How does pH of a product affect the skin and why is it important to use pH balanced products?
The skin has a lipid layer called the “acid mantle”, which is a protective film the body naturally produces on the top layer of the skin. This film creates a “barrier” and keeps unwanted bacteria and other pathogens from entering or thriving on the skin. When we use cleansers or products that are pH balanced, the protective lipid barrier is kept in tact, which supports the skin’s natural, healthy, slightly acidic state. Using pH balanced skin care is also important for protecting and not stripping our skin's microbiome, which we have learned is really important for proper skin immune function.
Looking closer at a baby’s skin, it is thinner and the lipid barrier is not as fully formed as an adult’s skin, making it more vulnerable to dryness, irritation and other skin issues. This makes it that much more important to use pH balanced skin care products, since baby skin is already more delicate and more easily thrown off balance and when baby's skin is balanced, it is hydrated, healthy, and free of irritation!Alternatively, when we use soaps on our skin that are alkaline, the skin’s lipid barrier is stripped away, disrupting the skin’s natural, healthy state, making it more susceptible to pathogens and other environmental elements. Typical side effects of a skin with a disrupted lipid barrier is dry skin, irritation, and dermatitis. Interestingly, castile soap, which is found in many baby wash formulas, is alkaline with a pH between 8-9 (or higher). Understanding that products that are alkaline strip the skin’s natural protective lipid layer, we don’t feel castile soap is an ideal choice for sensitive skin and especially in baby care products. FYI Castile soap in baby washes usually reads olive oil (or sometimes coconut oil) and potassium hydroxide on the ingredient list. When the oil is mixed with potassium hydroxide in a chemical process, this creates the castile soap.
The Pleni Naturals product that is pH balanced is the Apple + Broccoli Hair & Body Wash . FUN SCIENCE-Y FACT: we cannot measure the pH of the Cucumber + Grape Baby Oil or the Berry + Olive Baby Balm because these two products are made from oils, and you need an aqueous solution (like water) to measure pH!