For most of us, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when it comes to healthy skin and hair. Dry vs. oily. Sun exposure. Curl definition. Volume.
But one critical influencer that could be the root cause of your dandruff, acne, or general skin and hair dullness is one we rarely take into consideration when looking for a new product or addressing a problem: pH level.
Sebum, the natural oil produced by your body, forms an outer layer on your skin and hair known as the acid mantle, which holds in moisture and protects against foreign contaminants like bacteria and dust mites. In case you didn’t catch it, the key word there was acid mantle—sebum has a pH level of around 5.5 (remember from high school chemistry that anything below 7 on the pH scale is acidic, and anything from 7 to 14 is alkaline). So while your skin should remain somewhat acidic, your blood should be just slightly alkaline, around 7.4.
Both the products we use on our hair and bodies and the foods we eat can disrupt our natural internal and external pH balance. The American diet, high in sugar and carbs tends to overload the digestive system with acids, bringing down our pH balance, causing discomfort, and sometimes manifesting itself as pimples and breakouts.
On the other hand most shampoos and cleansers are highly alkaline, overcompensating to treat oily skin or hair, but leaving it stripped and dull instead. This lack of acidity disrupts the balance of enzymes at work in our skin and can lead to premature aging.
RealFarmacy made a great guide to choosing balancing alkaline foods that will solve your interal pH woes.
When it comes to external pH, there are a number of factors that can change the game. First, just pay attention to your products. A lot of them will actually say pH balancing, which will make your life a lot easier.
But if you have a soap or shampoo that you just can’t bare to part with, adopt a strategy to mitigate its alkaline effects. Following shampoo with a mixture of warm water and organic apple cider vinegar will bring your hair and scalp’s pH level back down to a healthy level, leaving you shiny and dandruff free.
Similarly, most toners are slightly acidic, so applying a gentle mist of toner after cleansing, and then locking it in with a facial oil or moisturizer will help keep your skin glowing and youthful.