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Part 1: The basics of pH in skincare

What is pH? pH, or ‘potential hydrogen’, is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is. Perhaps you’re familiar with pH from household items like basic cleaners or the mouth-puckering flavor of acidic foods like lemons. But did you know that your skin and your skincare products have a pH value, too?

The pH of healthy skin hovers a bit lower than that of water, which has a neutral pH of 7 sitting in the middle of the pH scale. pH ranges from acidic (0) to alkaline (14).

Technically, pH is a measure of positively charged hydrogen ions. An acid donates or gives up hydrogen ions into solution, while an alkaline base soaks or binds them. For the body, and importantly, for the skin, maintaining the pH within its normal range is essential to health and well-being.

The ‘acid mantle’ is the outermost layer of skin. Dead cells, sweat, fat, and enzymes combine to form a protective layer that shields the more sensitive layers beneath. As you would expect from its name, the pH of the acid mantle is acidic, which serves several functions. The pH of the acid mantle limits the growth of bacteria that may cause skin infections, and it keeps enzymes in optimum condition to maintain that healthful glow. Think of it like a barrier — sealing in moisture and keeping out microbes.

Deviating from your skin’s natural pH, however, can disrupt the acid mantle, exposing skin cells and proteins, like collagen, the protein that maintains skin health and prevents wrinkles and sagging. Over time, a damaged acid mantle can result in skin damage or accelerate the signs of aging skin.

Skincare products deliver nutrients deep into the skin to support these vital, innermost layers. But to do so, they must be formulated in a way to penetrate the acid mantle without disrupting its natural integrity or equilibrium.

Working with the acid mantel and partnering with its vital, protective function is where liquid silk-based products have their greatest effect.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 to read how Silk Therapeutics leverages pH to help actives penetrate past the acid mantle to access those layers where they can be most effective.


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