All of us are dealing with some kind of skin condition – whether it is extreme sensitivity, dryness, adult acne, rosacea, inflammation, redness, premature wrinkles or more.
You have heard about skin microbiome these days a lot. However, skin microbiome is NOT the magic bullet in balanced skin health.
The magic is hidden in the balance between the barriers or should we say the balance between your “skin protectors”.
Though most of us don’t know what the culprit for the all of a sudden dull looking complexion, there is one thing to blame for: the disruption of skin barrier networks and the unbalanced skin pH level.
How do you fix this? Did you know caring for your “skin protectors” can help you for having a healthier looking skin?
To help shed light on this, we asked Dr. Ebru Karpuzoglu to explain what’s behind this pH magic, its impact on your skin, your skin protecting barriers and how they help in combination with the skin pH for a balanced healthier complexion.
Discover why the phrase “pH balanced” is much more than a marketing hype!
What is the ideal pH balance for your skin?
The skin has its own level of pH range. This range is between 4.5-6.5 depending on your skin chemistry, your environment and what products you have been using.
Skin performs especially best around 5.5. At its ideal pH 5.5, skin is able to maintain its barrier – its protective layer called acid mantle on the top of your skin.
Acid mantle is a thin film composed of amino acids, lactic acid and natural oils produced by the skin, This layer protects you by keeping bacteria, environmental pollutants and toxins out that leads to inflammation, irritation and premature aging.
The 4 Skin Pillars in Protecting Your Skin Well-Being
Your skin is the outermost barrier on the body that ensures protection from external harm from pollutants, germs, environmental factors and more. Skin functions as an active defense layer composed of four main interactive barrier networks. Disruption of one of these barriers contributes to health problems like inflammation, allergies, infections, adult acne, rosacea, pigmentation or cancer.
What are These 4 Pillars -aka “Skin Protectors”?
1. Physical Barrier:
Thin top layer of the skin is called epidermis. This layer consists of thicker, harder skin cells rich in keratin. These cells are held together by beneficial lipids in your skin. This physical barrier preserves the structure of the skin and establishes a mechanically tough surface resistant to bacterial attacks and environmental agents such as wind, sun, harsh weather and chemicals.
However, if the pH balance of the skin is disturbed, it can induce abnormal desquamation and results in a scaly, flaking or peeling skin.
2. Chemical Barrier:
Balanced skin acid mantle, pH and moisture prevent water loss (which is also referred as trans-epidermal water loss) and inhibit the growth of harmful germs on the skin.
The success or failure of your skin’s acid mantle depends on its pH level. Disruption of the pH of acid mantle – the very thin hydrolipid film on the surface of the skin- makes your skin susceptible to bacterial attack and disruption of the skin microbiome.
3. Skin Microbiome Barrier:
Skin surface is cohabited by microorganisms described as skin microbiota that live in complete harmony with the skin immune system and contribute to the protection of your skin barrier.They’re the good guys.
This complex ecosystem is where the healthy skin microbiome keeps bad germs under control and instructs skin immunity to protect skin’s balance. Microbiome can also help in wound healing, decrease oxidative damage, and help to keep the skin balanced and moisturized.
The acidic pH of the skin prevents the growth of the most harmful bacteria. However, disruption of the skin’s pH will encourage bad germs to grow, while disrupting the protective function of the good microbiome.
Combined with skin immunity, skin microbiome plays a key role in maintaining skin health.
4. Skin Immune Barrier:
Your skin immune barrier is composed of innate and adaptive immune cells – let’s say your “body-guards” against the bad germs etc. Your “body-guards” sense danger signals on your skin and protect your skin against pathogens now and in the future.
Skin microbiome and skin immune barrier constantly “communicate” to each other to make sure everything is in balance. Changes in the ideal skin pH can alter the functionality of the skin microbiome and immune system. If the skin microbiome is damaged, the skin immune system gets into play to help balance things out. The imbalance between the skin microbiome and skin immune system leads to redness, irritation, breakouts, dry skin and many other undesirable skin conditions.
Changes in the functionality and strength of any of these barriers – your “skin protectors” – will lead to the entry of environmental allergens, chemicals, or germs through. Disturbed skin barriers and hence the skin well-being could result in infections, inflammations, allergies, contact dermatitis, ichthyosis, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis or other health related problems.
When we throw off this delicate balance – either by using the wrong products or home remedies to naturally address skin concerns- , we are risking the well-being of our skin and preventing it from feeling, looking and performing at its best.
How Do You Know If Your Skin pH is Off?
Skin that is in the alkaline range will look drier, dull with more wrinkly appearance. Using any alkaline skincare product can disrupt the skin’s acid mantle. Products with a pH over 7 is considered alkaline or basic.
Skins that are exposed to too much acidic products will look red, irritated, and feel painful and itchy with breakouts. Skincare products that are considered severely acidic will have a pH below 4 or less. If you are using specific products formulated to exfoliate skin, such as AHAs, they may have a pH less than 4 and it will be defined on the packaging.
If you’re not sure what is the pH of your products that you’re using, you can use pH litmus strips to measure their pH levels and find out whether they are acidic or alkaline.
If any of your products have a pH less than 4 or more than 6, please stop using.
Extreme changes in the skin pH levels can cause irritation, inflammation, irritation, dryness and skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and redness.
How Do You Keep Your Skin’s pH Balanced?
Recent scientific studies have shown skin is more than skin and defined it as a multitasking immune organ involved in promoting health and overall wellness. The pH supporting, skin microbiome and skin immune wellness balancing skincare is definitely not a marketing hype. Today, it has become a scientific fact.
The easiest way to keep a balanced skin pH is to use products that have a pH around 5.5 and listen to the needs of your skin. Don’t overcleanse, overscrub or overexfoliate your skin which will strip your sensitive acid mantle. Follow a steady skincare routine to support your complexion.
Help your skin, so it can protect you. Remember to treat your skin gently and pay attention to your daily beauty routine and select pH balanced products to restore an ideal and healthy skin environment. At AveSeena we pay extra attention to all 4 barriers for ultimate skin microbiome and immune wellness with our Ageless Perfection Cream, Micro Algae Immun-B3 Serum, and Honeyactive Beauty Mask.
Wishing you a glowing healthier skin!
Molecular Immunologist & Skincare Expert
As an Immunologist trained in Molecular Medicine and as an expert in skin care and cosmetic chemistry, Dr. Ebru Karpuzoglu has spent +20 years researching skin, impact of hormones on the immune system sharing her findings in international publications with her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by scientists, doctors, editors, bloggers, celebrities and skincare lovers around the world, her deep real-world knowledge and research are invested in every drop of AveSeena.
Skin Immune Landscape: Inside and Outside the Organism Florence Abdallah, Lily Mijouin, Chantal Pichon Mediators Inflamm. 2017; 2017: 5095293. Published online 2017 Oct 18.
Skin microbiota–host interactions Y. Erin Chen, Michael A. Fischbach, Yasmine Belkaid Nature. 2018 Jan 24; 553(7689): 427–436.
Skin microbiota and allergic symptoms associate with exposure to environmental microbes Jenni Lehtimäki, Hanna Sinkko, Anna Hielm-Björkman, Elina Salmela, Katriina Tiira, Tiina Laatikainen, Sanna Mäkeläinen, Maria Kaukonen, Liisa Uusitalo, Ilkka Hanski, Hannes Lohi, Lasse Ruokolainen Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 May 8; 115(19): 4897–4902.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors Affecting Skin Surface pH. Farage MA, Hood W, Berardesca E, Maibach H. Curr Probl Dermatol. 2018;54:33-47. doi: 10.1159/000489516. Epub 2018 Aug 21.
Skin microbiota: A source of disease or defence?Cogen, A.L.; Nizet, V.; Gallo, R.L. Br. J. Dermatol. 2009, 158, 442– 455.
The emerging role of peptides and lipids as antimicrobial epidermal barriers and modulators of local inflammation. Brogden, N.K.; Mehalick, L.; Fischer, C.L.; Wertz, P.W.; Brogden, K.A. Skin Pharmacol. Physiol. 2012, 25, 167–181.
Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. Belkaid, Y.; Hand, T.W. Cell 2014, 157, 121–141.