This multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, gender-fluid, global moment is a beautiful thing. In a perfect world, we recognize that we are all created equal, while we celebrate our differences.
A similar principle applies to skin type and pH balance. We have a shared need to balance out the acid and alkaline levels in our skin, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily benefit from the same exact solutions.
True, some factors are consistent for us all: When it comes to both the internal body and the complexion, pH always plays a very important role. Without pH balance (or a proper acid to alkaline ratio), our bodies can’t properly function, self-heal or detoxify.
What happens internally tends to show externally (for instance, inflammation in the gut can manifest on the face), but also, more directly, the skin’s acid mantle - or protective layer - can grow dry, brittle and wrinkled if it becomes too alkaline or can break out into acne, redness or rashes if it grows too acidic. So, clearly, finding the correct balance via diet, lifestyle and topical treatments is essential to looking our best.
Still, that delicate balance is achieved in different ways for different people. And finding that ratio can be individual with various factors to take into account. For example, there are frequently disparities between male and female skin. A man’s skin is generally 25 percent thicker than a woman’s thanks to testosterone levels, and it thins gradually over a lifetime, while a woman’s skin remains intact until around 50, then things shift. Ladies complain more of sensitive skin, while guys have longer-lasting acne; but men have more collagen density, which means they show age less obviously, and women lose collagen much more quickly post-menopause. Guys - beards and all - have rougher skin and, in general, produce more sebum (or oil) and lactic acid-infused sweat.
So, what does that all mean?
Well, on average, that extra lactic acid creates a .05 lower pH in men than women, which means that men should be even more careful about the acid they put in their bodies via substances like caffeine, sugar and meat. And, when it comes to skincare, women may require heavier moisturizers and avoid toners, while men may find more balance via products with lower pH and astringent oils like jojoba or hazelnut. In fact, the pH of ideal products for men can be as low as 4, while 5.5 is considered ideal for women.
Differences in pH can also depend on everything from a person’s home location (sun exposure plays a role, for example) to ethnicity. Different races tend to have varying skin make up: Black skin has less glutathione in it (as does tanned white skin), greater thickness and stronger cells. Both Black and Asian people have thicker and more compact dermises than Caucasians, which means fewer wrinkles. Also, Black and Indian skin has two times as much alkali-insoluble melanin than White, Hispanic or Asian complexions. And, most relevantly, studies have found that Black surface skin has a lower pH than White skin.
No matter what race or gender we are, though, our skin becomes more alkaline as we age, which means we need to consider that factor too when determining our perfect pH balance. Ultimately, we can help ourselves by using cleansers (like the Phace Bioactive Detoxifying Gel Cleanser) without harsh detergents like sulfates and soap in order to keep the acid mantle intact and fighting against toxins. To calm redness, even skin tone and enhance brightness, our Soothing Day Cream + Primer SPF 46 is great thanks to 5% micronized Niacinamide and 2% n-Acetyl Glucosamine.
Most importantly, we should all avoid very hot or cold water and should sleep, exercise and eat healthfully. And it’s essential to limit manual or mechanical exfoliation with washcloths, face brushes and scrubs. Instead, stick to chemical exfoliants like our Clarifying Serum.
Because no matter what our gender, ethnicity or age, we all want to look and feel good, and pH balance is the key to all that.