What is the Difference Between Alkaline or PH-neutral Skin Care?

Monday, 13. July 2015

What is the Difference Between Alkaline or PH-neutral Skin Care?

When it comes to the difference between alkaline and pH-neutral skin care products, we often question which is healthier for our skin. Should we base our choices on our skin type? Why do skin care products have different pH values at all? The answers to these questions are not so simple. Not only are there different types of skin care products, there are also two schools of thought on the subject. Therefore, it is impossible to make concrete statements on this issue without contradicting one of the two perspectives.

In this article, we will compare the two schools of thought.*

* This article is merely a comparison of different points of view and perspectives. Therefore, the statements of the respective positions contradict each other. We have left the language of the different schools of thought as in order to give our readers a clear picture of each perspective. Please forgive the contradiction of these statements. Furthermore, the article is not meant as a recommendation for or against specific products or perspectives. It is your responsibility to form your own opinion on appropriate skin care.

Conventional medicine advocates pH-neutral skin care based on the idea that the acidity of the products we use affects the protective acid mantle of the skin. The acid mantle is a thin lipid film consisting of sebum, sweat and horny cells that ensure that the skin remains healthy. From the view of alternative medicine, there is no such thing as an acid mantle. In this school of thought, the skin's acidity is based on other reasons. Here are the two points of view:

PH-neutral skin care

From this point of view, the skin has a slightly acidic pH, a discovery that science made over a century ago. The pH of healthy skin has an average value of 5.5 (water has a neutral pH of 7).  Depending on your age, gender, skin type, etc. this number can change. The acidic environment of your skin is regulated by the so-called 'acid mantle'.

The term "pH-neutral" in skin care does not mean neutral in terms of water, which is neither an acid nor a base, but skin-neutral. These products are adapted to the pH of the skin and are thus slightly acidic.

The idea behind pH-neutral skin care is that the products change the natural pH of the skin as little as possible, keeping your skin in a healthy balance.

Normal soap has a relatively high pH of up to 9. The higher the pH-value, the more the skin is dried out by using the soap. Previously, it was assumed that the acid mantle of the skin regenerates after an hour or so. Studies have now shown that this regeneration takes much longer, leaving the skin vulnerable to attack during this period.

Alkaline body care is based on the assumption that the acids of the skin or body are harmful. The body, however, can easily compensate for an imbalance in the acid-base balance by simply neutralizing excess acids. This is an everyday occurrence because of an excess of acid forms even with a normal, varied diet.

Acids are also excreted through the skin, maintaining the acid mantle. Studies have shown that an acidic environment is unfavourable for most species of bacteria and fungi, inhibiting their growth.

In general, neutralizing acids with bases is not a good idea because many areas of the body are dependent on acids. Therefore this practice does more harm than it helps.

Alkaline skin care

Up until the seventies, we only had alkaline based personal care products available. Therefore, we have decades of experience with alkaline skin care. These products not only cleanse the skin but offer the skin protection. PH-neutral products cause allergic reactions and damage the skin, creating an excellent breeding ground for fungi of all kinds because fungi survive best in an acidic environment. Thus, your best bet for personal care is to use alkaline based products rather than acid based products. 

A slightly basic pH of 7.4 does not dry out the skin and is ideal for regular grooming.

PH-neutral products lead to the destruction of the skin's natural regulations. In fact, there is no so-called acid mantle. This idea is used by the cosmetics industry for promotional use only. Instead, the skin's low pH is due to the body's inability to process the high acidity. The kidneys and intestines can only process so much acidity at once, necessitating that the skin takes over to relieve their burden.  Acidic skin care products push these emerging acids back into our system. Therefore, these products are not good for us.

When one uses alkaline products, they react with the acids in our system, neutralizing and dissolving them. Thus, the body is stimulated to remove embedded acids and release waste products, bringing the predominantly acidic environment of the cells back to balance. If, for example, one uses an alkaline bath product with a pH of 8.5, the acid value drops significantly after a bathing period of one hour. The bath water absorbs the acids emitted through the skin from the body.

By using pH neutral body care products, the skin is also degreased. As a result, the sebaceous glands lose their natural ability to return moisture to the skin. Alkaline body care, however, stimulates the sebaceous glands.