Does the pH of a Cleanser Matter?
Guest post by Mad Hippie co-founder, Dana Stewart
Most of us begin our day by splashing some water onto our face. Some of us just grab whatever is handy and lather up. I remember as a teenager washing my face with whatever was in arms reach, which was often hand soap sitting right by the sink. “What’s the difference?” I thought, “soap is soap, right?”.
I was incorrect about many of the assumptions of my youth, and it turns out that this assumption about proper skin care was also not quite true. Hand soap, as well as dish soap and many other foaming cleansing agents, are alkaline solutions which, when mixed with water, work wonders for lifting oily messes from greasy pots and pans. This is a wonderful thing when it comes to dirty pots and pans, but what about our delicate facial skin? Do we want to lift all of the oils from our skin?
To answer this question, we have to talk about the acid mantle - a part of the landscape of your body that you may have never heard of, but is doing a very important job for you right this minute. The acid mantle is a thin layer of oil secreted by the sebaceous glands that sits on the surface of the skin. It has a pH of around 4.5 to 5.5 meaning it is slightly acidic on the pH scale. This thin layer of acidic oil prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and pathogens by creating an environment in which harmful bacteria cannot proliferate. It also prevents water loss, keeping skin hydrated, and is important to the enzymatic function of the skin.
I now cringe thinking of what I was doing to my poor acid mantle with hand soap back in my teen years. I was definitely making my acne worse since the acid mantle actually helps prevent the growth of bacteria that cause acne. So, how do you take off all of the dirt and excess oil that accumulates throughout the day without stripping away the healthy oils? The answer is to use a cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin. Acidic cleansers (like our Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser) usually have a pH just slightly higher than the natural pH of the skin which takes off all of the dirt and grime of the day without stripping all of those lovely oils and without disrupting the natural pH of your skin so your acid mantle can keep doing what it does best- keeping skin hydrated and protected.