Tuesday 21st of May 2024

Nairobi, Kenya

What Is Skin pH? How to Tell if Yours Is Healthy, and Why It Matters

It’s official: pH is the new black. From dermatologists’ offices to the aisles of Sephora, “pH balance” is the phrase on every beauty maven’s well-moisturized lips. The market has started to flood with pH-focused cleansers, toners, moisturizers, pH strips, and even high-tech wearable pH sensors. When it comes to beauty treatments and products that claim to restore the skin’s pH balance, today’s marketplace is a bit like the Wild West: There’s a rush to stake some big claims, and certainly some snake oil being sold.

While aestheticians, dermatologists, and wellness gurus may have divergent philosophies, all agree that pH levels are important to overall skin health. So we thought it would be a good time to step back and ask some basic questions, like: What is pH balance, anyway? And why should you care about it in your quest for great skin?

What’s pH Anyway? A Quick Science Lesson for Beginners

Let’s go back to high school science class for a moment. The pH is a numeric scale that indicates how acidic or alkaline something is. On the pH scale of 1 to 14, 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline. What does that have to do with your skin?

“The pH of your skin is normal at 4.7,” says Anthony Youn, MD, a plastic surgeon based in Troy, Michigan. “The thought is that if you alter that pH, you’re altering how healthy the skin is.”

PH isn’t the only trending buzzword beauty insiders are also increasingly talking about how pH can affect what’s called the “acid mantle,” a thin barrier on the surface of your skin that helps maintain its slight acidity. Dr. Youn explains that if you disturb your acid mantle by using overly harsh products, you’re going to suffer the consequences, and they won’t be pretty. While it has recently re-entered the lexicon, the term “acid mantle” actually dates to 1928, when it was coined during one of the earliest studies on skin surface pH, according to an article published in August 2018 in the journal Current Problems in Dermatology.

How pH Became One of the Hottest New Trends in Skin Care

“Your acid mantle is made up of amino and lactic acids, plus sebum, also known as fatty free acids,” says Tiffany Masterson, the founder of the Houston, Texas–based skin-care line Drunk Elephant, which ensures its products are pH balanced. Self-trained on the subject of pH, Masterson has become a leading voice on the topic largely through the success of her brand.

“The acid mantle just so happens to protect skin from environmental factors that lead to aging and all-around irritation,” she says. The brand’s Slaai Melting Butter Cleanser debuted in April and instantly drew raves from beauty insiders for its pH-balancing powers.

Other products, like Tula’s Pro-Glycolic 10 Percent pH Resurfacing Gel, are so popular that they’re often sold out completely both online and in department stores. The buzz is so big that retailers, including Sephora and Dermstore, have dedicated spaces on their websites to pH-balancing products.

And taking the obsession with pH-awareness high-tech, La Roche-Posay in 2019 released My Skin Track, a prototype of a wearable sensor that detects trace amounts of sweat from your pores and promises an accurate skin pH reading in just 15 minutes.

Some credit the surging popularity of pH-focused skin care in the West to the success of Korean skin care worldwide. “Many people living in Korea identify with a sensitive skin type, and some of the redness and irritation is attributed to the high pollution levels in Korea,” says Charlotte Cho, a cofounder of the K-Beauty website Soko Glam. “As a result, Korean beauty brands often formulate products with low pH.” Bestselling K-Beauty brands like Corsx and Acwell, the latter of which lists the pH of each product on the label, are at the forefront of the trend.

But some medical experts question the extent to which all this focus on pH-balanced products matters to the average consumer. “The reason why we don’t put too much thought into it is because the skin-care scientists have already done that,” says the New York City–based dermatologist Cheryl Karcher, MD. “They’re very smart people, these PhDs making these skin-care products. They know that you have to have something close to the pH of the skin or else it’s not going to be cosmetically appealing it’s going to burn.”

“The skin’s barrier is slightly acidic for a reason: to keep moisture in and bacteria out, Dr. Karcher says. “If your pH balance is off and it’s too alkaline, your skin is going to look flaky and red. If it’s too acidic, you’ll increase your chances of inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and acne.”

Masterson believes that common ingredients in products cause many of our skin troubles. Those ingredients include fragrances, essential oils, drying alcohols, and harsh cleansing agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which can cause inflammation and disrupt the acid mantle. “No product can make a difference in the health of your skin barrier if you’re using another product that is actively causing it harm,” says Masterson. “Your body doesn’t work that way  you can’t smoke a cigarette and then eat some broccoli and hope they cancel each other out so why would your skin be any different? This is why we are adamant about both the importance of pH balanced formulas as well as avoiding the categories of ingredients that can cause the acid mantle harm.”

Why pH-Balancing Products Might Matter Less if You Have Healthy Skin

As much as pH balance and the acid mantle matter, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Much depends on the natural state of your skin. Karcher explains that healthy skin is about more than pH alone. “pH is the flavor of the month, but it has to be part of a bigger picture,” she says. “Yes, you need to have an acidic pH to have healthy skin, but if your skin is healthy and you use an alkaline cleanser, your skin is going to revert back in just a few minutes.”

Karcher believes that pH is one of the myriad components that keep skin healthy, but it’s not the only one, nor is it necessarily the primary one. “There are so many factors that contribute to overall healthy skin that if you focus just on pH you’re going to miss so many others that are just as important, or in fact, more important than pH,” she says.

And Cho agrees, but notes that by keeping your pH at an ideal level with the right products, you may get ahead of some common complaints. “The pH of your cleansers matters because something that is high pH, 9 and above, can be too drying and stripping for your skin, says Cho. “When your acid mantle and skin barrier is compromised, it can lead to bacteria, which causes acne and dehydration, which leads to wrinkles. And when the pH of your skin is normal, it should look smooth and hydrated.”

How a Growing Understanding of Gut Bacteria Has Fueled Interest in pH Imbalance

A plastic surgeon specializing in holistic beauty, Youn believes that one reason pH balance has become so trendy in skin care may be growing research about the microbiome, which protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and may affect the skin. “There’s something now called the gut-skin axis where we’re finding that the health of the gut also impacts the trillions of bacteria that live on our skin, and when your pH is imbalanced it may affect that,” says Youn, citing a review published in July 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Youn says that while many in the holistic beauty world have become obsessed with pH, the acid mantle, and the microbiome, it’s not the case in the medical world just yet. “The real question is just how much impact does the pH of a skin-care product have on the skin, and for how long? I don’t think we know. If you ask 10 plastic surgeons who are recommending skin-care products about the pH of the skin and the acid mantle, they probably would have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Sometimes research follows marketing, Youn adds. “It remains to be seen what role pH balance plays in disturbing the microbiome, but if it affects bacteria on the skin, that might explain the origins of inflammatory disease skin problems like eczema, rosacea, and acne which have no known cause in science as of now.”

Trevor Cates, ND, a Park City, Utah–based naturopath who addressed the American Academy of Antiaging Medicine about the skin’s barrier functioning in December 2018, says the foods we eat can play a part. “Eating a lot of sugar or dairy products can increase sebum production,” says Cates, who is also the author of Clean Skin From Within. “Those things can impact the acid mantle from the inside-out. But also, what we put on the skin can impact that. And the first thing that people do is use a cleanser, so it’s important that it has a mild acidity.”

The Best Way to Find Out if Your Skin-Care Products Have a Low pH

It may be that you don’t need to worry too much about the pH of your products if you have healthy skin. But if you already suffer from inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne or eczema, you’ll want to stick to cleansers, serums, and moisturizers that range from 4.6 to 5.5 to avoid stripping the skin, says Cates.

Because the majority of skin-care products in the United States don’t list the formula’s pH on the label the way many K-Beauty products do, you can find out what the pH of a product is by checking the brand’s website, or call the company and ask. If you want to be sure, you can also purchase pH strips and test a product yourself. “If you live in a location where the tap water is hard, that can cause your skin’s pH balance to become more alkaline,” Cates says. (If you see white spots on your glassware, or calcification on your showerheads, you likely have hard tap water, according to Sciencing.com.) One solution is to try cleansing with micellar water, which French women have been hailing as the secret to great skin for decades.

A review published in July 2014 in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology cites research that suggests diet may have a bigger connection to skin health than dermatologists formerly believed. On the basis of existing data, a plant-based diet that’s low in refined carbohydrates is a good idea for overall skin health, researchers concluded.

And when all else fails, sometimes it’s best to remember that less is more. “There’s something I call the ‘hospital phenomenon,’ says Masterson. “When I was delivering my babies, I was in the hospital for several days each time and then at home in bed recovering. I really didn’t pay much attention to my skin then, and guess what? My skin was never happier. It’s because I allowed it to function on its own and left the acid mantle alone to do its job, which it did very well. If you struggle with skin issues and you don’t know what else to do, the answer is almost always: ‘Do less.’”

Content courtesy of Everyday Health & Nairobi fashion hub 

Benefits Of Lemon For Skin That Should Be An Essential Part Of Your Beauty Routine

You might love a cold glass of lemonade, a steamy bowl of lemon chicken, or, if you’re a Real Housewives of Orange County fan, you might put nine in a bowl (what’s up Shannon Beador?!) but did you know that there are tons of uses for lemons outside of the kitchen?

Turns out, your skin and hair love lemons, too. Lemons have a wide range of beauty benefits. Here are the best beauty uses for lemons:

1. Clarifying Moisturizer

Lemons have strong antibacterial properties, which makes them perfect for nixing breakout-causing bacteria. To DIY your own version, mix a few drops of coconut water with a few drops of lemon juice. The coconut will hydrate your skin, and lemon will clear and brighten it. Note: If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test on your skin first.

2. Elbow And Knee Lightener

Lemons are packed with vitamin C, a natural brightening ingredient. “If your elbows and knees appear dark, simply rub them with half of a lemon,” says Patrice Coleman, owner of DaBlot Beauty. “It’s like magic!”

3. Blackhead Treatment

It might sound too good to be true, but lemons can also help treat your blackheads. This is because they contain citric acid, a natural form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). After cleansing, rub a slice of lemon over your most blackhead-ridden spots (typically your T-zone) to let the AHAs work their pore-clearing magic.

4. Cleansing Wipes

“I like to mix a couple drops of lemon and tea tree essential oil in about six ounces of distilled water. I recommend it as a toner or for use with cotton pads as a cleansing wipe for problematic skin,” says Becky Sturm, founder of Storm Sister Spatique. If you’re not into making one yourself, check out this pre-made version from Clean & Clear.

5. Teeth Whitener

Does at-home whitening leave your teeth sensitive for days? Try this instead: Mix baking soda and lemon juice, and apply it to your teeth with a clean Q-tip. Then, use your toothbrush to scrub your teeth and rinse.

6. Skin Brightener

Lemons are rich in vitamin C and citric acid, so they can help brighten and lighten your skin when used over time. “Vitamin C is a great antioxidant for neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production,” says Marina Peredo, MD, a dermatologist. That means it can help lighten dark spots. Try it in this moisturizer from Fresh.

Just remember to wear SPF when using lemon juice on your skin, though, since the citrus fruit can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.

7. Shine Eliminator

The citric acid inside lemon juice works as a natural astringent. If you’re prone to a greasy complexion, add a few drops of lemon juice to a cotton pad, then wipe it over a freshly washed face to stop oil in its tracks.

8. Lip Exfoliator

Mix a little lemon juice with some brown sugar to create your own lip scrub. The lemon juice’s AHA will work as a chemical exfoliator to loosen up dead skin cells while the sugar will work as a physical exfoliator to slough them off.

One caveat: “Obviously, if you already have severely chapped lips that have any cuts, do not try this,” says Gary Goldfaden, MD, a dermatologist.


9. Nail Strengthener

Have you been getting too many gel manicures? Make a mixture of your favorite cooking oil (try olive oil) with lemon juice, and soak your nails. This is a good practice if your nails are dry and brittle, but it’s also a great way to help fix nails that have yellowed.

10. Hair Lightener

If your hair is already on the lighter side, score dye-free DIY highlights with lemon juice. Apply it before you expose your hair to sunlight to score a sun-kissed color. For a trendy ombré effect, focus the lemon juice just toward the ends of your hair.

If you notice start to see too much orange poking through, color correct using a blue conditioner, like this one from Joico. Remember, blue is opposite orange on the color wheel, so the two will balance each other out.

Content courtesy of Women’s Health Magazine & Nairobi fashion hub 

More info about Alcohol-Based Products

Alcohol-Based Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.

When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in makeup products, we’re referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.

When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There’s no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.

The reason they’re included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it’s easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn’t lead to negative long-term outcomes!

Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin’s protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.

The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.

There are people who challenge us on the information we’ve presented about alcohol’s effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded “alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing….” But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.

Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you’ll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcoholstearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It’s important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.

References for this information:
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190

Content courtesy of Beautypedia & Nairobi fashion hub

Tips for using Face Packs Fuller’s Earth

Too budget conscious to get a face clean up or a facial at the parlor? Then, try Multani mitti – a natural solution for all your skin woes.

As you may have guessed, we have dedicated a whole post to the different ways in which we can use Fuller’s Earth or Multani mitti. From getting smooth and supple skin, to reducing all those dark spots and uneven skin tone – multani mitti has a solution for everything. It is also known to be an excellent skin cleansing agent. It helps clean all the oil, dirt, and dead cells that have accumulated on the skin due to exposure to the sun and pollution.

What Is Multani Mitti?

So, what is Multani mitti? Why is it named after the city of Multan?

In the 18th century, a dollop of lime clay was extracted from the city of Multan, and the inhabitants were surprised by its amazing cleansing properties. Its popularity rose so high that it got recommended for cleansing and replenishing old monuments.

And now, several years later, multani mitti has become a part of every household, being used for a number of purposes – from cooling the skin to making it glow. This traditional skin care ingredient is rich in minerals, such as aluminium silicate, which offers high absorbing properties that leave the skin fresh and radiant.

Multani mitti is highly beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin. Its lime content is known to kill harmful bacteria and remove excess oil and dirt, thus leaving the skin clean and soft. It offers a cooling effect to the skin and relieves the inflammation caused due to severe acne. Fuller’s earth also helps tighten the skin, which further reduces wrinkles and fine lines. Whether you have dry skin or a normal one, multani mitti won’t dissapoint you!

But as people say, ‘Great things come in a packaged deal’. Multani mitti, when used along with several other ingredients, can be even more beneficial. Let’s see how!

Multani Mitti Face Packs

  1. Oily Skin
  2. Softer Skin
  3. Spot-Free Skin
  4. Radiant Skin
  5. Get Rid Of Dark Patches
  6. Achieve A Toned And Oil-Free Skin
  7. Fairness
  8. Even Skin
  9. Pigmented Skin
  10. Sun Tan
  11. Acne Scars