I’ll be the first to admit that I still clean my face with soap sometimes. Ugh. I know better, so why do I do that? Mostly it’s convenience. No, it’s totally convenience. I use Dr. Bronner’s in the shower and sometimes it’s just easier to wash my face with the same soap I’m using everywhere else. But I regret it every. single. time. My face is tight afterward, and has a dry, filmy look to it. I slather on oil and promise myself I won’t do that again, but I do. So I decided to do some research to help me help myself.
We all have heard not to use soap on our face, right? And we’ve all seen ‘pH balanced’ on facial cleansers. But have we ever asked why? I never did, and in case you didn’t either, I’m going to go over it all now.
This article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the NIH has fabulous information. Below is the abstract of their findings (click the link to read the full publication) and below that are my personal results using Healthy Wiser pH test strips.
Normal healthy skin has potential of hydrogen (pH) range of 5.4-5.9 and a normal bacterial flora. Use of soap with high pH causes an increase in skin pH, which in turn causes an increase in dehydrative effect, irritability and alteration in bacterial flora. The majority of soaps and shampoos available in the market do not disclose their pH.
Aims and Objectives:
The aim of this study was to assess the pH of different brands of bathing soaps and shampoos available in the market.
Materials and Methods:
The samples of soaps and shampoos were collected from shops in the locality. The samples of different brands are coded before the analysis of the pH. Solution of each sample was made and pH was measured using pH meter.
Majority of the soaps have a pH within the range of 9-10. Majority of the shampoos have a pH within the range of 6-7.
The soaps and shampoos commonly used by the population at large have a pH outside the range of normal skin and hair pH values. Therefore, it is hoped that before recommending soap to patient especially those who have sensitive and acne prone skin, due consideration is given to the pH factor and also that manufacturers will give a thought to pH of soaps and shampoos manufactured by them, so that their products will be more skin and hair friendly.
Now let’s talk about what I found. I pitted Dr. Bronner’s Lavender (because it’s what I have) castile soap against my own Radiance Cleansing Powder:
I mixed an equal amount of each product with an equal amount of distilled water:
I used Healthy Wise pH test strips according to the instructions and dipped one clean strip into each solution:
Here’s a close up of the results:
So to recall a bit of information from the study – “Use of soap with high pH causes an increase in skin pH, which in turn causes an increase in dehydrative effect, irritability and alteration in bacterial flora.” It may seem counterintuitive that a cleanser with a lower pH would be more acidic. And it may seem even more counterintuitive that a more acidic cleanser would protect your skin from dehydration, but it does. Who knew?
I hope that someone might read this and have that light bulb moment of why their skin reacts the way it does and get it back on track. And I hope anyone who reads this might realize how simple it can be to correct problems with our biggest organ. Take care of your skin, my friends. It needs to last. 😉