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pH Balance: marketing ploy or savvy science?

Do you have to pay attention to the pH balance of your skincare products?

Are you concerned about the pH of your skincare products? You’ve probably noticed that some of your bottles and jars are labeled “pH Balanced.” Sounds like a good thing, right? At Primal Life Organics, we don’t label our containers. In fact, we haven’t tested most of our products to find out what their pH balance is.

I’ll explain why, but let’s first back up a bit. What is pH? Why should your products be “balanced?”

The Science of pH

Put on your lab coats — we’re getting into some science!

pH strips for measurement of acidity

Have you ever washed your face with a cleanser that left your skin feeling tight and dry? That’s because the cleanser was very alkaline and stripped your skin of its oils. Alkaline substances fall on the higher end of the pH scale.

“Taking the pH” of a water-based substance measures how acidic or alkaline it is. The pH scale runs from 1-14: 1 is acidic, 14 is alkaline, and 7 is neutral. Your skin is slightly acidic at 5.5, a level where it looks healthy and clear and can resist bad bacteria.

If your face is dry and prematurely aging, your skin is most likely too alkaline. If your skin is too acidic, it will be oily and you could have problems with acne. When your skin is at its optimal pH of 5.5, it will be radiant.

Body Wash Bars from Primal Life Organics
Are Primal Life Organics Body Wash Bars pH balanced?

Alkaline substances — such as soap — mix with water and unstick the dirt and oils from your skin. Unfortunately, soap washes away the bad AND the good, leaving your skin drier than when you started. This means you’ll have to use more products to bring it back into balance, all while being more susceptible to bad bacteria wreaking havoc.

We won’t get into those “other products” today, so let’s go back to those bottles and jars hiding in your bathroom. Are they labeled as being pH balanced? I’ve outlined the hazards of water-based skincare on the blog before, so let’s recap.

A water-based product that contains oil will have an emulsifier to keep it from separating. If an emulsifier is present, preservatives are always included to keep it from spoiling. Because they have to keep adding ingredients to stabilize it, they may also have to add fragrance to make it smell pleasant. Now let’s think about this in relation to pH.

Skincare companies mix a long list of ingredients together to make a product effective, fragrant and shelf stable. Not only do they have to balance everything out to achieve those effects, but they also have to balance out the product’s pH so it doesn’t harm your skin. Then what do they do? They slap on a sticker that says “pH BALANCED!!” When you think about all the tinkering they did and the chemicals they added… Do you still really want to put that “pH balanced” product on your skin?

At Primal Life Organics, we don’t label our products as being pH balanced. It’s not because we don’t care about you (you know how much we do! ❤︎). It’s because we don’t have to test the pH balance for most of what we make.

What pH do oils have?

Pomegranate-Face-Wash-4-fl-oz

It’s a trick question! Oils on their own are not water soluble. Since they can’t be dissolved in water, you can’t test their pH level — so they don’t have one. Oils are lipophilic and therefore dissolve in oil. When you use an oil to clean your face, you remove the dirt without removing your natural oils and good bacteria.

Primal Life Organics face products are primarily a mixture of clays, herbs, oils and essential oils that are very gentle on the skin. They will help dry, oily and combination skin level out to healthy, radiant skin. Yes, you heard that correctly: Our non-pH products will balance the pH of your skin… naturally!!

Cleaning your face with oil helps your skin get back to it’s optimal pH of 5.5. Adding a toner to your skincare routine will help even more. Alcohol-free toners usually have a pH of 5.5 or are slightly more acidic. This helps your skin get back to normal after washing your face with an alkaline soap or face wash.

Primal Life Organics makes face toners from a blend of ingredients including rosewater and witch hazel infused with herbs, spices and essential oils. Witch hazel has a pH of 5.5-6 and has been used for hundreds of years as a natural face product. Rosewater is an aqueous solution of rose petals that restores the pH balance of the skin and brings back the glow on your face.

What about soap and shampoo?

PLO’s Dirty Poo™ Hair Wash is made with a mixture of clays, herbs, honey and sea kelp. On its own, it doesn’t have a pH level. When you mix it with water it will (because then it’s water-based), but it will not strip your scalp of its natural oils.

Dirty Poo™ Hair Wash in wooden bowl
Dirty Poo™ Hair Wash

When you start using Dirty Poo, there will be an adjustment period, especially if you’ve been using commercial shampoo and conditioner your entire life. After a few weeks, your hair and scalp should go back to normal. If not, there are a few things you can add to Dirty Poo to help with dryness, greasy hair, static and dandruff. (See the “Other Uses” tab on the Dirty Poo product page.) 

Our body bars have a pH around 8. Common bar soaps range from 6-10. If you feel this is too alkaline for your body, please use a soap that you are comfortable with. But remember — Primal Life Organics products are not made with harsh chemicals and additives that can do damage on both the outside and inside of the body.

PLO’s body bars are made with earthen ingredients for sensitive skin. They’re hypoallergenic, vegan, and free of all chemicals and fragrance that strip the skin of its natural oils. With the skin’s protective oils in place, you’ll maintain moisture and your first line of defense against bacteria, virus and infections.

Body Wash Bars
Body Wash Bars from Primal Life Organics
I’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again! The best “anti-aging” products are oil-based. They balance your own pH, cross through your skin barrier, are nutrient rich and hydrate your cells. Once again, Mother Nature wins the pH battle!  Grab yourself some oils and “see” what I am talking about!

Go natural!

You can try a variety of natural, chemical free, made-by-hand facial products from Primal Life Organics, or try some of our favorite face washes:

Looking for a face toner? Try one of these:

Wash your hair with Dirty Poo™ Hair Wash or our Shampoo Bar. And don’t forget to try our all-natural Body Bars.

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