It is essential to know the factors that can disrupt natural balances and mar the natural beauty of the skin. When we talk of balanced skin, we mean the pH or acid-alkaline balance of the skin. The pH tells us whether the skin is more acid or alkaline. The pH is based on a measurement of 0 to 14, with 1 being most acidic, while 14 is most alkaline. Normal, healthy skin is slightly more acidic than alkaline, at a pH of 5.5. At this pH level, the normal skin stays healthy.
Healthy skin has a natural acid mantle. The natural oil secreted by the skin forms a protective film on the skin surface. The skin’s natural oil, called sebum, mixes with acids from our sweat glands and forms the slightly acidic natural mantle. Several factors upset the pH balance, like seasonal changes, internal health, diet, air pollutants, as well as chemical, caustic and alkaline substances. Excessive soap and water washing can also disrupt the acid-alkaline balance. Many soaps and chlorinated water strip the acid mantle, leading to skin irritations, redness, itching, acne or rash, as a result. Therefore, we need to maintain the normal pH balance. The cleansing methods that we adopt should cleanse without disturbing the normal acid-alkaline balance. Cleansers containing natural plant ingredients actually help to restore the normal pH balance. For instance, a cleansing gel containing aloe vera and lemon, not only cleanses but restores the pH balance and oil-moisture balance.
Natural ingredients do help to restore and maintain the normal pH balance of the skin. For instance, apple cider vinegar is a very useful remedy for common beauty problems. It contains acetic acid, along with other acids, as well as vitamins, minerals and amino acid. Apple cider vinegar can also be used to restore balance to acne-prone skin. Mix one part vinegar with three parts water. Soak cotton wool in the solution and dab on the face. The skin has a natural acid mantle and restoring the acid-alkaline balance helps to keep the skin healthy. It also makes a good hair rinse, restoring normal balances and adding shine to the hair. After shampoo, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a mug of water and use it as a last rinse.
Treatments making use of acids that occur naturally in fruits and milk also help. These are the Alpha Hydroxy Acids, which are formulated into specialized products. In the case of skin treatments with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, the active ingredients are specially extracted and broken down into a form that can be easily absorbed by the skin. The AHAs have proved very effective in skincare, especially in the care of ageing skin, hyper-pigmentation and scars. They are valued for their exfoliating action on the skin and for restoring the pH balance.
Topical antioxidants, like Vitamins A, C, E and Green Tea are important in maintaining the acid mantle in two ways. First, they fortify the cells so they can function optimally and second, they protect the cells from environmental stresses and oxidation. The daily use of sunscreen also defends the acid mantle by shielding the skin cells from sun damage and increasing the skin’s ability to protect itself. With age, the sebaceous glands are less active, drying out the skin. This also destroys the acid mantle. So, applying natural oils like coconut, jojoba, argan, sesame seed and olive oils nourish the skin and improve moisture balance.
Include foods rich in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables, salads, sprouts, yoghurt. Avoid processed foods and reduce your intake of sugar. Take daily care of the skin, according to skin type, protecting it with sunscreens and organic products.
About the author: Shahnaz Husain is the founder of the Shahnaz Husain Group.
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