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Have you ever read, ""pH balanced"" on a product and wondered what it meant? From irritation, dryness, toacne, let's discuss how pH levels can either resolve or cause further distress to your skin.

Our skin is naturally designed to fight infection and environmental stresses and its ability to do so is affected by its pH level. The pH level of the skin refers to how acidic or alkaline it is. On a scale of 1-14, with 1 being the most acidic to 14 being the most alkaline, 7 is considered a neutral reading for your skin's pH. Our skin has a thin, protective layer on its surface, referred to as the acid mantle. This acid mantle is made up of sebum (free fatty acids) excreted from the skin's sebaceous glands, which mixes with lactic and amino acids from sweat to create the skin's pH, which ideally should be slightly acidic - at about 5.5.

Many factors can interfere with the delicate balance of the skin's acid mantle, both externally and internally. As we age, our skin becomes more acidic in response to our lifestyle and our environment. Everything that comes in contact with our skin (products, smoking, air, water, sun, pollution) can contribute to the breaking down of the acid mantle, disrupting the skin's ability to protect itself.

Diet plays an important role in determining our internal and external pH levels. It is important to note that a food's acid or alkaline formation in the body is not the same as the pH of the food itself. In an interesting paradox, foods that are considered acidic before digestion (like lemons) become alkaline-forming in the body. Most animal products, which are alkaline prior to digestion, are considered acid-forming in the body. According to dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf, ""We need our diets to be less acidic than alkaline, otherwise internally,we become too acidic."" This means that an ideal diet consists of consuming an abundance of alkalizing foods such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, carrots and soybeans.

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