Alkaline water, it’s all the rage! Particularly when it comes from a filtered tap. Here at YTTP HQ, we’re particularly in love with our FloWater (not sponsored, just real love) which is installed in our kitchen and delivers purified, alkaline H2O directly to our refillable glass and metal water bottles without any plastic nonsense. (At the time this article was published, our FloWater has saved over 7,000 plastic bottles from the landfill. Respect.) But alkalinity isn’t right for everything. In fact, topically your skin needs something entirely different. Life is complicated.
Our skin actually has a naturally lower pH—there’s a slightly acidic layer of film atop our skin called the acid mantle—did you know that? Now you do—which is the barrier between us and the world, i.e. contaminants that might otherwise get to your skin. To maintain its ideal pH and to function properly as a protective barrier, our skin needs products that are slightly acidic too. The face washes of yore that resulted in a squeaky clean feeling are actually quite alkaline, and therefore stripping, and therefore bad. Bad because when things are too alkaline, your skin’s barrier is compromised, meaning sensitive skin, flakiness, redness, breakouts, the whole lot.
So what’s a person to do to strengthen their skin’s own protective barrier? You gotta maintain a healthy pH, naturally about 4.5-5.5 for the average acid mantle, which means paying attention to the pH of the products you use, which (we can’t stress this enough) should not strip oil away from your skin. It’s why we adore our gentle (but effective) Superfood Cleanser, with its pH of about 5.0, “So as not to disrupt the acid mantle,” says Mercedes Taylor, YTTP’s chemist. We’re also down for an acid-based toner, which, with the right mix of lactic and glycolic (vegan, obviously) you can exfoliate, clear, and hydrate all at the same time, smoothing skin texture and maintaining the acid mantle. The Kombucha + 11% AHA Power Toner has a pH of 4.0. “We want to disrupt the acid mantle just enough for the benefit of breaking down the keratin "glue" between the dead skin cells so they exfoliate off quickly and easily, but we don't want the skin to peel aggressively,” says Taylor, continuing, “This pH helps the lactic acid to mimic our natural moisturizing factors (NMF), which target hydration deep in the epidermis. It also gives the lactic acid the right environment to be a great hydrating acid, and helps to effectively deliver the active ingredients.”
So pay attention to your skin’s pH!