While it may be comforting to believe that just washing your face with soap and water before bed is enough of an anti-aging skin care routine to keep you looking youthful, that’s not the case. It gets a little more complicated than that, and all because of your skin’s pH.
Your skin is designed to protect you from infection. It also protects you from anything the environment might throw at you, like wind, rain, sun, cold, and heat. Your skin accomplishes all of this by keeping a balanced pH level, which establishes how alkaline or acidic your skin is. If your skin’s pH level is 7.0, it’s said to have a neutral pH. Anything lower than 7.0 means it’s starting to become too acidic; anything higher than 7.0 and your skin is in dangerous alkaline territory.
Your skin has a protective layer called the acid mantle that secretes a substance called sebum, which is produced in the sebaceous glands. Amino acids and lactic acid, which come from sweat, then mix with the sebum to normalize your skin’s pH level. Your anti-aging skin care regimen is one of the things that help to keep your pH level in check.
There are plenty of things that constantly try to upset this delicate balance in the acid mantle, and one of the biggest disturbances is the natural process of aging. This is where your anti-aging skin care routine comes in. Your skin becomes more acidic as it continues to deal with all the pollutants and toxins it comes in contact with over the years, and acidic skin ages faster and develops more wrinkles. Anti-aging skin care products are formulated to bring your pH balance back to a more neutral state, which can significantly improve the look of your skin as you get older.
That being said, no matter how good your anti-aging skin care routine is, there are other factors that can counteract it—anti-aging skin care products are useless if something is wrong internally. With that in mind, here are five big no-no’s when it comes to anti-aging skin care and protecting your skin’s pH balance.
1. Using Soap: Soap is not your best friend when it comes to anti-aging skin care. Yes, it’s great for washing germs off your hands, but soap is alkaline and can remove the skin’s natural oils, causing it to become dry and tight when it’s used in place of a proper anti-aging skin care product. For the best anti-aging skin care results, look for mild soaps that are lower on the alkaline scale. You can easily find pH level test strips to check your soaps and other anti-aging skin care products. The best products will be in the neutral 7.0 range.
2. The Wrong Exfoliant: While exfoliating is good for anti-aging skin care, it’s a much more gentle process than you’ve been led to believe. Using an exfoliant that has a distinctly harsh and grainy texture can actually cause small tears in the surface of your skin. These tears can accelerate the aging process and lead to dry and irritated skin, making it harder for your anti-aging skin care routine to do its job.
3. Moisturizing with Oil: Moisturizers need to be used judicially in anti-aging skin care. Spreading a shea butter moisturizer onto skin that is already oily can only lead to more problems with blocked pores and trapped bacteria. In contrast, leaving dry skin without any moisturizer could cause the skin to over-produce its own oil, making it more prone to blemishes. For optimal anti-aging skin care results, look for a moisturizer that’s oil free.
4. No Sunscreen: Wearing sunscreen is one of the staples of proper anti-aging skin care. The sun’s UV rays cause direct, harmful damage to the skin, throwing the pH balance way off. Neglecting to wear sunscreen, especially on days when you’re exposed to lots of direct sunlight, can greatly accelerate the aging process of your skin—that means more wrinkles, more dry skin, more age spots, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Always ensure sunscreen is part of your anti-aging skin care routine 365 days a year.
5. Too Much Refined Sugar: It’s been proven that sugar not only increases acidity levels and throws your pH level off-kilter, but it also wreaks havoc on the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin. These are the two building blocks of anti-aging skin care, so you need them to maintain the appearance of your skin as you get older. The more refined sugar you’re eating, the more likely you are to see fine lines and wrinkles.