The Grooming Manual
What Does pH Balancing Your Face Mean and Should You Care?
What does pH balance mean, anyway? If you remember from chemistry class, all organic substances (including you) have a pH level (potential hydrogen). On the pH scale from 1 to 14, anything below 7 is acidic, above is alkaline/basic, and 7 is neutral. Your body is close to neutral at 7.35 to 7.45, while the pH level of the skin is between 5 and 5.5 (slightly more acidic).
The face needs this acidic level to protect against harmful microbes and to lock in moisture. However, we often unknowingly throw off our skin pH with harsh and unsuitable skincare products. Learn more about what balancing skin pH on your face means, why you should care, and what to do about it.
Do Men Have a pH Balance?
YES! Men do have a pH balance of the body, face, and skin.
Most men have never given much thought to pH levels beyond having to do some acidity lab tests in their high school’s chemistry class. But pH levels are incredibly important for your skin.
Your body naturally maintains your facial skin pH. But when it goes off track, you get inflammation, acne, wrinkles and other unpleasant side effects. A lot of the skin pH content online is directed at women’s skin; men pH balance as a topic is not as common. Still, regardless of gender or sex, everyone has a pH level that must be kept well-balanced.
Why Is Facial pH Balance So Important?
Your skin thrives in a mildly acidic state. It has a thin protective layer called the acid mantle made up of amino, lactic and fatty acids that mix with the natural essential oils excreted by your sebaceous glands. This cocktail of acids creates a protective barrier that is the first line of defense against bacteria and environment toxins.
In other words, acidic skin on the face is essential for neutralizing harmful alkaline-based microbes. It also means your skin needs to be slightly oily so it doesn’t dry out and become irritated or get premature wrinkles.
How Can You Tell If Your Skin pH Balance Is Off?
Several different factors, some internal and others external, can affect your skin’s pH and throw off the pH level of the skin. That’s why it’s important to understand the difference between normal and abnormal skin pH, including how it looks and how it feels. Men have a higher skin pH than women, so keeping the right balance will look different by gender.
Internal Factors that Affect Male pH Balance
- Stress - physical, chemical, and hormonal changes related to your body’s stress reaction affect the pH level of the skin
- Genetic Makeup - your unique genetics influence your skin and its ability to stay pH balanced
- Age - due to physical changes as you get older, keeping your skin healthy and hydrated becomes more challenging
- Health Conditions - some conditions, medications, and treatments can affect your skin and its pH levels
- Hormonal Imbalances - these can be temporary or chronic
- Skin Color - darker pigmented skin has a slightly higher pH than lighter skin
External Factors Affecting Male Skin pH
- Environment - temperature, humidity, and other seasonal changes all affect your skin
- Skincare Products - harsh ingredients and high alkaline formulas can throw off your skin’s proper pH balance
- Dirt, Dust, and Pollutants - they clog your pores and make it hard for your skin to remain in pH balance
- Over-washing - staying clean is important, but washing your face and skin too much can erode its natural barrier
- Medical Treatments - chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapies, and some medications can all have a significant effect on your skin
What Happens If Your pH Balance Is Off?
When pH balance is abnormal, male pH balance off symptoms are sure to develop. Here are some of the most common signs that the pH level of your skin is off.
- Redness, dry and flaky skin, and irritation
- New or excessive acne
- Unexpected skin peeling
- Itchiness, including of the eyelashes
- Perioral dermatitis around the nose and mouth
- Hyperpigmentation and other discoloration
- Changes to skin texture
- Quickly developing or expanding wrinkles
Keep in mind that these symptoms do not necessarily indicate on their own that there is something wrong with your skin’s pH. That is one possibility, but they could also be related to other conditions.
How to Check Your Skin’s Surface pH
Don’t be overly worried about your skin’s pH. If everything seems good, no need to stress about it. However, if you’re noticing issues with your skin, checking and normalizing your pH of skin could help restore your healthy glow. After all, don’t you deserve to look your absolute best?
This is a preliminary, eyeball check of your skin using the symptoms listed above. It’s not the most reliable way to identify abnormal facial skin pH, but it’s a good starting point. Ask yourself questions like:
- Is my skin itchier than normal and I don’t know why?
- Have I been breaking out more than usual?
- Is my skin texture feeling odd lately?
pH Test Strips
Checking your skin pH level with test strips can give you a better idea of whether you’re too acidic or alkaline, though it’s still not the most reliable method. pH Test strips are thin strips of litmus paper that are pH sensitive. When you apply a liquid to them, they change color to indicate where on the pH scale that liquid is. You can use skin oil, saliva, or sweat to measure your skin’s pH with test strips.
pH Test Meters
A test meter is a small electrical device that reads the pH level of the skin. It’s usually somewhere between the size of a thermometer or a small cell phone, but can be larger depending on the specific design. You touch the device’s sensor to your skin (to get the best reading, use it on an oily area) and it tells you the pH level. A test meter is a very reliable method of checking your skin’s pH. However, these meters cost significantly more than test strips.
Visit Your Dermatologist
Dermatologists are skin health experts that can pinpoint the pH of skin and identify any concerns that may be affecting pH balance in men. Make sure you visit a skilled doctor with the proper credentials and experience - not just an aesthetician you found on social media.
How to Restore Your Male Skin pH with Natural Products
Even though men's pH balance on the face should not be more than 5.5, most men’s skincare and grooming products carry a pH level of 8-10. This means they’re highly drying to the skin. As mentioned above, your skin needs that acidic barrier to stay healthy.
- Too alkaline, and your skin gets dry and ages prematurely,
- Too acidic, and your skin experiences an environment prone to breakouts and acne.
Use natural men’s skincare and grooming products to help with managing and balancing skin pH. Men’s skincare products filled with harsh chemicals strip the skin of the natural oils and acidic barrier it needs, making it too alkaline. Even guys with very oily skin run the risk of skin problems by over-drying their face.
Cleanse, Exfoliate, and Tone to Balance Skin pH
When you exfoliate your skin, you deep clean the pores and remove dead skin cells that have built up. This removes excess oils, prevents acne, and gives your skin a brighter look. In doing so, it also contributes to keeping your natural pH of skin.
For the best results with a pH balancer for skin, always start by first cleansing your face. Then use a gentle face scrub for men that won’t cause unnecessary irritation. Our Renewing Face Scrub for men - made with jojoba beads, pumice, aloe, and coffee extract - is safe for all skin types and exfoliates without damaging the skin. You don’t need to use a sponge to apply your face scrub; that could potentially irritate your skin. Exfoliate 2-3 times each week, starting slow if you have sensitive or dry skin.
How to Cleanse Your Face
Cleansing (or washing) your face removes dirt, excess oil, and other contaminants from your skin’s surface. Getting rid of this debris allows for healthier skin with the proper skin pH level.
Since harsh products can strip your skin of moisture and throw off your pH balance, it’s important to choose a natural face wash for men with gentle ingredients. Our Clarifying Gel Face Wash is designed for guys with normal to oily skin. Its coconut-based cleansers and antiseptic geranium won’t cause irritation or dryness.
How to Exfoliate Your Face
Exfoliate your face right after cleansing it for the best results. Use a quarter-sized amount of Renewing Face Scrub, gently rubbing it on your face in small, circular motions. Then rinse thoroughly and enjoy your refreshed skin.
How to Use Toner
Toner is an important skincare product for guys with normal to oily skin who want to balance skin pH. It reduces oil, minimizes the appearance of pores, and supports your skin’s acid barrier. Toner also helps your skin better absorb and benefit from your moisturizers and other skincare products.
For the best results, use toner after washing and exfoliating. A gentle balancing toner for men that is alcohol-free is ideal for all skin types. Alcohol is drying, irritating, and not helpful if you want to keep your skin pH at the proper level.
Our Balancing Toner - made with cucumber distillate and witch hazel - is made to support your skin without drying it out or causing irritation. You can spray a few pumps directly to your skin or apply toner with a cotton ball.
Toner vs Astringent: What’s the Difference?
Toner is designed to nourish and hydrate your skin while also reducing oil and balancing its pH level.
Astringents tighten, dry, and cleanse the skin. They tend to contain harsher ingredients than toners, such as isopropyl alcohol.
If you want to keep your skin pH in balance without over-drying or irritating your skin, use toner instead of astringent in your skincare routine.
Repair, Nourish, and Balance Skin pH with Serum
Cleansing, exfoliating, and toning your skin are all critical to keeping it looking and feeling its best. But those processes can be rough on your skin - even when you’re choosing the best products. That’s why you need to follow up with a reparative serum.
Choose the serum that’s right for you based on your skincare needs. For example, our Reviving Day Serum - designed for use in the morning - contains vitamin C and is designed to help combat the longterm effects of UV damage. If you want to smooth wrinkles and maximize skin moisture, our Repairing Night Serum is the best choice for you.
Apply your serum after cleansing, exfoliating, and/or toning (depending on your routine). You only need about a pea-sized amount of serum to cover your face and get the benefits of these concentrated products - including pH balance for skin.
Anti-Aging Products and Skin pH of Older Skin
As you get older, your skin becomes more sensitive and prone to irritation. It can also struggle to maintain ideal skin pH due to natural changes undergone during the aging process. For older guys, acidic skin can become an issue affecting their appearance.
How can you correct this issue? With the best natural anti-aging products for men. Besides using a serum as mentioned above, an anti-aging cream with nourishing, moisturizing ingredients will help keep your skin’s acid barrier intact and reduce dryness and irritation.
Our Revitalizing Anti-Aging Cream - made with peptides to boost collagen production and hyaluronic acid for maximum hydration - is best applied at night after cleansing and using serum. It helps smooth wrinkles and firm the skin for a significantly younger appearance.
Use Moisturizer for Balanced Skin pH
Your skin’s natural barrier seals in moisture, prevents dryness, and protects it from harmful contaminants. But if your skin becomes dehydrated, the skin pH level can also be affected. That’s why using face lotion for men is critical to keeping your skin at its peak.
Our Daily Essential Face Moisturizer is lightweight, oil-free, and designed for all skin types. Use it as a final step in your skincare routine (at morning and at night, depending on your regimen) to prevent irritation, moisture loss, and skin pH level irregularities.
Moisturizing for Guys with Extremely Oily Skin
What if you have oily skin? Does that mean you shouldn’t use moisturizer?
Nope. Everyone can benefit from using moisturizer regularly.
For guys with oily skin, moisturizer helps balance oil production and prevent acidic skin. That means less shine, clearer pores, and healthier skin. Be sure to use a lightweight lotion that absorbs quickly and won’t sit heavily on your skin’s surface - no dense or heavy products. Only use just enough to cover your skin; no need to go heavy on the application to balance the pH of skin.
Sun Protection for Male pH Balance
Too many guys think that sunscreen is only for beach days - if that. The truth is that using an SPF face moisturizer for men whenever you’ll be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time (which honestly is most days for most people) is an excellent way to fight the aging process and keep your skin’s pH balance in check.
Our Daily Defense Face Moisturizer with SPF 20 is made specifically for use on the face. Its zinc-based formula doesn’t leave white marks and absorbs completely without affecting male pH balance. Apply it all over your face and neck to ensure your skin isn’t unnecessarily damaged because of UV exposure.
Smart Lifestyle Habits for pH Balanced Skin
A smart skincare routine is an excellent way to promote a balanced skin pH level. But there’s more to it than that. These healthy lifestyle habits will help you keep your skin looking its best everyday.
- Diet - avoid processed foods, hydrogenated oils, and sugars
- Hydration - drink plenty of water (not sugary or alcoholic beverages)
- Hygiene - keep your clothing and bedsheets clean to prevent skin issues
- Hand Washing - you touch your face more than you realize, so keeping your hands clean is critical
- Regular Checkups - don’t be afraid of the doctor; visiting them regularly will help you identify potential health concerns and treat them early
- Reduce Stress - exercise, yoga, meditation, good sleep habits, and low intensity hobbies can all contribute to less stress and better health
How to Check the pH of Your Skincare Products
You already know that some ingredients - like alcohol - are harsh on the skin and can throw off your pH. But how can you check the pH of skin products and identify those that aren’t right for the pH level of the skin?
- Use pH Test Strips - expose the sensitive end of the strip to the product and get a reading of its pH level
- Use a pH Meter - these highly accurate devices will tell you the precise pH of your products
- Ask Your Dermatologist - if you’re concerned about how a product will affect your skin or are noticing irritation after switching to a new skincare routine, discuss your concerns with your dermatologist
- Do Patch Testing - apply a new product to a small area of skin and check your reactions during 24-48 hours, staying aware of any irritation or negative results
There’s no such thing as the perfect skincare regimen for men's pH balance. Each person has unique needs, concerns, and skincare goals. Plus, you can overdo it by cleaning too much, exfoliating excessively, or simply using too many products with strong active ingredients. You don’t want to be the guy who has invested so much in their skin only to continue to struggle with facial skin pH and its associated redness, irritation, flakes, dryness, and other common issues.
Avoid this by being smart about your skincare routine. Choose the best natural products for your needs. And be aware of how your lifestyle and skincare products affect your skin’s pH balance. That way you will avoid frustration and always look your best.