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What is pH?
The pH stand for potential of hydrogen in the product. It is a scale from 1 (acidic) to 14 (basic), where 7 is neutral. So pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the solution is.
Healthy skin pH
The healthy skin pH ranges from 4.5 to 6.5. It is depended on many factors, some of them are: age, genetic predisposition, medication, cosmetics used, skin moisture level, sebum production. The skin is an amazing organ and has ability to bounce back rather quickly to its natural pH.
Artisan soap pH
Handmade soaps have rather high pH in a range of 8.5 to 11.
Based on my extensive research and own experiments I can say that the pH of soap does not determine if the soap is harsh, gentle or is it drying to skin or not. There is much more to handmade soap that pH.
If you ever used my handmade, artisan soap you probably were amazed as how gentle but nicely cleansing it is on your skin. The pH of that soap was close to 10! And yet it is gently cleansing, leaving your skin in perfect balance, many times you do not even need to use moisturizer after the shower, right?
Bad reputation of handmade soaps
So why is it that handmade, high pH soaps are so good for your skin but have such a bad reputation? I will answer this question by telling you why my soaps are truly delicate and great for most people.
I do recognize the need of good bar of soap as I am myself psoriasis sufferer. I was able to get my symptoms under control for the first time when I started using my own soaps. The fact that the soap has higher pH than the commercially made syndet bars does not disqualifies it from being gentle.
In fact soap is made by combining fats, oils with alkali. But that is not all - I did find that additives are extremely important in handmade soap. Not only floating oils (oils that will not be consumed by lye - we do that to ensure that soap will not dry your skin), but also balanced additional ingredients make my soaps gentle and truly amazing to even sensitive skin.
I do love to use alternative liquids: aloe vera juice, various teas, botanical extracts, real beer, coffee and more. The addition of them have an effect on the soap quality and performance.
I also add kaolin clay to all my artisan soaps. Kaolin clay is non-abrasive, non-reactive, soft, white mineral. It is a skin protectant and is absorbent but has low shrink-swell capacity. Kaolin clay can improve the suppleness of the skin, it is suitable especially for sensitive skin.
The other additives that make a difference in my soaps are: fresh fruit and vegetable purees, colloidal oats, honey, milk and yogurt powders, botanical infusions and botanical powders (turmeric, calendula, chamomile, etc.) and more!
Should you use artisan soap on your face?
If you ever saw me at the market - you heard me saying: I do not recommend using any handmade soap on your face. And I say ANY! Not only mine, but any saponified, real soap.
Why - you ask? I am happy to explain!
All the conclusions and explanation that you see here are my own based on extensive research and my own experiments.
Handmade soap becomes soap due to saponification process of oils and fats with strong base. This process is truly fascinating and I love to watch this transformation happening in front of my eyes every time I make soap.
The saponification of the fatty acids with lye produces soap that is usually pretty high on the pH scale, making it basic. Your skin has great ability to bounce back to its normal pH, HOWEVER... the time needed for the skin to adjust varies by person, age, condition of skin and many more factors. If you are using the specific cosmetics on your face right after washing it - your skin may not have enough time to adjust and therefore the effect of the product you use will be negated by high pH of the skin. Cleansing is meant to prepare the skin for further treatments. In my opinion you should use the cleanser that is the closest in pH to your own skin to fully take advantage of the products you are using after. This is especially important if you are applying any serums with vitamin C or any acids that require lower pH to work properly.
You know your skin, so always take any advice into consideration but choose what works for YOUR SKIN best! If you have been using handmade soap on your face for years and you love it - keep doing it!
Monika Botanika Inc.