At a recent beauty event, I spotted a crowd of bloggers stripping.

It wasn’t of the clothing kind, which would have been quite a show of chutzpah in this subzero-degree NYC weather. But rather, of the pH kind. These heroes were taking their skincare into their own hands, taking out their own pH strips, and proceeding to dip them in every serum, moisturizer and cleanser. Bill Nye be damned, these were the scientists we’d all been waiting for.

Though the show of bloggers and their pH strips may have been a little, well, extra, it goes to show just how important pH balance has become for people as of late. In recent years, the beauty industry has been touting products that claim to balance out your skin’s pH so that it’s not out of wack. But why is everyone going geeky over pH?

It’s because pH is ~everything~ when it comes to getting perfect skin. When your skin isn’t balanced, it shows through temper tantrums known as acne, breakouts, wrinkling, inflammation, redness, among others. Not to get all chemistry on you, but as a refresher: pH, which stands for “potential hydrogen” and used to describe any acid:alkaline ratio of any substance. Any substance ranges from 0 (the most acid) to 14 (the most alkaline, or basic, not of the “bitch” kind). Your own skin’s natural state is between 4.5 – 5.5 and is more on the acidic side (7 is considered, obviously, neutral).

It’s acidic for many a good reason. It’s the first level of defense against natural elements that can do real damage to you. It’s also why we all have something called an “acid mantle,” a Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak, of sorts. The barrier ensures that pollutants, bacteria, allergens, UV light and more are left out.

Once your skin’s barrier is damaged, your skin is screaming that something’s wrong by reacting accordingly. That means that when it turns red, yes, it’s angry, and shouting insults at you to do something IMMEDIATELY to counteract that. Which is a reason why some products may be really awesome for some people, but suck for others. It depends on how you’ve been treating your skin and if its pH balance is in a good place (again, 4.5-5.5).

The best way then, to get your skin to be in its top form, is to use products that balance it out, getting it back to its natural 4.5-5.5 pH level. Water is naturally alkalized and brings your skin to a 7 or above. Add that to a harsh soap cleanser, it brings your pH level to a 9-11, which is WAY too alkalized (Drano, yes, the pipe unclogger, is at an 11 btw!). Good thing there’s something called a toner, which we’ve written extensively about here at Very Good Light, the next step that brings your pH back down to its natural acidic state. There are also plenty of pH balancing products that range from moisturizers, beauty waters, toners, as well as cleansers. I’ve been testing out Missha’s own “Near Skin” product line and pleased to share that my skin feels less tight and dry.

Curious about your own favorite beauty products and their pH levels? Join the club. There are plenty of strips you can purchase online for this very investigation. Soon enough, you can join other super sleuth beauty gurus on their quest to test out the pH balance of every skincare product, ever. Sounds exhausting, but so is reversing the damage of a weak skin barrier, caused by products that are way too off-balance.

Here are a few pH balance products we’re into:

Missha Near Skin line

Garnier Micellar Water

CosRX low pH cleanser

Dermalogica ultracalming cleanser

Skin problems? Chances are you’re out of (pH) balance.

If your skin is …

Tight and dry; sensitive; gets flaky, rough, more fine lines; dull; rarely dewy or plump

You may be too basic. Meaning, your skin is WAY too alkalized. This means your skin barrier has been compromised and it’s allowing bacteria, UV rays, pollutants, allergens and more, to cause serious damage. Try seeing how changing to pH-balanced products can give you that balance you need.

Still oily after cleansing; sensitive to products; excessively oily and breakout-prone; red and angry; greasy not dewy

Acid alert! Your skin may be too acidic for its own good. You may be exfoliating or using a retinoid acid exfoliants too often. Give your skin a break and allow it to balance itself out. Peeling and using exfoliators is not a bad thing – but anything in excess isn’t a good thing.

Plump; soft after cleansing; does not get sensitized to products you regularly use; rarely have dry patches; is not overly oily

Congrats, my friend. You are perfect. Well, at least your skin. There’s a reason your skin is dewy, plump AF, bright, juicy and totally blemish-free. You’re using the right pH in your products. And it shows.