PH (potential of Hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14—the lower the pH, the more acidic the solution, the higher the pH the more alkaline the solution. When a solution is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7 which is neutral, so anything below the 7 is considered acidic, and anything above would be considered alkaline.
Our skin has a thin, protective layer on its surface, referred to as the acid mantle, and is naturally acidic with about a 5.5 pH. A typical bar of soap has a pH over 8 (add chlorinated water) and this can be why your skin will appear dry after stepping out of the shower and toweling off. It is noticeable right away. According to Dr. Audrey Kunin, dermatologist, “once the [skin] pH exceeds 6.5, bacterial invasion increases dramatically, a loss of normal skin integrity results and a variety of skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and irritant contact dermatitis flare.”
I did another experiment of my own. Using a bar of homemade soap purchased at a local farmer's market, I noticed irritation under my arms after a shower. I took my little pH papers out and did a test to find it had a whopping pH of 9! While the soap did have better ingredients, irritation still occurred as a result of a pH imbalance.
Once I realized this was related to pH balancing, I stopped using soap with high alkalinity. Taking one step further, I then decided to stop using soap altogether and found I no longer had dry skin. You may be asking, well what in the world do you use for washing? Unless you're a car mechanic, you really don't need to use soap; vigorous rubbing with a wash cloth in the shower or bath is all that is needed! Or you can use a wonderful moisturizing pH balanced combination of brown sugar and coconut oil with a splash of castile soap (not really soap) and essential oils. This can be used for a face and body cleanser and your skin will love you!
The intended purpose of soap is to be a degreaser, however, it also removes the natural oils that protect the skin from harmful bacteria. This is where, as mentioned above, skin disorders can develop. To compound the issue people are washing away this protection layer every day in the shower and multiple times a day with hand washing. Don't even get me started on antibacterial soap. Anything used on the skin that interrupts the natural balance of the acid mantle is not a good thing to do. By using pH friendly body cleansing products, you will have healthier skin, less dryness, and perhaps less need for moisturizing lotions. Cheers to good health!