One of the most important factors to consider when choosing personal care products for baby is the pH of those products. pH refers to the acid-base scale, with water and most internal body fluids being at or near a pH of 7. Acids are low on the scale and bases are high on the scale. The ideal pH balance of baby skin is about 5.5. Thus, the personal care products you choose should also be at about that pH to support optimal health and skin resilience.
The most effective way to think about personal care products for baby is in terms of a 3-step system. First Cleanse, then Nourish, then Defend. The products you use at all 3 of those steps should be about the same pH level as skin. Keep in mind that oil products do not have a pH. A product must contain some part of water to be on the pH scale, due to the chemistry of how pH is measured. There are myriad potential skin problems out there that could be prevented and solved with a healthy personal care routine for baby skin – paying close attention to keeping that skin at the right pH level of about 5.5.
Many personal care products – from cleansers to ointments – are at a neutral pH of 7 or higher. For example, castile soaps have a pH of almost 9. A sure way to set baby’s skin up for trouble is to throw off the pH with a daily assault of castile soap. Bathing too frequently (even without any cleanser at all) can also throw off your baby’s skin pH. Remember, water has a pH of 7 and skin is (and needs to be) much more acidic than 7.
The reason baby skin is acidic is because this is what best allows the skin to protect the body from most harmful bacteria. The skin is teaming with micro-flora, which not only depend on an acidic environment to thrive, they help create acids to support a healthy balance on the skin surface. By making sure your baby’s skincare products are at an optimal pH, you are also making the choice to support a healthy population of essential micro-flora to prevent skin infection and maintain a strong skin barrier.