We all want to find new ways to fight the ravages of aging. From lasers to Botox, the beauty industry is providing a slew of options to stay young-looking. You can add another weapon to your arsenal: pH optimization.
PHACE Bioactive founder Marisa Vara Arredondo will be the first to tell you that understanding your skin pH can be a hard concept to grasp. She’s not wrong—it’s a lot to take in. “Educating the consumer is costly and takes time,” she explains. If there’s one person for the job, however, it would be Arredondo. After curing her cystic acne by getting her pH levels in check, she launched the first luxury pH optimized skincare brand and has now made it her mission to educate women across the globe on the benefits of living a pH-balanced life.
We spoke to the entrepreneur, who holds degrees from both Stanford and Harvard, to find out more about what exactly pH is, why it matters when it comes to skincare and why it just may be the next big thing to hit the beauty industry.
theFashionSpot: What exactly is pH?
Marisa Vara Arredondo: pH stands for power of hydrogen and refers to how acidic or alkaline a substance is. It spans a range of 0 to 14 with 0 being most acidic and 14 being most alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral. Your skin has a naturally acidic pH of 4.0 to 5.5. It needs to be slightly acidic to help fight the bacteria that may try to invade it. By way of comparison, water has a pH of 7. Despite the fact that we need our skin to maintain an external pH that is acidic, we want our body to maintain an alkaline pH for optimal health.
The acid mantle is a thin, protective layer on your skin’s surface that helps control pH. It helps our skin in five ways: It acts as a built-in antioxidant, protecting underlying skin from oxidative damage, it helps regulate moisture levels, it aids in damage protection from environmental factors like sun and wind, it inhibits bacterial growth that leads to blemishes and inflammation, it helps keep skin firm and elastic. So, it’s incredibly important to keep the acid mantle intact. Using pH optimized skincare can do just that by helping to maintain the integrity of the skin surface. Most skin problems (dryness, dullness, fine lines, wrinkles, flaking, redness, irritation, acne) occur when your pH is out of balance.
tFS: When it comes to skincare, what’s the biggest mistake people make?
MVA: Washing with harsh soaps that are very alkaline. Doing this strips the acid mantle and debilitates the skin’s defenses. Serums and moisturizers often have an alkaline pH that is too high to be effective on skin. Many dermatologic skin issues, such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, seborrhea, rosacea and acne can be attributed in large part to a high pH. Skin that is too alkaline cannot ward off MMPs, the enzymes that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles and sagging. Our pH optimized serums and creams are designed with a low pH for maximum effectiveness and absorption.
tFS: What were some of the biggest challenges in designing a pH optimized skincare line?
MVA: First finding the right team of chemists. A chemist is trained through years of study and experimentation to test different ingredients and anticipate their chemical reactions. A good chemist knows that this particular ingredient when combined with another produces a chemical reaction that can be very beneficial to the skin, or damaging to the skin. He understands pH optimization technology and how to formulate each ingredient to function at its highest potency. He also knows that two ingredients can be independently powerful, but together, powerless. This inbred knowledge develops from years of study and practice.
Beyond the chemistry, it’s the texture, consistency and smell. PHACE Bioactive is a non-toxic line. Safety is as important to us as effectiveness is. We do not use fragrances, phthalates, parabens, synthetic dyes, formaldehyde, sulfates, propylene glycol or TEA. As a result of these philosophical decisions, getting some formulas to the proper texture was challenging and time consuming as we chose not to load up with dangerous silicones. Further, our products have very little smell if any; they’re not perfumy because we add no fragrance. This was another philosophical decision as we were designing for customers with sensitive skin and did not want to risk allergic reactions by adding parfum. All treatments have been clinically tested and are hypo-allergenic, noncomedogenic and dermatologist tested and approved.