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Info on pH and product application wait times

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Tangal
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Sat Dec 02, 2006 9:23 pm      Reply with quote
Some Info on pH and wait times

The initials pH stand for “Power of Hydrogen” or "Potential of Hydrogen”. Both terms are correct. This is a measure of the activity of hydrogen or hydrogen ion content in a solution.
The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a product is, compared to pure distilled water. (which is pH 7.0)
Only wet substances have a measurable pH. The skins pH is actually the pH on the skins surface from the moisture within the skin, and the "acid mantle" which is part of the protective "barrier" on its surface. Hair for example has no pH.

(The acid mantle is a fine film layer, slightly acidic, made up from skin oils, sweat, and dead cells. It is one means the skin uses to protect itself from bacterium, and moisture loss, and environmental damage. Pollutants, harmful bacterium, contaminants are normally alkaline in nature, so a slightly acid skin surface helps fight off these harmful elements and prevent them from entering into, and damaging the skin. Maintaining the acid mantle is recommended for good skin health. When the acid mantle is damaged it takes approximately 14-17 days to repair itself. (assuming no other damaging products are applied to it)

A damaged acid mantle leads to a number of skin issues, such as over dry skin, dehydration, over oily skin, flaky skin, acne, sensitivity etc. It would require another long post to detail all this. But incorrect pH products can contribute to acid mantle degradation, and increases in acne causing bacterium on the skin. (More on this below)


The pH Scale

The pH scale goes from 0-14, this covers most wet substances, though some substances can be extreamly acid or base, and go beyond this scale. But for skincare products, you will not be using these.

-Acids have pH values under 7 - they are more acidic then water (acid)
-alkalis have pH values over 7 - they are more alkaline then water (base)
-If a substance has a pH value of 7 - it is neutral, like water, (neither acid nor base)

The difference between one pH, is one unit of measure, and represents tenfold, or ten times the change.
Each whole number below 7 is ten times more acidic then the next higher number. (6.0 to 7.0 for example) Each whole number above is ten times more alkaline.

The segments between each whole value are divided into increments of 10ths. Not increments of one. Similar to the way a ruler has both inches, and 16ths of inches divisions between each inch marker ( 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 …)

For example, a cleanser with a pH of 6 is ten times more alkaline than a cleanser with a pH of 5.
A cleanser with a pH of 7 is 100 times more alkaline then one of 5.
Skin pH is 4.5 to 5.5, which is a recommended cleanser range, for best skin health.

Because of this, only a few units of pH can make a big difference in how a product or your skin reacts.
(A pH scale tells you if a product is more acid or alkaline/base. 7 is neutral - it is equally acid and base. Any number less then 7 is acidic, any number higher then 7 is alkaline)


pH Examples

Some pH examples:

pH 1 battery acid - (acid extreme)
pH 1.5 -2 = Gastric (stomach) acid
pH 2.5 = Cola soft drinks
pH 2 = lemon juice
pH 3 = vinegar
ph = 3.5 Orange Juice
pH 4.6-5.5 = healthy skin
pH 5.5 = rain, (pure water, when exposed to the atmosphere, will take in carbon dioxide, changing its pH)
pH 6.5 = milk
pH 6.5 – 7.4 = Healthy Saliva
pH 7 = pure distilled water - (this is Neutral pH, neither acid or base)[/color]
pH 7.35 – 7.45 = human blood
pH 8.5 = baking soda
pH 9 = Sea Water
pH 9.0-10.0 = Hand Soap, detergents
pH 10.5 = Milk of Magnesia
pH 11.5 = household ammonia
pH 12.5 = household bleach
pH 13 = lye (sodium hydroxide, or Draino)(Alkaline or Base extreme)

Skin, and the Acid Mantle

Newborn baby skin has a pH of 7. (it is neutral)
Within a few months it adjusts to a more "normal" pH of 4.5 to 5.5. This allows their skin to be more resistive to bacterium.

Adult skin is normally slightly acidic, a range of 4.5 to 5.5. Different body areas can differ some in pH, and disease and acid mantle damage can alter pH.
But the preferred range for facial skin pH is 4.5 to 5.5.

Those with skin disease, skin problems, and stressed skin usually have a skin pH over 6.0.
Aged, stressed and damaged skin have more difficulty maintaining a “correct” pH.

As skin pH raises closer to pH 7.0 it becomes less able to function optimally and to kill bacterium. This allows acne causing bacterium to multiply rapidly on the skin surface. Acne bacteria are found on everyone’s skin, even if you never have a pimple in your life. If you are acne prone, the number of bacterium is greater on your skin. So you have more breakouts. Many things contribute to acne, and can be changed to adjust it.

The damaged skin is unable to "manage" the excess bacteria, and they multiply rapidly. Bacterium growth is very slow at pH of 5.5 or less- but a slight shift upward/higher, toward the alkaline levels, causes a marked increase in the reproduction and lifespan of acne causing bacteria.

So if your skin is at a higher pH (anything over 6, as damaged skin often is) the acne causing bacteria can multiply much easier and faster. Often faster then your skin can handle. That is a separate post though. Just remember skin pH is one main contributor to acne.

Skin pH also has an effect on how irritable skin is, how well it ages, and how it deals with product and environmental stress. This is why it is recommended you cleanse skin with mild, non-irritating products, as close to the skins natural pH as possible. (5.5)
Many commercial cleansers are very alkaline, which also changes the skins pH to alkaline levels on the skin surface, for a short time. Many alkaline cleansers are in the same pH range as baking soda, and some are as high as ammonia. This is very harsh on the skin, and can lead to increased irritation, acne, moisture loss, skin aging etc. This allows the bacterium to have a party. Smile With the damage to the acid mantle, the bacterium growth continues unchecked.

As pimples erupt, the skin is less able to heal the zits, or the damage they leave behind. Oil flow increases to try and help balance the barrier, dryness, flakiness, rashes, sensitivity and irritation can also become a problem.
All are related to skin that is very stressed, and unhealthy, and cannot balance itself.

If a product has a high pH and a larger percentage of a strong irritant detergent ingredient cleanser like sodium lauryl sulfate, or irritant ingredient like peppermint oil or menthol, because of the pH destructive activity on the acid mantle, the detergent can contribute to even more damage then it would if the product pH was closer to 5.5.
It literally takes a split second for an alkaline product to degrade the skin barrier enough for an irritant or damaging detergent to penetrate. Some people can handle this better then others, but long term daily use on the skin can contribute to long term issues on all skin types. As skin ages, or the barrier function degrades, it has more difficultly dealing with this type of stress.

Even after 20 min or so, when the skin re-adjusts to its more normal pH (4.5 to 5.5) - it is already damaged, irritated and stressed.
The damage recovery involves longer term healing. 14 to 17 days for acid mantle repair.

This continued long-term damage, stress, and mild irritation, can prevent the skin from maintaining its best pH level of 4.5 to 5.5. With time, and increased damage, it may tend to stay at the 6 range or higher.

As skin become healthier, its pH values lower, and acne growth also lowers. Oil production, dryness, etc all become more "normal" and regulated.

Listing of pH of many common cleansers:
http://www.dianayvonne.com/category/11.thephofcommoncleanser

A few examples from above link:

Burt’s Bees Tomato, Carrot, and Lettuce soaps 10
Dial Soap (liquid and bar) 9.5
Dove Bar, Baby Dove Bar 7
Johnson & Johnson Head to Toe Baby Wash 6.5-7.0
Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar Original Formula 8.7-9.2
Paula’s Choice (all formulations) 5.5

A product may include the term “pH Balanced” on the label. This ONLY means it has a pH of 7.0 or neutral, it is “balanced” between 0-14. Not that is has a pH the skin likes of 5.5. The term has no legal definition. So can be used to mean anything from 5.5 to 7.0.

Some products are a good pH, but high in irritants. Which is better then high pH and high irritants, but not great either.

A good cleanser cleans the skin without stripping it, and without breaking down the acid mantle, or adding irritants to the skin. It is mild with a 5.5 or lower pH.

-------------------------------------------------------


Exfoliating Power of AHAs and BHAs

The acids commonly used in skin care treatment products are all pH dependant. (AHAs, BHAs,TCA) The lower the pH, the more effective the acid is on the skin. It will work better, penetrate better and deeper, with a more concentrated effect. It can also me more irritating because it is more “powerful”

When an acid product is formulated with a pH below 2.0, all of its acid percentage is essentially “free” – or available to work effectively on the skin.

For example:
A 20% lactic acid product at a pH of 1.9 has 20% of the lactic acid “free” or available to work on your skin. This is refereed to as the “Free Acid Value” or FAV. (The FAV is the percentage of acid that is free to actually do something or its true strength)

As the pH raises closer to 7.0, less acid is free (less strength) and the acid effectiveness is weakened.

So for a true understanding of the strength of your acid product – you need to know the acid percentage in the product, and the pH.

AHAs (Glycolic, Lactic, malic, citric, and tartaric are the most common) are basically ineffective over 4.0 pH, to exfoliate the skin the skin, the pH must be below 4 pH. Product percentage must be over 5%. (5% to 8% with a pH of 3- 4 is the minimum level for a daily use AHA, this will not treat scars or rebuild collagen) It should be second or third on the ingredient list to be at least 5%. It can moisturize the skin at any pH, and any level.

Glycolic and Lactic are the most researched, and penetrate the skin the easiest.

BHAs (salicylic acid) are also basically ineffective over 4.0 pH; to exfoliate the skin, and unclog pores, the pH must be below 4 pH. Product percentage must be over 1%. (1% to 2% with a pH of 3- 4 is the minimum level for a daily use BHA (skin with very clogged pores may need higher 5% and lower pH)

BHA though penetrating deeper is actually milder then AHA, because it is also has anti-inflammatory effects. It can be toward the middle or end of an ingredient list, because amounts needed are less.

A pH test strip or litmus strip will give you the pH. (buy some made with a lower pH range, not all strips go from 1 – 14) Strips will not be as accurate as a true electronic pH gage, but for home use it will be close enough.

Here is the link to Diana's page on FAV and skin remodeling results:
http://dianayvonne.zoovy.com/category/16.aboutpeels

This shows two charts.

The first chart covers the FAV available, and the amount of acid percent needed for specific skin effects. (Exfoliation, collagen rebuilding, skin lightening etc)

For example: a 10% (free acid value) glycolic acid (AHA) gives "Significant increase in squamous cell turnover.
Moderate increase in collagen deposition." (a 10% amount of AHA acid working on the skin, removed damaged cells, and rebuilds skin collagen or firmness)


The second chart clarifies how the pH affects the amount of acid available for the skin to use – or the FAV

For example, the three 20% entries:

20% AHA at a pH of 2.55 has a free acid value (FAV) of 18.6%. (its only REALLY an 18.6% product in effectiveness, because of the pH)

20% at pH 3.4 drops to 14.6% FAV.
(its only REALLY a 14.6% product in effectiveness, because of the pH)

20% at pH 4.3 drops to 4.8% FAV.
(its only REALLY a 4.8% product in effectiveness, because of the pH)

When a 20% AHA product has a pH over 3 it has lost approximately 25% of it exfoliation activity. Once pH reaches 4 pH, it loses 75% of it exfoliation activity. (as many commercial products are formulated, so basically poorly effective)

BHAs are effective at slightly different ranges, so the FAV scale differs a bit, but the principle is similar.

Skin Biology Exfol serum 2% BHA with a 3.2 pH and Paula’s Choice 2% BHA with a 3.4 pH are very similar products, and strengths. Professional Solutions 2% BHA has a pH of 1.9% so is actually much more active on the skin then either Exfol or Paula’s Choice, even at the same acid percentage.

------------------------------------------

Layering Products and Wait Times

pH effects the acid you use and how it works. Another consideration is not to disturb an acid while it is on your skin, which can alter pH and effect it action on the skin.

Generally speaking an acid is effective for approximately 20 to 30 minutes on the skin surface, after that point the skin pH has risen enough to lessen the exfoliation action on the skin. The acid is effectively neutralized. During this 30 minute time frame, the acid is working at effective strong levels. Anything applied after 30 minutes will not hamper the effect of your acid, as the pH has already changed, and the acid action has slowed a lot.

Acids that are a high percentage such as 30 % and 40% and above are more concentrated. Therefore their activity can continue for longer, so their action should be stopped at appropriate time with the use of a base rinse (baking soda and water) or a mild detergent cleanser. This will effectively halt the exfoliation action, by raising the skin pH.

For the same reason, washing the skin with a highly alkaline product over 5.5, can slow or lessen the effect of your acid. Because the acid must now deal with the high pH level on the skin, And by default low pH applied to high pH creates a high pH, not a low one.
The bigger the range difference, the more this will effect your acid action.
This is especially true in the case of low pH acids at 2.0 pH or less. So if you use a high pH cleanser, you should wait 30 minutes before using a pH dependant product, to allow the skin to regulate its pH down o about 5.5. Or adjust the pH of the skin down first with an acidic product.

Most astringents and toners used for this purpose also contain high levels of irritants such at Alcohols, Witch Hazel, Menthols, Mint oils, etc. These are not the best choices for the skin as they can over strip and degrade the skin barrier. This can also cause an increase in oiliness and acne. If you want to use a toner to adjust pH to lower levels, either use a liquid acid like Paula’s Choice BHA or AHA liquid first. Or a very dilute mixture of Apple Cidar Vinegar and distilled water. You could also use Paula’s Choice toner which is alcohol free and at a 5.5 pH. But it has added moisturizers, which might effect the acid products penetration action.

Even dilute vinegar can be very irritating and drying to the skin. So use you best judgment, and use ratios of 1/3 ACV to 2/3 water or 50/50 mix. Depending on your skin needs and sensitivity. Back off if skin becomes irritated, flaky, over dry or over oily.

I personally just prefer to go with a very mild, detergent free 5.5 pH cleanser, and then I don’t need to wait or be concerned with the irritation issues. But that’s a personal preference. ( I personally like the Geographx Foaming Tea Tree Gel Wash, or Azulene Gel Wash, both at 5.5 pH, detergent free, mild http://www.geografx-cosmetics.com )

If you use a BHA product with 3.2 pH. Then immediately apply a treatment product on top, with 6.5 pH, the exfoliation action of your BHA is reduced by 75%. So applying a higher pH to your pH dependant acid will neutralize it sooner, or stop its action at th point you added the higher pH product.

Other Products are also pH dependant, and can be affected. Solution of L-Ascorbic Acid forms of Vitamin C are pH dependant. For good stability and effective action, a good Ascorbic acid product is about 2.0 pH. Since Vitamin C absorbs faster into the skin, you can generally have a shorter wait of about 10 to 15 minutes. Because of its fast absorption, it is not generally used as an exfoliate.(Assuming you want to use it as a treatment activity, not simply for its anti-oxidant effects)
To work as an anti-oxidant, it is not pH dependant.

Not all Vit C serums are low pH. Those made with Vit C blends, or other forms of Vit C have a higher pH, so less issues. (will cover that in detail in Vit C post)

Some Good General Rules:

This is Product rules info from DebNir, who used to post on the Diana Yvonne Board, the original post is now gone.

1. Use a mild non irritant, low detergent or detergent free cleanse with a 5.5 pH or lower.

2. If you cleanser pH is higher then 5.5, wait 15 to 30 minutes after cleansing to use a low pH acid, for best exfoliation action. (AHA or BHA)

3. Acids should be applied to freshly cleansed skin, free of all other product for best results.

4. Both acid percentage and product pH must be used to factor total effective acid amounts. (FAV)

5. If using AHA and BHA together, always apply AHA first (after cleansing) – unless the BHA solution is a 1.9 level (equal to or lower then your AHA %) In which case apply the BHA first, because it penetrates skin oils better, and will enhance the AHA effectiveness.

6. Acids can be used in many different ways – which affect wait times.

a) If a 2% or 5% BHA product is used, and rinsed off. Wait until it is rinsed off to proceed (this is a wash off, or rinse off product, less effective then a leave on product)

b) If a 2% or 5% BHA product is applied and left on the skin, but not AHA product is following, wait 30 minutes before applying next product. (the 30 minute time frame allows the BHA to work at its most effective, and exfoliate at optimal levels. This is the recommended option for best exfoliation results)

c) If a 2% or 5% BHA is applied and left on the skin before a rinse off AHA, you do not need wait to apply the AHA – IF the pH of both products is similar and compatible. If you rinse the AHA off after 5 minutes of application (over the BHA) you have also stopped the BHA action at 5 minutes. Both should have a lower effective pH. If the AHA has a higher pH, it will also raise the pH of the BHA, effecting its action also.

d) If a 2% or 5% BHA is being left on the skin, before a leave on AHA, you don’t need to wait to apply the AHA. Apply BHA, Then AHA, then wait a total of 30 minutes with both products layered, then proceed to next product application. (assuming both acids have the lower pH)

e) Do not apply a higher pH BHA before a lower pH AHA. The higher pH product will hinder the lower pH product. Wait 30 minutes between both acids, applying the lowest pH first. Wait 30 minutes “working” time for each product.

f) If using a higher BHA after a lower AHA product, apply lower pH AHA first. Wait 30 minutes for it to work. Then apply higher pH BHA on top (no rinse needed), and wait 30 minutes for the BHA to work. Then apply other activities, no rinse off needed.

g) If you need to rinse products off sooner then 30 minutes to shorten activity and lessen irritation, you can rinse with water, before proceeding to the next step.
(If using a high strength AHA or BHA, at strong “professional” peel level strength, you will neutralize product with baking soda and water, and rinse off before proceeding to your next step)

h) Apply low pH before high pH.

If you are using a lower pH BHA over another higher pH product to act as a penetration enhancer, then it can be applied over the lower pH product. Just remember you loose the BHA exfoliation effect.

Other Activities:

This is Product layering info from DebNir, who used to post on the Diana Yvonne Board, and is familuar with the product by that company.

Retinols, Retinoids, Vitamin A products:
These products are often pH dependant, and can work as a mild exfoliate type product. Apply to clean dry skin, once to twice a day, Wait 15 to 30 minutes before adding other activates.

DCX:
This is an eye treatment product with soy. It is not an exfoliate. Should be applied to clean skin, once or twice a day. Apply after acids and cleansers, before copper and other treatments. Wait time of 10 minutes to allow it to absorb. Then apply other products.

DMAE:
No ph Limits, can be used after acids and cleansing. Formulation type can dictate placement. Liquids, gels and serums can be applied before CP serums, lotions and creams. Lotion and cream DMAE should be applied after CP serums and creams. Wait time of 10 minutes to allow product to absorb.

Product Application by type

This is a rough guide for product application, based on type/absorbency. This is for products that are not pH dependant, nor limited by activity type. The thickness of a product, dictates its placement. You cannot apply a think product (like a liquid) over a thick product (like a cream) and expect it to absorb well. The cream can be a barrier to the thinner product.

-Cleanser (may need to wait before exfoliate, if pH is a concern)
(optional pH adjusting product could be used here, after cleansing) before acid)
-Exfoliate (usually requires a wait time)
-Toner (Liquid water like products, such as toner/treatment solutions, liquid DMAE)
-Serum (Copper Serum, treatment Serums, DMAE thicker products)
-Gel (DMAE, deffrin)
-Oils (Emu, Jojoba, Almond, etc)
-Creams
-Sunscreen
-Foundations



This info is compiled from a number of web and printed sources. Some info came directly from some old posts I had saved, authored by DebNIR from the Diana Yvonne Skincare board. Some of those posts are now gone. One post is here. I think you need to be a member to view it. You may find some of her others there still.

http://www.theskincareboard.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1266&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=&sid=c3c5f36220378df62a07778c1bc98199

It is in this area:
The SkinCare Board Forum Index -> Cleansers -> Help Deb - Looking for post which explains pH...





I will do one on Vitamin C tomarrow for those who asked.
Ninetynine
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Sat Dec 02, 2006 9:54 pm      Reply with quote
Tangal, thanks for compiling this.

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Sat Dec 02, 2006 10:20 pm      Reply with quote
Thanks so much--that was remarkably well put together
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Sat Dec 02, 2006 10:44 pm      Reply with quote
thank you, tangal -
FAB-u-lous informaton!
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Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:05 pm      Reply with quote
Thanks. That was very useful information. -Melissa
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Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:11 pm      Reply with quote
Thank ! Tangal
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Sun Dec 03, 2006 5:54 am      Reply with quote
Wow! Thanks, Tangal, for doing this! I feel like I've just attended a very informative class. I even took notes Very Happy

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Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:05 am      Reply with quote
Tangal, thanks so much for posting this. I wonder if we can get Mabsy to make it a sticky so that it stays near the top? This is an EXCELLENT resource for everyone.

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Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:08 am      Reply with quote
I've printed it off for better absorption Smile It would be a good addition to the FAQ which no-one reads.
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Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:11 am      Reply with quote
Molly wrote:
I've printed it off for better absorption Smile It would be a good addition to the FAQ which no-one reads.
yeah, i have to be included in "no one"...but having this tome in the FAQ would make it easy to call up when I (invariably) need to refer back to it.

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Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:23 am      Reply with quote
Thank you, Tangal, for taking your time to put all this info together. Smile
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Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:09 am      Reply with quote
OMG! That is brilliant information. Thank you so much for providing us with it. Could I just check that I've got the order right?

It would go:

Retinol
DMAE
Camellia oil

Is that OK?

Could I also ask - what happens if a product you use has many constituents, like Chrysalix for example, which has (I think) Vit A in it plus a whole load of antioxidants, and is a light weight cream? Would you put it over or under DMAE?

Thanks so much again
Diane
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Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:31 am      Reply with quote
Priscilla wrote:
Tangal, thanks so much for posting this. I wonder if we can get Mabsy to make it a sticky so that it stays near the top? This is an EXCELLENT resource for everyone.


wave I second that! This is fab!!! It TOTALLY should be a sticky!!!

I'm going to change the order of my products...I've been doing it all wrong!!!

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Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:38 am      Reply with quote
Fabulous info.

Tangal, thanks so much for taking the time and posting this invaluable info.

Lucy.

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Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:49 am      Reply with quote
Didi-

What form is your DMAE? Liquid, gel or cream?

If it’s a liquid or gel or serum, and your Retinol is a lotion or cream, then the DMAE is probably not absorbing well through your Retinol product. You may need to apply them at different times, or lightly wipe Retinol off before using your DMAE.

Chrysalix would depend of the form and pH. Many products contain vit A, but only in small amounts or a higher pH. So they only work as an antioxidant – NOT as a skin treatment. Vit A can be both, but depends of formulation, percentage, and pH. If you have that info it can help. A weblink to the product may help.

If the pH is to high, and Vit A levels to low – then treat it as a standard moisterizing lotion, that has added antioxidants. So it goes after your Retinol, and DMAE.
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Sun Dec 03, 2006 12:25 pm      Reply with quote
Thanks, Tangal. Think I'll use Retinol and DMAE at different times, and I can use the Chrysalix after both of them. You rock!
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Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:39 pm      Reply with quote
Have printed this out and will now eagerly go and read it with a cup of hot chocolate! Thanks again for such an amazing document Tangal!

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Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:26 pm      Reply with quote
Thank you so much Tangal! Your willingness to explain this type of complicated stuff to those of us like me who are clueless is only one of the many reasons why you ROCK! Very Happy
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Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:32 pm      Reply with quote
nice post Tangal! I look forward to your Vit C post!!

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Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:07 am      Reply with quote
You are the BOMB for posting all this! Thanks! This thread is very valuable and I will refer to it often!

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Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:11 am      Reply with quote
Tangal, I have a few questions, maybe you can answer them:

1. If we use water to remove pH-balanced cleanser, the final pH of the skin equal the pH of the water, not the cleanser. So, it's 7, and we still need some waiting time or pH-balanced toner before applying acids. Am I right?

2. The alkaline products damage the skin acid mantle. So, if we use DMAE every day, in a long run, we damage the skin. Or the damage is made only if the last applied product is alkaline?

I hope, It makes sense.
Thank you.
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Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:55 am      Reply with quote
Quote:
1. If we use water to remove pH-balanced cleanser, the final pH of the skin equal the pH of the water, not the cleanser. So, it's 7, and we still need some waiting time or pH-balanced toner before applying acids. Am I right?

2. The alkaline products damage the skin acid mantle. So, if we use DMAE every day, in a long run, we damage the skin. Or the damage is made only if the last applied product is alkaline?


Sorry, I will try to be clear, sort of hard to explain.

No the cleanser is the final pH issue – not the water.

Water is neutral, it is nether acid or base – it does not have the ability to “change” the pH of anything on its own - it changes based on what is added to it. (assuming we are avoiding dilution issues)

When you create a product, you use distilled water as a base, because it is neutral and can go either direction easily. Think of it as Vanilla Ice Cream. It is plan standard vanilla, ready for you to “add stuff” to make the flavor you want.. or a plain canvas.

Water does not strip the acid mantle, nor damage the proteins and oils that make it up. (assuming we are not useing altered or very hot very cold water- which by it temperature and additives can have a negative effect)

So the acid mantle stays essentially intact with water washing or rinsing. Even though water will change the skin pH for a short time, it has no irritants, detergents, or acids or alkaline issue that are also degrading the skin barrier at the same time. So though the pH is altered on the skin – the acid mantle is not negatively effected. So bacterium growth is not drastically altered, because the acid mantle is relatively intact.

(There is a debate on negative association with water only washing though, related to increased Rosacea disease processes, so this is not the best wash method necessarily – but for those details it should be addressed separately to minimize confusion here. Wink )

The acid mantle is “weaker” when wet, and more easily disrupted, much like hair is weaker when wet. (this is part of the whole – “are moisturizer lotions good or bad debate” – as they leave skin wet all the time, so weaken all the time)
While the skin is wet, all products do penetrate easier then they do on dry skin.

This is why if you apply Retin A to wet skin, it irritates you more then if applyed to dry skin.

But water itself is not “harming anything”, assuming your water is relatively healthy. There is really nothing in it to damage the skin. (debates about tap water, and chlorine an such are separate speculation at this point, and I am not really referring too that at this moment) The skin easily readjusts its pH back to normal in about 20 minutes, with no damage.
The pH flux is okay.

So if its just water, the pH issue is fine. The skin can handle limited pH adjustments on its own with no problem, assuming it is healthy. Of course stressed skin is another matter, in which case mild products with lower pH is recommended when possible. Because stressed and unhealthy skin has pH issues anyway, and can't adjust so well.

A cleanser has added extra problems though – it has detergents and additives that help it maintain its pH. So it is a “more concintrated” alkiline for lack of a better term. It will not shift easily from water rinsing alone. If it is between 5.5 and 7.0 it is close to neutral, which is good from the skin standpoint. (which likes the 5.5 range)

But the added detergents and irritants (if they are in there, as in 95% of all cleansers) have more access to the skin surface when it is wet. If the cleanser has a pH of 5.5 the acid mantle is not affected dramatically by the pH, but wetness will weaken it more.
A detergent by its natural removes or strips oils from the skin surface, this will also breakdown the acid mantle which is oil based. This then allows entrance of other substances, irritants, detergents and such to the skin. So it’s the detergents, ingredients and ph. That are the issue. (Assuming we are dealing with a lower ph below 7.0)

When you add ANY acid or alkaline to water – you change the water to be more acid or base. The higher the concentration of acid/base the more water is effected. Think of adding chocolate syrup to vanilla. Just a little changes the flavor and color of the vanilla – though it still tastes vanilla. A chemical analysis will show it is now vanilla WITH added chocolate. Most people may not notice the flavor change – but if you hate chocolate – even a drop will be noticeable to you. LOL.

Add a lot of chocolate syrup (or a very high pH) and now though it is still vanilla, you can definitely tell it is now much more chocolaty. If you hate chocolate, you will not tolerate this ice cream at all. (pity you though)

The higher the pH of your cleanser the worse the issue is, because it alters the wet weakened skin barrier more dramatically, and faster, and the type of detergent can determine how deep, faster, and dramatically the skin is disrupted. The more “stripping” the product is, the less acid mantle is left to help “protect” the skin, or recover, so then more damage will occur.

The pH alone (assuming we are staying at 7.0 and below) would not be the issue, if it was not also combined with irritants and detergents, and other “bad” ingredients etc that degrade the acid mantle at the same time. (Unless the pH is much higher anyway, like 9 pH and above) Because the acid mantel is also removed, the skin protection is dramatically cut. Skin sensitivity and issues increase.

DMAE is normally not damaging to the skin barrier. It can be irritating or drying if percentage is to high for your skin type. This is true of most active ingrediants. But it does not degrade or damage the skin barrier. So unless you are using a level that it to irritating for you – it is not degrading the skin barrier. So the pH is a short term issue, after 20 min it stabilizes, and the skin and barrier are not damaged.

With a cleanser – because it also strips and degreases the skin, which also means it strips the acid mantle, the skin is exposed to irritants, and must deal with that exposure and damage caused, AND rebuild the acid mantle, and heal the skin. So it has NO protection after the detergent is applied. Then ANY other product used will damage it even more until the acid mantle is repaired. (toners, astringents, foundations etc)

The repair can take 14-21 days. So everything applied for the next two weeks, is now effecting the skin more then it normally should.

DMAE does not strip the skin, so the acid mantle is still well able to protect the skin as needed, because its “protective layer” is still intact. Many DMAE products only contain a small amount of DMAE (1-3% is the average, I use one as high at 10%, but those are rare), so the DMAE does not dramatically change the final product pH, and many are pH adjusted to around 2.0 – 6.0 ranges. Which is fine. This is not very alkaline, rather more acidic.

If the pH is left very low or very high, then irritation can be a concern. Possibly some barrier issue at high pH.

(DMAE Bitrate is a powder, no pH. When added to water it is acidic. DMAE Amine form, in distilled water is alkaline at 13 pH. But most formulas pH adjust it down to 6.0-7.0 range to make it better tolerated on the skin.)

Of course the DMAE formulation matters. If it is in an oil base it will be less stressful to the skin, then say an alcohol or witch hazel base. Which can be highly irritating.

So you would want the best least stressful formula available, with minimum irritants. Combining it with an antioxidant is also great, because this sooths the skin, and helps prevent irritation or oxidative damage that could be cause by a low pH formula. I use a DMAE antioxidant product for this reason.

Many treatments can disrupt the acid mantle, that in itself can be okay, depending on their formula. If they are high in irritants and or detergents then they have more issues and potential to cause long term concerns. So irritants and high detergent amounts should be avoided if possible for best skin health.

Of course no everyone agree, so this is also a personal issue. Wink

Retin A can disrupt the acid mantle, but if used correctly, the disruption can be mitigated enough to be less of an issue. And it still does not “strip” the acid mantle away as a detergent will do. Rather it just

Some products can ONLY be formulated in a “irritating” base. Such as Retin A, High Percent acids, etc. But if they are formulated correctly, they have other ingredients that can help mitigate the “damage” and do not include other “extra” irritants that have no skin benefit and cause more damage to the skin barrier in its weaker state.

If used in good formulas then the amount of irritation can be dealt with by the skin, and it heals with much less issue. If you are using the product correctly, then the short term irritation issues are countered by the longterm benefits which include better skin barrier function and health overall.
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Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:58 am      Reply with quote
Is that "clear as mud"?

Sorry, I can't explain it better. This is just the best I could do. Its really more complex, but I tryed to simplify it, which kind of made it "more fuzzy"
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Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:03 am      Reply with quote
Wow Tangal - my compliments to you for doing a yeoman's job and great service to the forum! I just hope I can understand it all. As it is, it seems like the bottom line is waiting between layers of products -- even cleansers. I may have to start getting up earlier!

Darren has recommended that the new PSF DMAE be applied after cleansing and before a C serum, which runs counter to what you've stated. I've noticed since using DMAE these last couple of months that it does seem to be more effective when applied before C. Like jumpingball, I still have questions and wonder how long I should wait before applying l-ascorbic acid serum over DMAE, and whether or not the C will be as effective when layered over something with such a high pH. What do you think???
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Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:06 am      Reply with quote
Thank you, Tangal! It clears things up. I asked about DMAE because Darren in PSF topic mentioned that for DMAE in amine form to be effective, the pH should be at least 10. Smile
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