When Your Skin Suffers, There's a Reason

And it probably has to do with your pH.

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Why Should I Worry About pH?

Every day there's a hustle to create some sort of balance in our lives, whether it's finding the right ratio between work and play, or splitting time between reading the latest books by your favorite authors and binge-watching your favorite shows. Well, now it's time to add skin care to that daily checklist.

If you've found yourself dealing with too many acne breakouts, or a dry, flaky complexion, your skin's pH levels could be to blame. "What we know in dermatology is that we should maintain a healthier stratum corneum, that top layer of your skin," says Dr. Erin Gilbert, a New York-based dermatologist and expert for Vichy skin care. "Maintaining a balance of natural bacteria and flora on your skin allows your skin to be its healthiest, and is important for keeping a natural biological shield against the environment."

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The removal of that good bacteria isn't 100 percent your fault, as environmental aggressors like sun and smog tend to contribute to the imbalance. But the products in your current skin-care lineup could be the sneaky culprits as well. "Products that strip and irritate skin can cause cracks in the stratum corneum," Gilbert says. "You'll actually cause more damage [with those products], and as a result there will be inflammation and overgrowth of bacteria that can lead to things like acne and eczema." Yikes.

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How Can I Fix It?

While there isn't a cure-all quick fix to an imbalanced pH, there are some changes you can make that will calm down your complexion issues. One thing to remember, though, is that you shouldn't overcompensate! "[People] go through that drying phase and try to reverse it by putting more products on top of it," Gilbert says. That, sadly, does not work.

Instead of overdoing it with product after product, nurse your skin back to health using these easy tips.

Tip No. 1: Change Your Face Wash

If your face burns after cleansing, that's a problem. Everyone—no matter if they have oily, dry, or normal skin—can benefit from a non-invasive wash. "I recommend people use gentle cleansers," Gilbert says. "A lot of people are getting into oil or balm cleansing and stepping away from soap-based cleansers."

Go-To Gentle Washes:

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Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser by La Roche-Posay, $15, target.com.

C.E.O. C+E Micro-Dissolve Cleansing Oil by Sunday Riley, $38, sephora.com.

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Cleansing Milk by Tammy Fender, $55, shopfollain.com.

Tip No. 2: Prep with Waters

You can tend to your pH throughout the day, or even before makeup application, with a water-based facial spray. "Makeup artists love the Vichy thermal spray because they can spray it on and keep the skin neutral," Gilbert says, which helps makeup look and feel better on your skin. And if you're feeling some tightness at 4 p.m., feel free to give your cheeks and forehead a quick spritz.

Spray the Pain Away With These Waters:

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Facial Spray with Aloe, Herb, and Rosewater by Mario Badescu, $7, ulta.com.

Mineralizing Thermal Water, $14, vichyusa.com.

OxyWater Facial Spray by Task Essential, $18, barneys.com.

Tip No. 3: Stay Hydrated

Sure, you want to keep your water intake at a good level, but you also want to stay attuned to the other hydrating products—creams, serums, and such—that will help keep your complexion protected and moisturized. Vichy's newest product, Mineral 89, is a thermal water-infused post-cleanse that relies on the power of minerals that balance out your skin. "It will give your skin more hydration and will also get the stratum corneum to a healthy place where it can function better against daily aggressors," Gilbert says.

Post-Cleanse Solutions for Your Routine:

Organic Facial Repair Serum by Cocokind, $13, target.com.

Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Moisturizer, $30, vichyusa.com.

Deep Serum, $48, notobotanics.com.

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