We are in the era of self-acceptance and that includes the state of our skin. As we grow more confident in understanding that everyone has good and bad skin days, we’re more inclined to stop hiding out when we’re breaking out, flaking out or having a flare up. But how can you tell when it’s not just a minor issue and you might need a little TLC or intervention? Here, top skin experts share how to tell when your skin is at its most healthy and when you could use a hand or a change in routine.
For New York dermatologist Michelle Green, MD, healthy skin is measured by its look and pH level. “Skin pH is simply the acidity or alkalinity of the skin,” she notes. “PH balance is measured from one to 14. One–six measures the acidity of the skin, one being the lowest. The alkalinity is measured from seven–nine, seven being the lowest. Healthy skin typically has a pH level which ranges between four and six.”
Dr. Green says that in order to maintain a healthy skin barrier, the pH of the skin should be slightly acidic. “The acidity of the skin’s pH aids in the retention of hydration in addition to preventing oxidative stress. To maintain the acidity of the skin you should always use non-alkaline products. Products which are too alkaline depletes the skin of its natural oils and can make the skin dry.”
You can’t turn back the hands of time and undo the sun damage of your youth, but Melville, NY dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, MD says the more that is visible can contribute to an older look, which can be treated and minimized. “Whether it’s age spots, premature wrinkles, early crepiness or broken blood vessels, we can assess it and take a look using a UV light photo to observe with more sensitivity the degree of underlying photo damage,” she explains. “Another marker for skin health is hydration, how well the skin is hydrated and the ‘plumpness.’ Dehydrated skin can be flaky, thinner/crepey looking, and can be a sign of overall dehydration or perhaps a skin regimen that needs help.”
Birmingham, AL dermatologist Corey Hartman, MD says if your skin is red, inflamed, painful, scaly, itchy, or has cracks, a qualified skin care expert can help. “If your skin texture is not smooth and has breaks, and you can’t get control of the problem with over-the-counter products in two to three weeks, then it’s probably time to seek the professional assistance of a board-certified dermatologist.”
“In my opinion, healthy skin is measured by its oil and water content, pH and skin barrier,” explains Dr. Hartman. “Skin that is balanced in these parameters is generally even, clear and free of inflammation.”
So, how do we make sure we get there? Dr. Green says to reach optimum health, you want your skin to feel comfortable with or without products applied. “Drinking two to three liters of water a day will ensure that your skin is getting the hydration that it needs to stay healthy. Actively wear a sunscreen every day to shield yourself UV radiation, even if it isn’t sunny out, and regularly exfoliate to shed the top layer of dead cells from skin to keep it refreshed.”