Better Beauty Through Chemistry: Unboxing of my digital pH Meter supplies

Unboxing posts are pop inward the blogging world, but today's contents are a footling unlike than what usually gets delivered to my door.

Kimwipes as well as buffer solutions as well as nitrile gloves oh my!
On the twelfth hateful solar daytime of Christmas, my mailman gave to me: Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 gallon of distilled water, 280 Kimwipes, 100 nitrile glooooooooooooves, iv buffering solutions, 100 pH strips, i digital pH meter, as well as a partridge inward a pear tree.  (Technically, the H2O was courtesy of my long-suffering as well as non-judgemental spouse, but you lot acquire the idea.  Also, no aeroplane inward a fruit tree; I'd receive got nowhere to position it.)

In This Post:
  • My pH kit haul
  • Prepping my gadgets
  • Test results
  • Lots of scientific discipline blather nearly Vitamin C, BHA, as well as AHA
  • Whether it's worth going to all this effort

Over the lastly year, my involvement inward beauty products has shifted; I am every bit enamoured of Asian beauty products every bit ever, but straight off I'm highly curious nearly the science of skincare.

If you've been next my blog, you lot may receive got noticed that I receive got started looking deeper into the ingredients of my products, peculiarly those that are considered 'actives' as well as so expected to receive got reliable results, as well as doing a lot of inquiry on the scientific discipline of pare as well as skincare, such every bit my Skincare Discovery: Why the pH of Your Cleanser Matters post, where I acquire granular nearly why pH is so integral to the wellness of your skin.

However, doing science-at-home isn't easy, as well as some of the questions I acquire are how to examination your products effectively at home, which pH strips to use, as well as how to examination the pH of lipids (oils, fats, etc).  The work is, pH testing plant via measurement an aqueous (i.e. water-based) solution. Spoiler alert: you lot can't at-home examination oils, although pH testing oils is a part of fuel manufacturing. That beingness said, unless you lot are planning on refining diesel fuel inward your basement (in which case, I don't desire to know) at-home crude oil testing is off the tabular array alongside electrical flow methods.

One of the easiest as well as cheapest ways to pH examination your products is alongside pH strips, as well as for most products, these locomote great.  I used to receive got the kind that looks similar a ringlet of tape which you lot tear off a slice every bit you lot demand to, as well as and then compare it to a serial of whole number as well as and then guess.  I respect the kind alongside multiple colour references on a unmarried strip is easiest to live accurate with, although you lot soundless receive got to guess.  I don't similar guessing.

pH strip resultant  for my tap water.  Is it pH 7? 7.25? 7.5?  Who knows??  (Spoiler: my H2O is genuinely 7.55)
It's non such a large bargain when it comes to things similar human face upward creams as well as cleansers, where you lot receive got a broad arrive at of acceptable pH goals (see the inward a higher identify Skincare Discovery post link for details) but when you lot are dealing alongside pH-dependent ingredients such every bit acids (LAA, BHA, AHA, PHA, etc) a 0.2 divergence tin brand or pause its part every bit an exfoliant.  At least, that's what my inquiry has Pb me to believe.

Precision is less of an number if you lot receive got something similar an AHA, which is tolerant of a pH of 3-4.5 (above 4.5, you lot are going to lose the efficacy of exfoliation, although you lot may soundless acquire other benefits) so if your pH strip resultant looks similar it's closed to pH 4, you lot should live fine.  Maybe it's genuinely pH 3.75 or 4.25, but 'approximately 4' is within the acceptable range.

When you lot acquire a BHA, however, that arrive at narrows to below 4.2, so 'approximately 4' could potentially live likewise high. LAA (one of the pop Vitamin C serum sources) is fifty-fifty to a greater extent than sensitive, requiring a pH of less than 3.5. [source]

So patch chatting alongside a NMR-based metabolomics inquiry scientist (aka a lady who knows her way about pH testing fluids) as well as learning nearly limitations of pH strips when testing acids, I decided to purchase a digital pH meter at her recommendation.

The kickoff i I bought was a bust, every bit the electrode was embedded within a giant base that had to live immersed inward the liquid until the electrode was covered.  This is fine for dunking into an aquarium, swimming pool, or whatsoever other large trunk of fluid.  Testing a $60 human face upward serum, where every drib is precious?  Uh, no.  I'm non willing to sacrifice a 3rd of a bottle or jolt of a production for testing purposes.

Tiny screwdriver NOT included!
So I went looking for other options as well as decided on this i that has a long probe alongside an electrode inward the tip which I could dip into a narrow container as well as thus usage exclusively a tiny amount of production as well as soundless acquire the degree high plenty to comprehend the electrode.

This meter is a 2 betoken manual calibration, which way that you lot receive got to purchase 2 specific buffering/calibration solutions (pictured at the transcend of this post), i of which is 'neutral' (usually 7.01) as well as i that is either depression (4.01) or high (10.1) for the sec calibration point.

These solutions are tricky/expensive to purchase online, so I had to become onetime schoolhouse as well as telephone telephone about to my local fish render stores.  After a really talking to an increasingly mystified employee there, they ordered me inward the pH solutions I needed, which were less than $2 ea so I had them acquire me a 7.01, 4.01, as well as 10.1.

I am non certain what he persuasion I was upward to, but he finally asked me flat-out what I was using it for, as well as when I explained it was to pH examination my skincare for my blog, he became strangely excited which makes me yell upward that he was either encouraged that girls are nerds too, relieved that I wasn't trying to ready upward some sort of Fight-Club-Soap operation, or that he's only genuinely into pH testing?


At said scientist's recommendation, I also picked upward some Kimwipes and powder-free Nitrile gloves, as well as some distilled H2O for rinsing every bit I test.  Safety first, you lot know!


The meter did non come upward alongside a screwdriver to adapt the Calibration screws at the top, but luckily my married adult man had i inward his stash of electronics breaking as well as tinkering repair stuff.

I had assembled all my gear as well as was excited to start, when I read the instructions (pictured at left) which requires it to live soaked inward pH solution for hours before initial calibration.

Cue extreme disappointment.  Then I realized I had neglected to acquire beakers or examination tubes to create the narrow container I needed, as well as scrambled about inward my kitchen until I institute a wineglass (DON'T JUDGE ME, it was all I had, ok?!) that dipped downwardly into the stalk as well as gave me the narrow-but-deep cast I needed.  Per the instructions, I poured some of the pH 7.01 solution into the drinking glass as well as soaked probe for a few hours.  The calibration instructions, including how to consummate the 2 betoken calibration is below:


I used the 4.01 solution (instead of the 10.01, which I am saving for some other time) as well as institute that it takes a long, long fourth dimension for the readings to stabilize earlier you lot adapt them.  I recommend making yourself a coffee, watching something on youtube, or walking your dog.  It's going to live a while.

Once I had it calibrated, I went crazy testing my pH subject products.  Vitamin C serum non tested or pictured because I am out.  What fascinated me nearly this examination was that the digital results were genuinely lower than what my pH strip estimates were, which was a expert thing.

After each test, I thoroughly rinsed the probe, dried it alongside Kimwipes, as well as stored/reset it inward the 4.01 buffer solution patch I cleaned as well as dried my other wineglass betwixt products.  I did non adapt the calibration each fourth dimension I returned it to the 4.01, every bit I presumed I was contaminating the pH each fourth dimension I double-dipped the electrode dorsum into it, but it exclusively went upward to 4.07 past times the terminate so I'm confident that at most it was reading my products closed to 0.06 higher than they genuinely are.

Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean toner result: 4.30


This was interesting, because I had previously pH strip estimated a 4.25-4.5 range, so I was relieved to come across that my gauge was accurate.  As I mentioned above, that's depression plenty for AHA but likewise high for BHA.  Either way, the concentration inward this toner is likewise depression for usage every bit a deliberate chemic exfoliation, but that's non what it's used for.  It's dandy every bit a pH adjuster for the skin; when using pH subject products your pare needs to live at a natural/low pH earlier use, so you lot tin either allow your pare self-adjust afterward cleansing past times waiting fifteen minutes, or you lot tin forcefulness the pH downwardly alongside a production if you lot are rushed/live inward a dry out climate.  This toner is first-class at the latter. That's how I usage it, every bit good every bit cleaning off the post-acid-exfoliation sludge of dissolved dead pare as well as sebum earlier applying the remainder of my products.


Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid results: 3.37


My master copy pH strip gauge was 3.5ish, which was fine for a BHA but I am pleased to come across that this landed betwixt 3-3.5 which is correct inward the 'butter zone' for BHA.  If you lot usage BHA as well as AHA inward the same routine, your BHA volition live kickoff for 2 reasons: 1. it has a lower pH dependency than AHA, as well as 2. BHA is oil-soluble so it tin acquire down-n-dirty into your sebum-choked pores as well as exercise its battles there. This clears the way for AHA, which is non crude oil soluble as well as thus would otherwise receive got its efficacy reduced.

Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum result: 3.89


My pH strip estimation for this i was 4, so soundless closed but I'm relieved to come across it's inward the 3.5-4 range.   However, since it is over 3.5, I don't layer it over my BHA to avoid disrupting the pH zone it's working inward (which is best below 3.5) as well as hold back twenty min afterward BHA earlier applying my AHA serum.  I as well as then hold back some other twenty min to allow the AHA exercise its thing, as well as and then acquit on alongside the remainder of my products.

In Conclusion:

Will I pause this out to examination every novel product?  Honestly no, because it's a hurting inward the donkey as well as requires recalibration each fourth dimension you lot convey it out of storage; it's stored alongside solution inward the cap (pictured inward the prototype alongside the screwdriver) to continue the probe from drying off, but it soundless needs to live rechecked for accuracy (and adjusted if demand be) earlier use.  That way keeping plenty of the buffering solution on mitt every bit well.  

The results showed me that my pH strips + eyeball estimates are closed plenty for non-pH subject products similar serums, essences, cleansers, etc.  So for 80% of my products, the strips are fine.

However, if I am testing pH subject products that receive got specific pH requirements, I volition definitely pause out this kit as well as acquire all Mad Scientist inward my kitchen.


All the best,
-Cat
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