Luminance Skincare and the Beauty of pH Balance

Listen carefully; this is a major beauty breakthrough announcement. I think I’ve found the missing piece in my beauty routine: attention to my skin’s pH balance.

pH is the measure of acidity and basicity, and—as I’ve since learned—adult skin likes to be right around a 6.4 (on a scale of zero to 14, going from acidic to basic). I’ve long used a natural soap for facial cleanser, and soap often has a pH of around 8. The tap water in California, where I live, is even higher, between 9.8 and 10.2. That tight, squeaky clean feeling my skin has after washing my face or showering was a sign that the high pH was drying it out. The subsequent overuse of moisturizer, which, in turn, doesn’t absorb properly into the skin, makes the problem worse.

Enter Luminance Skincare. I recently had the pleasure of trying the Benicia, Calif.-based company’s power trio of products: the Delicate Face Cleanser, Rosewater Toner, and Hydration Face Moisturizer. After a few weeks of using them and experiencing amazing results (dewy, soft, non-greasy and never dry skin; a noticeable glow; clear and even tone), I caught up with the founder, Kim Emanuel, to ask why his products work the way they do.

“What it really comes down to is that skin is all about pH,” say Emanuel. “The skin is, to start, an organ. It’s a sensory organ, the deep skin senses the pH of the surface skin and that feedback mechanism is one of the ways your skin replenishes itself, controls how the skin cells are made, how they migrate and propagate. What it’s all about for everything—our whole bodies—is a balance between acid and base.”

All Luminance products are organic, vegan, and completely free of toxins and synthetic ingredients. But being eco-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean a good pH, Emanuel explains. With conventional products, you put up with harsh, unnatural ingredients, but the precision of corporate large-batch operations means a decent pH. With healthier, natural products, it’s harder to control. But Emanuel has got it down. A former electrical engineer in Silicon Valley, Emanuel started Luminance when his wife developed serious allergies to all synthetic ingredients, basing all of his recipes and products on available science.

On top of their efficacy, Luminance products stand apart from many eco beauty counterparts because of their specific and sometimes unusual instructions. The cleanser, for instance, is shaken, lathered, and massaged into the skin with the fingertips, then followed by one good splash of water to the face. This goes against the instinct to rinse thoroughly.

“Our cleanser, that’s the one everyone is always curious about—we make it by hand, made with several very beneficial oils,” says Emanuel. “The pH is around 8 with liquid soap, that makes it dry our skin and feel tight. So we float several oils and herbals that lower the pH. You’re cleansing with something that matches the balance of your skin; it deeply cleanses because nothing cleans like soap. Because the pH is balanced, it’s not harmful. You want to rinse lightly, leave it slippery clean. The soap goes away very quickly, but you want all the oils to stay on your skin.”

But even with this method, tap water is the last thing to touch the face. So then comes a spritz of the pH-lowering toner.

Contrary to what some believe, he says to, when it comes to toners, “make sure you have one that has no astringent and no alcohol.”

“If you expose your skin to that, it tightens your skin, closes your pores and doesn’t make your moisturizer go in as deeply and nicely,” he says. “A toner is simply to adjust the pH balance.” As for the moisturizer, he recommends applying it when the skin is still damp with toner to avoid applying too much and suffocating the skin. (It is, after all, an organ. It needs oxygen.)

From there, some people might need a serum or mask, but Emanuel stands by these three products as the basis of healthy skin. And I believe him.

Find out more at The company is offering 20 percent off to readers of The Penny Rose. Simply enter the code PENNY during checkout.

And if you have any questions for Luminance, leave them in the comment section below and they will answer.