Have you ever read, “pH balanced” on a product and wondered what it meant? Like every other organ in our body, skin performs its best within a narrow, ideal environment, especially when it comes to pH. But what is a pH level, anyways, and what does it mean? You might remember hearing about it briefly in one of your high school chemistry classes, but it can actually have far reaching consequences for yours and your horse’s skin. For those needing a quick science recap, pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration, or a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The pH scale usually ranges from 0 to 14. Aqueous solutions at 25°C with a pH less than 7 are acidic, while those with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline.
For us, there are many factors at play interfering with the delicate balance of the skin’s acid mantle on a daily basis, both externally and internally. As we age, our skin becomes more acidic in response to our lifestyle and our environment. Everything that comes in contact with our skin (products, smoking, air, water, sun, pollution) can contribute to the breaking down of the acid mantle, disrupting the skin’s ability to protect itself. Our horse's skin acts in a very similar manner.
As the largest organ in both ours and our horse’s bodies, the skin is naturally designed to fight infection and environmental stresses, and its ability to do so is affected by its pH level. Unlike humans, however, horses have much thinner skin than we do, making it quite a bit more sensitive. Your horse’s skin has an average pH of 6.3, thus slightly more acidic than ours, averaging at 5.5pH. If a horse is sweating heavily, the pH-value can increase up to 9, which promotes an environment where harmful bacteria and fungus can grow. Because of this, it is very important to try to bring the pH back to normal as fast and as close to neutral as possible.
Fun Fact: alkaline environment is also the reason why the horses sweat foams up more than human sweat.
From a grooming perspective, this plays a critical role in the care of your horse. As most soaps and some surfactants are not naturally derived, they are highly alkaline, having a pH-value of 9-12, while on the other hand, most human care products list a pH-value of 5.5. Both slightly above or below the natural pH level of a horse’s skin. If you use too many out-of-range-skin care products on your horse, the skin can start to malfunction, as it cannot get back to its natural state. Ironically, it also causes the same thing we’re trying to avoid by keeping the horse “clean.” Using soaps that are out of range causes the coat to become dull, the hair brittle and broken, and even allows unhealthy bacteria and fungi to thrive. Simply put, the more toxins we use, the more toxins are absorbed into the horse’s body, hence weakening the horses immune system. Similarly to the liver, the skin is greatly responsible for the release of toxins from the body.
That’s not to say you should never bathe your horse, but you should, however, be thoughtful of what you’re putting on their skin. That’s why we’ve spent the last 8 months developing the perfect 100% natural equine shampoo. Specially formulated to match the natural pH level of your horse’s skin and made with a natural surfactant and quality ingredients like Keratin and Vitamin B5, our new Green & Clean Concentrated Shampoo is the perfect way to keep your horse happy, healthy, & looking great, without over-drying & dulling their coat. Available for sale on June 29, 2019!