Our skin is the biggest incredible organ – it regulates body temperature, protects our immune system and keeps the condition of our nerves, tissues and other organs in check. It’s the skin’s acid-mantle that’s responsible many of its super powers.
So, what is Acid-Mantle?
The acid-mantle is the top layer of our skin and it is the first line of defence for our skin's protective barrier. Made of our natural oils, it helps protect our skin from invaders like bacteria , pollutants and even viruses - practically any microorganisms that could cause our skin harm, keeping our skin soft and supple.
So, what exactly does the acid-mantle do?
● ️Protects from environmental assaults like harsh weather and pollution.
● Reduces the risk of infection and/or occasional breakouts.
● ️Secretes enzymes that help break down excess sebum, keeping skin oils in balance.
● ️Helps to soften skin and keep it hydrated.
● Works with the skin’s own immune system to produce antigens that keep bad bacteria away.
● Help keep skin cells tight and flat, promoting a smooth, strong barrier.
● Prevents against water loss.
So why is this layer of sebum (Acid-Mantle) so important for keeping your skin calm, healthy and happy?
The acid-mantle protects the skin against infection and keeps it soft and supple. A healthy acid-mantle boosts the body’s immune system, by producing antigens close to the skin’s surface. It is these antigens that make the skin an inhospitable environment for bad bacteria.
They feed on sebum cells or corneocyte debris (renewable particles of the skin’s barrier) and act continually as ‘cleaners’, which prevent harmful bacteria from developing.
If our acid mantle is compromised - Not enough oil , moisture loss , unbalanced PH levels etc. It leaves us open to a world of skin problems! Invaders like our bacteria's and free radical cells (Cells that cause anti-ageing and damage to the skin) will have an easy all access pass through your acid mantle.
So, how do we protect the Acid-Mantle?
Maintaining the Optimal pH of the Acid Mantle is the best protection
The acid-mantle is characterised by having a pH of 5.5, which is the physiological condition of healthy skin, from the time we are small and throughout our entire lives
To maintain the Acid Mantle and the protection it offers, we need to keep the pH level stable. If we don't, dermatitis, eczema, and rosacea can occur.
Here are the some most common causes of damage to the acid mantle and tips on how to combat them!
1. Steaming your complexion or washing your face with hot water is something to avoid. Steam and hot water reduces the moisture stored in our skin, which dehydrates the acid mantle. Dry, parched skin damages the acid mantle; this results in the appearance of easily avoided wrinkles – which commonly start showing around the mouth and eyes.
2. Steer clear of over-cleansing. Excessive washing and exfoliation can result in the skin’s natural lipids being stripped, which will wreck the acid mantle. Unfortunately, once destroyed, it’s a long and tricky journey to repair it.
3. Avoid harsh steroid or topical acne treatments that commonly contain ingredients like Benzyl Peroxide. These can cause serious disruption to your acid mantle, which can take a long time to repair.
4. Some of the biggest daily culprits are detergents or harsh cleansers. Avoid these alkaline formulas which will strip the skin, upsetting its balance. Changes to the condition of your skin can alter the pH of the skin and damage the delicate acid-mantle. If your skin gets alkaline, many issues can occur. With the high PH, your skin can become very dry. If the acid-mantle gets damaged then you can develop fine lines that lead to wrinkles. These are the signs of aging. Your skin pores react to the dryness by producing more sebum. This is one of the main reasons that you develop pimples.
5. The average value of the pH is 7 and this is called neutral. Therefore, using 'neutral' pH products is not recommend, but rather products with a pH of 5.5 that help to maintain the skin's acid mantle. This pH of 5.5 allows the acids to fight against bacteria to prevent the skin from acne, wrinkles and pigmentation. If your skin gets more neutralized by skin care products then your skin can have clogged pores. If your skin acid-mantle damage occurs, then it disrupts the natural process of your skin.
All this is not to say we should stop cleansing altogether for fear of disrupting our acid mantle. In fact, cleansing is important. However, the trick is to use a gentle pH balanced cleanser to maintain our skin barrier’s integrity. A cleanser that is “pH balanced” simply means it has a pH similar to that of skin (4.5-5.5).
As cleaning of the skin is very important to remove excess oil and dirt, you must choose the right pH balanced, mild cleanser that are free of alcohol, harsh acid, sodium laureth sulfate etc as these chemicals can create havoc on your skin acid-mantle.
Are you thinking of changing your cleanser?
We recommend Lavinia, a pH-Balanced 5.5 Purifying Cleanser which cleanse the skin gently and yet effectively without disrupting the acid-mantle. It won't strip the skin of its natural oils and will leave it feeling soft, nourished, and plumped