Have you ever wondered why washing your face with a bar of soap is not a good idea or do you have overly sensitive, inflamed or flaky skin? Or, why after using some products your skin goes absolutely crazy. It’s all about your Acid Mantle, never heard of this right? Neither had I until I went down the skincare rabbit hole and discovered just how important understanding the acid mantle is to maintaining healthy, clear skin. In this post I will talk about pH Balance, the Acid Mantle & how it protects your skin, why certain products work and then I will also recommend the best products to restore your skin’s acid balance.
This post might have you feeling like you’re back in your Biology class, but honestly this might be just what you need to better understand your skincare routine and what sort of products to use.
What is pH?
PH is a method of measuring the acidity or alkalinity of any substance and ranges from 0 the highest level of acidity to 14 the highest level of alkalinity and 7 which is neutral. Different body parts have different PH levels from 0-14 and maintaining this is crucial to health. Most substances fall on one side of the spectrum but water, however, is the only neutral substance with a PH of 7.
What is the Acid Mantle?
The Acid Mantle is a thin protective slightly acidic water-lipid (oil) film found on the surface of the skin that acts as a barrier between you and the outside elements. It also protects the skin from acne-causing bacteria and maintains its moisture balance. When your acid mantle is fully functional and intact your skin will look and feel great. The acid mantle is made up of dead skin cells, oils (sebum) and other skin secretions which, when mixed with sweat, forms the Acid Mantle. All of this helps keep your skin at an optimal, slightly acidic PH of between 4.5- 6.2 which is a protective barrier and serves as the body’s defence.
The acid mantle protects skin from environmental assaults by:
- Secreting enzymes that down excess sebum in the skin keeping the oil in balance
- Boost the immune system to produce antigens, occluding your skin to retard bacterial growth.
- Keep your skin soft and supple, preventing cracks and abrasions
The acid mantle, unfortunately, can be disturbed by environmental factors, alkaline soaps/cleansers as well overly enthusiastic exfoliation and cleaning can raise the skin PH to above 6 breaking down the skin’s natural defences. Maintaining the pH of skin is crucial for its health, a pH of 7 is neutral and anything above creates an alkaline environment which is bad for skin. Healthy skin should be below a pH of 7 and a pH of 5.5 is optimum.
This is why you don’t want the squeaky clean feeling after you wash your face because it indicates you have stripped off your acid mantle. Good face cleansers are specially formulated to maintain your skins acid mantle, this is also why Acid Cider Vinegar (ACV) is recommended as a good face cleanser /toner for the skin (note that it is extremely acidic and should always be diluted). Once the acid mantle is disturbed, your skin’s natural defence system is down, which means it will be vulnerable to bacteria, allergens and foreign elements which thrive under alkaline conditions. Chronic disruption of your acid mantle affects the skin barrier function which can lead to dry skin, inflammation, dermatitis and atopic skin diseases. If bacteria, find a passageway through your skin they are able to bloodstream they create inflammation, allergies and breakouts.
How To Repair A Damaged Acid Mantle
The skin is able to restore its pH naturally within about 30 minutes, the damage to the acid mantle, on the other hand, can take much longer to repair depending on the severity of the disruption. First of all stop with all the activity which may have caused the disruption in the first place
- Stop all exfoliating until your skin feels like it is back to normal, continued exfoliation will only continue to traumatise the skin.
- Stop over washing or cleansing your face
- Stop using hot water when washing or rinsing your face
- Stop all exfoliation especially physical exfoliation which can be more traumatic
To repair your skin start by using products which are more acidic in all parts of your skincare regime
- Try the oil cleansing method which is less stripping to skin
- Use cleansers with an acidic pH to avoid more trauma to the acid mantle.
- Use ingredients like copper peptide and rose water help restore the skin’s PH and help prepare them for the humectants
- Add humectants moisture-attracting ingredients to your skincare regimen which include lactic and hyaluronic acid
- Use face oils especially plant-based facial oils which are rich in ceramides & linoleic acids such as baobab, rosehip seed oil, evening primrose oil and Shea butter that protect skin from moisture loss
Product Recommendation’s to maintain your acid mantle
Cosrx -Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser
Sebamed Liquid Face & Body Wash for Sensitive Skin
Jordan Samuel after Show Treatment Cleanser (Plie)
The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1
Niod Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1
Heritage Store Rosewater Spray
Stephanie Nicolas organic Moroccan rose water
The ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
The ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA
Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil
Stratia Liquid Gold
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