In my early twenties I really did a number on my skin and I basically did all of the ‘do not’s’ listed below on a near daily basis (bar the sun exposure!). With skin, less REALLY is more, less makeup = less to try and wash off, less washing = less moisturiser and repairing needed products to restore your skin balance. After learning about how important the acid mantle was in my clear skin post I decided that it needed more of an in-depth look! All the best! -B xx
What the heck is an acid mantle?
The acid mantle is the protective film that sits on the surface of your skin. It is also commonly referred to as the ‘hydro-lipid’ film – which means that it is made up of oil and water.
What your acid mantle contains:
Water – That is why if you don’t drink enough water your skin is going to look much dryer!
A whole bunch of acids – lactic acid, urocanic acid, fatty acids, pyrroline carboxylic acid, and amino acids.
Sebum (made up of fatty acids) is secreted from the sebaceous glands and then it mixes with lactic and amino acids when you sweat to create your acid mantle. Sweat is actually antibacterial and good for our skin!
Why so many acids?
Your acid mantle is naturally more acidic because we want to keep viruses, fungi and bacteria away from our skin and out of our bodies! Healthy skin has a slightly acidic pH of around 5.5 – slightly acidic while our blood is slightly alkaline. This protective film works so that if bacteria do take up residence in our skin and try to make their way into our bodies they won’t be able to survive due to the acid/alkaline difference in environments. If this delicate barrier is damaged these microorganisms can start to make their way into our skin and have a party! With dire consequences! The acid mantle is the main protective layer between our bodies and the outside world so it makes sense to look after it well!
What can cause damage?
Creating a beautiful, strong acid mantle is integral to reducing any skin problems like acne or premature ageing. Honouring our acid mantle and working with it and not against it is really the key to ageing well and having great skin at every age!
I notice that many women are in a cycle where they are over-cleansing their skin, stripping it of all of its natural oils and then going back and trying to fix the damage with expensive oils and moisturisers. It is hard because we were all taught from a young age that our skin needs regular cleaning and that oil is the enemy – well it is not! The acid mantle layer really is liquid gold! Over-cleansing of our skin disrupts the natural balance and can make our bodies produce too much oil to try and compensate for the damage caused.
Here are some things to be aware of that may affect your ACID MANTLE BALANCE:
Conventional/unfiltered water can be damaging to your skin because it is treated with various different things to make it safe enough for us to drink. Check the hardness/mineral content of your water also because hard water can also be harsher on your skin and does not mix well with certain cleansing products. You can purchase special filtering systems for your shower/bath if you are worried.
TOO HOT WATER:
Too hot showers and baths can be very drying and damaging to the skin. Slowly try to reduce the heat over time and don’t spend too long in there! Try adding some natural oils to your bath to protect your skin. Something that I have been doing lately is to put coconut oil on my freshly cleaned face before I head into the shower to help protect the delicate facial skin. This particularly helps when you are washing your hair. I know it seems easier but don’t clean your face in the shower if you can help it! Try and do it before you get in using something super gentle like micellar water!
The sun can damage our skin and lessen its ability to hold onto moisture. Always wear a natural zinc based sunscreen lotion and constantly reapply if you are out in the sun for long periods.
Air conditioning and heating obviously can dry out our skin! Find a good nourishing oil face spray, this is particularly good for during those Winter months! I am planning on posting a DIY recipe for one later on this month so watch out for that!
Treatments like vitamin A/peels/microdermabrasion are very harsh to your skin. If only used occasionally they can work wonders at revealing new fresh skin and getting rid of acne scarring and pigmentation damage. However many women overuse these products and can be left with dry, damaged skin that is extra prone to sun damage.
Skin topicals like benzoyl peroxide/topical antibiotics/steroid creams that are often used for acne and eczema issues are also not good (let’s just say really really damaging to your skin and to your acid mantle!).
Chemical based cleansers have an astringent like effect and many contain SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) and its derivatives. There is still some controversy surrounding SCS (sodium coco-sulfate) as it is used some natural based products but I probably would avoid that one also. These are products that create the ‘foam up’ effect that seems like it is cleaning our skin really well (too well!).
NON pH BALANCED PRODUCTS:
Your skin around our body can fluctuate between 4.5-6.5, with an ideal skin balance of around 5.5. Most soap has a pH balance of 9-10. Not all soaps are created equally! Some natural or vegan soaps might tell a different story. Obviously never use soap on your face unless it is a proper pH balanced facial soap specifically designed for that purpose! Skin care products that are either too acidic or too alkaline can upset the natural balance and then our skin has to work hard to rebalance itself! Natural products based on plant oils are going to be much gentler on your skin.
Harsh winds, pollution and dust can also be harsh on your skin. Use the time when you are asleep to deeply nourish your skin by slathering it in moisture boosting serums that contain antioxidants and plant-based hyaluronic acid. Coconut oil is a cost-effective great all-over body moisturiser!
If constant damage to the skin’s acid mantle occurs over time then the ability for the skin to repair itself can become compromised and skin issues can set in. Always be kind and gentle with your skin ♥
Understanding the Skins Acid Mantle from Beauty Edit Pro