Ever heard someone using the term ‘acid mantle’, ‘protective skin barrier’, or ‘moisture barrier’? If that’s yes, then you’re probably wondering:
- a) what are they?
- b) why are they so bloody important?
Moisture barrier. Protective skin barrier. Hydro-lipid film. All of these terms describe the same thing – an essential part of what keeps your skin healthy and flawless. Unfortunately, this is something people compromise and weaken on a daily basis without even realising it! Neglecting the pH balance of your skin could very well be the culprit to skin issues like dry skin, sensitivity, rosacea and acne.
But what exactly is the acid mantle, how do we protect it and what are the best ways to restore it? Read on for more info!
What is the Acid Mantle?
This is your skin’s outermost layer. It is a protective film made up of natural oils and amino acids. The acid mantle’s main function is to keep the good stuff (like moisture) locked into your skin, and keep the bad stuff (like bacteria and pollution) from damaging your skin.
How to Protect your Acid Mantle
Our Acid Mantle is naturally acidic in pH (hence the name), normally sitting around 5.5 on the pH scale. Keeping the acid mantle within this range with pH balanced skincare products is the best way to protect it and ensure it continues to function optimally.
Unfortunately, many products like cleansers or toners contain foaming agents such as sulphates or harsh alcohols that strip away our acid mantle or cause it to become way too alkaline (like 9-11 on the pH scale). Furthermore, over-exfoliating, over-using actives or using too many skincare products can also disrupt our acid mantle. This leads to unbalanced skin which can cause underlying issues like dryness, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and acne.
How to Know if your Acid Mantle is Damaged
Signs of a damaged acid mantle may include:
- Skin has a sensitive, tight feeling.
- Looks red and inflamed or you have rosacea.
- You feel a stinging sensation after applying products.
- After cleansing, your skin feels tight, dry or squeaky.
- You have dry, rough or flaky patches of skin.
- Your skin may look dull.
- Skin rarely appears plump and dewy.
- Signs of premature aging.
If you’re experiencing any of the above, it may be because your acid mantle is compromised or has been stripped away. If that’s the case, it’s time to re-evaluate what you put on your skin!
How to Restore your Acid Mantle
The good news? The acid mantle is pretty good at self-repair, so you should focus on
supporting your skin while it heals. Ultimately, it’s more about what products you need to get rid of, rather than what you need to add in.
Firstly, get rid of any cleansers or toners that make your skin feel dry or squeaky clean. Remove any products that cause your skin to sting or feel irritated –this might mean putting a stop
to exfoliants and strong actives for a while, until your acid mantle heals. (Once healed, you
can reintroduce these slowly, and keep exfoliation to 1-2 times a week, maximum).
As a substitute, opt for a soothing, pH balanced cleanser such as our Foaming Cleanser. This goes for moisturisers too. Use a hydrating moisturiser to rebalance the pH of your skin after cleansing. We recommend our Balance Moisture. Replenish your acid mantle with moisturisers and face oils containing hyaluronic acid, ceramides and essential fatty acids.
Keep it simple, don’t overdo anything and be patient – your acid mantle will restore with a
little time and TLC.
Want to learn more about how foaming agents can affect the pH balanced your skin? Read our blog ‘What’s So Bad About Bubbles?’
Think you might have gone a little OTT on exfoliating? Read ‘Over-Exfoliated? Don’t Overthink it!’