The skin is the largest organ of the body with multiple layers, structural proteins, and vital components. It's important to understand the inner workings of this dynamic organ when using topical skincare and how it will impact your results.
The outer protective layer of the skin is called the Acid Mantle. The Acid Mantle is made up of sebum (free fatty acids) released from the skin’s sebaceous glands, which mixes with lactic and amino acids from sweat to create the skin’s natural pH, which should be slightly acidic at about 5.5.
Many things can interfere with the delicate balance of the skin’s Acid Mantle. The skin can become more acidic in response to the environment and daily life challenges. The delicate balance can be upset by everything that comes into contact with the skin including our skin care products, smoke and air pollution, water, sun and changes in air temperature. This can contribute to the breakdown of the Acid Mantle, disrupting the skin’s ability to protect itself.
Maintaining the Optimal pH of the Acid Mantle
To maintain the Acid Mantle and the protection it offers, you need to keep the pH level stable. If you don't, dermatitis, eczema, and rosacea can occur.
If your cleanser is too alkaline it can strip away the natural oils from the skin causing dryness and irritation. When it is too alkaline, the skin can be prone to acne as the skin needs this stable level of acidity to inhibit bacterial growth. The run of the mill cleansers that create foam when used with water, will strip the Acid Mantle and leave the skin feeling dry and tight.
If the skin is treated with products that are too acidic problems can also arise. They too can strip the natural oils on the skin. Chemicals such as alpha hydroxy acids, retinoic acid, beta hydroxy acids and amino fruit acids need to be used with caution as they can weaken the skin's natural defenses to infection and environmental damage. If the skin becomes red, dry, more sensitive and prone to increased breakouts, the product may be too strong or you may be using it too frequently.
As we age our skin’s natural production of oil decreases and this will influence the stability of the Acid Mantle and its ability to offer protection.
Oils that work well with the skin’s natural oil secretions include jojoba, coconut, argan and olive oils.
Vitamin A, C, and E are important in maintaining the Acid Mantle. They strengthen the cells to function optimally and they protect the cells from environmental stresses and oxidation.
The daily use of sunscreen defends the Acid Mantle by shielding the cells from sun damage.
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