Everyone’s skin is different. Some of us are born with larger pores than others, or have sensitive skin. Our lifestyle habits are constantly affecting our skin too. Intense exercise or lack of sleep could be triggers, or even our diet and the pollution around us. So what do we all have in common?
Our skin’s acid mantle (something we all have) can actually be the governing force for how our skin looks and feels. But what exactly is the acid mantle, and are there steps we can take to make sure it keeps a healthy balance? It turns out that our beauty habits and the products we use can have a great effect on our skin’s acid mantle – which we’ll get into below.
The acid mantle is a slightly acidic film layer on the surface of your skin barrier. It’s actually formed by a mixture of your sebum (the natural oil that your sebaceous glands secrete) and sweat. To be more exact, your acid mantle is a protective barrier that has a pH between 3 and 5, and serves to keep bad bacteria and viruses out of your skin. It makes sense, then, why even slight changes in the pH level of your acid mantle can result in drastic changes! A balanced pH level is essential for maintaining healthy skin.
Did you know that products used to cleanse your face — and even tap water — can alter your skin’s acid mantle? Traditional soap is on the more basic side, meaning it has a higher pH, and can cause your skin’s pH to increase above its usual acidic levels. This can result in higher bacteria levels on skin, thus increasing your chances of a breakout.
In fact, a study found that even skin tending towards alkaline (basic) levels has a higher chance of increasing the growth of acne-causing bacteria. So there you have it: an unbalanced acid mantle might be the cause for your acne-prone skin!
Acne isn’t the only sign that your acid mantle might need targeted care. In addition, soaps and cleansers aren’t the only things that can affect your skin’s pH. As your skin ages, it loses its ability to keep itself moisturized, and naturally begins to increase in pH level.
If you’ve never had sensitive skin but are noticing new changes in your complexion, you might need to take some extra steps in your routine. This means helping to maintain the acid mantle of your skin at the right pH balance. The right products and a careful skin care routine could help to protect your skin, keeping certain skin conditions and damage at bay.
The solution for treating sensitive skin isn’t to simply avoid washing it! Washing your face daily with a gentle, pH balanced cleanser can help keep infection causing bacteria from invading your skin, while promoting a clearer and more radiant complexion. We recommend using a soothing cleanser that’s packed with hydrating ingredients, like aloe and nopal cactus water. Gently massage the cleanser into skin to remove dead skin cells and excess oil.
BALANCE WITH A TONER
Don’t have a pH balanced cleanser? Much like cleansers, toners exist for the purpose of helping to press the button reset on your skin. They can help bring skin back to a healthy pH level that’s ready to reap the benefits of the rest of your skin care products. A pH balanced toner brings your skin back to a slightly acidic level, while quenching it with vitamin-packed hydration.
We all know that applying moisturizer after cleansing will help keep moisture levels replenished in your skin. However, moisturizers often contains occlusives that help form a protective layer on your skin against the outside elements. This means they can offer protection against external pH-disrupting forces, thus keeping your acid mantle in balance.
For your moisturizer, think nourishing plant butters. Shea butter is a safe bet, or even plant oils like sea buckthorn that are packed with their own powerful antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
If you’re starting to notice signs of damage or imbalance in your skin, it might be wise to just simplify your routine, and re-evaluate what you’re putting on it. Instead of slapping on acidic peels and exfoliating daily, focus on getting the basics right to balance your skin back to health.
Read more about how to care for your delicate skin:
How to Get Rid of Oily Skin Without Damaging It: It’s all about bringing balance back to your skin’s moisture levels.
The Correct Skin Care Routine Order for Maximum Benefits: A skin-pampering ritual you’ll actually look forward to daily.
The Truth About Skin Surfactants: Unless you’re using a natural face cleanser, you could be subjecting your skin to serious stripping and stress.