The acid mantle is a thin film on skin’s surface that acts as a protective barrier against bacteria, viruses & harmful pathogens. It is comprised of the amino acid’s from sweat and sebum from the sebaceous glands.
A balanced acid mantle has a PH of 5.5- which is why many facial cleansers are disruptive to the acid mantle. Often, surfactants & emulsifiers in cleansers alter the PH of cleansers, making them too alkaline for skin. You find this often is soapy or foaming cleansers. When used daily, these types of cleansers disrupt the acid mantle & dehydrate skin, which can lead to a variety of skin concerns.
This is hard for many people to understand, as marketing has insisted that harsh cleansers resulting in squeaky clean skin are the answer. But unfortunately, overly cleansing can cause major imbalances. We’ve talked about this in our Pore Care blog, but let’s hit a quick recap.
Even some PH balanced cleansers are too drying to balance skin. Harsh, drying facial cleansers can imbalance skin by stripping sebum from skin which leads to chronic dehydration. The moisture barrier (sebum) retains necessary hydration (water) for proper skin function. This causes imbalance in a few ways; for one overly harsh cleansing can dry & dehydrate skin to the point of inflammation. Overtime, this can start to manifest as various forms of dermatitis. On the flip, it can also cause skin to over produce sebum in an effort to balance itself. This can lead to pimples, clogged pores and acne.
One quick way to determine if your daily cleanser is too drying is to wash your face, pat skin dry with a clean towel and wait a moment. Crack a big smile. If skin feels tight or uncomfortable, chances are your cleanser might be too drying.
Another key way to support skin's acid mantle is to reduce the use of exfoliants. Over exfoliating can disrupt the acid mantle, and cause further issue down the line.
A quick bop back to PH. Oil is naturally PH balanced for the skin’s acid mantle. For example, Hemp Seed Oil (a key ingredient in Sub Rosa) has a PH of 4-6. This range is considered PH balanced for healthy, balanced skin! That’s why I love oil cleansing so much.
It can take 2-4 weeks, or even longer depending on the circumstances, to restore a weakened skin barrier. The adjustment period of switching from harsh products can cause skin conditions to inflame. It’s not because oil cleansers, face oils or gentle PH balanced toners are problematic- but because skin is reliant on the more intense products to skin’s job for it. Once skin is adapted to gentler, nourishing skincare products, it tends to balance itself out. The key is patience!
Remember, balanced skin looks different on everyone. Supporting your acid mantle will support more balanced skin. In general, balanced skin is less prone to breakouts and irritation, and recovers swiftly when breakouts do occur.
Skin wants to care for itself. That is a core philosophy of our holistic skincare approach at 5th Dimension. We want to support skin in caring for itself with nourishing products. Just as support our digestion with nourishing foods, skin is no different.