The acid mantle is a rather underappreciated, invisible layer that sits on the surface of the skin and provides an incredible amount of protection.
Made from amino acid-rich sebum, the mantle gives the skin’s surface a slightly acidic pH to create a hardy barrier that keeps the bacteria and toxins you encounter on a daily basis at bay. It also safeguards the skin’s delicate microbiome to unlock some powerful plus-points for your immune system.
Keeping your acid mantle ‘happy’ and this slightly acidic film in check however isn’t easy. There are several causes of acid mantle disruption and the resulting damage will be there for all to see.
Let us talk you through what disrupts and damages the acid mantle, and more importantly, what you can do to fix it.
The causes of mantle disruption
Your beauty routine can disrupt skin function no-end. Harsh products can strip skin essentials, impinging on skin perception and ultimately stopping you from accomplishing your own beauty goals.
Your skincare routine should work with, not against, nature to help you thrive in changing environments. Cleansers that increase your skin’s pH can directly diminish your acid mantle.
By upping the pH and becoming more alkaline, your skin becomes a war zone, not the friendly, bacteria-nurturing environment it should be.
Even a quick wash with traditional soap can leave skin struggling, with your pH taking a long time to return to the naturally beneficial, slightly acidic state that it needs to be.
Your age can also cause acid mantle disruption. Everyone is born with a near-neutral skin pH and this gets more acidic during the first year of life. Your skin then becomes more alkaline as you age. This higher pH however allows bacteria to breed, throwing your acid mantle off-balance with disastrous results.
Whilst the age factor cannot be avoided, working to stabilise these pH changes will preserve the mantle, aid skin function and perception, and provide visible results.
Skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and acne make the mantle less effective and robust too. The inflammatory nature of these skin concerns tends to heighten the skin’s pH, which makes using products that restore its slight acidity vital.
The signs of acid mantle damage
Whatever the cause of your acid mantle disruption, damage to your skin can become apparent pretty quickly without the right intervention.
A damaged acid mantle will leave your skin dehydrated, excessively oily (your skin’s response to treating said dehydration), sensitive, and flaky.
Existing skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis are likely to worsen too. Inflammation and redness could also make an appearance – even if you rely on a simple skincare routine or have had a similar regime with more successful results previously.
Not sure whether you’re suffering from a damaged acid mantle?
Keeping an eye out for the signs of acid mantle disruption immediately after cleansing is what wellness guide The Chalkboard recommends:
“With a healthy acid mantle, your face will feel perfectly clean after washing but it won’t take long for the acid mantle to build back up — your skin will feel soft and pliable.
If, after cleansing, your face feels really tight/stretched, itchy, red or otherwise angry, chances are high your acid mantle is damaged.”
How to repair your acid mantle
Even long term acid mantle disruption can be remedied with the right skincare routine. But taking action sooner rather than later is what we’d advise, particularly as a compromised acid mantle lets bacteria, toxins, and other irritants enter the body.
Choose a cleanser that’s kind to the skin and rich in fatty acids to purify whilst nourishing and preserving your acid mantle.
With fatty acids found naturally in buttermilk, our Buttermilk Cleanser is a soothing way to cleanse.
It helps dissolve makeup and impurities without drying out the skin, and gently exfoliates at the same time to provide a brighter, renewed base to work with.
Taking a gentler approach to exfoliation also helps to safeguard your acid mantle. Scrubs and exfoliating acids (like lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acid) should be avoided for the time being.
Easing inflammation with the right moisturiser for your skin type is another must for a healthy acid mantle.
Our award-winning Active Face Hydrating Gel uses active botanicals to help bring balance to sebum production, heal blemishes, calm inflammation, and reduce oiliness.
Shop our organic skincare solutions and build an acid mantle restoring regime that works for you.