What is the acid mantle?

The acid mantle is an acidic hydro-lipid film that sits on the skin’s surface. It helps protect the skin from bacteria and pollutants.

Hydro or the water segment comes from perspiration, the oily component is secreted from the sebaceous glands.

In 1928 Schade and Macrhionini reported the acidity of skin and coined the term, “Acid Mantle” which helped to ward off infections by preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi.

The integrity of the acid mantle is broken down with exposure to harsh environments such as cold weather, direct sunlight causing a burn and some skin care products. The skin will be dry, red, inflamed or itchy.

The  intercellular lipids between our cell walls are designed to keep keep bacteria out, when this is broken down we are at higher risk for infection. Allergens are also more likely to penetrate the skin’s barrier once the acid mantle is disrupted.

You know when your acid mantle has been disrupted because certain products will cause burning. You skin will look dry and red, it may even flake at times.

Alkaline soaps can raise the skin’s pH, some products have a pH of 11. Even bar soap has a pH around 10. If you notice a tight dry feel after washing, you probably just washed away your skin acid mantle. Stick with cleansers that do not strip your skin. Wrinkle Helper has an oil based facial cleanser that does not strip the skin. This product is great for removing make-up.

Another personal care product that you can use is a konjac sponge. Konjac comes from a potato, add water to cleanse. it is super soft and gently cleanses without the need for a cleanser. Just wet with warm water and you are good to go. Konjac Facial Sponge Natural Activated Bamboo Charcoal Face Cleansing Exfoliating Sensitive Skin Body Massage Tools for Women and Men (3pcs Pack)

When you are shampooing your hair make sure it does not run down your face.

The acid mantle is made up of,

  • Water
  • Lactic acid
  • Fatty acids

Acid mantle and pH of the skin

what is the acid mantleThe skin’s pH is an important factor for determining the skin’s health, the acid mantle is disrupted if the pH is off. The term pH is an abbreviation for potential of hydrogen. A pH can run from 1 to 14. Below 7 is considered acidic where as above 7 is considered alkaline.

A neutral pH is 7, water has a neutral pH. Our skin’s pH is slightly acidic. The skin’s normal pH is 4.5-5.5. Certain enzymes in the Stratum Corneum are activated at an acidic pH.

Changes in skin’s pH can affect enzyme activity and interfere with the skin’s normal shedding process. This can leave the skin dry and dull looking.

Let’s review

We want to look for products that will not strip your skin’s healthy protective layer. The products should not be too acidic or too alkaline as this will damage the skin. Try to look for products that have a pH between 4 and 6.

If your skin is currently not irritated you can use a cleanser or an exfoliant by Wrinkle Helper that has alpha hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids help turn over the skin keeping it healthy. If your skin is irritated consider sticking with an oil cleanser and bland moisturizer until your skin settles down.

What else affects the acid mantle?

What is filaggrin?

Filaggrin is a protein that is found on our skin. This protein is important for our skin’s hydration. If this protein is defective than dry irritated skin can occur. Some people with eczema were noted to have a defective filaggrin gene.

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