Do you remember the television ads for Simple Ph. Test? A bar of soap and a strip of litmus paper? Probably one of our 1st introductions to the “acid mantle” of the skin.
The acid mantle and its health are so important for healthy skin but unfortunately can be damaged so easily by poor cosmetic choices and over treatment. The acid mantle is often one of the first things we look at during skin consultation as an impaired barrier function gives rise to many skin issues, such as dehydration, reactive or very sensitised skin.
Why its important
The first and most important role is skin barrier defence i.e.: keeping bugs out and water in. This acid barrier offers a protective environment from harmful bacteria and promotes the healing process. The formation of natural oil and water in the top layers of the skin slows down water loss, supports cellular changes and is essential to a youthful glow.
It’s a natural lubricant, reducing irritation, allergens and antigens.
If the acid mantle should fail in any area there will be a domino effect creating disfunction and a very unhappy skin the whole way through.
In spite of having this information at hand we still abuse the skin by misuse of cleansing agents, wipes and astringents or over zealous professional treatments.
Just like all eco systems, if the environment changes the inhabitants suffer. Remove or strip away the barrier and the useful bacteria will die or move, this can create havoc.
Acne, rosacea, excema and skin that is slow to heal all have impaired barriers.
An impaired acid mantle can be repaired with the reactivation of the systems that create it.
How to repair
This skin condition has a link with essential fatty acid deficiency, and poor fluid intake. This can be due to a low/reduced fat diet or consuming the wrong type of fats and of course not enough water. For any treatment regime or product to be successful, this primary cause must be addressed by increasing fluids and restoring sufficient quantity of skin lipids to reduce the fast evaporation of water. As we cannot metabolise these fatty acids we are therefore totally dependent on diet for the source.
Omega 3 fatty acids are made from Alpha Linolenic Acid, and the Omega 6 fatty acids are made from Linoleic Acid. A diet providing both linolenic and linoleic fatty acids allow the body to synthesise all the essential fats it requires as these are essential as they are used by our cells to create the lipids that form part of the barrier and also play a part in the reduction of cellular inflammation.
Externally we can address this issue with topical emollients that mimic the natural lipids formed by skin. We also carefully review products used at home.
Some of the products that we love for repairing the skin are Triple Lipid Repair by SkinCeuticals and Environs Colostrum gel which offers an abundance of essential amino acids that aim to repair and revitalise an impaired barrier.
Look for gentle cleansers that don’t strip the skin and remove all stripping toners, wipes and micellar water if a healthy skin is what you are looking for.