The acid mantle is a protective veil that is formed by the sebaceous glands and your sweat.
Now let’s explore the name
Acid means that it has a pH of below 7 (seven being neutral). Healthy skin has a pH of around 5.5, thankfully slightly acidic since harmful bacteria thrive under alkaline conditions. Mantle is a cloak or a shawl. Put this together, and you have an acidic cloak that is wrapped around our body.
Did you know?
Pathogens (harmful bacteria) love alkaline environments. Our blood is alkaline (roughly 7.5 on the pH scale). Therefore, bacteria want to be in our blood stream. The acid mantle is an environment that these pathogens are less well-adapted to, stopping them in their tracks.
The acid mantle, a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of the human skin, acts as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential environmental contaminants that might penetrate the skin. Furthermore, by secreting enzymes, it helps to break down excess sebum in the skin.
But it does more than protect
The acid mantle keeps your skin soft and supple. Thanks to this characteristic, your skin stays free from cracks and other abrasions.
In addition, the acid mantle boosts the immune system by retarding the growth of pathogens, thanks to its slightly acidic nature (that was a give-away in the name!).
Why is it so important to know about this when we are discussing skincare and cleansers?
It is very easy to damage your acid mantle by using cleansers and products that are too high on the pH scale. Lots of commercial products are highly alkaline. When using a damaging cleanser, it changes the pH of your skin for a short time, about 20 minutes. This might not seem important, however with long-term use of these highly alkaline cleansers, it can prevent the skin from maintaining its optimal pH levels.
How should I take care of my acid mantle?
Just like with everything in life, it’s all about moderation. All you must do is not overdo anything. Don’t over wash, don’t use any product that causes a stinging sensation, and don’t use heavy oils.