What is the Skin Barrier, Acid Mantle, Skin Microbiome? The acid mantle is a slightly acidic protective layer on the skin comprised of oils, fats, lactic acid, amino acids, cholesterol and the skins own moisturizing factor. This layer acts as a protective barrier from pathogens, viruses and other external toxins that can potentially penetrate the the skin. The acid mantle protects the skin from losing too much water, avoiding dehydration and inhibits the growth of bacteria.
A healthy PH (potential hydrogen) of the skin should range between 5 – 5.5. This leaves skin soft, hydrated, protected and keeps skins enzyme activity stabilized to keep desquamation, skins natural shedding process, turning over at a healthy rate.
Skin should never feel tight, dry, itchy or irritated after cleansing.
Using products that are too alkaline, such as bar soaps, gels, foams and other heavy sudsing products disrupt this protective layer, leaving the skin open and vulnerable to external pathogens, increased inflammation and perpetuates the cycle of breakouts, acne and leads to sensitized skin. Our skin layers work meticulously through a cycle of dividing, shedding, regeneration and protection. A balanced cleansing routine keeps our skin microbiome nourished and is the foundation of a healthy complexion.
Our bodies are always working towards a state of homeostasis and removing these oils triggers your skin to produce more oil in order to protect itself, which can clog pores and leave skin feeling like an oil slick by mid-day, even though the root concern is actually due to a lack of oil from the disruptive cleansing process.
An 8 year British study from the Journal of Dermatology in 2010 showed skin with a more alkaline stratum corneum, most outer layer of the skin, developed more fine lines, wrinkles and was more prone to sun damage than those with an acidic skin layer. An alkaline surface offers no protection from external aging pollutants and toxins. This leaves skin prone to a faster aging process due to inflammation. Chronically inflamed skin is a killer of tissue, also leading to premature collagen breakdown and sagging skin.
In the case of acne, a disrupted skin barrier or skin microbiome leaves the skin exposed to further bacteria driven breakouts and skin inflammation. I’ve seen acne clients stuck in a cycle of using products too harsh and drying for the skin, thinking they will cleanse acne away by drying it up. I use quite the opposite approach when treating acne and I treat the complexion as a whole.
Facial treatments and home care routines start off by soothing and nourishing the skin through restoring the skin barrier. Balancing this skin barrier supports and encourages the the skin to heal itself. As this healing occurs, inflammation decreases, breakouts will start to diminish, so on and so fourth.
Phenomenal results with this technique in restoring clients complexions/acid mantle. Oils hydrate, soothe and calm the skin, dissolve clogged pores and remove dirt and make-up without stripping the skin. Oil cleansing can be used for morning and evening routines.
To learn how to oil cleanse, you can watch my Oil Cleansing Tutorial here.
If you follow me on Instagram or are familiar with my philosophy on health and wellness, you already know I’m pro oils and healthy fats. From internal cellular functions happening throughout every tissue in our body, to our largest organ the skin, healthy fats and oils are the building blocks of cell communication throughout the body. Without fats and oils, cell membranes become rigid and communicate poorly between each other, resulting in pre-mature aging, inflammation and dis-ease.
Depending on individual skin, gentle hydroxy acid cleansers can be beneficial to exfoliate and stimulate skin cell turnover with out being abrasive to the skin. These formulations work to remove impurities, prevent breakouts, brighten complexions and resurface the skin. They diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and keep skin cells turning over at a healthy rate.
If skin is sensitized or inflammation is present, I recommend oil cleansing to begin restoring the skin barrier and microbiome before implementing hydroxy acid use.
Hydroxy acids and other exfoliating products should only be used during nighttime practices and an effective sun protection routine. I follow an a.m. routine of waking up and protecting skin for the day while p.m. being ideal for active and targeted treatment products.
Top Cleanser Recommendations
Josh Rosebrook Herbal Infusion Oil is an ideal oil cleanser with a balanced omega ratio and botanical blend for all skin types. It can be used to remove make-up, oil cleanse and also as a daily skin oil, making it a multi-functional product.
Marie Veronique Essential Oil Free Oil Cleanser This oil cleanser is a unique product that has been formulated to mimic the skin barrier in order to replenish and rebuild even the most over sensitized and inflamed skin conditions. This product is especially superior for peri-oral dermatitis, facials psoriasis, acne and other inflammatory skin concerns, especially with the presence of dryness.
Marie Veronique Treatment Cleanser A formulation that deeply cleanses and unclogs pores without irritating skin.