Just like your body has its immune system, your skin has its own protective shield. Invisible to the eye and absolutely crucial to the overall well being of your skin, this silent knight is your skin’s very own superhero- and it often goes unnoticed and under appreciated. But what exactly is it, and how does it work? Does it have a name, and is there a way to take care of it?
Your skin’s magical shield is called the acid mantle. It’s a very thin layer made up of lipids that resides on the surface of your skin. It’s called the acid mantle because it maintains a naturally acidic pH that is actually very important for maintaining the acid mantle’s shield-like qualities. See, just like the rest of your body, your skin requires a certain pH level in order to be healthy. The acid mantle is what regulates that pH, and when you use certain skincare ingredients and products, you can either support your skin’s naturally acidic pH, or you can change it.
Soap based products are naturally alkaline, and because of this they actually strip away the natural, oil based and more acidic acid mantle- which does not bode well for your skin. Oil based products and ingredients, on the other hand, including raw shea butter, have a pH that supports the acidic nature of the acid mantle and helps to keep it healthy.
The acid mantle, when functioning correctly, also serves to keep the amount and type of bacteria present on the skin in balance. Similar to your gut, there are certain types of beneficial bacteria that live on your skin and depend on the acid mantle for their survival. They also help keep bad bacteria away. When the acid mantle is stripped or its balance disrupted, that means that the good bacteria are disrupted as well which in turn leaves openings for harmful bacteria to colonize the skin instead. This throws off the delicate and crucial balance of the skin and can even contribute to skin issues like acne.
As you can see, taking proper care of your skin’s acid mantle is not only very important, but essential for optimal well being of your skin. And it’s easy! Just make sure to use high quality plant oils, like shea butter, on your skin and stay away from harsh soaps and detergents. That’s it!