The skin is an amazing magical organ. It's the body's largest organ. Please refer to my earlier blog about the basic structure and function of the skin, and then let's talk about the "acid mantle".
What is the acid mantle? In a nutshell, we have sweat (sudoriferous) glands and we have oil (sebaccous) glands and these glands work together to secrete a thin coat of oil (lipids) called the acid mantle. The acid mantle is a protective layer, a barrier to disease and it also helps the skin maintain moisture and combat dehydration. The acid mantle kills bacteria and as a result, keeps bacteria out of skin cells. Keeping the acid mantle intact is essential to healthy happy skin.
But the multimillion dollar cosmetics industry, which is very ingredient driven, doesn't really want you to know this. Cosmetic companies want to define and control "beauty" because it's profitable to do so. Cosmetic companies play into our insecurities and fears about skin tone, skin texture, and the holy grail of diminished beauty - aging. Cosmetic companies create and then capitalize on our fears. And their target is women. This angers me to no end.
My nursing degree - actual science - taught me that the less we interfere with the body's own ability to achieve balance, the better. Less is best. Let the acid mantle do it's job and see what results. Becasue ...It's a scientific fact that sweat + oil = healthy skin
If the acid mantle is temporarily removed by harsh soaps, products, chemical, or sun damage, the skin becomes susceptible to rashes, breakouts and infection.
The acidity of the mantle is measured by its pH, which is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. Healthy skin usually has a pH between 4.2 and 5.6. Skin pH can vary in different parts of the body, and men generally have a slightly higher pH than women. Substances with a pH of below 7 are acids. Strong alkaline soaps, which have a high pH can destroy the acid mantle or alter its pH. If the acid mantle is stripped off the skin, bacteria can attack and infection may occur. If the mantle is destroyed, it will usually be replenished naturally over time, usually within two or three weeks. But your skin is left at risk during this time.
Prolonged skin issues such as acne, may be caused by an alkaline pH, or an unstable acid mantle. When the skin’s pH is no longer acidic, bacteria can constantly cause pimples. People prone to acne tend to reach for strong soaps, which can make pH levels worse. Acne treatments that focus on restoring the skin’s pH to acidic levels can help alleviate breakouts.
How do we maintain a healthy acid mantle? Avoid harsh soaps, use sunscreen and look for pH-balanced skin care products. C9SC’s Goats Milk Soap is a fantastic facial cleanser. The pH of goats milk is similar to our own skin, the naturally occurring lactic acid in the milk lifts those dead skin cells, and the milk fat makes the bar super emolliant - all without disrupting the awesome acid mantle.
Cheers! XO, L.