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Acid Mantle

what is the acid mantle

What is the acid mantle?

The acid mantle is an acidic hydro-lipid film that sits on the skin’s surface. It helps protect the skin from bacteria and pollutants.

Hydro or the water segment comes from perspiration, the oily component is secreted from the sebaceous glands.

In 1928 Schade and Macrhionini reported the acidity of skin and coined the term, “Acid Mantle” which helped to ward off infections by preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi.

The integrity of the acid mantle is broken down with exposure to harsh environments such as cold weather, direct sunlight causing a burn and some skin care products. The skin will be dry, red, inflamed or itchy.

The  intercellular lipids between our cell walls are designed to keep keep bacteria out, when this is broken down we are at higher risk for infection. Allergens are also more likely to penetrate the skin’s barrier once the acid mantle is disrupted.

You know when your acid mantle has been disrupted because certain products will cause burning. You skin will look dry and red, it may even flake at times.

Alkaline soaps can raise the skin’s pH, some products have a pH of 11. Even bar soap has a pH around 10. If you notice a tight dry feel after washing, you probably just washed away your skin acid mantle. Stick with cleansers that do not strip your skin. Wrinkle Helper has an oil based facial cleanser that does not strip the skin. This product is great for removing make-up.

Another personal care product that you can use is a konjac sponge. Konjac comes from a potato, add water to cleanse. it is super soft and gently cleanses without the need for a cleanser. Just wet with warm water and you are good to go. Konjac Facial Sponge Natural Activated Bamboo Charcoal Face Cleansing Exfoliating Sensitive Skin Body Massage Tools for Women and Men (3pcs Pack)

When you are shampooing your hair make sure it does not run down your face.

The acid mantle is made up of,

  • Water
  • Lactic acid
  • Fatty acids

Acid mantle and pH of the skin

what is the acid mantleThe skin’s pH is an important factor for determining the skin’s health, the acid mantle is disrupted if the pH is off. The term pH is an abbreviation for potential of hydrogen. A pH can run from 1 to 14. Below 7 is considered acidic where as above 7 is considered alkaline.

A neutral pH is 7, water has a neutral pH. Our skin’s pH is slightly acidic. The skin’s normal pH is 4.5-5.5. Certain enzymes in the Stratum Corneum are activated at an acidic pH.

Changes in skin’s pH can affect enzyme activity and interfere with the skin’s normal shedding process. This can leave the skin dry and dull looking.

Let’s review

We want to look for products that will not strip your skin’s healthy protective layer. The products should not be too acidic or too alkaline as this will damage the skin. Try to look for products that have a pH between 4 and 6.

If your skin is currently not irritated you can use a cleanser or an exfoliant by Wrinkle Helper that has alpha hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids help turn over the skin keeping it healthy. If your skin is irritated consider sticking with an oil cleanser and bland moisturizer until your skin settles down.

What else affects the acid mantle?

What is filaggrin?

Filaggrin is a protein that is found on our skin. This protein is important for our skin’s hydration. If this protein is defective than dry irritated skin can occur. Some people with eczema were noted to have a defective filaggrin gene.

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20 thoughts on “Acid Mantle

  1. Hi Sharon,

    I love coming to your blog because I’m always learning something new. I was just today wondering why my face was red and now I know it was because I was out in the cold weather a little too long. I know the scientific reason besides the “Oh well, it was because of the cold” It was because of acid level was disruptive.
    Thanks so much for your information and keep it up girl! I’m love to learn.


    1. Thanks for the warm words Donna.

  2. Hi Sharon

    Very informative post!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Very interesting article. I hadn’t come across the acid mantle before. I have a lot of soreness behind my ears and wonder if that’s the problem.

    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark

  4. Hi Dr. Sharon,

    Can’t believe I’ve never heard of acid mantle. I knew about the affects of ph, but never realized most common hand soap had such a high ph. No wonder we have skin problems in winter when we’re less apt to perspire.

    Good research and easy reading. Thank you,

  5. Very interesting. Have never heard of the Acid Mantle before. It’s interesting that holistic practitioners suggest having an alkaline diet for our internal organs, but our skin needs to be more acidic.

  6. […] another article we talked about the importance of preserving the acid mantle. The acid mantle is designed to help protect the skin, harsh detergents can breakdown the acid […]

    1. Perhaps the alkaline diet can counter acid in the stomach but the skin prefers acidic pH.

  7. Very Interesting .. I’ve only been using coconut oil on my skin. I am very cautious of skin products with so many chemicals in them. I can count on you to explain the science – thank you!

    1. It is great that you are using natural products. I was surprised to see that coconut oil is comedogenic, I try to avoid coconut oil in my facial serums.

  8. […] the skin also helps our acid mantle, a protective film over our skin. When the acid mantle is disturbed skin is more likely to be red […]

  9. I had no idea about the acid mantle! Definitely have felt that tight feeling after washing. Thanks for the info and the recs!!

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post.

  10. This is a great post. We all know that our skin changes with age but there are many different reasons for it. I love how you educate us so that we can understand why we need certain products!

  11. […] Silicone can be occlusive, it lies on top of the skin. Occlusive products not only help prevent moisture loss they can also help protect our skin from pollutants.  While silicone molecules are too large to penetrate the skin they do help with moisture loss. Silicone can form a permeable barrier that works to prevent moisture loss from the skin and preserve our acid mantle.  […]

  12. […] Acid MantleWhat is the acid mantle? The acid mantle is […] […]

  13. […] pores are barely visible, the tone is even and there are no blemishes. Our skin is protected by the acid mantle. When the acid mantle is intact and functioning our skin is normal. Sebum is secreted at a rate […]

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