Our skin has a low permeability, which blocks foreign substances such as toxins from penetrating through the skin and coming into contact with our internal organs. On the surface of the skin is a very fine, slightly acidic film that is secreted by the sweat glands. This layer is called the acid mantle because it has a pH of between 4.5 and 6.2 (any measure less than 7 is considered acidic. Above 7 is alkaline). The acid mantle acts as a barrier protecting your skin from the elements (wind and pollution) and from bacteria, viruses and other contaminants that might penetrate the skin or cause irritation. Apart from acting as a physical barrier the acid mantle helps to neutralize the chemical effects of contaminants, which are generally alkaline.
The daily barrage of pollution in the form of chemicals from the atmosphere, bacteria, and commercial skin care such as sodium laurel sulphate based cleansers can cause the acid mantle to be disrupted or lose its acidity. When this occurs, skin is more prone to damage, sensitivity responses (allergy like symptoms), irritation, infection and redness. Stress also plays a large role in the health of the skin pH.
Maintaining a healthy acid mantle and therefore pH is not only vital for skin protection but it also helps maintain healthier skin for longer. Other skin issues associated with a disrupted skin barrier include:
Once the acid mantle is damaged there are definitely ways of encouraging repair:
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