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The Acid Mantel & Skincare The Ph of your skin care matters

The skin has an acid mantel- which forms a vital skin barrier function. Think of acid as sourness – like lemons or vinegar, which are acidic. Generally, our skin ph sits around ph 4.7 – 5, but it varies between individuals and skin colour and increases as we age.

Our ph is more neutral inside our bodies – around 7.1 (neutral is 7). And the very outer layer is the most acidic part of our body. This acid environment helps create a protective coating.

Maintaining the skin’s acidity helps protect against infection and is integral to the barrier. For example, a less acid environment (the ph is higher) is found in skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and eczema. So maintaining skin sourness is critical.

What creates the acid mantel?

Skin acidity and hydration and an intact skin barrier depend on filaggrin protein. In the skin, filaggrin breaks down into products called natural moisturising factors. Unfortunately, Filaggrin breakdown products are also acidic and contribute to the acid mantel of your skin. Moisture retention and skin health are determined mainly by how much water your skin retains. (not how much moisturiser you put on).

Skin barrier function, hydration and acidity are maintained by NMFs (Natural Moisturising Factors) produced by Filaggrin.

As a result, filaggrin is essential for skin health. Unfortunately, people with eczema do not produce sufficient filaggrin making them more susceptible to dry skin and infections.

Cleansing your skin raises the ph.

Washing with water (ph 7- 8.5) or soap (ph 9-10) will cause the skin to be temporarily less acidic. However, the surface ph returns to normal within a couple of hours, and no harm is done (unless other factors impair your barrier).

It becomes crucial to read the labels of cleansers and products you use as if they have too high ph; it can cause sensitivity issues in your skin and further barrier impairment.

Temporarily raising the pH of the skin’s surface with water (pH 7–8.5) and soap (pH 9–10) has an effect. Within a few hours, most people are back to normal. In addition, you can improve skin barrier integrity and moisture retention by using mildly acidic products (pH 4).

Many commercial skincare products are formulated at pH levels of 6 and higher. Consumers with skin sensitivities are particularly concerned because formulations closer to neutral pH require more preservatives to maintain product safety.

Protecting your acid mantel protects your skin.

After washing, applying a gentle acid to your skin will likely improve the skin barrier and moisture. Our Gentle cleansing wash has a ph of 4.7.

What is the acid mantel?

The acid mantel causes sourness on the surface of your skin. The acid mantel is not a covering or a layer; it is a natural gradient that gradually becomes more acidic as it approaches the skin’s surface. The pH of the skin’s surface is approximately 5, whereas your body’s pH is around 7.4, which is closer to neutral. Therefore, for the skin to function correctly, it needs to be acidic or low pH. A lower ph prevents the growth of harmful microbes that can cause infection. Additionally, it inhibits the growth of harmful bugs such as Staphylococcus aureus, which do not thrive in acidic environments. Indeed an acidic surface enhances our natural immune function.

Protecting the ph of our skin surface helps guard against sensitivity and skin barrier problems. The quickest way to lower your skin’s acidity is to use a skin product that has too high a ph or is alkaline. However, even washing your face with water, which tends to have a neutral ph, increases the ph and temporarily puts your skin at risk of barrier disruption.

So, how does the acid mantel come into being?

Your skin cells degrade a component known as filaggrin as part of forming the stratum corneum’s super barrier. The highly acidic breakdown products cause the pH to decrease gradually, resulting in sourness on the water’s surface.

Eczema Causes skin to be less acidic.

Eczema is a skin condition caused by a defect in the production of filaggrin (the pH of the skin’s surface is higher) (less acid). This makes people with eczema more susceptible to skin infections and other skin barrier problems, such as acne.

Melanin causes the skin to be more acidic.

People with darker skin tones have a higher concentration of melanin. In addition, people with darker skin have a more acidic surface due to higher melanin levels. As a result, they have more protective barriers than their red-haired and fair-skinned sisters and more excellent resistance to sensitive skin and infection than their sisters.

Aging skin has higher ph naturally, so it becomes more susceptible to skin barrier disruption.

What Skin Products should you choose? Skin products that are naturally more acidic.

Written by

Dr Jo Turner rebranded her clinic to Pearl Medispa in 2021 as she added wellness and gut healing to the menu, becoming an integrative cosmetic medicine clinic. Still offering the same Boutique Cosmetic Medicine services with a team of Doctors, Nurses, Therapists and reception, but adding skin & gut microbiome healing and a wellness approach.