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If you're interested in having great skin, thinking about your acid mantle is likely not high on your list. Yet, this fine, slightly acidic film sits on the skin's surface and acts as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential irritants that might penetrate the skin. The film is secreted by sebaceous glands, the same glands that secrete sebum, an oily protective substance.

Skin has a pH of between 4.5 and 6.2, meaning that it is acidic in nature. Contaminants and other chemicals that may penetrate the skin tend to be alkaline in nature so the acid mantle helps to neutralize these harmful compounds. An acidic environment is important also in the synthesis of epidermal lipids, such as [Link Removed] , free fatty acids and cholesterol (25%). Epidermal lipids help to prevent moisture loss and maintain skin hydration.

If you want your skin to look good, it's important to maintain a healthy acid mantle. Stick to gentle cleansers and avoid over-washing. The excessive use of soap disturbs the skin's physiological balance, leading to a higher pH. When this happens, the defense against bacteria is compromised, leading to acne or skin infections. The [Link Removed]   is a line of cleansers designed to be gentle for this very purpose.

The acid mantle is capable of restoring itself, but if you wash or exfoliate too much, it can increase the time it takes to do this. Also try not to overdo other aggressive treatments including laser treatments and peels as they can disturb the acid mantle as well. Sebum production decreases as we age so moisturize often if your skin needs it. Moisturizing not only helps to counter dryness associated with older skin, but also helps to compensate for the alkalinizing effect of cleansers.

Acid mantle? Now you know.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed] 

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Marya1961 wrote Feb 20, 2013
    • Thank you for great info!  Interesting thing, my skin is still somewhat oily and shiny, even at the age of 51..and others are surprised to hear that I am this age, but I credit the oily skin to being a natural moisturizer..is that possible?



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