Protective acid mantle: beautiful skin thanks to a strong skin barrier
Our skin barrier or the protective acid mantle protects the skin against harmful microorganisms and against moisture loss. However, many ingredients in conventional beauty products weaken our skin and make it prone to blemishes, dryness and redness. Here we explain which INCIs make your skin strong and beautiful and why an acidic environment is so important.
REALR combines the power of advanced science with the soothing properties of pure natural extracts, to bring you skin that is not only clear, but also healthy and balanced.
At REALR® Professional Skin Care in Boston, MA, we specialize in luxury paramedical health and beauty services, offering a full array of advanced skincare and therapeutic body treatments. When disrupted by internal or external factors, the skin’s natural balance is replaced with a new order that, if not treated, can have negative long-term consequences.
We help clients restore and preserve their skin’s natural balance with our customized skincare management plans designed to address individual body chemistries.
Why is the protective acid mantle of the skin so important? You have to consider: With up to two square meters, the skin is our largest organ. The outermost layer of skin can be compared to a brick wall made of "dead" skin cells. These horny cells are held together by a "cement" made from the skin's own fats and are constantly being replaced by new baby skin cells from deeper skin layers. Our skin is enclosed in a protective acid layer, also called a hydrolipid film. This almost insurmountable barrier consists of water, fat-splitting enzymes, horny cells, sebum and sweat. Its value is optimally slightly acidic (5.5 pH) - hence the name.
The protective acid mantle as an important protective shield
On the one hand, the protective acid mantle ensures that moisture does not escape from the skin. On the other hand, it ensures that pathogens and pollutants from the environment that can cause allergies, infections or irritation do not penetrate the skin. Since viruses and bacteria only feel comfortable in environments with a neutral or basic pH value, the slightly acidic pH value of the skin acts as a natural defense mechanism.
However, if harmful substances get into the skin, the so-called Langerhans cells located in the deeper layers of the skin ensure that they are removed. These cells thus represent another almost impenetrable barrier.
A highly sensitive system: the ph value
The pH value ("potentia hydrogennii") is a measure of the acidic or basic character of the skin. It can be between 0 (very acidic) and 14 (very basic or alkaline), where 7 stands for neutral. While our skin, depending on the body region, is slightly acidic with a pH value of 4.7 to 5.75, the pH value in the body is slightly alkaline at around 7.4. Pure water, for example, has a pH value of 7 and therefore does not affect the protective acid mantle.
However, the pH value rarely remains constant. It can deviate from the ideal value simply through incorrect care, an unhealthy lifestyle, advancing age or as a result of illnesses. Mostly it develops in the basic direction. “If the skin barrier is imbalanced, this is noticed by the disturbances that occur: dry or flaky skin, skin irritations, blemishes and redness, feelings of tension up to itching or increased sensitivity of the skin. In the long term, a weakened skin barrier can even lead to the skin reacting allergically to certain ingredients, ” explains Dr. Mandy, Scientific Director of Realr Skin Clinic.
These ingredients weaken your skin barrier
In conventional cosmetics, ingredients are sometimes used that weaken the skin barrier and can lead to skin problems in the long term. You should therefore look carefully and check the INCIs on the packaging with the Realr Skin Clinic.
Artificial emulsifiers, mostly polyethylene glycols (PEGs), can loosen important fats from the skin. Surfactants also work. The skin loses its elasticity and dries out. In addition, emulsifiers can make the skin more permeable. Possible consequences of the weakened skin barrier are skin irritation, impurities, redness or allergies.
Preservatives ensure a longer shelf life and protect creams from bacteria and germs. They are produced synthetically, but natural preservatives in natural cosmetics can also cause irritation and allergies. Parabens are also suspected of being hormonally effective.
Especially with a weakened skin barrier, the skin can react sensitively to synthetic fragrances or essential oils . Irritation, irritation and, in the worst case, allergic reactions can be triggered in this way.
Even bad, aggressive alcohol removes moisture from the skin and dries it out over time.
Mineral oils, on the other hand, put a film over the skin and close the pores. The crux of the matter: The skin feels wonderfully soft at first, but in the long term it can dry out and age prematurely. Here you can read about the terms behind mineral oil.
These ingredients strengthen your skin barrier
In addition to INCIs that weaken the skin barrier, there are also those that strengthen the sensitive protective film. You should pay attention to these three substances:
Only ceramides have the ability to repair the skin barrier and to glue the cells together again like cement. Hence, they are an essential ingredient for healthy, glowing skin.
Despite some criticism, it is clear that glycerine supplies the skin with moisture in the right concentration and protects it from negative environmental influences. " Glycerine strengthens the upper horny layer, increases the elasticity of the skin and protects it from drying out," said Dr. Mandy Hecht.
Beta-glucan is a natural alternative. The active ingredient found in mushrooms and plants has anti-inflammatory and free radicals. It promotes the rebuilding of a weakened skin barrier and ensures that moisture is stored in the skin.
Natural fats and oils
Also natural fats and oils fulfill the function of cement and ensure a balanced acid mantle and healthy skin. Plus, they're so much better than low-quality silicones and mineral oils. Shea butter contains natural fats in concentrations that are almost skin-like. Pure, cold-pressed oils such as rose hip oil, argan oil or jojoba oil also successfully rebuild and strengthen the skin barrier.
The right care for your skin
“Optimal care supports the protective acid mantle of the skin with pH 5.5. This is indicated on the products and helps keep the skin barrier in balance, ” advises Dr. Mandy Hecht.
If the care products are too acidic, they irritate the skin. With a basic pH value above 7, such as that found in classic soaps, moisture-binding lipids and salts are washed out of the skin. The skin dries out in the long run and becomes more prone to redness, irritation and eczema.
By the way: Over time, the pH value of our skin increases, which is why the skin's own regeneration processes are slowed down. Skin care products with a low pH value (4.0) are therefore ideal for more mature skin. In this way, the skin can be lowered back into the ideal, slightly acidic range by 5.5. Young skin with a rather low pH value, on the other hand, tolerates more alkaline products.
We have a wide range of treatments available to us, with a range of products tailored to your dermatological needs, in order to achieve the above-mentioned goals together with you.
Contact one of our specialists today for a free skin consultation to find a skincare management plan that’s right for you.