The Skin Barrier, Acid Mantle & Microbiome: Why They're Important
One of my fav skincare mantras is “listen to your skin”.
In order for us to create an effective skincare routine that’s tailored to our specific needs, we need to understand the skin and be more educated on it. However, if you’re someone who doesn't have a background in dermatology, this can seem quite confusing and overwhelming.
So in this article, I will give you no-fluff, no-frills and easy-to-understand information on the skin barrier, acid mantle and microbiome. You'll learn what they are, what they do and why you should care. 💪
The Skin Barrier
The skin barrier refers to the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of your skin. Think of this layer as a wall. To build a wall, you need bricks, mortar and rivets.
The bricks in this case are “dead'' skin cells (aka. corneocytes). Then, between these bricks are gaps. These gaps are filled with a mortar made up of cholesterol, free fatty acids and ceramides. Rivets are what hold all the bricks together. These junctions are called corneo-desmosomes and they naturally loosen themselves to allow your dead skin cells to shed on a daily basis.
The main purpose of the skin barrier is to retain water within your skin, block foreign substances and environmental stressors, modulate your immune system, and fight off oxidative stress.
The Acid Mantle
This refers to the hydrolipidic film on the surface of the skin. It’s made up of water (hence the ‘hydro’ part), sweat and sebum (hence the ‘lipidic’ part). It’s also a part of the skin barrier, specifically the chemical protection of the skin.
This layer is acidic by nature. In fact, it has a pH range of around 4.5 - 5.5.
Due to this acidic nature, the acid mantle acts as a barricade to microbes and other foreign substances trying to penetrate our skin. It also preserves our skin microbiome and helps the skin to maintain moisture and suppleness.
We’ve talked about the skin microbiome before in our blog post titled, "Happy Mircobiome = Healthy Looking Skin. Sometimes referred to as the “skin flora”, it's a complex ecosystem of thousands of microorganisms with over 1,000 different types of bacteria and up to 80 different types of fungi.
Different microorganisms live on different areas of your skin. This depends on many factors, such as skin texture, thickness and humidity. For example, the microbes on your face are different from the microbes on your hands.
The microbiome guards you against potential pathogens that could affect your skin. This in turn helps to protect your immune system.
The skin barrier, acid mantle and microbiome work together in harmony to make up your first line of defense against the environment.
So how can you assist your skin to do its job better?🧐
First of all, you need to have a balanced diet and a healthy exercise regimen. By doing this, you keep your body happy and healthy from the inside out. It will also allow your skin to function better.
Aside from that, there are certain skincare ingredients you can look for to keep your skin happy.
Look for products containing ceramides. As I previously mentioned, one of the main components of the skin barrier is the ‘mortar’, which is made up of a mixture of several substances. Ceramides make up over 50% of this mixture!
You can find it in our Skin Stuff Face + Eye Cream.
Ensure you're taking care of your skin microbiome. To do that, look for products containing prebiotics and probiotics. Think of prebiotics as ‘food’ for the good bacteria on your skin to feast on in order to stay healthy. And probiotics are the reinforcement of ‘good’ bacteria that keep the ‘bad’ bacteria in check. Feeding your gut with prebiotics and probiotics will also help to support healthy skin.
So there you have it! Take care of your skin and it will take care of you 🥰
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