You may have heard about protecting your skin’s moisture barrier, but what about the lesser-known acid mantle? “The acid mantle is a mixture of oil and sweat that maintains an acidic pH in the outermost layer of the skin,” says Dr. Ramya Garlapati, a board-certified dermatologist based in Los Angeles, California. “It’s an important factor in normal skin barrier function and protects the skin from irritants, germs, environmental pollutants and UV damage.”
Why a Healthy Acid Mantle Matters
In order for your skin cells to function properly, your skin’s acid mantle must remain at a slightly acidic pH level. If the acid mantle is not at an optimal pH level (5.5, to be exact!), it will impact your skin’s moisture barrier, which could lead to “irritation, dryness and dull-appearing skin,” says Dr. Garlapati.
How to Maintain a Healthy Acid Mantle
Look to barrier-repair products with hydrating ingredients. “It’s important to use creams and lotions that contain emollient and humectant ingredients such as ceramides, squalene, petrolatum, shea butter, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and colloidal oatmeal,” says Dr. Garlapati. “These ingredients work to rehydrate, repair and maintain the normal skin barrier.”
Some of our favorite barrier-repair products include the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, a gentle formula packed with ceramides, hyaluronic and glycerin; the Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum and the Youth to the People Polypeptide-121 Future Cream, which hydrates the skin with peptides, plant proteins and ceramides.
Image: Chaunte Vaughn