July 20, 2020
One of the main functions of your skin is to protect you! But have you ever wondered how, exactly, it does this?!
The outermost layer of skin (the part we see every single day) is called the epidermis. It acts as a physical barrier that prevents harmful bacteria and viruses from entering your skin and prevents too much water from escaping (TEWL).
But did you know that there are two other essential layers on top of your epidermis that help protect your skin?
First, there's the microbiome: a community of good bacteria that lives on your skin and acts as the first line of defense to prevent harmful irritants, pollution, and allergens from entering.
Your skin's microbiome lives right on your acid mantle: a slightly acidic protective layer on top of your skin made up of things like sebum (oil) and fatty acids.
The pH of a healthy acid mantle sits somewhere around 4.5-5.5, but if your pH becomes too high or too low, it can disrupt your microbiome.
Things like using the wrong skincare products, poor eating habits, over exfoliating (yes that’s right, no need to exfoliate more than 1-2 times a week), smoking, pollution, and sun damage can disrupt both the acid mantle and microbiome, causing issues like irritation, breakouts, redness, sensitivity, and transepidermal water loss. No one wants that!
So what can we do to keep our skin healthy?
Cleansing is one of the most important steps in your skincare routine. But too much of a good thing isn't always the best for your skin.
Cleansing too often can remove too much of your skin's natural oils and disrupt the acid mantle. To be safe, wash your face no more than twice a day.
It's also important to make sure you're using the right cleanser.
Have you ever noticed an uncomfortable dry and tight feeling on your skin after washing your face?! That's a sign it's time to switch cleansers because you’re stripping your skin and compromising your microbiome.
Since your skin's pH is slightly acidic, avoid cleansers that may be too harsh or too alkaline. This means keeping bar soap far away from your face!
I recommend starting your day with using a cool wet cloth to wash away the night. No need to cleanse in the morning unless you feel like your skin needs a gentle cleanse, in that case try a gentle purifying cleanser. Then ending the day with a gentle double cleanse.
Probiotics are live "good" bacteria, like the ones that already live on your skin!
We know that consuming foods high in probiotics (like yogurt) is good for our gut health. But did you know it's important to include probiotics in your skincare routine too?!
Probiotic skincare can help strengthen your microbiome and keep your skin at its most optimal pH! Misting with a probiotic toner like Phyto Tonic right after cleansing will feed your skin and balance your pH as well. WIN-WIN!
Since the acid mantle is composed of fatty acids, try using oils that also contain those components, like pomegranate and rosehip seed oil.
Oils can also play a role in keeping your skin hydrated by slowing the rate at which water evaporates from your skin. Our Clean Slate Balm can be used as an overnight mask to prevent TEWL!
Lastly, UV damage is one of the biggest disruptors to your acid mantle and microbiome. Make sure to wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine. Your skin will thank you!
Antioxidants in your skincare routine also help to protect your skin from free radical damage.
A happy microbiome and acid mantle is one of the keys to healthy, glowing skin. Follow these tips to keep these protective layers balanced!
To learn more about antioxidants for your skin, check out why Vitamin C is your skin's best friend.
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