Have you ever heard of the acid mantle? If you have, well done, most people haven’t. The acid mantle while not well known, is the reason for a lot of skin issues. Things such as dryness, oiliness, acne, premature aging and much more can be attributed to an acid mantle that isn’t working at its highest capacity.
Skin has a PH, a balance that keeps everything normal and healthy. The acid mantle is a barrier that is made mostly from sebum. Your skin’s PH is naturally a little more on the acidic side and that’s where it likes to stay. Unfortunately most of what we do and interact with on a daily basis plays with that PH. Skincare products, (especially acne products and exfoliants) the environment, toxins, and lifestyle break down that protective barrier. Once this happens you’re likely to encounter some indicators that things are going wrong. Your skin could feel too dry or too oily, breakouts could follow as well as redness and irritation. Since it really is your skin’s first line of defense, it’s not unpredictable that once damaged, things like viruses and bacteria can get in quicker. A classic indicator that your skin’s PH is off is a feeling of tightness or if it is suddenly producing more oil than what is normal for your skin.
The good news is , as delicate as the acid mantle is, it can be restored. It’s safe to say a few years ago my acid mantle was quite off. When I was around 15 and getting breakouts on my forehead I decided I would do the old toothpaste trick. Instead though, I decided to do the nuclear option and put a thin coat of toothpaste on my ENTIRE forehead. As redness and more breakouts showed up I continued to do this along with sulfur spot treatments. My skin was not happy as it shouldn’t have been. About two years later after many more prescription acne products I started doing some research and realized there was a possibility part of the acne could be contributed to my skin’s PH being out of balance.
After reading that there was a fine balance of oil and moisture going on I decided to use plain grapeseed oil to give back what had been lost. Feeding oil back into something that needs oil allows your skin to relax. It’s the reason a lot of times cleansing oils will be recommended to people with oily skin. I immediately noticed a difference. It was like hitting a reset button on my skin. Technically the acid mantle can restore itself in anywhere to 15 minutes to around 15 days, however I felt that everything came back to life in about a month, but after the abuse it had endured it’s not surprising it took a little longer.
Using the oil and completely removing stripping acne products was pretty much all I had to do to get my skin back to a place I could work with it again. It can be scary to go off the acne topical medications and things of that nature, but they could be the very thing causing the acne to be there in the first place. I would recommend using a plain grapeseed, jojoba or olive oil at night after cleansing with a cleansing milk. Use a toner if you wish, just make sure that it does not contain alcohol or witch hazel. Also, you don’t have to douse your face in oil, your skin knows what to do with even a little bit. You can dab off excess with a paper towel to ensure that what goes on your skin goes in your skin. It’s that simple. Once you notice a difference in your skin and it is in a place where you feel healing has taken place you can introduce other products again, but this time around go a lot gentler.
*One more word to the wise, wear something you don’t care about to sleep in just in case it does get oil on it.*