A few months back we taught you the importance of protecting and maintaining a healthy microbiome for your skin. As we head into winter, it’s time for a follow up. It's time for Skin Barrier 101.
Read on to learn about the different layers of your skin barrier, why you need to protect it, and how your microbiome plays its role.
In the simplest of terms, the skin barrier is comprised of three parts; the microbiome, the acid mantle and the lipid barrier. When working in perfect harmony the skin barrier really earns its name as it is designed to ward off pathogens and keep as much hydration as possible in the skin. With pathogens at bay and hydration at a high level, your skin function is at its healthiest when your skin barrier is strong.
Okay, let's break down the layers of the skin barrier.
The microbiome is collection of diverse bacteria (the good kind!) and organisms that reside on the top layer of your skin (full refresher course here).
Below the microbiome you find the acid mantle. The acid mantle is comprised of the secretions from your sebaceous and sweat glads. You know at the end of day when your skin feels extra oily or there is an added slickness to your skin? That's your acid mantle in full bloom. But after you wash your skin (and wash away all secretions), you get back to slick free skin.
While washing your face naturally strips the acid mantle to a degree, you don't want to over strip it. If you over strip the acid mantle and disrupt the delicate acidic leaning ph balance, things can get really out of whack. The acid mantle can start to OVER produce secretions and you're on your way to a clogged pore situation.
Even more so, you want that acid mantle to remain slightly acidic to deter the growth of bad bacteria that can lead to acne.
Okay, onto your lipid barrier, that last piece of the skin barrier puzzle. The lipid barrier resides underneath the acid mantle and is comprised of lipids, ceramides and fatty acids. Its purpose is to protect the body from excessive water loss through the skin and prevent foreign compounds from entering the body through the skin (it really lives up to the name 'barrier.') The lipid barrier also thrives best when the ph of the acid mantle is maintained.
If you haven't caught on yet --- the pH of the acid mantle is really where its at to keep the skin barrier healthy and barrier-y :) It should be between a 4.4 and 6 pH.
How do you keep that middle child of an acid mantle well balanced?
Most importantly, find a cleanser that does not strip your skin. If your skin feels excessively dry or tight after you wash it, that likely means your acid mantle is compromised or your cleanser is stripping too much. Le Cleanser was developed to be non-foaming and ultra hydrating in an effort to support and protect the pH of your skin.
If you think your skin barrier is already damaged, you will want to give it all the moisture it can handle to help it repair itself. Slugging with thick moisturizer like Le Baume is just want the skin barrier needs.
And of course, don’t over do. The last thing a damaged skin barrier needs is layers upon layers of harsh active ingredients, like acids. You skin knows what to do. Just give it the space, and trust the process for your skin to heal itself.