Is Your Acne Caused by Upset Acid Mantle? | Skin pH and Acne
December 12, 2018
By Kali Kushner
This topic is one of the most underrated things in skincare. It’s something we never really talk about. We use a lot of different products and stick to general skincare rules but we don’t think about the pH of a product and how it could interfere with our skin and make things worse. Sounds lame, right? But it’s really important.
Your skin is fairly acidic, which helps it ward off the advances of harmful bacteria and fungi. The optimal pH of human skin is 5.5 and you can measure it with a piece of litmus paper. Other people’s pH is less which is about 4.5 and some have more which is about 6.5. Your sweat with the sebum on your skin to form something is called an acid mantle, which has a pH of 4 to 5.5. The skin constantly gets into a cycle in order to maintain that pH level. If one uses harsh products or too much exfoliators or toners, then it could turn the pH level crazy.
A lot of people who suffer from acne probably have not also thought of their skin’s pH because the assumption is when one buys over the counter products or those brands we see on social media then it’s safe. A very important reminder is to test it with pH strips -- if it’s over 6-6.5 then throw it out. Our skin has a protective barrier called acid mantle where your skin’s pH level is a 5.5. It’s like an invisible veil that’s all over your skin. It keeps the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out. It basically protects your skin and your whole body from bacteria, viruses, and acne.
When the acid mantle is stripped, or when the skin’s pH is disrupted, that will make it more susceptible and more prone to breakouts. In short, using products which are 6.5 or 7 or those alkaline products.
HOW THE ACID MANTLE BECOMES DISRUPTED
USING BAR SOAPS
One example is the african black soap. Basically, any bar soap has a very high pH because it has alkali. They have a pH level of about 9 or 10 and the african black soap is no exception. The first time I used it and saw results, maybe it was just my skin balancing out. Over time, that squeaky clean feeling that you get means that you’ve just completely washed away the acid mantle. Although the skin has the ability to repair itself, if one keeps on damaging it, the repair process becomes slower.
This can also happen with over exfoliating and using products that are acidic. These are products which has AHAs and BHAs. If you use these products more than 2-3 times per week then that’s probably too much, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you have that skin type then do it once every 2 weeks or even just once a week.
Even using tap water for some people is too much. Especially if you have sensitive skin, this can also cause acne. It is because the pH level of tap water is about a 7 or 8.
OVERUSE OF SKINCARE PRODUCTS OR OVERWASHING YOUR FACE
I used to wash my face twice a day then it went down to once a day but now, although it sounds bad, I don’t wash it everyday and it got better.
If you think your acid mantle has been disrupted or damaged, think of the less is more approach. Let your skin restore itself for a little while. Cut back on the products and see how that works for you. The acid mantle restoration depends from person to person and could take from 4 minutes to 24 hours. But again, the more you keep on damaging it, the weaker and slower it gets and the more susceptible to acne you’re going to be. Acne also loves an alkaline environment so the more alkaline your skin is, the more your acne is going to get worse.
WAYS TO TELL IF YOUR ACID MANTLE IS DAMAGED
TRIED MULTIPLE DIFFERENT PRODUCTS BUT NOTHING WORKS
No matter what you do, if your acid mantle is upset, nothing will work as you need to repair that acid mantle first. The past 2 or 3 months, I was struggling with this. It seemed like whatever I use or do, I just keep on getting more and more cysts. I tried eliminating every food group and literally tried just about everything. Then I realized, I will try nothing. I was doing caveman for a bit but now, I’m just moisturizing, and oil cleanse every now and then and that’s been like great. If you have literally tried everything and you still have acne, I think just let your skin be and see what happens. Promise it won’t go crazy, it won’t explode as I thought it would.
TRIED MULTIPLE DIFFERENT DIET OR LIFESTYLE CHANGES BUT NO DIFFERENCE IN SKIN
This past year, it feels like I have tried everything! I’ve been on Accutane, antibiotics, digestive health, almost everything except parasite cleanse. You know what? Just give your skin and mind a break.
If you’re dealing with persistent acne that would never go away, it could be an acid mantle issue. I want everyone to know about this as it was not something I knew 2-3 weeks ago. It seems so simple and basic but perhaps you have products which have high alkalinity which would upset your acid mantle and as a result, will give you acne so I think getting this information out is important.
ABOUT OIL CLEANSING
pH actually measures the potential of hydrogen in water. There’s no water in oil so there’s no pH there. Therefore, oil will not disrupt your acid mantle. As long as you’re completely washing it off and not clogging your pores, it’s not going to upset your acid mantle but it will keep everything the same and you will be able to balance your skin out. So this is a good option if you’re struggling with a compromised skin barrier.
If you find out that you’re using alkaline products or a bar soap with a pH of 10, throw it out. If your face feels super tight after washing, again, this means that you just washed away your acid mantle. You want to keep the acid mantle as it will protect your skin, it will keep everything good and the bad stuff out.
Hopefully, you guys are now more interested with acid mantle, do more research on it and you’re going to kick acne’s b*tt!