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What Is the Acid Mantle? – How to Fix Your Skin’s Acid Mantle – GoodHousekeeping.com

Posted: October 15, 2020 at 6:00 pm

The term "acid mantle" was first used in the early 1900s by German physicians, butit's only recently become a big buzzword hitting the skincare aisle thanks to moisturizers that tout "acid mantle repair" on their packaging. Yet so few of us know exactly what it means and why it's important. So we asked top dermatologists to give us the scoop on our skin's acid mantle.

What is the acid mantle layer of skin and why is it important?

The acid mantle is used to describe the acidic nature of your skin's surface. "It's this very thin film on the surface of our skin that acts as a barricade to bacteria and other viral substances trying to penetrate," says Sandra Lee, M.D., a board- certified dermatologist and founder of SLMD Skincare. This slight acidity not only protects against bacteria, but also preserves the skin's microbiome, ensures its structural integrity, and helps maintain its vital biological processes. Its our skins first line of defense, she explains.

Skin's acid mantle composed of sebum, which is the natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands in skin and our bodys sweat. The acid mantles composition is slightly acidic, due to the combination of the amino acids from sweat and the triglycerides, fatty acids, and wax esters contained in the sebum, says Marie Hayag, M.D., M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics.

There are several factors that can disrupt the acid mantle and the natural pH of skin. This can lead to dryness, redness, irritation, and even a more aged appearance. The most common include:

"When the acid mantle is disrupted, it allows for irritants and bacteria to enter," Dr. Hayag says, so it's crucial to protect skin's natural barrier. Here are the best ways to restore the acid mantle and prevent future damage:

Facial Cleanser

Hydrating Facial Cleanser


Chemical Exfoliator

Resurfacing Acne Swipes

Restoring Cream

Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2


Body Cleanser

White Beauty Bar

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