Why You Should Care About Your Skin’s Natural Barrier Function
So what’s with the buzz about our skin’s natural barrier function, anyway?
If you are using Skin Harmonics products, then your natural barrier function (aka your “acid mantle”) is joyously happy and doing a disco dance every day because of your care.
On the other hand, if you’re using products that don’t mesh with your flesh, you may have a bummer barrier. And sad skin barrier function leads to inflammation, more sun damage, congestion, hyperpigmentation, more wrinkles, and accelerated aging. Essentially, if your acid mantle isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.
You see, our skin is an intelligent, permeable membrane by design. Our skin naturally prevents the absorption of germs, viruses, and natural environmental elements so they don’t enter our bloodstream and bodies.
But how does our skin know what to absorb and what not to?
By and large, this depends on how happy and healthy our skin is — and a big part of this comes down to the genius of our skin’s acid mantle.
Let’s break it down a little further. Our skin has three communicating layers:
- inner dermis
- outer epidermis
- acid mantle residue
This three-part system gives our skin the functionality required for healthy living.
Think of our outer epidermis as having the dual ability to be both a permeable wicking layer and impermeable barrier that allows absorption of varying degrees; some things enter, but not others, depending mostly on molecule size and pH. Sort of like a kitchen strainer, or panning for gold, except in this case, the unwanted stuff stays out and the yummy stuff gets in. This layer is really quite brilliant, if you stop and think about it.
Our inner dermal layer is the wonderful place where new skin cells are manufactured. Want radiant skin? Your inner dermal’s cooking up the freshness. But (bad news) most products on the market today are actually getting in the way of this process, rather than helping.
The third layer is our acid mantle (ding-ding-ding, the phrase of the day!). This is technically more of an invisible residue rather than an actual layer of our skin, but don’t let that fool you; it’s no less an important teammate in the trio. Yet, the importance of this part of our skin is often overlooked, rarely mentioned, and disregarded altogether. The lack of awareness and understanding of our skin’s natural barrier function has a massive negative effect on the health of our skin.
It is one major missing puzzle piece in so many people’s skincare routines.
Even more: All conventional acne and anti-aging products actively disrupt and disable an otherwise healthy and intact acid mantle.
Think about it: Ever wonder why your great-grandmother had such supple skin? For one, she did not subject her skin to today’s acne and anti-aging products and procedures. And secondly, she probably wasn’t dealing with environmental pollutants, like plastics, and she enjoyed unprocessed foods. We might not be able to control all of our skin’s external environmental enemies, but we sure don’t have to add fuel to the flames by tearing down its main defense mechanism.
Likewise, many women joke how unfair it is that men have such great skin without putting any effort into it. The reason: The very effort that women are putting into trying to improve their skin is destroying it, leading them to try harder; it’s an endless spiral that starts with the common skin care products that claim to help. (To be fair, women also genetically have more delicate and thin skin than biological men, plus more complicated hormones and digestive tracts; these factors do also contribute to problems that men may never experience.)
The health of our precious acid mantle is crucial. Skin that is trying to function without a healthy acid mantle will lose some serious IQ points when discerning what elements to let in or not for optimal skin and body health.
Our acid mantle is naturally slightly acidic, so it will kill germs and viruses on contact. This miraculous, invisible film also has the capacity to trap water in our skin, where it can hold pore canals open for proper function, to balance oil production, and to plump out fine lines.
Our skin’s innate genius is optimized when it receives dermal nutrients, has maximized epidermal hydration, and has an intact and supported acid mantle that is achieved by using a “heavier” moisturizer rich in lipids.
Only these things will help our skin perform the intelligent discernment at the genius level it was born to do — and look gorgeous doing it. Just like your great-grandmother.