Importance of Healthy Skin Barrier
When we started working on Aminu in 2018, the only thing I knew about skincare was that sunscreen is a must. Prachi took a course for the founding team, which we now call Skin 101. Among other things, I found (what I now call) the superhero layers of skin most fascinating. Superhero? As a team of superheroes, they are critical in protecting our skin and the rest of the body from external dangers, yet most people don’t know about them. After a quick overview of the layers, the journal entry is more in the form of Q&As, which I hope answer some mysteries about your skin and skincare. (PS: You can always start with the Q&A and come back to the overview).
There are three protective layers on the surface of our skin:
It is the first layer of defense and is also known as skin flora. It consists of more than a thousand different kinds of bacteria and other microorganisms.
1. Fight bad bacteria - Good bacteria keep the population of bad bacteria (such as acne-causing bacteria) in check by competing with bad bacteria for food.
2. Fight fungi & pathogens - Certain good bacteria prevent the growth of fungus on our skin by secreting anti-fungal substance
Below the microbiome is a protective film made up of amino acids, sweat, the oil secreted by the skin, and residues from NMF. This mix of water and oil layer is acidic in nature with an ideal pH range of 4.5-5.5. This layer helps in several different ways:
1. Infection Control - Acid Mantle prevents all bacteria (good and bad), fungi, viruses from entering our body and causing internal infections
2. Soft skin - It keeps your skin soft and cracks free
3. Sebum Control - It activates enzymes that help break down excess sebum (oil) secreted by the skin and remove it from the surface of the skin
The last of the superhero layers is called the lipid barrier and is made up of fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides, and other oily/waxy residues excreted by the skin. It has a mesh-like structure, and the composition of the lipid barrier is close to coconut oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, or olive oil. Thus, products made of these oils will help strengthen the lipid barrier and keep your skin protected. The lipid barrier performs these essential functions:
1. Water retention - Prevents water loss from our skin
2. Intelligent access control - Allows friendly and useful things to go inside but prevents foreign unknown particles and pathogens from going inside the skin
3. Free radicals - Prevents free radicals from damaging our skin cells
Q.1 How can I maintain a healthy microflora on my skin?
Do not use harsh cleansers, regularly exfoliate your skin, and use products that are probiotic such as Aminu's Hydrating Cream to maintain a healthy flora on your skin.
Q.2 Why is it important to find out the pH of your products and not rely on ‘pH balanced’ products?
The term "pH balanced" can be misleading. What you actually want to know is whether it is "pH balanced for skin" or, more precisely if the product's pH is in the range of 3.5-6.5. Regular use of alkaline products (several cleansers in the market today are highly alkaline) destroys the acid mantle and leaves your skin unprotected from bacteria and other infections. Also, as the skin becomes more alkaline (higher pH), certain enzymes get activated, which then break down collagen and make your skin saggy and wrinkly. Aminu's cleaners have a pH < 6.5.
Q.3 I have oily skin and therefore I clean my face 3x a day, but I still get acne?
Over-washing your face destroys all three superhero layers of your skin and makes your skin surface alkaline. P. acnes – acne-causing super villain bacteria thrive in alkaline conditions and cause frequent acne breakouts. Instead, use a gentle cleanser along with light moisturizing cream and exfoliate your skin regularly.
Q.4 My skin is very sensitive. Whenever I use any product it becomes red and itchy or dry and flaky. Why?
Increased skin sensitivity is also likely due to a fragile acid mantle. As a result, whenever you use alkaline cleansers, it instantly weakens your acid mantle, allowing bacteria and fungus to enter your skin and create havoc freely. The redness or itchiness is nothing but your skin's reaction to fight these pathogens. Strengthen your acid mantle by using Aminu’s Hydrating Cream that will build your skin’s natural ability to stay hydrated.
Q.5 I always had sensitive/delicate skin, but in my mid-30s, it went from bad to worse. Why?
As you grow old, the acid mantle's pH starts to become more alkaline due to environmental aggressors or prolonged use of wrongly formulated products (alkaline pH). At one point, the acid mantle is destroyed, paving the way for extreme dryness, flakiness, permanent inflammation, redness, acne, or even rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Use Aminu' Soothing Cream or any other moisturizer that will help restrengthen your superhero layers and revive your natural radiance.
Q.6 What happens when you over-exfoliate your skin?
Whenever we exfoliate, the acid mantle is disturbed a little and takes 8-14 hours to completely reform on the surface of our skin. Hence, it is recommended that you exfoliate at night, allowing it to recoup while you sleep. Over-exfoliation with acid based peels can also damage the lipid barrier.
Q.7 I have been using cleanser and moisturizer regularly for several years. Why am I suddenly facing skin issues?
Prolonged use of wrongly formulated products (alkaline pH) damages the acid mantle paving the way for extreme dryness, flakiness, permanent inflammation, redness, acne, or even rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. To understand your skin better and the underline causes of skin issues talk to our skin aesthetician.
Q.8 Why is bleaching not good for your skin?
Bleaching products are highly alkaline and destroy your acid mantle. Regular bleaching can damage it beyond repair, making your skin extremely sensitive and prone to acne, redness, hyper pigmentation, inflammation, and other ailments.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this journal are those of the authors and are for information purposes only and not medical advice. Further, they do not reflect the opinions or views of Aminu Wellness Pvt Ltd or any of its directors. Any content provided by the author(s) are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone, or anything.