Good Balance: What it Means for Your Skin
You often hear the term “balanced” in regard to skin, as if having balanced skin is a preventative panacea for everything from acne to wrinkles to all manner of dermatitis. That’s because it pretty much is. So, let’s start at the beginning, with exactly what needs to be in balance – from your skin’s lipid barrier to your skin’s microbiome and acid mantle.
Let’s talk Lipid Barrier, Shall We?
For starters, your skin’s lipid barrier is another way of saying the outermost layer of your skin, which shields you from the environment and acts as a protective barrier from the outside world. The lipid barrier is also the key to your skin’s moisture barrier. This layer is so important in maintaining healthy, firm, hydrated skin! It not only minimizes water loss from within, but it also helps keep moisture intact from your skincare routine. With a hydrated barrier, skin is strengthened and better equipped to maintain a healthy moisture balance.
So, What the Heck is a Microbiome?
There’s much to say about what the microbiome is, but in short, it’s the veil of microorganisms that live on your skin, protecting it from all sorts of things that can keep it from feeling and looking its healthy best. You can picture it as your skin’s lipid barrier being protected by a last line of defense, the microbiome. When this complex world of bacteria, fungi and other microbes is disrupted or not diverse enough, your skin can become more susceptible to environmental aggressors, sun damage, dryness, excessive oiliness, acne and more. And while each person’s microbiome is different due to factors like climate, age, gender and so forth, the principles of taking care of it apply to everyone.
The Acid Mantle: Mind your p(H)’s and q’s!
Now that we know what the microbiome is, you might be wondering what that has to do with skin balance. Besides moisture balance, pH balance is another measure of healthy skin. “pH” stands for “potential of hydrogen” or “power of hydrogen,” which is a measurement of hydrogen ion concentration.
The pH of a solution is measured on a scale from 0-14, so 7 is pH neutral, anything below 7 is acidic, while anything above 7 is alkaline. (Having chemistry class flashbacks? We promise not to test you.)
Interestingly enough, your skin’s natural healthy pH is acidic, coming in at an average below 5 (with a minimum as low as 4, pending many factors like age and gender).
What does pH balance mean for your skin though?
Think of a balanced skin pH as the equivalent of a healthy ecosystem in which good, residential bacteria thrive and harmful “bugs” have a hard time interfering. The acid mantle is that layer between your skin barrier and microbiome that creates a surface for residential bacteria to stay attached. Small shifts in pH can also determine which bacteria dominate the system. You can think of the residential bacteria being a complex yet sophisticated community with many functions that help keep you healthy and protected.
You know that tight, “squeaky clean” feeling you can experience after you wash your face? That’s a sign you’ve probably used something too alkaline, like common bar soap. And it also means you’ve most likely disrupted your acid mantle and shifted the balance of the microbiome community.
Unfortunately, this can also happen with cleansers you feel are “safe” and even just the use of water alone. Skin pH will rebalance and return back to its natural pH value over time, but that can take hours.
You can help rebalance a disrupted acid mantle by choosing skincare products to help maintain your skin’s natural healthy pH. Our Rescue Rebalancing Cleanser is a great place to start!
Cleansing: The Great Balancing Act
Funny enough in terms of skincare, cleansing properly in order to keep your skin balanced can be a balancing act in itself. You have to cleanse your skin to remove makeup, the day’s grime, sunscreen, pollution, etc., and you also have to take care not to disrupt your acid mantle and/or damage your skin’s barrier. Those with skin troubles like blemishes know this cleansing tension all too well.
Net-net, the best rule of thumb with cleansing is to incorporate products that keep your skin balanced and pay attention to how your skin feels post use.
Our goal is to maintain a healthy moisture and pH balance for your skin. Double cleansing is a great method to follow: Use a gentle, mild-surfactant-based cleanser like Nuria Hydrate Refreshing Micellar Water to lift away makeup and sunscreen, then use a water-based cleanser like Nuria Rescue Rebalancing Cleanser or Nuria Defend Purifying Cleanser to remove oil and/or balm residue, while still keeping your skin hydrated with naturally-occurring humectants like glycerin. This combination removes pore-clogging troublemakers yet keeps your skin’s barrier safe and sound – balanced skin that’s bright and glowing!