5 things not to do to strip your skin’s acid mantle

Acid mantle is the natural protective film that is created by our sebaceous and sweat glands to protect our skin. Healthy skin has a pH level of around 5.5 and is a slightly acidic to help ward off certain microorganisms from the skin’s surface. Bacteria love alkalinity and the acid keeps them away. Thus if our acid mantle becomes disrupted, our skin can lose its moisture and be prone to infection and damage. Hence, it’s important not to strip our acid mantle and speed up skin aging! Today, I’ll look at five things NOT TO DO to disrupt our skin’s acid mantle.

1. Over washing
While we need to cleanse our face but overdoing it can cause skin dryness and irritation. You’re recommended to wash your face twice a day and I’ll say you should wash no more than three times day even if you have oilier skin type. In addition, you should be using a mild cleanser with a netural pH level, preferably one that is SLS or SLES-free or at least one that is not too harsh or too alkaline. Personally, I wash my face twice a day and although I always advocate double cleansing, I only double cleanse once in the evening.

2. Over exfoliating
Exfoliation of the skin is an important step in cleansing our skin as it can remove the dead skin cells that may have accumulated on the top layer of the epidermis. It is good to exfoliate with a scrub or a gentle AHA/BHA based product once or twice a week but I certainly do not recommend being overly enthusiastic about the process. Be extra cautious when using home-based microdermabrasion systems or those Clarisonic type of facial cleansing brushes as the overuse of such systems or products can possibly cause a certain amount of skin trauma if one is not careful. Acne and pimples can erupt with an over cleansed and exfoliated face as the natural lipids are stripped and the skin has no protection!

3. Over steaming
When you steam your face too often, you are ruining your acid mantle. This is why your skin becomes drier when you steam often as your acid mantel lose its moisture and you’ll start to notice wrinkles around your eyes and mouth. Personally, I don’t steam my face and I wouldn’t even recommend that you steam your face especially when you have dry skin.

4. Over exposure to environmental elements
Over exposing your skin to the sun or wind can also remove the acid mantle. Hence, always use a generous amount of sunscreen when you have to be under the hot sun and moisturize your skin well when the weather turns windy and cold. Take care of your skin!

5. Over treatment
Do be careful what types of treatment products you use on your skin; incorrect pH products can contribute to acid mantle degradation. Products containing a high amount of alcohol can strip your skin’s acid mantle. Many acne medications are also too harsh and can ruin your acid mantle. The same applies to natural ingredients such as baking soda that can be too alkaline. I’ve also read that if you’re applying more than one product on your skin, it’s good to wait awhile as you may not know their pH level and layering them too quickly may affect the acid mantle. I guess this is why most instructions tell us to wait more than 10 mins to apply anything over certain active ingredients or treatment products.


  1. xin says:

    i know it is bad…but i always accidentally over-exfoliate my skin when i get carried away with scrubbing/clarisonic =/

  2. EcoBeauty says:

    same with xin… I over exfoliate my skin sometimes. It’s because I sometimes get frustrated with my uneven skin tone. I guess I shouldn’t buy clarisonic, I might go crazy, haha!

  3. Soos says:

    I’ve used cleansers, toners and scrubs that were too harsh. And for a long time, I didn’t use moisturizer. But now that there are more oil-free moisturizers to choose from, there’s no excuse.

  4. sesame says:

    Do be cautious…with the brush, don’t use it daily and be gentle when using it.

  5. sesame says:

    I have uneven skin too but I try not to exfoliate too often. At one stage, I did 3 times a week and lines were showing around my eyes!

  6. sesame says:

    No moisturizers? I need at least some facial oils.

  7. Chelsea says:

    Pretty kind to my skin nowadays. But no telling how much damage I did during my teen years… broke every rule consistently!

  8. sesame says:

    At least you’re over that phase and you’re treating your skin well. Acid mantle, thankfully, can be restored!

  9. Swati says:

    wow Sesame..this post came at the right time…I have been thinking long about doing a post on dangers of over-doing the beauty routines and was searching on it…this is just perfect!!! thanks ?

  10. sesame says:

    You’re welcome! Hope you find something useful for your purpose. ?

  11. Crow says:

    I do have dry skin, and especially now in our long winter. We are building a steam room…any way to protect my face while I am using the steam room.

    Also I made a sugar scrub( honey,olive oil, sugar) mostly due to the wonderful moisturizing I feel from the oil oil layer that remains behind. Is this too harsh also to use every other day?
    Should I put thick oil on my dry skin before I head for a winter walk??

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