Repairing The Appearance Of A Damaged Lipid Barrier

The lipid barrier, also referred to as The Acid Mantle. It is our first line of defence against the onslaught of the environment.

The acid mantle is the culmination of many efforts by various pre-ceding cells, systems and events. The Lipid Barrier maintains the acidic pH of our skin keeping unwanted bacteria at bay. It is our waterproofing barrier, ensuring that we do not evaporate every time we go swimming or bathe. It obstructs TEWL, or Trans-Epidermal Water Loss and maintains the skin’s hydration levels. To name but a few. Without it, we could have a compromised, irritated, reactive, sensitive skin that appears red and dry or dehydrated.

First and foremost, as Estheticians, it is not within our scope to diagnose. But, we should certainly be equipped to recognize the appearance of such a skin condition. The signs may be obvious, as stated above, with an irritated skin that is red and inflamed. Or may be more subtle, with the occurrence of infectious breakouts because of the lack of the acidic pH.

The client may be your best source of information during the all important consultation. Listen for clues such as; “No matter what I use, even product for sensitive skins, burns” or, “My skin is constantly dry and red”.

Ultimately, a healthy lipid barrier may contribute to a healthy, soft and hydrated skin.

Early Discovery

Back in the 1920’s, Macrhionini and Schade identified the acid mantle, noting that chronic alkalization can imbalance the delicate layer. They concluded that this can lead to

inflammation, dermatitis and atopic skin diseases. It is now easy to correlate that discovery to multiple skin conditions we see regularly today. When doing client consultations, it is always interesting, as a skin care professional to talk to a bemused client about their red and irritated skin, only to discover that they are using a foaming face wash or soap, albeit “African Black Soap for Sensitive Skin”!

Righting The Wrongs

As Skin Care Professionals, we can only make recommendations within our scope of practice.
At the very foundation of the acid mantle is Essential Fatty Acids. A skin that is EFA deficient, will have and impaired acid mantle. EFA’s contribute to the creation of ceramides in our skin and the ultimate formation of the acid mantle. Recommending the client see a professional in this field to correct any internal deficiencies will go a long way in the long term effectiveness of a treatment program.

Changing the clients cleanser is a simple way to change the appearance of their skin. Ensure they are using the correct cleanser, such as a mild creamy cleanser, to support and not strip the delicate lipid layers.

Corrective skin care that includes the use of Vitamin A in the ester forms, will also contribute to the creation of healthy skin cells with a more compact stratum corneum with a better barrier function.