Your skin, composed of multiple layers of cells that protect your body, holds a world of fascination beyond imagination. In the beauty industry, the focus is well and truly on the hydrolipidic layer – our outermost shield. And if we’re on the hunt for healthy skin, then maintaining the fragile balance between water-friendly molecules and lipids deserves a prime spot on our skincare to-do list.
What is the hydrolipidic film?
The hydrolipidic film, also known as the acid mantle, is a delicate layer that pretty much covers our entire skin. It’s made up of roughly 95% sebum (the “fatty” stuff) and the remaining 5% is water.
Now, the “fatty” part is responsible for keeping water evaporation in check, while the water-based part’s superhero role is all about locking in skin hydration.
This dynamic duo is also your skin’s bodyguard, fending off infections, and it’s responsible for giving you your signature scent.
What happens when things get out of balance?
Let’s get the lowdown on lipids within the hydrolipidic film – they’re a bit different from the lipids found in our epidermis:
- Triglycerides (30-50%): These guys are responsible for preventing dry skin.
- Fatty acids (8-16%): Act as the mortar holding your skin cells together.
- Waxes (1-2%): These help keep skin clean and they’re especially handy in the battle against those pesky microorganisms.
- Squalene (0.5-1%): Think of this one as your skin’s shield against the sun. It also plays a vital role in reducing water loss, saving you from parched skin.
- Cholesterol and derivatives (35-45%): These have a fundamental role in the structure and barrier function of the skin.
Each of these lipids has an important job in keeping your skin shipshape and healthy. An imbalance in the hydrolipidic film can trigger a host of skin problems, such as dryness, sensitivity, acne, and inflammation. Dry, flaky skin is perhaps one of the most common signs of a weakened lipid barrier, which causes the skin to lose its ability to retain moisture. Another common sign that something is wrong with your acid mantle balance is sensitized skin. When the skin’s barrier function stops working properly, external stressors (such as irritants, bacteria, viruses, etc.) can easily penetrate it, causing irritation and redness.
Oily skin is often characterised by an excess of omega 3. And this, in turn, makes the sebum denser, increasing the chances of clogged pores and acne. This is why, in many cases, bringing in the big guns like omega 6-rich oils or products (try our pick: Intelligent Frontier Facial Oil) can be a game-changer for taming breakouts.
How to keep your skin barrier strong
Taking care of your skin’s lipid balance is vital for maintaining healthy and radiant skin. Let’s look at some tips to give your skin’s barrier a boost:
- Treat your skin to the good stuff – opt for gentle, nurturing skincare that delivers key lipids. Avoid exfoliating acids and harsh cleansers that strip away your natural lipids.
- Be careful with products that contain alcohol or fragrances if you have sensitive skin. They can irritate your skin and weaken your lipid barrier.
- Thirsty skin? Choose a moisturiser that’s all about boosting your skin’s hydration levels and strengthening your protective barrier.
- Sunshine’s great, but skin needs its shades too! Protect yourself daily from UV rays with broad-spectrum SPF or sunscreen.