The Mantle

Hair and skin have a “skin.” It’s called the mantle, and it’s made of oils the body excretes. It protects against the elements, slowing the erosion of skin and hair. The body constantly works to rebuild it. Some of us have strong oil production, others maybe not so much. In its absence, we are susceptible to faster erosion, sun damage, and hair color fade (natural color and artificial). Sulfates and alkaline detergents strip the mantle. It is important to wash our hair for a variety of health issues, but too often can have a negative impact as well. When dried out, our individual bodies respond, but not all the same. Some of us over-produce oil, which looks greasy, feels heavy, can be itchy, and/or can present with flaking. Some of us under-produce, which can also result in itchiness and flakiness. Some of us don’t have issues at all, like the mantle is self-adjusting.

“Skin types” are often thought of as oily, normal or combination, and dry.

“Dry” is dry. Products for dry skin can stabilize oiliness or reinforce a weak mantle if it has oils.

Normal/combination skin is the gray area. The reality is, there are a lot of skin types. Our bodies respond to external forces in different ways, and on top of that, there are our individual preferences as to what we like to see and feel when it comes to our skin, scalp, and hair. Many products talk about balance like it’s a destination, but we are ever-changing creatures on an ever-changing planet. Balance must have to do with more than some ideal condition.

Endeavoring to create a balance with the mantle can take time, and it can be frustrating. Body changes, climate changes, medications, diet and fluid intake variations can all work against our efforts. Even the waiting period for the mantle to adjust can be discouraging. It’s like getting to know a co-worker, whether they’re likable or not. Either way, we have to work with them.

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