Your Skin Microbiome: What You Should Know
New research suggests that conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea are now attributed to a lack of diversity in the skin microbiome. Often, skin conditions occur because the microorganisms found on the skin have changed significantly from optimal levels. The two main signs of an unbalanced skin microbiome are acne – which can be attributed to an overgrowth of inflammatory acne bacteria – and eczema, which is linked to the overgrowth of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus.
Research shows that the gut and skin microbiome have influences on each other. If you're taking an oral probiotic that targets the gut microbiome, you might see an improvement in a condition like acne because of the connection between the gut and the skin.
What is the skin microbiome?
Just like your gut, your skin is home to a community of billions of friendly living microorganisms, also known as skin flora. This community is called skin microbiome. It is an invisible eco-system that lives on the skin and that's working around the clock to keep our skin health in check. It acts like a bouncer, keeping out the bad stuff and preserving our skin from it. In the past, experts used to think the skin cells were that first line of defense, but we now know it begins with the skin’s microbiome, meaning it’s all about the probiotics that feed your gut. But the newest probiotics are aimed at bettering your skin—and the trillions of microbes that live there. For every skin cell, we have about 100 microbes in and on our bodies! These include bacteria, fungi and viruses, most of which are harmless and are very beneficial.
Ideally, these bugs are abundant enough to overpower the harmful microorganisms you encounter. But things like the soap you use or the clothes you wear can throw off the skin’s microbiota, possibly leading to acne, skin inflammation, and other issues.
We have put together a few everyday tips coming from experts, as how to preserve the delicate balance of your skin’s microbiome.
The genome (an organism’s complete set of DNA including the genes) of all microorganisms in a particular environment (including the body or a part of the body)
Hydrate—Inside and Out
Regularly underhydrating can negatively affect your skin’s microbiome. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, and use a microbiome-pampering moisturizer. Humectants like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, humectants that draw water into the skin, plus ceramides or squalane, fats that restore the skin barrier, are the ones to go for.
Wear clothing using natural fabric as much as possible
Especially for underwear but also for all kinds of fabric that stay close to your skin for a long time, it’s better to wear clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo. Synthetic fibers like polyester can irritate the skin barrier, changing the ratio of good to bad bacteria and it can also provide a more welcoming environment for odor-causing bacteria than cotton.
Add microbiome friendly skin care into your beauty routine
Cosmetics research on both prebiotics and probiotics is only at its beginning. Before you make any major overhaul of your skincare, just try to get rid of chemicals or harsh ingredients, cleansers to start with. Ultimately, dermatologists believe that skin-care companies will start to target each person's unique microbiome by building out algorithms to track which ingredient matches their specific needs.
For now, topical probiotics is all very experimental but starting playing with some biome friendly products won’t do any harm and can even do some good by balancing and preserving what is the most important feature of your skin: its diversity.
Stop using harsh soaps
Washing your skin too often or using harsh soaps strips away good bacteria. You should clean only when you really need to—before bed to remove makeup, after a workout or an especially sweaty day, you should at all times avoid antibacterial soaps and opt for a cleanser that is pH5. You should actually altogether avoid using soap, unless you are washing your hands. Soap tends to have a pH of 10, which happens to be the pH level that bad bacteria seem to thrive in.
Preserving these colonies of organisms means you don’t want to significantly change the diversity of your skin. That might entail eliminating fragrances, alcohol and other powerful synthetic materials, including antibiotics or retinoids.
A nondigestible food ingredient that promotes the growth of microorganisms in the intestines. These can promote the growth of beneficial or harmful microorganisms. Think of them as a type of “fertilizer” for the microbiome
Living microorganisms that can provide beneficial qualities when used orally or topically. What probiotics are not? Microbes naturally found in your body and on your skin; microbes that are no longer alive; fermented foods that contain an unknown amount of bacteria.
The "Microbiome-friendly" Certification
MyMicrobiome is an industry association that was recently created by Kristin Neumann, PhD, a professional microbiologist from Germany. MyMicrobiome wants to inform the public about the microbiome, a topic that is more important to our health than we might have thought. They created the world's first standards for microbiome-friendly products, which examine cosmetic and skin care products and test their influence on the microbiome. Once the product has passed the test, it may carry the "Microbiome-friendly" seal of approval.
Only a few products received this certification so far, but we expect that more will in the near future. With that said, products do not need to have the seal to be microbiome-friendly and the tips provided in this article should help you choose the right products.
Research shows that the gut and skin microbiome have direct influences on each other
Harsh soaps, alcohol, retinoids harm the skin's balance and help develop the bad bacteria
Hyaluronic acid, squalane, ceramides, glycerin are ingredients that support the good bacteria
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FOR THE BIOME
Using nature's strongest volcanic CO2 extracted actives, this serum helps protect skin from everything that can upset its balance, promoting an ideal habitat for a thriving microbiome and a serene complexion.
Croon is a revolutionary reusable fiber that only needs water to clean your face and rid it of all the dirt, makeup and other particles accumulated during the day. This set comes with an exfoliating and a cleansing pad.
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