What is the Skin Microbiome?
You've likely heard about the gut microbiome, the seat of our immune system that's home to billions of both good and bad bacteria. Like the gut, the skin has its own microbiome, a complex ecosystem of bacteria that serves as the foundation for healthy skin. Although rarely talked about, a balanced skin microbiome is critical in protecting your skin from acne, irritation and premature aging.
Even if you have a solid skin care routine, you can still be prone to these skin issues because other factors like environmental damage, your skin's pH level, the amount of oil in your skin and hydration all impact the skin microbiome. Therefore, it is important to create a diverse ecosystem where good bacteria can thrive and protect your skin. Here, we'll break down the skin microbiome and the best ways to keep it healthy.
Breaking it down:
The three elements of a healthy skin barrier are the skin microbiome, the acid mantle and the lipid barrier. These work in harmony to protect against irritants, environmental damage and infection. The skin microbiome, found at the surface of the skin, is your skin's first line of defense.
Every microbiome is different, so there's no perfect formula to keeping it balanced as it typically varies with location, age and gender. Like the gut, it is important to nourish the beneficial bacteria in your skin's microbiome with prebiotics and probiotics so that it can properly defend against irritants. Prebiotics are nutrients that help feed and strengthen good bacteria. Probiotics are live, good bacteria that help promote a healthy ecosystem.
FOR A HEALTHY SKIN MICROBIOME, FOLLOW THESE HOLISTIC BEAUTY STEPS:
Cleanse, Don't Strip
The best thing you can do to protect the skin microbiome is not to over-wash your skin. Over-cleansing and the use of antimicrobial irritants, like sulfates and parabens, wipes out all bacteria, leaving your skin exposed to irritants and pathogens. Resist over-washing your face and consider a cleansing balm to enhance the skin barrier.
Our recommendation: Sulfate-Free Cleansers, Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm
Rebalance the Skin's pH
Even gentle cleansing can disrupt the skin's pH balance. Cleansers are alkalizing by nature, but for beneficial bacteria to thrive, our skin microbiome prefers a more acid environment, around a 5. Use a hydrating plant mist to bind moisture to the skin and restore the skin's pH after cleansing.
Our recommendation: Lavender Honey Balancing Mist
Exfoliate to Prime the Skin
Over time, dead skin cells can build up on the surface of the skin, making it more difficult for the skin microbiome to do its job. Apply a gentle enzyme peel once or twice a week to sweep away dead skin cells, accelerate cell turnover and increase the absorption of other products into the skin.
Our recommendation: Pear Fig Polishing Enzyme Peel
Promote Good Bacteria with Prebiotics & Probiotics
Probiotics produce acidic compounds and reduce the pH of skin, creating a healthy environment for the skin microbiome. Use prebiotics from botanicals, like Aloe Vera, to help nourish and strengthen good bacteria, and probiotics like Lactobacillus Ferment to improve hydration and reduce irritation.
Our recommendation: Aloe Replenishing Gel Mask, Kombucha Bio-Cellulose Mask
Support the Skin Barrier
Hyaluronic Acid, Essential Fatty Acids and Ceramides are three ingredients that help to nourish the skin barrier. Replenish damaged lipids with moisturizers, facial oils and other products that feature these key ingredients.
Our recommendation: Carrot Seed Soothing Facial Oil, Gotu Kola Healing Balm, 7-Day Concentrates
Protect with SPF
Swap chemical sunscreen for a mineral-based SPF, which creates a physical barrier to shield the skin from UVA and UVB rays, while also helping to calm inflammation in acne-prone skin.
Our recommendation: Lavender Protective Moisturizer SPF 17, Daily UV Defense Cream SPF 50