Have you been hearing the words "skin microbiome" or "microbiota", left, right and centre, and wondered what-the-alien words these are? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s been a skincare concept for a while but has only risen to fame recently. Why is everyone in skincare talking about this Skin Microbiota/Microbiome now?
We already know that the skin is the human body’s first line of defense against external factors. It provides a physical and immunological protective barrier between environment and inner body. Did you know that the skin also has its own defense system? On the surface of the skin, there is a layer of billions of micro-organisms known as the Microbiota. Microbiome is the term used to describe all the different types of micro-organisms – bacteria, viruses, fungi and their genes and metabolites. The two terms can often be used interchangeably.
The protective skin microbiome layer is home to trillions of microorganisms that help to fight against invasion of pathogens and contribute to the health of the skin. Don’t fret! The bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganism are classified by researchers as beneficial instead of pathogenic. However, this does not mean that we don’t have “bad” bacteria on the skin. The health of the skin microbiota is often determined by the balance of beneficial and detrimental bacteria. The balance is dependent on various conditions of its ecosystem such as temperature, hormones, pH and many other factors. For healthy and optimal skin microbiota, it is crucial to control and maintain the dominance of beneficial skin microbiomes. An imbalance, also called skin dysbiosis, can lead to acne, dermatitis, eczema, inflammation, irritation, dullness, premature aging, and dryness.
How do we maintain skin microbiome balance?
Understanding the correlation between imbalanced skin microbiota and accompanying skin concerns, sees a rise in microbiota/microbiome positioned products in the beauty and personal care market. There are different approaches to taking care of the skin microbiota to improve and maintain skin health:
1. Avoid products that are very low or very high in pH
Take natural soap as an example. The pH of soap sits around 9-10. It’s quite alkalinizing to the skin so it not only removes dirt but also microbiomes. Remember, the pH of our skin is around 5-5.5 and this is where healthy skin microbiome thrives. Try to introduce toners in your skincare to rebalance your pH.
skin’s pH is balanced
2. Try topical prebiotics or postbiotics
Prebiotics, such as ingredients high in carbohydrates and fibres, provide nutrients to induce microorganism growth. Postbiotics, on the other hand, are byproducts of probiotic microorganisms. Think enzymes, peptides, polyssacharides etc. These reinforce the skin’s healthy barrier by diversifying and maintaining the balance of the skin microbiome population.
Marine probiotics + herbal complex
3. Take care of your gut
Kombucha isn’t just for the cool kids. We recommend having a daily intake of probiotics to promote healthy gut microbiome health. Again, being internally healthy also reflects external health.
4. Be more selective with the hand sanitisers/washes
We’re so drawn to the skin concerns on our face that we often forget our whole body is covered by skin and should also be looked after. Why do we mention hand sanitisers? Because it’s an essential item but probably the harshest item to our skin and the skin microbiota. While it’s a small help, try to find hand sanitisers that have emollients or aloe vera to help keep the skin barrier in check. In hand washes, try to steer away from sulfates and just use gentle coconut-based surfactants. Also, if you can, try to moisturise your hands regularly after washing and sanitising to avoid inflammation, irritation, dermatitis, eczema, and intense dryness.
5. Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated
This is a given, not just for your skin microbiome but your general health. It’s true what they say – you are what you eat. The is research that shows that what you ingest does indeed influence your skin and skim microbiome. Try to keep processed foods and extra sugar quite low in your daily intake.