You might only focus on keeping your skin looking young and beautiful, but it’s important to make sure your skin is healthy, too! The skin is a powerful protective organ. One of the many ways your skin keeps you safe and healthy is through the skin microbiome!
The skin microbiome is home to a whole host of symbiotic microorganisms that help our skin do its job. You want to keep your skin microbiome healthy so that it can keep helping you.
In this post, we’re explaining what a microbiome is, how the microbiome protects you, and how to keep it healthy!
What Is Your Skin Microbiome?
We all know about our gut microbiome, population several trillion cohabitating microorganisms, but did you know you have a skin microbiome as well? It’s a flourishing ecosystem of bacteria and fungi that lives on and in your skin. These microorganisms are working in tandem with your immune system.
Your skin microbiome, or skin flora, is made up of over 1000 different species of bacteria and up to 80 species of fungi.
Some of these bacteria, like Staph, Candida, and Strep, exist in your gut microbiome. Others are unique to your skin!
Each part of your body or “eco-niche” has a different host of microorganisms based on its specific needs. How much light it gets or how hairy or moist the area is determines what microorganisms thrive. Age, gender, and lifestyle also play a role.
Your Skin Microbiome Is Unique To You
Just like your fingerprint is totally unique, so too is your skin microbiome. There are certain similarities that most people share, but much of your microbiome’s make up is defined by personal factors.
These factors are things like your genetics and your lifestyle. The food you eat, the place you live, and how you spend your time can affect it.
The skin microbiome is also made up of different microorganisms depending on where they live on your body. Your face and your feet have different needs, after all.
How Does Your Skin Microbiome Benefit You?
Your skin microbiome plays a central role when it comes to keeping your skin healthy every day. Without the microbiome’s help, your skin would have a hard time managing its pH levels and fending off harmful microorganisms.
The microbiome also does a lot to keep your skin barrier healthy and functioning well. Those helpful microorganisms actually produce the skin nutrients and essential skin lipids you need.
Although scientists are still studying the skin microbiome, they’ve already learned some interesting details. Different skin types show different characteristics in their microbiome. It’s very possible that your skin microbiome works hard to keep your skin looking and feeling healthier.
You need your skin microbiome to be balanced and diverse in order to support your skin appropriately. Sometimes your microbiome can be thrown out of balance and this can lead to long-term issues.
While you may not immediately see the results of a disturbed microbial balance, if it’s not functioning fully, it’s not giving your skin the level of support that it needs.
So how exactly does your skin microbiome help you?
Protects You From Environmental Aggressors
When you get injured, your skin microbiome jumps into action to help you. It helps heal the wound, reduces exposure to allergens, keeps the skin moist, and minimizes oxidative stress.
New research has even shown that it may help to protect us from harmful UV rays. A recent study showed that when mice whose skin biome contained the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidi were exposed to UV rays, they had a much lower rate of tumor development than those mice without it.
Your skin microbiome and immune system are in constant communication. One of the ways they collaborate is in the reduction of inflammation. If your microbiome is causing trouble, the immune system releases antimicrobial peptides, like cathelicidin, to restore its balance. On the other side, the microbiome can inhibit the release of certain inflammatory compounds by the immune system.
Communicates with our immune system
The idea that the skin microbiome exists solely on the skin’s surface is a little outdated. We used to think that the deeper dermal layers of the skin were sterile, but that has been proven false recently.
You can find microbes hanging out all the way down to the subcutaneous fat layer. In fact, your immune system and skin microbiome may communicate more meaningfully at deeper layers.
Ways to Protect Your Skin Microbiome
There are many different approaches you can take to protect your skin microbiome. You’ll have more success by combining a few of these techniques.
Avoid Harsh Cleansers That Strip the Skin
If you’re a fan of harsh soaps that leave you feeling squeaky clean, you may actually be damaging your skin microbiome. Soap tends to be alkalinizing by nature in order to remove dirt and microbes from the body.
But our skin microbiome is happiest at the relatively acidic pH of about 5. That’s its sweet spot for thriving. When you start getting higher up on the pH scale (keeping in mind that soap typically has a pH of around 10), you create an environment that is friendlier to some harmful bacteria. Using harsh cleansers alkalinizes your skin and sets you up for future problems.
Use Gentle Cleansers
Switch out your harsh soaps for some gentle cleansers instead. This HD Gentle Creamy Cleanser is a great place to start! Treating your microbiome gently means treating your skin gently. You want to choose products that aren’t harmful to your skin microbiome and pH.
Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated
Research has shown that the food you eat has a powerful influence on your skin and its microbiome. You want to feed yourself healthy nourishing meals. Try to up your intake of good fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Colorful veggies are a great way to go. Steer clear of processed foods and extra sugar in your diet. And, of course, drink lots and lots of water!
Work Up A Sweat A Few Times A Week
When your diet is healthy, the sweat you produce acts as a helpful prebiotic for the skin microbiome. Plus, working out has been shown to improve your skin health in general. Exercise increases the blood flow to your skin, bringing it vital nutrients and oxygen.
Keep Your Stress Levels In Check
Stress negatively affects many of your body’s systems and the skin microbiome is not immune. Figure out a stress management method that helps you breathe and unwind. Yoga and meditation are great options, but it could also be something like taking a walk or seeing a friend.
Try a Topical Probiotic
You give your skin microbiome a little nutrient boost by applying a topical probiotic. You can pick one up at your local skincare shop or make one yourself. You can mix a prebiotic powder with coconut oil or shea butter and rub it in.
Now you know the truth behind the retinol myths. Are you ready to give it a try yourself? Reduce wrinkles, smooth pigmentation, and firm your skin, all with just a couple of drops. Give it a go and spread the retinol gospel to your skincare-loving friends!
What retinoid products are part of your routine at home?