Our Microbiome and Our Skin: What You Want to Know
Our Microbiome and Our Skin: What You Want to Know
We keep hearing about this new discovery called the microbiome. If you are in my free facebook group, The Wholistically Beautiful Sisterhood, or follow me on social media, you have been hearing about it a lot, lol!
We have learned that both our guts and our skin have their own microbiomes. Psst… it isn’t new; researchers have studied our microbiomes for decades. I remember, as a young teen (circa early ‘80s), reading a Time Magazine article about the good bugs living on our skin. It fascinated me!
But studying and understanding are two different things. The understanding part has begun happening in recent years.
What does the word microbiome even mean? And, good gracious, what do I mean ‘we have… bugs living on our skin?!
Well, I’m glad you asked. Guess what? We have a universe of living organisms enjoying life on our skin. Most of these organisms are harmless and necessary bacteria. These peaceful bacteria live to protect us from the bad guys: toxins and unhealthy germs.
We have millions of cells in our bodies, right? Guess what? Our human cells are outnumbered 10 to 1 by our skin’s microbiome! That’s correct: we have ten times more microscopic beings than we have our own cells. Trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and small arthropods colonize our skin’s surface.
So, exactly what are these tiny species? More important, why have they made a permanent home of my skin?
Those are all good and valid questions. So, let’s take a closer look, and gain some understanding.
The Skin Microbiome: What and Why?
A microbiome is any collection of microorganisms living together in a particular place. When it comes to the skin’s microbiome, each individual is unique. But, on average, a typical person has more bacterial cells than human cells. Microbes decide where to live on a person’s skin based on such factors as thickness, texture, and hydration. Our faces, chests, and backs host higher colonies of bacteria, because they are the oiliest areas of our skin. The result, unfortunately, sometimes can be acne.
“Our skin’s microbiome is a rainforest of diverse organisms which live in and on your skin’s various layers, from the deep-down fat cushion all the way up to your epidermal cells up high. In fact, there are more than one trillion bacteria in the skin, originating from approximately one thousand different species.’’ explains board-certified dermatologist and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, Dr. Whitney Bowe.
We usually associate the word bacteria with disease; yet many bacteria are, in fact, good. Our bodies work together with bacteria inside out. These tiny workers are very serious about their jobs of fending off the bad guys. So, we need to appreciate them and provide a pleasant home environment for them.
We know, from the studies I mentioned earlier, the microbiome affects our skin; especially when it comes to acne and other inflammation.
Remember, our skin is an organ. More specifically it is our largest organ and our first line of defense against the world. Like our other organs, our skin requires proper care. This care includes maintaining an optimal pH . Maintaining a good skin care routine, is essential for an effective, healthy microbiome.
When our skin is off-balance, the microbiome’s delicate ecosystem is thrown off, allowing bad bacteria to wreak havoc.
Good Against Evil
Dr. Bowe explains, “…[the most well-known] probiotics (the good bacteria) are lactobacillus (from lactic acid) and bifidobacterium. Several strains of lactobacillus have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of skin disorders from the inside out. They have also been shown to improve the strength of our skin barrier, keeping our skin nourished and hydrated.”
We Have One of These Ecosystems in Our Gut, Too?
Yes, ma’am we do! The microbiome in our gastro-intestinal system aids in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating toxins. An unhealthy gut microbiome can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal issues. In turn, these GI issues can affect our skin. According to current research, acne and rosacea improve when probiotic are used to balance the gut.
To better understand the gut microbiome, consider these factors:
99% of our entire microbiome lives in our digestive tract.
At birth, we gain our own personalized microbiome, which grows as we grow.
Such factors as genetics, diet/lifestyle — even gender and age, help determine how our microbiome changes throughout our lives.
Stress from poor diet may contribute to leaky gut, causing toxins to spill into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation, according to the “gut-brain-skin-axis’’ theory.
It’s All About Homeostasis
Homeostasis is my current favorite word and simply means balance. Like everything else in life, we need a balance of good and bad bacteria. Maintaining a healthy level of good bacteria in our bodies means less likelihood of bad bacteria having a wild orgy on our skin. We all know out-of-control parties result in ugly damage, which, in humans, means inflammation, like acne and rosacea.
But, wait… don’t go wanting to kill ALL the prodigal bacteria! Western medicine, including skincare, tried — with antibiotics — and failed miserably. Experts say we need a healthy balance of bad bacteria and good bacteria, rather than eradicating all the bad guys and keeping only the good guys. It would be like a high school with no bad-boys. That would be an absolutely unbalanced environment which could not thrive. Okay, maybe not the best analogy, but you get the point.
For ingesting supplements, choose live bacteria and look for CFUs (colony forming units) in the billions for potency. Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures may reduce systemic inflammation, glycemic control, and oxidative stress contributors in acne development. Eating more fresh, organic foods, while reducing or eliminating sugars, processed, and other inflammatory foods helps maintain homeostasis in our systems.
Maintaining balance is attainable by incorporating probiotic-rich foods when possible, supplementing when necessary, and using microbiome-friendly skincare rich in probiotics and prebiotics.
Happy Skin Means Happy Microbiome
Why do we need a healthy skin microbiome? Because… a healthy skin microbiome protects us from pathogens, free-radical damage and dry, dehydrated skin. Moreover, those invisible little critters running around on our body’s surface can help us have healthier, more radiant skin.
I once had a client who used antibacterial hand soap on her face, daily. Girl, don’t do that! You would strip the life right out of your skin!
Instead, cleanse your face with a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser, such as Nourishing Cleanser, by TruAura. Microbiome-friendly, natural plant-derived ingredients as Saccharide Isomerate – a prebiotic which provides a unique binding mechanism with the skin to ensure deep, long-lasting hydration, Coconut Water for natural cleansing, toning and antioxidant benefits, Essential Fatty Acids derived from Safflower oil to help restore the skin’s lipid barrier help create healthy, radiant, age-defying skin.
Why use these ingredients? Topical probiotics protect and strengthen the skin. This protection makes environmental stressors less able to damage and age our skin. The right skincare products create a microscopic army to strengthen and protect our skin.
Topical prebiotics are the food for that army, allowing it to thrive on your skin.
So, girlfriend, stop skimping on the skincare. Stop using harsh products that strip your skin. Start using the next generation – the best generation – of skincare: microbiome-friendly skincare…. and let your beauty radiate!
For more information on microbiome-friendly skincare products, or for a complimentary virtual consultation, contact me at WholisticallyBeautiful.com or on Facebook and Instagram.
Be sure to join my free female-only facebook group to get useful tips and tricks on all things wholistic beauty, from skincare and makeup to wellness and inspiration.
P.S. Here are a few other microbiome-friendly skincare products I love:
TruAura Nourishing Tonic: Key Ingredients: Micellar Cleansing Technology – Lifts and removes impurities without drying or irritating the skin. Coconut Water – Provides natural cleansing, toning and antioxidant benefits. Cucumber Fruit Extract – Rich in Vitamins B and C, helps to soothe irritated skin while helping to smooth and minimize the appearance of wrinkles and skin discolorations. Saccharide Isomerate – A 100% natural, plant derived skin-identical prebiotic) that provides a unique binding mechanism with the skin to ensure deep, instant hydration for 72 hours.
DermOne Skin Perfecting Serum with Prebiotics Key Ingredients: Plant-based Prebiotics, for soothing protection while providing flora to microbiome’s probiotics, natural salicylic acid extracted wintergreen plant to naturally combat acne, sodium benzoate as an antifungal and antibacterial.
DermOne Daily Defense Key Ingredients: Titanium and Zinc for natural, non-irritating sun protection, Aloe for soothing, Argan Kernel oil, Camelina Seed oil, and Shea Butter for to nourish, hydrate, and smooth skin.
SkinSanity English Rose Exfoliator Key Ingredients: English Rose Absolute and Rose Petals for gentle exfoliation and cell regeneration, Hyaluronic Acid to attract and lock in hydration, French Pearl Extract to gentle slough away dead skin cells leaving a vibrant glow