Everything you need to know to nurture your Skin Microbiome
Nature has the most amazing ability to find answers to any challenge. Through adaptation and change, living forms are constantly creating solutions to restore equilibrium and thrive. Now modern science and technology is giving us greater insight into the secrets of nature, allowing us to nurture and harness her power for healthier bodies and treatment of disease, including how we care for our skin. You’ve heard of your gut flora or gut microbiome and how that affects everything from your general health, energy, mood, and immune system. Well now there is your skin microbiome. Not just the latest trend in clean beauty, understanding our skin microbiome is about to change the way you care for your skin, forever.
What is my skin microbiome?
Functioning as the exterior interface of the human body with the environment, skin acts as a physical barrier to prevent the invasion of foreign pathogens while providing a home to what is known as commensal microbiota. The trillions of invisible life-forms inhabiting our skin include beneficial microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and even viruses, which keep us and our skin healthy. This community of micro-organisms living together in a particular habitat, such as your skin, is known as a “microbiome”.
Your body has a number of unique ecosystems colonised by microbes, including those that exist on the harsh physical landscape of skin. Unlike the gut, the skin is a desiccated, nutrient-poor, acidic environment. Despite this adversity our skin is colonized by a diverse microbiota that not only varies from person to person, just like your own unique fingerprint, but is also different for each area of your body. These unique and varied species of microbes in each region miraculously adapt to survive and thrive in their ecosystem.
Physiological properties including UV light, pH, temperature, moisture, sebum content and surface texture, determine the body’s different ecosystems and subsequently the differing microbial composition on different skin areas, such as; face, buttocks, arms, back, feet, and so on.
Why is my skin microbiome important?
Have you ever heard of the brave little plover that climbs inside the jaws of the Egyptian crocodile to pick food out of the crocodile’s teeth? The plover gets fed and the crocodile resists the temptation for a tasty snack, in exchange for a dental check-up and clean healthy teeth, so it can feed on bigger prey later…. This unlikely, but mutually beneficial co-habitation is called symbiosis and is nature’s sustainability at its best.
The importance in caring for our skin microbiome is not that far from the crocodile and the plover. If we nurture our microbiome, the long-term benefits bring not only healthier and younger looking skin but also stronger and more resilient skin that can serve us better by fighting off environmental stresses, free radical damage and disease processes like eczema, acne, dermatitis and various other conditions.
The skin microbiome fulfils essential tasks for both our skin and general health. Similar to those in our gut, skin microorganisms have essential roles in the protection against invading pathogens, the education of our immune system and the breakdown of natural products. Living on the skin these microorganisms also interact with each other. They can produce molecules that inhibit the colonization of other microorganisms, acting competitively to exclude one another or synergistically for mutual benefits. Basically, a healthy thriving microbiome occupies space that pathogenic germs can no longer take up. The microbiome works to guard us against pathogens that could affect our skin and overall health.
The skin microbiota of a healthy adult remains stable over time, despite environmental fluctuations and challenges. In circumstances where the barrier is broken or when the balance between commensals (good microbes) and pathogens (bad microbes) is disturbed, skin disease or even systemic disease can result. Many common skin diseases are associated with changes or imbalance in the microbiota, known as dysbiosis. Correcting this dysbiosis may help to prevent and/or treat the disease. When your microbiome is balanced, your skin looks and feels healthy.
How to nurture your microbiome
Modern science and advancements in technology have given us the ability to study and understand microorganisms on the skin in a way never before possible. This research is driving a paradigm shift in the beauty industry, and consumers are becoming more and more familiar with the ecosystem of bacteria on the skin’s surface. However, most conventional products still have an intentional or unintentional antibacterial effect and thus damage our skin microbiome. Active ingredients such as triclosan, silver, aluminium salts, chlorine compounds, alcohols, phenols, hydrogen peroxide, as well as mainstream synthetic preservatives are detrimental to microorganisms. We are often not aware of how many products contain antibacterial agents including deodorants, moisturiser creams, lipsticks, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes etc.!
We now know that balance is key, and the best way to preserve the delicate balance of your microbiome is to give it a healthy ecosystem in which to live. Start with being healthy on the inside, eat well and stay hydrated. Follow this by taking a holistic approach to beauty and seeking out ingredients that can benefit your overall health and wellbeing. Here the topical microbiome is front and centre, with prebiotic ingredients playing a crucial role in supporting probiotic activity. Avoid harsh antibacterial products that also kill friendly bacteria and instead seek products that support the microbiome by suppressing the growth of pathogenic (bad) bacteria in favour of friendly microorganisms naturally present on the skin, to restore microbiological balance.
There are so many beauty products. How do I know which products won’t damage my microbiome? Fortunately, MyMicrobiome has helped make that easy by creating Microbiome Friendly cosmetic standards, “for a microbiome friendly world”. MyMicrobiome has used the latest science and technology to develop a deep understanding of the human microbiome. Pair that with a strong drive to create clarity around product claims and we have the world’s first and only microbiome test and certification.
The MyMicrobiome standards examine cosmetic and skin care products and test their influence on the microbiome. Because we know that the microorganisms vary for different body areas, they have 6 cosmetic standards, each related to where a product is intended to be used and have an influence, our; skin of face and body, scalp, infant skin, private parts, foot microbiota and oral microbiota.
A number of tests examine various aspects of influence a product has on the tested skin microbiome. The product must not have a negative influence on the known microbes of the skin microbiome. Once the product has passed the test, it may carry the “Microbiome-friendly” seal of approval.
The best skin microbiome friendly products.
Clean beauty is a great place to start for microbiome friendly skincare, as formulations often exclude the main offending ingredients and preservatives. Better yet, clean beauty looks to preserve and promote a healthier skin microbiome by using pure natural and organic ingredients known to nourish and support the varied microorganisms.
Clean Korean beauty brand VENN is leading the way in microbiome friendly skincare. Developed and backed by science, VENN’s latest release Probiotic Cica Complex Biome Booster is certified Microbiome Friendly. The innovative formulation uses VENN’s proprietary microbiome balance system™, a soothing combination of probiotics and prebiotics to help balance the skin microbiome for younger and healthier appearance. This supercharged serum is the perfect boost for reactive or post-treatment skin and can be used daily to maintain biome balance.
VENN’s microbiome balance system™ in a supercharged serum that soothes, strengthens and renews the skin barrier. Lifts the skin for a perfectly revitalized and balanced complexion.
Best for: All skin types, including for post-treatment, reactive and sensitive skin.
Refreshing and hydrating face mist, using VENN’s proprietary combination of probiotics and prebiotics to help balance the skin microbiome and instantly nourish and revitalise the skin.
Best for: All skin types, recommended for acne-prone and dry skin types.
An intensely luxurious multi-correctional cream. Scientifically formulated using potent concentrations of naturally derived antioxidants and high-performance peptides, clinically proven to deeply hydrate and effectively improve the skin’s complexion in a single step.
Best for: Formulated for all skin types and those that prefer a light-weight fluid texture.