If you’ve heard the words ‘microflora” and “gut bacteria'' then you've heard about the microbiome. But when we hear those words often we go straight to gut health.
But more and more, we’re seeing a need for the microbiome to be discussed in relation to skincare. In fact, in 2022 and beyond, we predict this focus on skin health from the inside out will continue.
Editor's note, it’s pronounced ‘My-crow-by-ome’. As you were...
So, what does Microbiome have to do with skincare and why is everyone talking about it all of a sudden? Let’s start from the top.
What is the microbiome and why is it important?
The human microbiome is defined as the entirety of micro-organisms living on and in the human body. If we had to define it in one sentence we’d say “Microbiome helps regulate your immunity”, so it’s important stuff!
How does it keep you well? It does so by supporting digestion, your immune system, bone health, healthy weight and brain health.
The more diverse your microbiome, the more diverse array of benefits your body receives.
What does the microbiome have to do with the skin's barrier?
The skin microbiome is a collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that make up the skin microbiota. Think of it as the first line of defence against an army of invading bacteria. It's your protection against the environment. Not only is our skin a barrier to bugs, but our microbiome also ensures our skin's homeostasis, which is key to cell renewal and fighting against pathogens.
Bacteria isn’t a dirty word
“If you don’t like bacteria, you’re on the wrong planet.” - Steward Brand
You might feel like you want squeaky ‘clean’ skin. But your skin’s bacteria isn’t dirty, and it plays a critical role in keeping your skin healthy. It’s busy doing a bunch of important things like:
● Boosting the skin barrier. Blocking the bad bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses.
● Creating nutrients and oils. This bacteria produces nutrients and oils which boost skin moisture and firmness.
● Preventing infection. A healthy microbiome fights infection by preventing the growth of pathogenic organisms.
Your skin’s bacteria systems also reduce inflammation, promote wound healing and minimise oxidative damage. Your healthy skin depends on a healthy microbiome, and that microbiome needs this bacteria.
What affects my microbiome?
Now then, there is a lot to say here...
There’s no doubt about the link between gut health and the skin. Family genes, diet, environment, and medication also play a large part. But here we’re going to focus on what we put in and on our bodies.
All of these factors create a microbiome that is as unique as you are, interesting right?
What foods repair the gut microbiome?
When it comes to food, prebiotics go hand in hand with good gut health.
Check out these foods that naturally contain prebiotics - Ps, they need to be raw!
Garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, and seaweed. Otherwise, fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains like wheat, oats, and barley are all good sources of prebiotic fibres.
Bonus points if you can include fermented foods like kefir, live yoghurt, pickled veg, tempeh, kombucha tea, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut.
Plus, if your microbiota is healthy you have extra protection from pathogens that enter the body through drinking or eating contaminated water or food.
How can I protect my skin’s microbiome?
A healthy skin microbiome and skin barrier will protect us from pathogens, damage, and dryness.
Our skin microbiome is dependent on our acid mantle’s pH levels being slightly acidic to stop the growth of acne-related bacteria. Without this acidity, the microbiome and lipid barrier (which holds onto moisture) cannot thrive.
Therefore, to nurture the diverse microbiome ecosystem we need to do two things. Feed the bacteria with nutrients that allow them to grow and maintain an ideal pH level for our acid mantle to thrive. Here are some gentle ways to look after your skin:
● Use pH-neutral or pH-balanced products (our well-balanced shower powder is pH-balanced).
● Stay away from overly harsh cleansers and exfoliants that foam or feel too "soapy".
● Feed your skin with good prebiotics or probiotics.
● Use oils to help boost the lipid barrier on your skin. This keeps our skin soft, looking hydrated, and glowy! Using oil to lock in any previous skincare steps is key.
So, whilst it’s true that we can’t control every element of our environment and our inherited compositional makeup, we can decide what we put in and on our bodies. To our microbiome and our immune health, this stuff matters.
We’ve got loads to say on the matter so if you want more plant-powered goodness in your inbox, join the subscribed fam over here:
● Microbiome - The microbiome is the collection of all microbes/microorganisms.
● Microbes/Microorganisms - Bacteria and viruses (many helpful not harmful).
● Microbiota/Skin Flora - A collective term for micro-organisms.
● Homeostasis - The fight against pathogens and providing new cells to replace those that are lost during tissue turnover or injury.
● Symbiotic - both the human body and microbiota benefit.
● Pathogenic- Organisms that cause disease to the host.
About the author
Annabelle Williams dos Anjos is a creative copywriter who helps good people sell more. Having worked with big businesses and small start-ups, she specialises in helping brands develop copy with character.