If you’ve heard of the skin microbiome, but you’re not sure what it is, where to find it and how to keep it in good health then this article is for you. We’re going to explain exactly what your skincare microbiome is, what you need to do to take care of it and the products you need to keep your skin microbiome in check.
Read on to find out more about this connected ecosystem that lives on your skin, keeping it protected, healthy and in balance.
What Is Your Skin’s Microbiome?
Your skin’s microbiome is made up of billions of tiny microorganisms working together to keep your skin and immune system in balance. However, the balance is a delicate one, made up from a mix of your genetics, environment and the products you use. Your body temperature, the food you eat, your health and even whether you have pets can all affect your natural microbiome.
The skin microbiome is constantly interacting with your environment and works to support our health by protecting against infection, influencing the immune response, protecting against UV radiation, and helps provide nourishment to the skin cells. It also makes up your skin’s natural barrier and helps to keep it in check.
Your skin barrier is the protective seal that keeps your skin together and protects it from damage, pollution and infection. It also regulates water loss, retains moisture and keeps your skin hydrated. A damaged skin barrier can lead to problems with how your skin looks and feels, so keeping your microbiome is an important part of your skin staying healthy.
This micro-world is nothing to be scared of or worried about, it’s normal, natural and means that you’re in great health. Having a diverse, balanced microbiome is important for protecting your skin and keeping it looking great.
Signs of A Damaged Skin Barrier
As well as protecting your skin, your skin barrier also has an influence on how your skin looks. It helps to keep your skin healthy, soft, supple and plump. Your skin barrier can be damaged if your natural microbiome is damaged or disturbed.
You may be experiencing the effects of a damaged skin barrier if you have:
- Dry skin with a rough texture
- Itchy skin
- Discoloured patches on the skin
- Skin sensitivity
- Skin infections
Ageing, genetics, over-cleansing, using harsh products and UV exposure can all disrupt your skin’s microbiome and lead to a damaged skin barrier too. It’s a delicate balance, and one that you need to be aware of.
Once your skin barrier has been damaged, it’s not always straightforward to rebalance it. It’s best to treat and protect your microbiome to stop your barrier from becoming damaged in the first place. Research has also linked the skin’s microbiome to ongoing skin conditions and concerns like acne and atopic dermatitis.
What Can Affect Your Skin Microbiome?
Your skin microbiome is completely unique to you. No-one will have one that’s exactly the same as yours, even if your lifestyle is the same. Genetics and different areas of the body play a big part. Where you live, your lifestyle, health conditions, medication, pollution, diet and the products you use all have an impact too.
Products that have been designed to kill ‘bad’ bacteria, like medication, cleaning products or hand sanitiser can also kill the good ones too, leading to an imbalance of bacteria on the skin.
Different parts of your body naturally have a different mix of bacteria, fungi and microorganisms that help it to function and stay protected. Body temperature, the thickness of your skin, skin folds, skin pH and the density of hair follicles and glands all have an impact on your microbiome.
The fact that the balance of your microbiome is so delicate is one of the big reasons why it makes sense to use products that nourish the skin, rather than strip it. This helps to keep everything balanced and working in harmony on your skin, rather than disrupting the delicate live ecosystem.
How To Improve Your Skin Microbiome
Whilst some parts of your natural microbiome are outside of your control, there are some easy ways that you can keep your skin balanced and in check. Here are our tips to improve your skin microbiome to ensure it’s protected, balanced and in great health all year round:
Use Gentle Cleansers
Harsh chemicals in skincare products can strip your skin of good microbiomes, as well as removing dirt and oil. If you’ve ever washed your face with a harshly-formulated product and then wondered why your skin has felt dry or extra-oily afterwards, then this may be why. It completely unbalances the natural microorganisms living in harmony on your skin.
Follow A Balanced Diet
It makes sense that a healthy, balanced diet means a healthy, balanced microbiome. Your gut microbiome and skin microbiome are linked, so by keeping your body healthy and in balance, your skin will follow too. Plenty of water, vegetables and proteins will help your skin to thrive, as will fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut and probiotics.
Keep Your Routines Simple
If you constantly change your skincare routine, the products you use and the pH levels of your skin’s surface then your skin might find it difficult to find its natural balance. Building up consistent, intentional skincare routines that nourish the skin, rather than trying to change it, is key for balancing your microbiome. You need to use simple, scaled-back ingredients over time, not ten different products all at once.
We’re all using more hand sanitiser than ever, so if you’re someone who touches their skin a lot then it might be time to stop. Whilst hand sanitiser is great for killing germs, viruses and ‘bad’ bacteria, it can also press pause on the good ones too. This can lead to an imbalance in your skin and a damaged barrier.
Keep Stress At Bay
Stress can mess with your whole body, including your skincare microbiome. Finding ways to manage your stress, whether that’s exercise, yoga or heading outdoors, can really help with the overall health of your skin, body and mind. Exercise is also great for working up a sweat and helping your microbiome to thrive.
How To Find The Right Products For Your Skin Microbiome
Finding natural, effective products for your skin should be easy. Sometimes greenwashing, a lack of transparency around ingredients and confusing information mean that it’s not. At Elth, we undress beauty products, showing you exactly what’s going on underneath the packaging so that you can find the perfect, natural products for your skin.
If you’re looking for products that won’t interfere with your skin’s natural microbiome, we recommend Five Dot Botanics. It’s vegan, plant-based skincare that uses minimal ingredients - five or less - and natural formulations to help keep your skin in balance. They’re independent, made in the UK and focus on effectiveness over hype - they’ve also won a huge number of awards for their “do more with less” approach to skincare.
Want to know more about what’s in your skincare and whether it’s as natural and sustainable as it’s claimed? We’ve truly decoded the labels of natural skincare and beauty brands, so you don’t have to. Find your perfect skincare match today with Elth.
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