What if there were an ingredient that could reduce your skin woes, keep your skin firm, supple, and glowy, didn't make a negative impact on the earth, didn't take much effort or time to use, and were free? You got it! You already have it available to you.
There has been a massive increase in focus on the gut microbiome in the last decade, as we have come to find that it is one of the most critical factors in human health. One subject that has been widely overlooked but is starting to get much more attention is the microbiome of the skin and its impact on human health. Here I will focus on the effect of the skin microbiome and the health and appearance of the skin itself. However, it is essential to note that skin is an integral part of our immune system as it is our body's first line of defense against the outside world. The uppermost skin surface where the microbiome lives must be intact and in balance to function correctly, keeping pathogens out of the body.
Imbalances such as acne, dryness, hyperpigmentation, dermatitis like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and even wrinkles can be tied to unhealthy changes in the skin microbiome. So that's a pretty good round-up of the skin imbalances I see in my practice.
If you ever feel lonely, don't worry, you are never alone! If you were to zoom in on your skin alone, over 1,000 species of life are present! Most of them are friendly and necessary! So necessary that without microbial diversity, the skin suffers.
Science has shown us that a healthy skin microbiome does wonders for supporting healthy skin:
- Regulates oil (not too much, not too little)
- Reduces acne
- Prevents infection
- Collagen regulation
- Supports cell health (skin can't look good if cells are abnormal or unhealthy)
- Wound healing
- Enhances skin protection from UV radiation
Every product that you apply to the surface of your skin has an impact on the microbiome.
Eat to Support Your Guts
The gut bacteria and skin bacteria are BFFs. They communicate with one another, and when one is hurting, the other one can feel it. Therefore, eliminating rancid, oxidized, inflammatory oils, processed, and food grown with pesticides is essential. Instead, crowd these out with inulin-rich prebiotic foods like asparagus, flax, and burdock root, and low sugar fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Use Non-Harsh Products
Peeling away your surface layer may be trendy. Still, honestly, it's one of the biggest myths in skincare, I could write an entire book on why chemical peels are entirely misguided, and maybe someday I will, but for now, know that the surface layer of our skin is there for a reason. When you peel it away, you are destroying the skin's microbiome. (Remember that thing that made us more resilient to the sun and stabilized our collagen)?
Pure organic skincare is filled with beneficial microbes. We evolved in a symbiotic relationship with the earth and her offerings. Organic pure skincare steers clear of strong preservatives, the shelf life isn't as long, but this is a good thing. Synthetic preservatives phenoxyethanol and parabens can kill the good bacteria allowing for an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. A surfactant is a typical cleansing ingredient, and it works to break down surface oil. Unfortunately, chemical surfactants present in many cleansers, even in professional skincare products, wreak havoc on the beneficial microbes. Check out this great option using a plant called soapwort that can break down makeup and pollution instead of chemical surfactants. Oil cleansing with organic skin healthy oils such as this one is a fantastic option to nourish the microbiome.
Sweating helps to support a healthy skin pH but also contains antimicrobial chemicals that balance the flora diversity.
Have a Pet
There is a science to show that regular interaction with dogs can improve the diversity of the microbiome. We swap microbes with each other! So give your best furry friend a big hug, esthetician's orders!
Commune with Nature
Gardening or even just walking in nature is a great way to support your flora. Soil has a microbiome, and interacting with it helps to keep our colonies healthy. Spending time outside also helps to regulate the nervous system, modulates the immune system, reduces chronic pain, and so much more.
Get a Shower Filter
Every day when you shower in tap water, you are coating your skin with chlorine. Chlorine is a disinfectant that is meant to kill microbial life. Whether chlorine is the best answer in municipal tap water is a debate I will leave for others. Topical application on the skin is not going to support healthy life on the surface. Using a shower filter is an inexpensive and easy fix. Are you a bath taker? There is a filter for that, too, because why soak in a tub of chlorine when trying to support your wellness? You can keep a bottle of mineral water in your bathroom to wash your face with daily. Click here to see the filter I use.
Never underestimate the power of the skin. Caring for your skin is caring for your health. The skin is our largest organ and plays a vital role in many of the day-to-day operations that take place, and the microbiome is at the center of a lot of this. Comment to let me know your favorite way to care for your microbiome.