The state of your skin’s microbiome is intrinsic to its health. Find out how to keep yours in good shape.
What is a Microbiome?
Our bodies are ecosystems with trillions of organisms living inside them and keeping them healthy. These networks are known as the microbiome and refer to the bacteria, parasites and yeasts that live in our bodies. Each of us harbours about 10 trillion human cells, 100 trillion bacteria, yeasts, and single cell protozoa (representing thousands of different species), and 1,000 trillion viruses in and on our bodies!
But while most people are aware that the microbiome exists when we talk about gut health, this is not the only place that these organisms play an important role. The microbiome exists in your gut - from the mouth and all the way through the digestive system but also on your skin and in your nose.
Scientists now consider the microbiome to be an important organ that keeps the body functioning at an optimal level. In the gut this means a healthy metabolism that can affect everything from weight, energy levels and disease to happiness and brain function.
What is the Skin Microbiome?
If you think of a microbiome as the collection of organisms living in the same place then the skin microbiome is simply all the organisms present on the skin.
The skin microbiome is just as hard working as the gut microbiome and aids in wound healing, limits exposure to allergens and UV radiation, minimizes oxidative damage and helps to keep the skin barrier intact and well-hydrated. In fact, most skin problems (from acne to psoriasis and eczema) likely affect the skin microbiome and may be a result of changes to this ecosystem.
Are we making our skin microbiome unhealthy?
It was once thought that skin was merely a physical barrier protecting us from the outside world. It is now known that is is much more than this. It has been found that lymphoid tissue associated with the skin, known as lymphocytes (immune cells) are capable of sensing and dealing with bacteria. They also send signals to the rest of the body, via lymph nodes, to help the immune system determine the body’s response. In short the body’s microbiome is all connected and all plays a part in the body’s immune system.
Thus antibiotic overuse, eating foods that affect gut flora and overuse of antibacterial products, cleansers, soaps and deodorants and even cosmetics can all alter the bacterial balance of the whole body. In fact our obsession with keeping ourselves clean can actually be damaging the delicate balance of organisms that keep our skin healthy.
How do we keep our skin microbiome healthy?
Many of the products we use to keep clean, such as face washes and cleansers, can be harsh on the skin, stripping it of its natural oils and leaving it looking and feeling parched. This is especially true in the winter, when your skin craves moisture most of all. So a good first step is to ditch the harsh synthetic and antibacterial products and switch to those that protect and nurture the skin’s natural bacterial balance.
A probiotic or prebiotic cleanser, like La Roche-Posay’s prebiotic thermal water–infused Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, will help to strengthen the skin’s beneficial microflora, keeping the skin’s natural invisible barrier healthy.
After cleansing it’s vital to replenish the microbiome with a good hydration product: source next-generation prebiotic ingredients such as La Roche-Posay thermal spring water, packed with trace elements able to drive the growth and development of the 500 species of bacteria found on the skin. For maximum benefit use a prebiotic moisturiser such as the The Toleriane Sensitive range that not only repair the cutaneous barrier but also preserve the microbial barrier, hydrating skin for up to 48 hours, while intensely soothing, calming and reducing irritations. Choose Toleriane Sensitive Creme for sensitive normal to combination skin, Toleriane Sensitive Riche for dry skin and Toleriane Sensitive Fluid for oily skin. These high tolerance creams are all tested on sensitive skin. Look after your skin’s microbiome and it will remain balanced and healthy. Hello glowing skin!