WE’VE ASSAULTED OUR SKIN BARRIER AND MICROBIAL ECOSYSTEM WITH SOAPS, SANITIZERS, DEODORANTS AND MEDICATIONS AS SIGNIFICANTLY AS WE HAVE OUR GUTS BARRIER/ECOSYSTEM.
A healthy (skin)microbiome aids in wound healing, limits exposure to allergens and UV radiation, minimize oxidative damage and helps to keep the skin barrier intact and well-hydrated.
Of the one trillion organisms residing on our skin, there are over 1,000 different bacterial species, up to 80 different fungi species, plenty of viruses and a few mites. In fact, each square centimetre of skin contains over a million commensal bacteria and over a million lymphocytes.
While the skin microbiome–like the gut microbiome– is relatively stable over time (despite environmental changes) the skin microbiome does vary depending on the “eco-niche,” or location. For instance, colonies change depending on the amount of light, the pH and whether the area is moist, warm, dry, hairy or oily. And the microbiome differs with age and gender: a hormonal, sweaty teenage boy sports a very different microbiome than a sedentary, post-menopausal woman.
For many years we thought that our microbiome only existed on the surface of the skin and that the deeper dermal layers were sterile. But in 2013, scientists found in the hypodermis, the lowermost skin layer also known as the fat storage level (1st epidermis, 2nd dermis and 3rd hypodermis!) microbes, directly positioned to communicate with the host. More research is needed, but it’s likely here that the most intimate communication between the skin microbiome and our immune system takes place.
A robust skin microbiome protects against infection in much the same way a good gut microbiome does, by colonization resistance (i.e. crowding out the overgrowth of pathogenic organisms) and by maintaining relatively acidic environment (pH is around 5.0), which inhibits the growth of pathogens.
Excess use of antimicrobial hand sanitizers, cosmetics and soaps are all potential factors contributing to a microbial imbalance in/on the skin, barrier damage and antibiotic resistance. An imbalanced microbiome is associated with many skin conditions, including psoriasis, allergies, eczema, contact dermatitis, acne, poor wound healing, skin ulcers, dandruff, yeast and fungal infections, rosacea and accelerated skin aging.
We’ve undoubtedly significantly altered our skin microbiome with our “clean addiction.” Take soap, for example. By its very nature, it’s alkalinizing. But recall that our skin microbiome prefers a pH of about 5. At this relatively acidic pH, the healthy microbiome thrives. It’s also understood that the ‘bad’ bacteria do better at a higher pH. And soap has a pH of about 10! Thus, we’re altering our microflora and skin barrier with soap, setting the stage for imbalance.
Interestingly, a study showed that kids who hand-wash dishes have a lower incidence of allergies compared to those in families that use a dishwasher. That sounds paradoxical given what we just mentioned about soap, but the authors speculate that this has to do with the benefits of skin exposure to the microbes on the dirty plates.
Finally, it seems safe to assume that common toxins found in skin products such as parabens, phthalates, sulfites are not useful to the microbiome.
When you have got a sensitive and easily vulnerable blemished skin source for skin products with the correct pH value. Products with ingredients known by the skin and which strengthen the microbiome instead of attacking them.
Underneath we include some basic ideas for tending to the skin microbiome next to using the right skincare products:
1. Eat healthy and stay hydrated.
( what you put in your mouth indeed influences your skin and skin microbiome in many ways) We recommend good fats (Omega 3’s and monounsaturated fatty acids) proteins, carbohydrates, colorful vegetables and clean water. Keep processed foods and extra sugar out of the diet.
2. Identify and remove trigger foods.
Each skin and human is different. Some people react on diary, some react on gluten, some react on sugars. Check regularly what intolerance is associated with your skin condition.
3. Take care of your gut.
Arguably, many skin issues are influenced by the gut microbiome and gut health in general. Probiotics might prevent or treat your skin condition. It sometimes takes a long period to find the right gut balance.
4. Antibiotics, oral steroids, acid blockers, and non-steroidal pain relievers. Are well-understood barrier destroyers and also likely damage the skin microbiome. if possible, avoid them and check the different influences to your skin condition between the various brands.
4. Minimize the use of hand sanitizers and soaps.
Let your microbiome thrive! If you find that reducing your showers and soaps leads to you becoming too oily or odoriferous consult a dermatologist to find out why. Bring the products with you which you use so he/she can make the right analyzes.
5. Work up a sweat a few times a week.
If you’re eating well research suspect that the sweat you produce is likely fortifying for the skin microbiome. Also, sweat is a natural process and normally odorless. Take a cold shower afterwards as warm showers increase the sebum production.
6. Keep your stress levels in check.
Just like elsewhere in the body, stress likely negatively influences what’s happening with your skin. Find a stress management method that works best for you. Trending is yoga or meditation. But for some people simply cleaning the bathroom, ironing or long beach walks can have the same effect!
And of course, we recommend trying our patented Anna is Clear formulation for that little extra help. The unique beta-glucans improve the function of the microbiome, helps to reduce skin inflammation and redness, inhibit the growth of the C. acnes bacterium (former P.acnes) and reduce excessive sebum production.