What is the skin’s microbiome? Everything you need to know

Microbiome The skin’s microbiome is made up of a unique collection of microorganisms that greatly impact how skin looks and feels. This invisible ecosystem has become a hot topic in the world of skincare as an explosion of new research has revealed how - when the microbiome is balanced - it can ward off negative factors that would otherwise deteriorate the skin’s appearance or even worsen existing skin concerns.

Understanding how the pieces of the skin microbiome fit together will help you find products that can help.

What is the microbiome of your skin?

The skin’s microbiome is made up of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes that live on its surface. Surprisingly, you need a balance of the two to have healthier, more vibrant skin. In doing so, the skin's good bacteria can flourish without letting bad bacteria overtake it. This balance allows skin to better protect itself from harmful invaders.

Here's how the skin's pro-, pre- and postbiotics work together to maintain the micrbiome's balance:

  • Probiotics are living microbes that exist on the skin and play a crucial role in stabilising the microbiome.
  • Prebiotics are the substances on the skin that help feed and encourage the growth and healthy balance of probiotics.
  • Postbiotics are the byproducts (new beneficial substances) that probiotics generate as they break down on and within the skin’s surface. Postbiotics help facilitate an optimal microbiome by locking in vital moisture and strengthening the skin’s barrier against environmental stressors.

While probiotics get most of the limelight, prebiotics and postbiotics play an equally (if not more) vital role in microbiome skincare.

How can I improve my skin's microbiome?

The skin’s microbiome can quickly become unstable from a number of internal or external factors including pollution, sun damage and irritating skincare products. To a certain extent, you can take measures to protect yourself from some of these factors—but it’s impossible to rule them out completely. That’s where skincare comes in.

Balancing your skin’s microbiome takes a combination of pre-, pro-, and postbiotic ingredients. It’s important to find microbiome skincare that combines these three elements to see real results.

When balanced, the bad and good bacteria on skin keep each other in check, working together to create postbiotics, which include peptides, proteins, amino acids, enzymes, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, ceramides, antioxidants and other substances that are vital for skin.

The results you’ll see and feel with the right products:

  • Skin is better equipped to protect itself against environmental stressors.
  • Hydration levels are optimised and maintained.
  • Sensitive, reddened skin is calmed and becomes more stable.
  • Skin issues diminish thanks to the restoration and maintenance of a healthy pH balance.

Microbiome skincare

A lot of products claiming to balance the skin’s natural microbiome rely on probiotics alone, which are only half the battle. As mentioned above, it takes a combination of pre-, pro-, and postbiotics to get results. Just applying probiotics by themselves can’t balance your microbiome because everyone has a different, ever-changing microbiome. That means no product or blend of probiotics (and there are many) can know exactly what one’s skin needs.

This delicate balance is really about the environment that pre-, pro-, and postbiotics create together to help your skin protect itself naturally. Be sure to pick balanced products for a balanced microbiome.

Another important consideration for skincare is packaging. These delicate formulas are very fragile and can deteriorate easily in the wrong environment. That means no jar packaging (air and light exposure cause them to break down faster).

The bottom line: Microbiome skincare is much more than a fad—it truly can help improve skin in a number of ways when using the right science-driven formulas.

Hydrate your skin with the right formula for your unique microbiome. Learn more about which moisturiser suits your skin type.

References for this information:

  1. Nature Reviews Microbiology, March 2018, pages 143-155
  2. Experimental Dermatology, September 2019, ePublication
  3. Fermentation, May 2019, pages 1-17
  4. International Journal of Molecular Science, September 2019, ePublication
  5. Trends in Food Science & Technology, May 2018, pages 105-114
  6. World Allergy Organization Journal, August 2017, ePublication
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