This informal CPD article on Everything you should know about your Skin Microbiome was provided by Uma Ghosh, director at Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy, a wellness and beauty education clinic in London.
Did you know that scientists can approximately predict your age with just your microbiome? Something to wonder about, right?
Long gone are the days when you just simply slapped on an ‘anti-ageing’ moisturiser and hoped for the best. People are thankfully realizing the importance of wellness and know that overall wellness and skin health go hand-in-hand. Until recently the skincare used to be marketed to a certain age group. Today, however, skincare is less about your age and more about your skin type, lifestyle and individual needs and concerns. And one of the most exciting things in the skincare and wellness world is the skin microbiome.
Nowadays more and more skincare companies are starting to see the benefits of investing into microbiome technology. We think it’s time to discuss the all-too-important factor of skincare, the Holy Skin Microbiome. There even have been claims that your skin microbiome could be the secret key you were looking for to youthful and luminous skin.
What is Skin Microbiome?
For those of you who don’t know about skin microbiome yet, let’s start with what it actually is. The skin microbiome sometimes called the skin flora, is the term to describe the trillions of species that live on our skin. There are 1,000 different bacterial species and up to 80 different fungi species. Some of these are also residents of your gut microbiome and some are more likely to be found on your skin rather than your gut.
Another important thing to know is microbiome is quite like a fingerprint. No two people have the same microbiome. The skin microbiome changes depend on the "eco-niche," or location, age and gender. For example, a hormonal, sweaty teenage boy has a very different microbiome than a postmenopausal woman.
These microbiomes not only boost immunity and regulate pH levels but are also helpful in creating ‘tight junctions’ between skin cells, which help keep water in and toxins out, meanwhile producing natural antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides that fight harmful bacteria.
How does it Affect our Health?
1. Communication with our Immune System:
Microbes don’t only lie on the surface of the skin, but according to research in 2013, scientists found microbes in the innermost layer of the skin which is the subcutaneous fat layer. The most interesting thing is that that is where the microbiome and our immune system engage in a very intimate conversation 24/7. So, we have to make sure that the microbiomes whisper only good things to our immune system.
2. Infection Prevention:
Just like a gut microbiome prevents bodily infections, skin microbiome also works similarly. It helps to control the growth of pathogenic organisms and helps to prevent infection. Skin Microbiome is actually our first line of defence.
3. Controls Inflammation
Remember about the conversation between our skin immune system and our microbiome, right? Well, inflammation is your indicator to tell how that conversation is going. If there are no signs of inflammation, that means that your microbiome and immune system are getting along well. However, if your immune system thinks that the microbiome is crossing some kind of line, that causes the system to produce inflammatory compounds. When you take care of your skin microbiome, you can help to control the inflammation.
4. Environmental Shield
The skin microbiome acts as a shield against environmental aggressors. It limits the exposure of our skin to allergens, oxidative damage and even helps in healing our wounds. The skin microbiome is also responsible for keeping the skin plump and moist. Recently scientific research has found that microbiome help to protect us from harmful UV rays.
6 Ways to Help Your Microbiome:
There are many ways to support the function of your microbiome. Practice some of these to improve your skin condition, health, and overall well-being.
1. Hydration and Healthy Foods
If processed foods and excessive sugar is a part of your daily life, it’s time to seriously think about it. Because of what goes into your mouth, also shows up on your skin and really affects your skin microbiome. Try focusing on colourful veggies, good fats and antioxidants. Also, lots and lots of water. For that, we recommend water-based foods, like watermelons, cucumbers, strawberries and most of the fresh fruits and veggies you can get your hands on!
2. Ditch the Trigger Foods:
Focus on what triggers your skin. There are certain foods that act as an irritant and can upset the balance of your skin microbiome. For example, dairy and gluten are known for the trouble they can cause to your skin like eczema and acne.
3. Work the Gut
Your gut microbiome also has an immense effect on your skin microbiome. So take care of your gut microbiome to keep the skin microbiome healthy too. Incorporate fermented foods, kombucha, raw veggies, greens and salads.
4. Avoid Harsh Soaps
There really is such thing as over-cleansing. Using harsh soaps, sanitizers and over-cleansing your skin can actually remove the good bacteria from your skin. So, try to use gentle cleansers and soaps containing aloe or coconut derivatives to let the healthy bacteria thrive and do its thing.
If you're following the step number one, which is staying hydrated and eating healthy, the sweat you produce is likely a fortifying prebiotic for the skin microbiome. Not to mention, working out leads to better skin health overall because when you exercise, you increase the blood flow to your skin, nourishing your skin with vital nutrients and oxygen.
We all know that excess levels of cortisol are harmful to our health. Elevated cortisol can also disrupt the skin barrier and the skin microbiome, contributing to dry skin, causing acne, skin infections, and eczema. Do your best to manage your stress with yoga, meditation and breathwork practices to help with your skin microbiome.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.