We’ve always been taught that bacteria are the bad guys. Even soap brands boast a 99.9% kill-rate when we wash our hands.
But, like with most things in life, when you paint with such a broad brush, you don’t get the whole picture.
The reality is certain bacteria on your skin are vital to its ability to function. In fact, and don’t freak out, but there exists an entire ecosystem of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on your skin at all times. This bizarre little community is called a Microbiome.
What’s a Microbiome?
The human microbiome consists of every single micro-organism living both on and in the human body. The relevance of these microfloral ecosystems was never truly understood until as recently as 2012 when the Human Microbiome Project was completed. Its purpose was to generate a map of all living bacteria in the human microbiome using genetic sequencing.
The true significance of this breakthrough lies in the realization that 50% of your cells are bacterial cells and >50% of your DNA is bacterial as well. This means that the human microbiome plays an incredibly important role in almost every key function of your body. Everything from nutrient absorption in your gut, to immune reaction, and even your mood are all dictated by the interaction of essential bacteria.
How does it affect my skin?
The various microorganisms that comprise your skin’s microbiome are working around the clock to keep your skin as healthy and vibrant as possible.
As your body’s first line of defense, it not only protects your skin from harmful environmental elements, it also actively helps to balance your skin’s pH level.
It also aids in your skins barrier functions by consistently producing nutrients and essential oils, balancing the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
Unfortunately, our lifestyles could be affecting your skin microbiome’s ability to function to its full potential. Hot showers, sugar-heavy diets, alcohol-based skincare products, and chlorinated water are just a few factors that hinder your how effective your microbiome is at maintaining the look and feel of your skin.
What can I do about it?
Just like how probiotics in your diet (yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, etc.) tilt the scales towards good bacteria and away from bad bacteria inside your gut, probiotics in your skincare provide reinforcements to the microflora that keep your skin healthy.
Probiotics aide the defensive barrier of your skin against harmful bacteria, help calm the skin while significantly reducing inflammation, and prevent many of the harmful processes that cause signs of aging. All of these benefits add up to a brighter, more youthful complexion.
Adding probiotics to your skincare routine will also help regulate your skin’s pH balance. And, since an imbalanced pH on your skin can often result in acne breakouts, probiotics are an effective treatment for acne-prone skin.
All skin is different, so here are some curated suggestions so you can decide which topical probiotic product is right for your back bar.