I am a beauty girl to the core. Beginning my first skincare routine at the age of 11 and getting the hang of the beauty business at 14 – beauty has become me, and I have become one with beauty. Beautiful things inspire me. I see the detail in each face, the lines that flow, the symmetry that isn't there, the sparkle that once was, the radiant glow that can be. I see beauty where no one else does. I stepped away from the industry professionally for a while and allowed a new love of nutrition, lifestyle and well-being to blossom – and as a turn of events would have it, an opportunity to combine all presented itself. A business where I share beauty, nutrition and well-being support and help women make money! I couldn't be more delighted. With that in mind, I have created a series of skin health blog posts with tips and ideas to unlock your radiance from the inside and outside! Let's start by exploring the skin microbiome and how it supports glowing skin and your health.
In the realm of skincare and overall well-being, the term "microbiome" has gained significant attention in recent years. It wasn't a thing when I did my training many years ago! You may be familiar with the concept of the gut microbiome and its impact on digestive health, brain health and skin health. But are you aware of the intricate world of the skin microbiome? Much like in the gut, maintaining a delicate balance is essential for the skin microbiome. Disruptions in this balance can lead to various skin issues, including acne, eczema, and other inflammatory conditions. Let's delve into the fascinating realm of the skin microbiome, exploring its significance, functions, and how cultivating a healthy microbiome can contribute to glowing skin and overall well-being.
What is the skin microbiome?
The skin, our largest organ by weight, is a dynamic and complex ecosystem hosting a diverse community of trillions of microorganisms collectively known as the skin microbiome. Comprising of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms, the skin microbiome plays a pivotal role in maintaining skin health and defending against external threats; think of it as your skin's life force centre'. These microorganisms will be commensal (they are there, but there is no benefit to them or us), symbionts (we benefit, and they benefit), or pathogens (they benefit but cause disease for us). In fact, your skin microbiome signature is unique to you! Researchers have discovered it is the most accurate predictor of chronological age over your oral or gut microbiome!
Bacteria are the most present in the skin microbiome and are classified into four types.
The most dominant species include Cutibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Corynebacterium, Micrococcus, Streptococcus, and Acinetobacter. These species are responsible for the supporting keratinocytes, which are the cells that form the structure of our skin, hair and nails and sebocytes, our cells that produce the skin's natural oils and help protect against environmental damage. This is a symbiotic relationship, where the skin supplements the bacteria with nutrients and an environment in which the bacteria participate in skin homeostasis (balance), skin defence and protection against pathogens. Having what is known as a high alpha diversity, meaning there is a greater variety of microorganisms, is a hallmark of healthy skin. Diversity is impacted by age, gender, immunity, culture, socioeconomic status, location on the body, sleep, stress, seasons, environmental factors such as climate, humidity, chemical exposure, air and water quality, hygiene and your beauty routine.
What is the role of the skin microbiome?
There are several key roles a balanced skin microbiome plays in maintaining skin health, including:
- Protection: The microbiome acts as a barrier between the body and the outside environment, preventing disease-causing organisms (pathogens) and foreign substances from invading the body. While functioning as a barrier, it also regulates and contributes to the skin's integrity.
- Prevents pathogen colonisation: A high alpha diversity prevents pathogens from invading and colonising the skin, and the skin microbiome produces bioactive metabolites that may offer antibacterial properties. By producing bioactive metabolites that may have antimicrobial properties and other metabolites that facilitate host (human) – microbiome cross-talk.
- Immunity support: Skin microbes play an essential role in educating the innate and adaptive arm of the cutaneous (skin) immune system by supporting the development of an appropriate immune response.
It is evident the role of the skin microbiome is multifaceted, functioning as a protective barrier, inhibiting the growth of harmful pathogens, preventing infections, interacting with the immune system to defend against invaders without inducing excessive inflammation, regulating the skin's pH to ensure an optimal environment for the 'good bacteria'. All this is essential for glowing skin and overall health and well-being.
How to cultivate a healthy skin microbiome?
You know what it is and its importance; now, let's explore some practical ways to nurture and cultivate a healthy microbial community for radiant, glowing skin and overall well-being.
- Use gentle skincare practices: Adopt a skincare routine that is gentle on the skin microbiome. Keep your program simple, using gentle exfoliation products and products that offer probiotic effects. Ensure your products promote a balanced pH and maintain a supportive environment for beneficial microbes.
- Eat whole, real foods: Focus on your intake of vegetables and fruit. Allow your skin to revel in a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins and fibre. Limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol and highly processed foods. Supplement with quality gut health products that offer prebiotic and probiotic support.
- Drink water: Hydrated skin has a healthier and more diverse microbiome to support your skin health.
- Manage your stress: Chronic stress can disrupt the balance of the skin microbiome, leading to inflammation and skin issues and diseases. Acknowledge how your stress levels affect your sleep, food choices, cravings and skin health.
What are the best types of skin care probiotics?
When you ingest something hoping to gain a benefit and then apply the same ingredient topically, those benefits may not translate the same way. For example, if you take a collagen powder, it will be metabolised, and each component will be used as the body requires. You may not experience the direct benefits of 'collagen' in your skin or joints as your body will distribute the amino acids where they are needed most. However, if you use a skincare product that contains hydrolysed collagen, you will see benefits immediately as it is targeted and absorbed by the skin.
It is the same for probiotics. Probiotics added to food or taken as a supplement are generally live microorganisms that need to withstand our stomach acid to make their way through the gastrointestinal tract, which will support the colony growth of microorganisms. Probiotics used in skin care are unlikely to contain live microorganisms, as cosmetics must have a low content of microorganisms to meet safety standards. However, we find that there will be ingredients sourced from probiotic strains that can be beneficial. These include bacterial lysates, ferments, and filtrates, often called postbiotics. I encourage you not to be taken in with marketing and discern if a product contains true probiotics (live microorganisms) or includes strains that offer probiotics effects.
Generally, the benefits of skincare, offering probiotic effects, include microbiome balancing, skin revitalisation, protection from damage, and maintenance of the skin's natural barrier, all contributing to healthy and resilient skin, which is sufficient for your everyday skincare regime. Suppose Bifida Fermentation Filtrate, Bifida Fermentation Lysate, Yeast Fermentation Filtrate, Lactococcus Fermentation Lysate and Lactobacillus Fermentation Product are on the ingredient list. In that case, you can expect a product that will hydrate the skin, balance uneven skin tone, regulate pH, reduce oxidative stress, and support balance in the skin microbiome, moisture levels, and the skin barrier. You may also experience reduced inflammation and redness, improved appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and fewer acne breakouts. These ingredients are also suitable for sensitive skin and support blemish control. All around, it's beneficial!
While there is still so much to learn and research about our skin microbiome, one thing is certain: Your skin care needs to support microbiome diversity to unlock radiant skin and minimise disruption to the natural microbial ecosystem. Choosing products to support your hydration levels and offer probiotic effects will help promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms and, ultimately, a radiant, glowing complexion. After trying a few ranges that claim the benefits of probiotics, I landed on a favourite, Luminovation.
You can learn more about it here.
As always, remember when you fall in love with yourself, everything else falls into place.
Blog posts are not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of medical advice and treatment from your doctor. Readers are advised to consult their qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Ocea Marie does not take any responsibility for possible health consequences for anyone reading or following the information available on the blog. All readers, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their doctor before beginning any nutrition or supplement program.
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