Your skin microbiome and the importance of taking care of it
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
As we know our skin is the largest organ in our body and it is the first defence between you and the outside world. It is also a mirror of what's happening inside your body- your skin reflects the condition of your gut and many skin issues are relates to your gut.
Same as in our gut, there are trillions of bugs living on our skin- it's called your skin flora or your skin microbiome. The microbiome on your skin changes depending whether the are on your skin is oily, moist, dry or hairy. It also differs from women to men and whether you are young or old.
A healthy skin microbiome protects us against infections very much the same way a good gut microbiome does, by crowding out the overgrowth of pathogenic organisms. And since your skin microbiome likes more acidic environment (skin PH is around 5.0), this also inhibits the growth of pathogens.
Your skin microbiome also helps with wound healing, minimising oxidative damage and exposure to allergens.
What happens if your skin microbiome is compromised?
Same way as the antibiotics and other medications can damage your gut microbiome, which can result in auto-immune diseases and allergies, so does the excess use of antimicrobial hand sanitisers and soaps can interrupt your skin microbiome. An imbalanced skin microbiome can result in different skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, allergies, dandruff, rosacea.
Your skin is affected from both sides, what you put into your body (your diet) and what you put onto your body (cosmetics).
Most soaps have a PH level more than 6 (some anti-bacterial soaps have it as high as 10,11), which is not what your skin likes, as healthy skin microbiome cannot thrive in alkaline environment. So it's very important to really look what you put onto your skin.
How can you support your microbiome?
From my own personal experience I can say that the below areas play key role in good skin health and you can't really ignore any of them:
1. Healthy Eating and Proper Hydration
I stopped eating gluten containing foods in January 2017 due to severe joint pains I developed after being diagnosed with Lyme disease. In February 2017 I also stopped eating sugar as I wanted to remove inflammatory foods from my diet. Today I am consuming very little milk products- just goat cheese, butter and parmesan cheese now and again. These dietary changes have made a very big difference in the purity and softness of my skin. Not that I had skin problems before, but I haven't had any issues with skin since. Gluten and dairy are both associated with exacerbating skin issues such as eczema and acne.
From skin-care products I use essential oils mixed with either jojoba oil or fractionated coconut oil to moisture the skin in the evening and in the morning. During the winter months I use thicker organic facial cream and mix essential oils in there to give more moisture and protection for the skin. In terms of make-up, I have used very little of it for the last 2 years- just a mascara and lip-gloss from mineral cosmetics.
It's very well known that de-hydration will age you, so it's important to make sure you drink enough water during the day. I start my day either with water and apple-cider vinegar and a pinch of Himalayan salt or with lemon and a pinch of Himalayan salt. I make sure I drink water throughout the day, but also drink matcha tea and herbal teas.
I also consume collagen powder and broth on a regular basis and make gelatine gummies on a weekly basis. If you know your gut could be compromised, I also recommend to include prebiotic and probiotic foods in your daily diet to improve the gut microbiome.
Make sure you work up a sweat couple of times a week to increase the blood flow to your skin. If you consume healthy foods, your sweat you produce during exercise is a great prebiotic for your skin microbiome. Another great way to get sweat going is to go to sauna once or twice a week.
3. Sleep and manage your stress levels
Make sure you get a good-quality 7-8 hours of sleep every night and that you keep your stress levels low as stress increases inflammation in the body
4. Switch to natural skincare
Majority of commercially produced skincare products are packed with fragrances, artificial colours, preservatives and stabilisers, that can easily absorbed through your skin's pores into your body and bloodstream.
Look for skin care products that have unprocessed ingredients and without any harsh chemicals and artificial add-ons as these not only affect your skin, but also disrupt your hormonal imbalance.
Here are just some natural skin care products to use:
Extra Virgin Coconut oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar as a tonic