So many products that we use on a regular basis seem to be geared towards fighting bacteria. Our soaps, hand sanitizers, home cleaning products -- even the medicine that we take when we get sick -- claim to kill bacteria. But we never really talk about the different kinds of bacteria, how some can cause infection and some can help regular bodily functions like digesting food. And we certainly don’t talk enough about the bacteria that lives on our skin, protecting it from potential injuries or infections and supporting our immune systems. Let’s talk about these good bacteria's and our skin microbiome, which is the environment they live in.
Bad Bacteria vs. Good Bacteria
Bad bacteria, also known as pathogenic bacteria, can make us really sick. These kinds of bacteria most often come from external sources. For example, if you eat chicken that wasn’t properly prepared, you may experience a salmonella infection, caused by Salmonella enterica bacteria. If you share a drink with someone, you may catch strep throat, caused by Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. If you don’t practice the safe personal hygiene, you may get a urinary tract infection, caused by Escherichia coli bacteria. These are all examples of pathogenic bacteria that can cause real issues in our bodies.
But not all bacteria deserves a bad rep! According to Healthline, our bodies are home to up to 100 trillion good bacteria that help us to digest food, absorb nutrients, produce essential vitamins, and stimulating the immune system to protect us from bad bacteria. The majority of these good bacteria live in our gut, but many of them live in what’s known as the skin microbiome.
What is the Skin Microbiome?
The skin microbiome is a unique environment that lives on the skin of every person. It contains and supports the life of billions of living microorganisms, including fungi, viruses, and yes, good bacteria. This environment is affected by many factors, including genetics and lifestyle, the climate where you live, the food you eat, and even if you have pets! The skin microbiome changes depending on parts of the body, too.
The skin microbiome plays an important role in your skin’s appearance, protecting the skin barrier, producing skin nutrients, and maintaining the skin’s pH balance.
How to Support the Skin Microbiome
An imbalanced skin microbiome has been linked to a number of skin concerns, including atopic dermatitis, eczema, acne, and even dryness or premature aging. So it’s a good idea to take small steps to support the skin microbiome as much as you can. Some easy steps include:
A Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a clean diet full of healthy fats, protein, veggies, and fiber plays a big role in improving your gut bacteria, which is thought to be linked to the skin microbiome. Eating fermented foods is a great way to include more probiotics into your diet, so consider picking up some sauerkraut, kimchi, or kombucha on your next grocery run. You may also want to talk to a trusted medical adviser about starting a probiotic or prebiotic regimen, as some studies have suggested that this can build up your gut health and the skin microbiome.
Staying hydrated is another essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Adults should be drinking at least 60 ounces of water every day. A suggestion if you need help upping your water intake is the find a visually appealing reusable water bottle or tumbler with some glass or stainless steel straws. Having something that you like to look at typically means you won’t forget it when you leave your house and is a helpful reminder to drink more water.
Exercising regularly is another great way to support the skin microbiome. Some easy ways to get your heart rate up and break a sweat easily include a 15-minute HIIT routine, a morning yoga flow, or even an after dinner walk around your neighborhood.
Avoid Synthetic Fabrics
In today’s world, when wearing a face mask is common and expected, choosing to wear high-quality, natural fibers is a good idea -- especially when it comes to something you wear on your face for hours on end. Synthetic fibers can cause your skin to fluctuate in temperature and sweat production as well as trapping moisture near your skin. Look for face masks that are made from cotton, jute, or hemp.
Use Gentle Products
A gentle skin cleanser is the first place to start if you’re interested in supporting your skin microbiome with skincare products.
We recommend starting with our Yucca & Lavender Cleansing Bar ($6), which is rich in antioxidants and created to gently soothe and regenerate skin. Follow that up with our Revitalizing Face Toner ($19), which is formulated with probiotics and CoQ10, an antioxidant that energizes your skin and helps improve skin elasticity. Finally, add our Bio-Vitamin Booster, The Protector ($25) into your routine. This is made with Yarrow, which is deeply nourishing, healing, and restorative, Chamomile, which is an incredible antioxidant that soothes and protects the skin, and Vitamin B, which helps the body produce new skin cells.
While the idea of billions and maybe even trillions of bacteria living on your skin and in your body may be a little bit weird and difficult to understand, the skin microbiome is a fascinating and powerful thing that protects your skin and supports your immune system. Let’s show it some support, too.