The skin microbiome is a big, fancy and slightly daunting phrase that’s on everyone’s lips in the skincare world. Anyone who’s anyone within the world of skincare is putting the skin microbiome at the forefront of their skincare routines and carefully selecting products to nourish and protect it.

Despite all that we hear about the skin microbiome, it’s not always clear what exactly it is and why it’s important. So, without further ado, we’re here to spill the tea on all things skin microbiome.

Skin Microbiome
Skin microbiome, also known as skin flora, is the term for the trillions of organisms and bacteria that inhabit our skin and reside within its various layers – sounds a little freaky, but stick with us! Similar to the way our gut microbiome works to protect the digestive system, the skin microbiome plays a crucial role in protecting our bodies against harmful pathogens, fighting infection, preventing inflammation and so on. It’s a neat little ecosystem within our weird and wonderful bodies that helps to keep the largest bodily organ truly happy and healthy!

Like most things bacteria-related, the skin microbiome has a natural balance that needs to be maintained. Keeping the microbiome in balance is the key to achieving that hydrated and gorgeous glowing complexion. If just one of the many organisms starts to feast and thrive more than the others, an imbalance is imminent.

Things that can affect our Skin Microbiome
An unbalanced skin microbiome can trigger hundreds of problems with our skin and many factors can take a toll on our pretty and precious skin microbiomes, some of which may come as a surprise and others you would likely expect.

Using the wrong products
Given the world we live in today and the adjustments we’ve made in response to the pandemic, hand sanitisers and soaps are a fundamental step in our daily routines. Though these steps help fight those pesky little germs, they can be damaging to our skin given their alkalinizing nature. Likewise, using harsh beauty products packed with strong, synthetic chemicals and strong fragrances can result in a serious imbalance.

Lifestyle and diet 
As the age-old saying goes, you really are what you eat – so a diet high in fat and sugar can be a serious trigger for poor gut health and an imbalanced skin microbiome. A poor diet that affects the gut and skin microbiome has been known to cause acne, oxidative stress and more.

How to maintain a balanced Microbiome
Now that we know the microbiome and skin health are directly related, let's look at how we can help maintain a healthy and balanced microbiome.

Less is more
The preferred pH balance for the skin microbiome is between 4.6 and 6.7, so you don’t want to be using products that disturb its peace. With your skincare products, it’s best to watch out for any products that contain irritating ingredients such as preservatives, essential oils and other super harsh chemicals. It is best to be mindful of over-treating the skin – less really is more!

Opt for products with natural and hydrating ingredients that allow your skin to maintain its natural oils for a glass-skin effect. Since many K-beauty products – think COSRX, Isntree and more – are light, hydrating and calming, it’s no surprise that they’re popular products for maintaining the skin’s microbiome.

You are what you eat 
A good, clean diet that avoids highly processed foods and extra sugar is one of the keys to keeping your skin microbiome balanced and your skin looking on point. Stick to proteins, good fats, lots of colourful vegetables and, of course, the holy grail: plenty of water! 

Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are the two P’s which are highly beneficial in supporting skin flora. Our microbiome needs a certain amount of nutrients to help it function, so incorporating foods with prebiotics into our diet is highly supportive for the microbiome and our good bacteria. Foods like bananas, garlic, and honey work wonders in maintaining your daily dose of prebiotics.

Incorporating probiotics into your routine and diet can also support a healthy skin microbiome. These types of ingredients help maintain and balance the microbiome, helping the skin recover faster from dangerous ingredients that may have previously been used. With your diet, look at incorporating foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha into your diet.

Happy skin microbiome, happy life
Healthy skin originates just as much from the inside as it does from the outside. Treating your skin microbiome as your bestie, not your frenemy, is the best way to care for the microbiome and protect the fantastic little ecosystem working to give you the skin of dreams.

If you think your skin microbiome seems a little off-balance, take a look at your diet and environment, rethink your skincare routine and keep your skin well-moisturised to maintain that hydrated, glowy complexion all year round!
Melissa Redshaw