Skin Microbiome 101: Can bacteria be good too?
by Palakshi Bhargava on April 15, 2021
Yes, some bacteria are actually doing wonders for you.
Get ready to hear it from us. At this moment, over 1 trillion microorganisms are living on your skin. While the word ‘bacteria’ might make you shiver, you would want these living things to flourish, as we know their ability to keep your skin in a better place.
Let's understand it a little better. So, what exactly are we talking about?
Skin Microbiome – also called skin flora, is an ecosystem of trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and tiny arthropods colonizing the skin surface, and like a fingerprint, each person's microbiome is unique as well. Some sit on the outside, some burrow in the pores —it’s all intertwined. Even though they all share a similar role – the microbes on our skin perform vital roles in our body: Defending against pathogens, strengthening the immune system, and securing healthy skin. As you start to understand skin’s moisture barrier, it might start making more sense. This microscopic layer of microorganisms sits right above the skin's acid mantle, helping keep intruders away and shielding its lower layers from damage.
Now the question arises – is it fair to say that once you have cracked the whole concept of the skin microbiome, you have unlocked the best-suited skincare for yourself?
From producing lipids like ceramides, keeping the barrier strong and sealing in hydration to feeding off sebum to keep the oil level in check – your skin microbiome does it all for you. A thriving microbiome helps skin to maintain its natural functions. Humans are complex ecosystems composed of bacteria, and other micro-organisms. As a result of eons of evolution, they have become an essential unit of our existence much like a body-organ. Something which still sounds alien and counter-intuitive, these microbes keep us healthy! The skin relies heavily on their proper functioning. So, is a healthy microbiome the key to it all?
Yes, but not all bacteria are good. Not taking proper care and not maintaining a hygiene standard can lead to growth of unwanted microbes. These microbes are not harmonious with our skin, they can lead to severe skin ailments like acne and scarring. Poor microbe function can also cause issues Inflammatory skin issues — like eczema, acne, psoriasis — are all in some way a result of poor microbiome health. Harsh skincare products can and do affect the health of it.
What do you think a well-balanced skin microbiome can do?
You would be surprised to know but a maintained microbiome can fight off all kinds of infections, prevent moisture loss, heal wounds more quickly, and even protect against UV ray damage.
So, how do you really take care of your skin microbiome?
Let us put it this way, allowing this ecosystem of bacteria and other organisms to thrive is essential for keeping the microbiome in shipshape, which will benefit the skin’s health overall wellness.
Here’s how you can nurture good bacteria in and on your skin
Do not underestimate eating healthy and staying hydrated.
Always and always take care of your gut.
Identify and eliminate trigger food from your diet.
Stay away from harsh products. Your skin wouldn’t like it.
Keep your stress level in check.
Include Pre and Pro-biotics in your skincare game.
A key differentiator in your skincare regime:
Probiotics in skincare focus on the healing benefits of our skin’s good bacteria, which includes serving as a guarding shield against evil bacteria, dialing down inflammation, preventing premature ageing and a lot more.
So, is it worth the hype? We would say, totally! Not just that, along with probiotics, comes prebiotics - a non-digestible composite that maintains the vitality of the good bacteria in the body. Several topical probiotic products include prebiotics as they encourage the growth of healthy bugs that live on our skin.
From cleansers and mists to moisturizers and serums, there is a vast range of probiotics-infused products available in the market but picking just the right product for your skin is essential too.
You might have heard it a thousand times but here we are, re-iterating it again – healthy skin begins on the inside. Having a nutritious diet can provide your skin with the means and resources it requires to shield your body from toxic pathogens, keeping you well and feeling great.