What is the Skin Microbiome and Why it’s Essential

We eat yogurt because we think it helps our gut. This is thanks to yogurt containing good bacteria that helps build a better microbiota in our intestine. Well guess what, that’s not only for your gut. Studies are showing that the significance of skin microbiome toward our overall skin health is huge! That’s why we’re seeing a rise in prebiotic and probiotic infused skincare products. So clearly microbiome is having its moment in the skincare spotlight. But should we add these prebiotic and probiotic products to our routine? Is it really beneficial? Here’s everything you need to know about the skin microbiome.

What is the skin microbiome?

As weird as it sounds, our skin is home to billions of various tiny little microorganisms invisible to the naked eye. Such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. And together they form the skin microbiome. They coexist in harmony to protect our skin and have an overall effect on skin’s health.

Among this population of microorganisms, bacteria make up the majority. A few of the common ones are Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis strains. But when the balance is disrupted and the scale dips in favor of bad bacteria over good, it can trigger irritation, dryness and possible development of skin conditions like acne, eczema, atopic dermatitis in addition to premature aging!

The skin microbiome is unique from person to person, just like a fingerprint or your DNA. There are several factors that effect the skin microbiome including age, hormones and genetics. But also external factors play a part as well like climate, diet and overall hygiene. Thus, it’s only natural that the skin microbiome is constantly changing and ever evolving!

How do we benefit from the microbiome?

The skin microbiome has plenty of benefits when it’s kept healthy and in good condition. And you can see what they are below:

  • Protects the skin against bad bacteria and other external stressors (UV exposure, temperature, humidity, pollution, irritating skin care products, etc.)
  • Restores our skin’s pH, making it slightly acidic in order to create an environment suitable for ‘good bacteria’ to thrive and harder for ‘bad bacteria’ to colonize (pathogenic bacteria tend to flourish under high pH level)
  • Repairs and strengthens the skin barrier
  • Increases and maintains skin hydration
  • Offers antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties

Now that we understand more about the skin microbiome, it’s time to talk about the potential of applying topical pro-, pre-, and postbiotic skin care products in order to maintain healthy skin!

What are probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics?

  • Probiotics are living microbes that are beneficial for skin health. In other words, they are the good bacteria.
  • Prebiotics are, essentially, food that can nourish and nurture the good bacteria, while at the same time inhibit the growth of bad bacteria.
  • Postbiotics are byproducts of the good bacteria that can be useful in regulating skin microbiome.

Even though they have their own terms and may work differently, they share the same goal which is to restore the balance of bacteria in the ecosystem, so that our skin microbiome can carry out its functions more effectively.

When it comes to probiotics in skincare products, it can be a little tricky to manufacture. It is nearly impossible to use live bacteria since skincare products also require preservatives—which are important for longer shelf life. So, they usually use inactivated bacteria that work just as effective as the live ones.

How can you find them on your label?

  • Probiotics: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium
  • Prebiotics: xylitol, rhamnose, sugar (such as fructo-oligosaccharides)
  • Postbiotics: lactic acid

Tips to improve your skin microbiome

  • Pro-, pre- and postbiotics products complement each other. Combine them to achieve a better result.
  • Use gentle cleansers and avoid harsh cleansers with SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) or SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate).
  • Do not over-cleanse.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Picky Expert Picks

LA ROCHE-POSAY – Lipikar Balm AP+ Intense Repair Moisturizing Cream

Suitable for: Sensitive and very dry skin

Prebiotic ingredient: Aqua Posae Filiformis

To those with sensitive skin or who are prone to eczema, this product is considered a staple. Formulated with La Roche-Posay patented prebiotic ingredient—Aqua Posae Filiformis— that is grown in their thermal spring water, this moisturizer helps to rebalance the skin microbiome and repair the skin barrier. It also contains niacinamide that can soothe inflammation.

BIOSSANCE – Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

Suitable for: all skin types, especially dry and sensitive skin

Probiotic ingredient: Lactococcus ferment lysate

This weightless gel moisturizer infused with probiotic technology will bounce your back to its most radiant self! A hydrating formula to help reduce any external outside stressors while also calming and redness along with pore size!

Find More

If you want to find more products with pre, pro or postbiotics than plug them in to the Mega Ingredient Search on the Picky app and scroll through the options. Help balance out your skin microbiome and keep it healthy with the ingredients it needs. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and check out our YouTube channel as well!

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