When your skin microbiome is healthy and balanced your skin appears more hydrated and dewy, is less sensitive and more resilient to environmental stress, better able to combat acne and rosacea and ages in an elegant and beautiful way.
With a disruption in the skin microbiome comes a skin barrier which is compromised and weak. This manifests as skin which dry and flaky, red and irritable along with a predisposition to acne and rosacea and skin which ages at a more rapid rate.
I like to think of the skin microbiome as a garden which we want to nurture, protect and hydrate. Prebiotics represent the fertiliser for the probiotics or seeds which flourish when provided with the right skin food, environment and moisture and protected from anything which may challenge their environment (peels, retinol and harsh sunlight). The fruits which grow from these seeds are post-biotics, the outcome of a nourished garden – beautiful plump, healthy and youthful skin.
These are the five easy things that I recommend you do to nurture the beautiful garden "microbiome" on your skin!
1. Feed your skin pre-biotics
Prebiotics are a superstar when it comes to feeding the good bacteria in both our gut and our skin whilst discouraging the growth of disadvantageous bacteria. Topically applying prebiotics encourages a healthy and diverse ecosystem of microbes on the skin's surface. When looking for prebiotics in your topical skincare products, look for ingredients such as fructooligosaccharides, beta glucan, glucomannan, inulin or even foods such as oats, inulin, seaweed and barley.
2. Add post-biotics to your skincare regime
Postbiotics are a component of the skin microbiome, as they are the by product and nutrients produced by probiotics - effectively they are the end result of well-fed probiotics. They can be used either by the good bacteria for their development or directly by the skin. BifiDaTM is an extract of fermented Bifidobacterium which is used in our Microbiome Calming Milk. It is rich in vitamins, protein and even lactic acid which further supports the growth of good bacteria on the skin microbiome. Studies have found that it helps to support a healthy skin barrier, support skin DNA repair, build skin resilience to UV damage, whilst hydrating and strengthening the skin's defences.
3. Nourish your skin barrier with restorative oils like jojoba and nutrients like niacinamide
Oil and sebum are integral to a strong skin barrier and encourage a healthy skin microbiome. Often skin with a compromised barrier has been stripped of natural oil balance due to excessive use of actives or over-exposure to the sun. Jojoba oil is a wonderful oil for supporting your skin barrier as it is a close chemical match to human sebum. It has a high concentration of wax esters that help to repair a weakened skin barrier. You will find it in Edible Beauty's Snowflower Illuminating Face Oil. Niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3 can help stimulate the production of ceramides that are part of the skin's barrier function.
4. Avoid excessive use of peels, overly foaming cleansers and over-exfoliating
Using cleansers and exfoliants that are overly foaming or layering very active ingredients (lactic acid, glycolics and retinol) can strip the skin of its natural oil balance, which can either kill off good gut bacteria or damage the skin barrier, all of which are significantly disruptive to our skin microbiome. Opt for gentle oil-based cleansers like our No.1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk and avoid exfoliating more than 1-2 times a week.
5. Sweat it out.
Working out a few times a week can be a fantastic way to boost your skin microbiome. If you are eating a healthy diet, your sweat acts like a fortifying prebiotics for the skin's microbiome. Sweating can also help to deliver skin boosting oxygen and nutrients to the skin barrier, all of which support healthy and radiant skin.
Aside from the above topical recommendations, we cannot forget the importance of the gut and skin connection when it comes to a healthy skin microbiome. Looking after your gut microbiome will translate to a healthy skin microbiome which will show up as youthful, radiant and glowing skin.
Anna Mitsios, Nutritionist, Naturopath and Founder of Edible Beauty Australia