If you know about the microbiome, you know it is host to trillions of bacteria + fungi that work together to keep your skin healthy. But many people don't know what specific bacteria + fungi live on your skin. That’s why we created the Meet your Microbes series, so you can learn about the specific organisms that call your face home.
What is the Microbiome?
The microbiome is the invisible layer of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on the surface of your skin. It is an entire universe of trillions of residents, calling your skin home. Don’t worry it's less scary than it might sound. This ecosystem works in epic cohesion to protect your body from outside irritants, and act as the first line of defense against outside viruses.
All these microorganisms living on our skin are in constant conversation with the skin’s tissues to keep a healthy balance. Cells in your skin perform background checks on microorganisms around them to identify bad ones. The cells work with good microorganisms to kill off any dangerous creatures.
This means that microorganisms like bacteria are always protecting you from outside threats. They fight pathogens, fungus, and parasites which may cause diseases or infections. We can also thank them for combating inflammation and helping our skin repair itself.
Let’s Meet Your Microbes.
This bacteria is misunderstood, for many believe it is the sole cause of acne on our skin. However, it is actually the most common bacteria in our microbiome, making up a large portion (about ~80%) of the healthy back and facial microbiome, especially in the oil-rich areas of the skin. Cutibacterium acnes produces propionic acid (fun fact: this is why it used to be called Propionibacterium) which helps maintain a healthy acidic pH of the skin. This acidity of the skin helps inhibit pathogens from attacking our skin. This bacteria acts like a barrier, keeping the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. In addition, this bacteria also helps regulate our skin’s immunity and has anti-oxidative properties that help protect our skin from UV radiation.
Most strains of this bacteria are harmless to your skin, and contribute to your microbiome in a healthy manner. However certain strains of this bacteria are correlated with acne. The strain, IA1 is found to be significantly higher in people with acne than in healthy skin. It is a safe assumption to believe that this strain is a contributing factor to acne.
But wait there’s more, studies have shown that a low amount of Cutribacterium acnes is associated with rosacea, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Too little of this bacteria can create major issues for your microbiome and your skin. This bacteria decreases with age, as our oil production decreases.
This is one of the most studied “good” bacteria on our skin. This small but mighty bacteria has been discovered to regulate and strengthen our skin’s defense system and help accelerate wound healing. In addition, Staphylococcus epidermidis has been found to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria such as eczema causing S. aureus or acne causing C. acnes by producing antimicrobial peptides. Pretty cool, right?
But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine for Staphylococcus epidermidis, some studies have shown that a few of the strains of this bacteria has been linked to eczema and rosacea. This bacteria is vital when it comes to keeping your skin healthy, but just like everything in the microbiome, balance is key.
Cue the evil music, its time to learn about Staphylococcus aureus. This guy is one of the few bacteria deemed categorically BAD when it comes to our microbiome. It is rarely found on healthy skin and is a known contaminant in skincare products and food. Additionally, It has been known to cause various bacterial infections on the skin.
Sound bad? There’s more, Staphylococcus aureus multiplies as it feeds on the skin and is known to increase and take over the skin population during atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. It is especially known to spike during atopic flares. These tricky little Staphylococcus aureus
form biofilms and attach to the skin to produce toxins that trigger inflammation on the skin. Simply put. Having high levels of S. aureus on your skin is a sign of trouble and imbalance.
There is so much more to learn about when it comes to your microbiome. The delicate balance of bacteria & fungi is vital to your skin health. If you are curious about your microbiome and if it is unbalanced, check out our Skin Microbiome Kit. With one swab you can discover the state of your microbiome and see what amount of healthy vs. unhealthy bacteria you have.
In addition, check out our line of minimalist, certified microbiome-friendly skincare, expertly crafted with your skin in mind, and always, science backed.