First off, 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.
What is an Unbalanced Microbiome?
An unbalanced microbiome can mean a lot of things, but to put it simply: an unbalanced microbiome is defined by either too much or too little of a certain, or various types of, bacteria/fungi on your skin’s surface. There are trillions of bacteria on your skin, and science is only beginning to discover the purpose and consequences of specific bacteria. Your microbiome could be unbalanced if you have too much of a certain bacteria such as: Corynebacterium bovis. This bacteria (C. bovis) is a potentially harmful bacteria that can cause “scaly skin disease” in people with a weak immune system. An overgrowth of this bacteria has been linked to the development of atopic dermatitis, and starts to emerge during the onset of eczema. This is just an example of one bacteria that if unbalanced, can lead to issues.
However, having less of a certain bacteria can cause skin issues. For example: the bacteria Staphylococcus hominis, has been linked to healthy skin, and less of it has been linked to skin issues. Staphylococcus hominis helps reduce pores, and wrinkle counts. It also has been linked with lessening melanin production which is neither a positive nor negative affect.
What Makes my Microbiome Unbalanced?
If left untouched and alone, there is a good chance your microbiome would be balanced and stable. This marvelous ecosystem has been working on its own for hundreds of years with little issue. However, nowadays we wash our face more than ever, we use harsh products with drying ingredients and harmful chemicals & many of us use makeup daily. Many of these actions are unavoidable, however, you can still care for your microbiome!
Using microbiome-friendly products like our line of serums and cleansers will greatly alleviate the strain you are putting on your skin. Take some time to read the ingredient label on your skincare products, you would be shocked to learn how many of these common ingredients strip you natural biome and cause irritations.
Stress, diet, and hormonal changes can also affect your microbiome, for more information on these aspects see here.
Your Skin’s pH Levels
One of the least talked about and most important aspects of microbiome-health is your skin’s pH level. The term pH means ‘potential of hydrogen’ and refers to the activity of hydrogen ions in a water-based solution. The pH level of any solution is measured on a numerical scale from 0-14, with 7 being considered neutral. When it comes to skin, the surface and uppermost layers are naturally acidic with an average pH of 5.
The skin’s pH balance varies slightly according to a variety of factors such as gender, age and location on the body. Skin pH also plays an important role in skin health and is key to the skin’s protective barrier. It neutralizes alkaline-based aggressors (such as harsh surfactants), supports the essential process of shedding dead skin cells (known as desquamation) and creates the optimal environment in which skin’s natural flora can thrive.
Using microbiome-friendly products will ensure the pH of your skin is stable and healthy. Check out our line of microbiome-friendly products here.
How Do I Know if my Microbiome is Unbalanced?
Multiple skin issues including: dryness, itchiness, acne, rosacea, eczema & more have been linked with disruptions within the microbiome. If you are suffering from skin descriptions, there is a high chance you microbiome is unbalanced. Simply put, you cannot have healthy skin if you microbiome is not healthy.
The only way to know the state of your microbiome for sure is to test it, our Skin Microbiome Kit is an easy to use test that can be completed in the comfort of your home. With just one swab you can discover the trillions of bacteria and fungi that call your skin home. Results of the test come with diet + skincare recommendations and a score based on your microbiome makeup. Learn more about our test here.
How Can I Repair an Unbalanced Microbiome?
If you discover your microbiome is unbalanced via our Skin Microbiome Kit or your own skin symptoms, there is always hope to repair your microbiome! Allowing your skin flora to flourish and thrive is an easy task if you are committed to using microbiome-friendly and minimalist products on your face and limiting the amount of times you wash your face daily.
We have created 2 routines, the Recovery and Maintenance Routines specifically designed for the upkeep and preservation of your microbiome.
An unbalanced microbiome can stem from so many factors, understanding why and when they happen is the first step in repairing and nurturing your microbiome.