The skin microbiome is a complex ecosystem constantly evolving, and understanding its intricacies is essential in maintaining skin health – Dr. Doris Day, Dermatologist.
Your skin microbiome is unique as you are. Factors like genetics, environment, lifestyle, and overall health shape it. Let’s look at skin genetic factors first:
Skin genetics primarily determines our skin color, texture, and other characteristics. Skin genetics also defines your predisposition to skin hydration levels, collagen breakdown, and other essential proteins. Genes can also affect how our skin ages, including developing wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.
Sun damage is another important factor. Some people are more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer due to genetic factors, such as gene mutations that regulate cell growth and repair.
Finally, skin genetics tell us about our risk for various skin conditions. Specific genetic mutations can cause skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo, which can affect the appearance and health of the skin—or even skin cancer.
Environment. We expose our skin to various environmental factors, such as sun exposure, pollution, and climate. These factors can affect our skin’s health and appearance and vary depending on where we live. When you test your skin microbiome you know how much pollution impacts your skin health.
Lifestyle. Our daily habits, such as diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management, can also affect the health and appearance of our skin. Overexposure to sun ultraviolet UVA UVB radiation can cause damage to our skin, including premature aging, wrinkles, age spots, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Protecting our skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing, using high UVA UVB sunscreen, and seeking shade can help prevent sun damage.
Both sun and air pollution can lead to the formation of free radicals in the skin, which can cause inflammation, premature aging, and other skin problems. For example, a healthy diet and regular exercise can promote healthy skin. At the same time, stress can lead to acne breakouts and other skin issues.
Health conditions. Taking medications shapes our skin microbiome, like diabetes and unstable blood sugar levels. Diabetes can influence skin health by causing dry skin. For people with diabetes, the skin is most often dehydrated due to decreased oil and sweat production and poor circulation, so it promotes different skin microbiome in contrast to, for example oily skin. Dry skin can lead to itchiness, cracking, and infections.
Poor wound healing is another feature of diabetic skin. High blood glucose levels can impair the immune system and the body’s ability to heal wounds, increasing the risk of bacterial infections, promoting pathogens, and delaying healing. Diabetes can increase the risk of bacterial and fungal infections, particularly in moist areas such as the armpits, groin, and between the toes. Common diabetic skin infections include fungal infections, boils, and folliculitis. Diabetes can cause discoloration patches and darkened skin, particularly on the back of the neck, elbows, knees, and knuckles. This is known as acanthosis nigricans and is due to insulin resistance. Diabetes may also lead to the formation of tiny, benign growths called skin tags, particularly in skin folds.
Skincare. Using products that are appropriate for our skin type and avoiding products that contain harsh chemicals or skin irritants can help keep our skin healthy. The products we use on our skin, including harsh daily cleansers that strip away all essential natural skin oil, called sebum, moisturizers, and makeup with zinc oxide, a bacteriocide, can also affect our skin’s appearance and health by disturbing the natural skin microbiome and permanently changing its composition.
Microbiome-friendly skincare products are designed to support the natural balance of bacteria and support good microorganisms that live on your skin. Here are some tips for finding microbiome-friendly skincare products:
Be sure to look for products with gentle, natural ingredients. Harsh chemicals can disrupt your skin microbiome, excluding paraffin, synthetic oils, and glycols, to name a few. So, you would avoid the mass-market big cosmetic corporations’ products that contain about 95% of their skincare made of the above-mentioned cheap ingredients that simply put, harm your skin. The list is long, and you can discover more about microbiome-friendly skincare ingredients here, so look for products that use natural, gentle ingredients such as aloe vera skincare, chamomile and oatmeal extracts, and fortunately there are many more skin microbiome-friendly ingredients.
As a principle, always avoid antibacterial products. Antibacterial soaps, cleansers, and other bacteriocides can kill harmful and beneficial bacteria on the skin, disrupting your skin microbiome. There are several levels to care for your skin, for more in-depth information you can read our guide to How to care for skin microbiome?
The skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic, so look for products that are pH balanced or somewhat acidic for your regular daily face care (pH 4.5 to 5.5). As a rule of thumb all probiotic skincare should normally be acidic if formulated correctly.
If you are serious about skin microbiome then you should be using probiotics and postbiotics on regular basis. Probiotics are good bacteria that help support the skin microbiome and keep your skin’s pH balanced to help prevent pathogens’ development. Please be sure to look for products that contain Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, or other probiotic live strains, otherwise postbiotics can be also helpful, although they require more regular reapplication.
Absolutely always use fragrance-free skincare products. Fragrances can irritate the skin and disrupt your skin microbiome, so look for fragrance-free skincare products. Shop with your head, not your nose.
Use minimal products. Using too many different skincare products can overload the skin and disrupt your skin microbiome. Keep your skincare routine simple and minimal.
Seek a professional skin test if you have a skin condition or concern. There is no replacement for knowledge about your skin microbiome. You can tell if your skin has a healthy amount of skin bacteria. You can consult your results with a dermatologist or skincare expert, including skinara MD advice on the choice of the best microbiome-friendly skincare products, brand independent. Remember, it’s not just about the brand, but the ingredients and formulation of the product that matter. By following these easy tips, you can choose the best microbiome-friendly skincare ingredients and routine for your skin.
These factors combine to create a unique skin profile for each individual. Therefore some people have dry skin, others have oily skin, and others are more prone to acne or other skin issues than others. Understanding our skin’s unique characteristics can help us take better care of it and keep it healthy and radiant.