Yes, we’ve all heard about the importance of our gut biome. It’s our ‘lower brain’ and we now know it affects almost everything we do or think.
But did you know you also have a skin biome?
Imbalances in the skin microbiome don’t just play a key role in skin disorders.
While most microbiome research to date has been focused on the gastrointestinal tract, more research of the cutaneous microbiome and its important role is revealing its importance in maintaining skin health.
What we’re now learning is that both internal and external factors are at play in the skin microbiome and dysbiosis. As research unfolds about these connections, we’re gaining a new way of looking at dermatologic conditions and how we can transform the cutaneous microbiota to address inflammatory conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, and premature aging.
A Dirty Home? Or a Natural home?
We already know our skin is home to approximately a million bacteria to every square centimetre.
Lifestyle, environment, hygiene, diet, age, and sex all affect makeup of the skin microbiome.
If we consider how our lifestyle factors and hygiene practices have changed over the last few decades and how they have contributed to the high rates of acne, atopic dermatitis and other inflammatory skin disorders we can begin to understand that correctly managing our skin biome may have greater effect than the infinite number of so-called skin products foisted on us in every medium.
The germ-phobia trend in our cultures has caused a real ”altered state” in our microbiota in various areas of the human body.
Considering that most of our phobia is directed at the skin, it’s pretty clear that our skin is not immune to this impact.
Where You Live Affects your skin Biome.
Our skin microbiome is also impacted by where we live and with whom we live.
If you live in the country you will have a greater diversity of flora than people living in urban environments. Even people in the same household can impact each other’s skin microbiomes. So it may be particularly important to look at our home environment and the health and practices of our co-habitants, including pets in the home.
What we now know is that commensal (eating at the same table) skin microbiota (Staphyloccocus epidermidis) influence skin immunity and limit pathogen invasion by inducing specialized T-cells to move to the epidermis. So the importance of maintaining a balanced skin microbiome to protect the skin from disease is becoming more obvious.
Our connection with the gut is also key. Because we’ve been researching the gut-brain-skin axis, we’re discovering more about the connection between stress, anxiety, and depression with changes in the gut microbiota and leaky gut, which creates can trigger inflammatory dermatologic issues, such as acne.
So we can begin to draw the connection between gut dysbiosis and permeability and how it, in turn, has the potential to improve the skin microbiota. For years, naturopathic physicians have drawn the connection between digestive health and the skin, so it’s not a new concept.
We’ve learned an important factor in how to support our skin microbiota. It involves the pH of the skin. Many people ask us about whether they should use alkaline water on the skin.
The external pH of our skin has a natural pH level of about 4.5 pH. This mildly acidic environment helps keep the skin’s microbiota in balance. On the other hand, a more alkaline pH (around 8 to 9) can disrupt the microbiota.
Considering most water has a pH of 7, it’s excessively alkaline for optimizing skin pH.
A more optimal cutaneous pH can be supported by simply not using alkaline water. Most common skincare products, including soaps, cleansers, masks, moisturizers, and over-the-counter topical medications have a pH of 5.5 and higher, which can make the skin more prone to infections and premature aging.
Less is More
These days holistic-minded individuals attitude to topical skincare is that less is more. People will sometimes minimize their skincare routine to reduce exposure to toxic skincare ingredients, so they resort to simplifying their skincare to water, bars of soap, and natural oils such as coconut oil.
Unfortunately, this approach does not actually promote an optimal skin microbiome. It certainly helps reduce exposure to known endocrine disruptors such as parabens and di-ethyl phthalate (found in fragrance), but it doesn’t support the mild acidity of the skin, which, in turn, supports the skin microbiome.
If you’re healthy without chronic skin concerns, your skin’s acidic mantle has the capability to rebalance and restore the skin after the use of more neutral or alkaline product applications on the skin. However, if we’re looking at individuals with dermatologic skin disorders whose skin microbiome is already disrupted, it is unlikely their skin will be able to rebalance as easily. The skin biome is in need of a return to its natural function.
It’s not an easy task to find the truth in skincare advertiser’s ads or web pages.
Skincare companies usually don’t list the pH of their products on the label, ánd it’s often hard to even make contact with the manufacturer.
Finding the right pH skincare product isn’t easy. Look for pH reduction ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, amino fruit acids and retinoic acids.
But… even that’s not enough. Skincare products with lower (acidic) pH can also disrupt the skin’s natural barrier and irritate the skin, so formulations need to include other ingredients to ensure the ideal pH range. In addition to ingredients with a low pH, there are others that naturally support the acid mantle, such as argan kernel oil.
In addition to a product’s pH, other aspects of topical products can significantly impact the skin microbiota. The simplistic idea of keeping your skin germ-free with ingredients like tricolan and topical antibiotics can disrupt the microbiota balance. Deodorant and antiperspirant has been shown to increase Actinobacteria, modifying the microbiota and leading to an overgrowth of odour-producing bacteria. Good business for an unscrupulous vendor, I suppose.
Many people consider topical probiotics to support the skin microbiome, and the research shows some benefit in this direction. Probiotics applied topically appear to adhere to human keratin and prevent biofilm formation. Research shows that topical products containing prebiotics and/or probiotics may help skin by modulating the immune system and may provide therapeutic benefits for atopic diseases.
Certain topical probiotic formulations have the potential to prevent skin dysbiosis, stimulate the activity and growth of beneficial microbiota, and improve skin barrier function. This is particularly important for dermatologic conditions with dry, sensitive, and reactive skin. It is also something to consider after individuals are exposed to invasive cosmetic procedures or overzealous hygienic routines, as well as after using medications such as antibiotics and corticosteroids.
At the same time, with 1 million bacteria on the skin and variability in microbiota in moist, sebaceous and dry areas as well as between individuals, more research is needed to determine the exact strains of probiotics that will be the most therapeutic for various dermatologic conditions. We can’t assume that commensal bacteria residing on skin of healthy individuals is going to be therapeutic in individuals with impaired skin immune function and disease. Until we have more information on testing for, and treatment using specific strains of microorganisms, we can focus on the tools we currently have to support balanced microbiota.
A Fibre-Rich Diet
This means supporting the gut microbiome with a fibre-rich diet and including foods containing active cultures such as fermented vegetables. Laboratory testing to identify gut dysbiosis issues can help direct the appropriate treatment such as with oral probiotics. In addition, using a skincare regime with a pH range of 4.5-5.0 can topically support the skin barrier function and acid mantle. Compounded topical treatments to address skin dysbiosis may also help treat certain skin conditions. With time, research and experience, more supportive treatments will be unveiled that will balance the skin microbiota to treat inflammatory dermatologic conditions.
So.. what can you do as an ongoing strategy to support your skin biome?
We believe that the most natural form of skin support is the best. The difficulty is that the word ‘natural’has been so ‘bastardized’to apply to anything anyone sells with one ‘natural’ingredient in it that we can really no longer trust skincare suppliers. They seem to be locked into some sort of alternate reality that only evaluates a product by its ability to sell massive amounts.
So as a consumer we can only look at a product and its science. The science should be capable of telling us in simple terms, the value of the product to the skin biome. It also follows that like the gut biome, the skin Biome can look after itself and self-balance if we can give it the support it requires to ‘do its job’rather than interfere through the addition of skincare ingredients we can’t trust.
That’s why we were attracted to molecular hydrogen.
It’s the smallest molecule in the universe. It easily p[enetrates and infiltrates the skin biome at (and beyond)a cellular level.
It enters the biome and unless it finds something it can react with, it leaves. Nothing is left in the biome.
It is a selective antioxidant – unlike all other antioxidants: it only neutralises the ‘bad’Hydroxyl free radicals.
It supports our natural anti inflammatory function. It works in the background, not directly like all skin care products. It has been shown to support all of our natural healing functions.
It supports our anti-allergenic response.
It supports our ability to slow down apoptosis – cell death.
It supports cell signalling – the connections we use to communicate with all parts of our body.
It does all this with NO side effect, NO residuals, and it is carried into your skin by gas, vapor or water.
We recommend you take a look at what we use. We have many solutions including water filters that generate H2, inhalers, and even H2 misters that you can carry in your handbag and use anywhere,