Feed your microbiome!
There’s the bad kind of bacteria we stay away from and the good kind that resides in our bodies and are good for health. But did you know the same is true for your face? Even with my science degree and casual interest in the microbiome, I couldn’t wrap my head around how the bacteria on our skin could really affect our complexion.
By now, we’re all aware of how our gut microbiome (the collection of living organisms that call our gut home) affects our overall health. But like all parts of your body, your skin has a microbiome of its own as well. And with skincare brands like Murad putting out skincare targeted to to treat the skin’s microbiome, there hasn’t been a better time to get educated about what it is! I decided to find out why keeping the balance of bacteria on our face matters from Katy Bacon, Murad’s ASIA PAC Sales and Education Manager.
Read on for everything you need to know about our skin’s microbiome, why it’s key to a radiant and healthy complexion, and how we can take care of it with the help of prebiotic skincare.
FEMALE: Can you tell us about the skin’s microbiome? What is it and why is it so important?
Katy: “Our bodies are ecosystems that harbour a microbial universe. Just like our gut, the skin’s microbiome is made up of a carefully-balanced collection of microbes living on it. These microbes support sebum production and hydration levels while maintaining the natural lipid barrier of the skin. By doing so, the microbiome helps protect and promote healthy skin. On the other hand, an imbalanced microbiome can disrupt the natural function and health of your skin.”
DID YOU KNOW? Microbes are tiny living organisms – bacteria, fungi, viruses, yeast and more – that are invisible to the naked eye. For every one skin cell we have 100 microbes in and on our bodies – that’s an estimated one million bacteria that inhabit every centimetre of your skin!
F: What does a healthy microbiome look like, and what happens if your microbiome isn’t balanced?
K: “Each of us has a unique microbiome made up of trillions of bacteria and other single-cell organisms. A healthy microbiome has a functional balance of these microbe species in the right proportions. But when you strip your skin of its good bacteria through over-cleansing, exposure to pollution or medication, bad bacteria like P. acnes can take over. When this balance is thrown out of whack, we notice things like skin sensitivity, itching, irritation, acne and other inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis and rosacea.”
F: What’s the difference between probiotic and prebiotic skincare? Can we use them together?
K: “Probiotics are good body-friendly bacteria that influence the composition of skin microflora when applied topically. Prebiotics are what you feed the good bacteria, like fertilizer for the skin. So you can definitely mix them, as prebiotics supply the food for the probiotics, the good microbes themselves.”
F: What sort of prebiotics do Murad’s products contain? How does it work?
K: “We use a blend of prebiotic fibres from plant-based sources such as sweet potato and an activated blend of Lactobacillus prebiotic bacteria. This is combined with prebiotic hydrating sugars like Xylitol and hyaluronic acid to increase moisture levels in multiple layers of the skin, creating an environment where good bacteria likes to live in.”
F: What skin type is prebiotic skincare best suited for?
K: “Just like your gut, prebiotic skincare is good for everybody, but it’s particularly good for those who have sensitive skin or an impaired skin barrier. Prebiotic skincare just helps to rebalance the microbiome and restore the healthy functions of your skin.”
From the print edition.