Why it's important to support your skin microbiome, and how to protect your skin.
You may have heard lots about the gut microbiome, however the skin microbiome is less talked about and describes the wide range of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and mites living on the skin. If the thought of this makes you feel a bit icky, don’t worry they are harmless and help to protect your skin when kept in balance.
The skin microbiome communicates with both the gut and immune system. Much like the gut microbiome, the skin microbiome can be viewed as a diverse ecosystem that works best when in balance and under specific conditions. Internal and external factors can disrupt the delicate balance of the skin microbiome including hormonal changes, stress, inflammation, underlying health conditions such as diabetes, age, occupation, humidity, temperature, cosmetic products, and immune dysfunction.
The skin microbiome helps to protect the integrity of the skin barrier and guards against infection. An imbalance of skin microbes (dysbiosis) can weaken the skin leading to sensitive, irritated or dry skin. Skin dysbiosis is also associated with acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and allergies.
The quote 'beauty comes from within' really is true when talking about the skin. Before you reach for those expensive beauty products promising beautiful, glowing skin, first consider the following holistic recommendations that are cheaper and likely to be more beneficial long-term.
4 ways to obtain beauty from within by supporting your skin microbiome
1. Ease stress
Cortisol is a hormone released during stress which can cause a leaky skin barrier, inflammation and disruption of the skin microbiome over time. This may be why people with skin conditions such as eczema, acne or psoriasis often find their symptoms worsen during stress.
Include down time in your schedule and activities that feel relaxing to avoid feeling stressed and burnt out, which can upset the skin microbiome and overall skin health.
2. Look after your gut
The skin and gut talk to each other via the ‘gut-skin’ axis. If your gut health is poor you may be experiencing digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, excessive gas, bloating or multiple food intolerances. Chronic constipation blocks the body’s normal route of excreting waste materials therefore it may eliminate these via the skin instead, showing up as redness, spots or other skin complaints. High fat, high sugar diets can upset the gut microbiome and contribute to inflammation, which can also affect the skin therefore a healthy diet is important. Read this article to find out how to eat well for skin and gut health here and this article to find out what to eat if you have constipation.
3. Avoid harsh skincare products
Different types of skin may require slightly different skincare regimens, however a good rule of thumb is to choose skincare products with minimal ingredients that are gentle on the skin and those which do not strip its natural oils or disrupt the skin microbiome. Some people have extra sensitive skin so it can be helpful to choose hypoallergenic or fragrance free products. Read about natural skincare for radiant skin here.
4. Get out into nature
Studies suggest that spending time in nature and physical contact with natural materials such as soil and moss can improve the diversity of the skin microbiome, which may help to keep the skin healthy and reduce inflammation and redness. Who knew gardening could help your skin? If gardening isn’t your thing, make time to go for a walk in nature and hug a tree!
You might not immediately associate bugs on the skin with skin health and beauty, however studies have highlighted the importance of looking after the skin’s delicate microbiome to keep the skin healthy and avoid skin problems. You can do this by managing stress, eating foods that support gut health, avoiding harsh skincare products and getting out into nature.