This year, ESPA introduces the importance of your skin microbiome, and why it is so important that we nurture it. Read on to discover more.
What is the microbiome?
The microbiome is an ecosystem of microorganisms that live both on, and inside our body. It is as unique to us as a fingerprint, and is determined by genetics, age, hormones, stress, diet and environmental factors. Put simply, it is a collection of microorganisms that is unique to us.
We live in a world of complex plant and animal ecosystems. In recent years, the intrinsic link between the microbial ecosystem of our gut and our overall wellbeing has been a significant finding for the global medical community. Maintaining the biodiversity of the skin microbiome is pivotal to reducing the signs of ageing. A healthy microbiome fights against harmful pathogenic organisms, contributing to a healthy gut and healthy skin. Research shows that skin issues are usually caused by gut health and gut microbiome issues. The gut microbiome is prevalent in our daily consciousness, which is why taking probiotics is encouraged, in the form of active yoghurts and daily supplements.
Recent research has proven how crucial the microbiome of our skin is, playing an important role in the overall health and appearance of our skin. The microbiome of our skin works differently, with its own complicated ecosystem that lives on the surface. This is exposed to different environmental factors; heat, moisture, skin pH, skin type, sebum and sweat and environmental factors all affect the microbiome of the skin. Our microbiome is the first line of defence in protecting our skin against damage from these factors and from infections.
Humans have 10 x more bacterial cells in and on our bodies, than we do human cells. Our skin microbiome communicates with our immune system to influence immune response system so that when there is a problem with our overall bacterial health, our skin shows the signs on the outside.
How to look after the microbiome
The microbiome is therefore crucial in maintaining our overall health and strong condition of our skin. The optimum pH level of skin is between 4.5 and 5.5, where it naturally occurs. The microbiome of the skin works best in an acidic environment at this level, inhibiting pathogens, limiting damage and exposure to UV, and keeping the skin protected.
Excessive cleanliness, antibiotics, soaps etc can damage both the microbiome of the skin and of the gut. This increases the risk of allergies, amongst other issues and skin conditions, whilst also creating a bacterial resistance. This scientific idea is called the Hygiene Hypothesis. An unbalanced skin microbiome can also cause eczema, acne, dandruff, fungal infections, rosacea and increase the premature signs of ageing.
Soap removes dirt from our pores by alkalinising our skin’s pH of 4.5-5.5, when the microbiome is working at optimal level. Soap has a much higher pH than our skin, around 9-10, which can actually damage our microbiome, risk further skin issues and may be linked to the increasing number of people developing allergies.
As is the case in ecosystems of every kind, there needs to be a bacterial balance to provide optimal health. The removal or inflammation of just one out of many organisms in an ecosystem can have catastrophic effects, causing health and dermatological issues. Therefore, maintaining the natural biodiversity of your microbiome is highly important.
Ultimately, our skin and microbiome is under constant pressure from both internal and external factors that can affect it. It is vital that we maintain an optimal microbiome to keep ourselves feeling healthy and our skin looking smooth and radiant. As research teaches us, healthy skin starts from within and looking after your microbiome will not only reduce signs of damage, but will ultimately reduce the signs of ageing.
Thank you for reading.