A diverse, balanced microbiome is important for a healthy body and strong immune system. This we already know, as we’ve read all about it on the packets of probiotic yoghurts and drinks. We are familiar with the gut, its requirements and its ecosystem made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes. What we are less aware of is what the skin microbiome is. Often called the skin flora, this variety of bacteria and fungi that live on and in the skin is often overlooked, but is equally important for our overall health and radiant glow. The skin’s ecosystem needs to be kept in balance, however, like in the gut, there are many things that can throw a healthy skin microbiome off-course. It’s not always possible to avoid all of these factors, which is why it’s important to know how to restore the skin microbiome.
What is the skin microbiome?
Let’s begin by having a look at what the skin microbiome is. It acts as a protective shield and a first point of contact between the skin and the outside world. There is no entering the skin before passing the biome.
When it’s performing at its best, it recognises irritants and potential pathogens as things to be kept out whilst locking moisture in. Therefore, when everything is in balance, the skin biome can fight off infection, ease inflammation, and protect us from external harm. It also helps our skin to heal fast from the occasional blemish and can even shield us against UV rays. A healthy skin microbiome is a key factor to maintain a hydrated, plump, radiant complexion.
How to get a healthy skin microbiome?
Similar to a thriving rainforest, a healthy microbiome should be full of different variations of flora that live among each other. It should be diverse, yet balanced. From medications like antibiotics to stress, there are things that have been flagged to us as disruptive to the gut’s microbiome. The same applies to our skin flora.
Our modern lifestyles, including the food we’re eating, being over-hygienic, and using harsh products have decreased the diversity of our skin microbiome. The less diverse the biome, the more likely it is to be imbalanced. An imbalance in the skin biome can cause skin problems, from sensitive areas and uneven tones to premature ageing and wrinkles. It can also trigger more serious skin conditions such as an overproduction of sebum, breakouts, and inflammation.
So, how can we ensure that we’re keeping our skin’s ecosystem balanced, diverse and in turn, healthy? The answer is by learning how to restore the skin microbiome.
Do use gentle products
The first step to restoring the skin microbiome is to assess the products in your regime. According to Healthline, the ideal pH for the skin is just below 5. This is the pH that’s suitable for our skin to prevent the growth of pathogens. When we use products that are overly acidic or alkaline, we disrupt this natural pH balance and increase the likelihood of pathogenic bacteria getting into our skin flora.
It’s common to use harsh products these days to strip our pores and faces clean for a bare-faced sheen. However, these harsh ingredients can also remove our natural, dewy oils and destroy our skin’s eco-system.
When using a cleanser to remove daily impurities, the aim is not to leave the skin squeaky clean. Instead, use a formula with nourishing ingredients that will comfort and hydrate the skin and it’s healthy microbiome. ESPA’s Hydrating Cleansing Milk contains Sweet Almond and Soya Bean Oils with soothing Marshmallow and Chamomile to leave the skin feeling soft and supple.