Microbes & Your Skin

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There’s an extraordinary thing going down on your skin!

TRILLIONS of microbes, from thousands of species, call your skin home.  Normally, they get along just fine and they provide the building blocks that make your skin healthy and beautiful … but if you disrupt these smoothly-functioning communities of microbes, the trouble begins… ageing rates increase and physical manifestations of disruption (think acne, eczema and sensitivity) start to rear their ugly heads.

Of course, it’s not just a clean-cut case of growing a farm of microbes on your epidermis – the good guys can be the bad guys ... depending on the situation. Take Psuedomonas aeruginosa (a good bacteria that naturally lives on your skin). In it’s rightful home on your skin, it secretes pseudomonic acid which helps prevent skin infections but if your skin’s microbiome is in trouble (dysbiosis), it can enter your bloodstream. Then it switches sides, creating havoc in your gastrointestinal or respiratory systems.   

It sounds a bit like a movie plot really – bacteria on my skin keep it strong, I destroy them and they turn and flee, entering forbidden territory and disrupting another system … all the while leaving my skin unprotected and vulnerable to attacks from the real enemy…. not a ‘happy ending’ plot really but none-the-less ...  

So how do we avoid this disaster?  How do you keep the balance that keeps your barrier function intact?  Here’s how… and it’s not that hard.

1. Maintain pH. The perfect skin pH is about 4.5. This represents something like an acid bath for pathogenic microbes but like a summer holiday for the good guys. Many bar soaps and washes are very alkaline. Don’t use them – your skin can take 18 hours to bounce back, by which time you’ve washed again and so on and so on and so on…. pH balanced products are probably the single most important thing you can give your skin.

2. Avoid antibiotics … and antiseptics – they kill bacteria.  You know that, that’s why you use them… but now you know you shouldn’t kill your microbe friends (because your microbe enemies will invade), so stop using microbe-murdering potions and lotions (unless you’re my surgeon). 

3. Look for organic products with a mild preservative system. Again preservatives kill microbes (who wants a furry moisturiser???) but with some formulating skills a preservative system can tick all the boxes.

4. Prebiotics boost Probiotics. We never told you at the start, but probiotics are the good microbes we’ve been talking about.  Prebiotics are the food they need to flourish.  So getting the right microbes is an important start but feeding and nourishing them is a GREAT way to move into the #FutureOfSkincare.

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