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What Is Microbiome Skincare?

For whatever the reason may be probiotics fall on and off of our radar when it comes to skincare.  Sure, we’ve all had bouts of illness and food related sickness and then we’re reminded (“right! What goes IN to our bodies impacts the OUTside of our bodies). Soon enough we get better, or move on and probiotics falls out of our mind again. 

We’re a big fan of trends in skincare, and so we went to Google to figure out “what’s trending in skincare”? Google did not fail us.  Probiotic skincare jumped off the page and slapped us in the memory. “Of course.”

As our research took us further we wondered why we had ever forgotten about the whole probiotic movement.  But in health and in beauty these things are cyclical. They eventually find us again, and so, here we are.  This time it’s different. What we knew about probiotics were always focused on gut flora, but have you ever considered that the skin has its own microbiome, too? Yes, we’re shocked, too. But only somewhat.

Microbiome PhotoProbiotic skincare suddenly blossomed in 2020 and if you’re a beauty follower then chances are your inbox has something to say about how probiotic skincare really works.


What are prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics?​

If you can remember the time you first heard about probiotics you probably thought “I know parts of this word, and it sounds very similar to antibiotics“.  There is no need to add an age to our author profile but the first time I can recall probiotics I was somewhere in my 20s, it had something to do with yogurt, and I was beginning to learn about nutrition.  Being that I am Russian my mother and grandmother fed me my share of fermented cabbage for good health.  They assured me that this had good bacteria to help fight off the bad bacteria.  “Microflora” and “gut bacteria” were not something in my vocabulary but in my mind there was this amazing battle going on inside my stomach.

Thanks to the internet our understanding of nutrition and health have drastically been transformed by new information. If you haven’t already jumped on the probiotic bandwagon then you’re far behind, because now we’re onto prebiotics and postbiotics, too.  What is the difference?  Apparently this is a very common question, so lets start with what we do know.

  1. Antibiotics: These are medicines that help stop the spread of infections caused by bacteria. They work by killing off all, or most of the bacteria to prevent the bad bacteria from making copies of themselves or reproducing. Most antibiotics can’t always tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, so when we take it – it might kill off more than we intended to, in some cases disrupting our gut flora. The word “antibiotic” means against life.

  2. Prebiotics: These are supplements or foods that contain a non-digestible ingredient that selectively stimulates the growth and/or activity of indigenous bacteria.

  3. Probiotics: Supplements or foods that contain viable microorganisms that alter the microflora of the host.

  4. Postbiotics: Non-viable bacterial products or byproducts from probiotic microorganisms that have biologic activity in the host.

Now we know! Prebiotics are like fertilizer that support the growth of microorganisms, probiotics are the microorganisms themselves, postbiotics are chemical byproducts of bacteria, and antibiotics are enemies and bacteria killers. Let’s take a look at how these relate to skincare.

What is the skin microbiome?

New York Dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum says that “the skin microbiome is the billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that comprise the skin microbiota”.  “The human skin has 1 billion microbes (bacteria) per square centimetre and that natural bacteria maintains the skin’s immunity and prevents pathogenic growths like atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis”, she says.  When the healthy combination of microorganisms and bacteria is disturbed on our skin the skin then becomes vulnerable to an overgrowth in pathogenic bacteria, increased inflammation and an altered skin pH.
Not surprisingly, balance is key.  The more strains of bacteria you have, the healthier your skin is.
What causes the balance of bacteria on our skin to become disturbed (dysbiosis)?  Certain self-care routines and products like harsh over-exfoliation and lathering soaps with antibacterial properties, the use of antibiotics, and evolution. These all work against our skin health.  The end result of a disturbed microbiome can be bacterial and fungal skin rashes like an eczema flare-up, dermatitis and acne.
So it seems that adding some bacteria to our skin combined with using products that are more gentle can help maintain the balance of bacteria and promote overall better skin health.  This is where microbiome skincare comes in.
Although the terms can be used interchangeably there are subtle differences between microbiome skincare and probiotic skincare.  Probiotic skincare is used therapeutically whereas microbiome-friendly products are simply less disruptive to the skin.
In the next twelve months we’ll be watching closely as more microbiome skincare hits the market. Keep watch, maybe we’ll have a product review and suggestions.
In terms of microbiome in skincare we are just starting to venture into new and fascinating products and processes that will help support a healthier skin.
If you have concerns about your skin or have undiagnosed skin related issues please consult with your primary physician before attempting to resolve or mask them.