It seems that practically every month there’s a new wonder ingredient to look out for, or a revolutionary new concept taking the beauty world by storm; there’s no doubting that our whole industry is fuelled by scientific advancement and new product development, but a lot of the launches and information can be safely filed away under the ‘noise to be ignored’ category. However, there is one buzzword that’s already been causing quite the stir and is sure to make an even bigger impact on your bathroom shelf over the next twelve months – and that’s ‘microbiome.’ You may have noticed that an increasing number of skincare products have been referring to the skin microbiome or offering probiotic benefits, but in many cases you need a biology degree to fully understand why this is important and what benefits it can bring to your regime. It’s been on my own prefrifary for a long time, but only now am I finally getting to grips with what it means and provide an overview of what a skin microbiome actually is and everything you need to know about probiotic skincare!
Put simply, there are an array of microorganisms living within and on the surface of our bodies that help keep it at its optimum health. You may be familiar with the ‘friendly’ bacteria in your gut, and essentially scientists have discovered the same thing exists on the surface of (and within) our skin. Each of us has our own distinctive combination of these organisms, which is known as our microbiome. A healthy skin microbiome protects against infection in much the same way a good gut microbiome does, by crowding out overgrowth of pathogenic (disease causing) organisms, so it’s important to look after it.
It’s now understood that our microbiome and skin immune system ‘talk’ to each other regularly; when the microbiome is out of balance the immune system can release various antimicrobial peptides to help restore equlibrium, and when it’s working well this bacteria can inhibit the release of inflammatory compounds from the immune system in order to keep us healthy. An imbalanced microbiome is now associated with many skin conditions – including psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis, acne, rosacea, and accelerated skin aging. A balanced microbiome therefore aids in wound healing, limits exposure to UV radiation, minimizes oxidative and environmental damage and keeps the skin hydrated; it makes sense to look after it!
So how can our beauty regimes actually help, rather than hinder, this incredibly important part of our skin makeup? Probiotic skincare has started to emerge as a way of ‘feeding’ or ‘boosting’ the number of good bacteria on the skin’s surface, which in turn should have a positive impact on the overall appearance of your complexion. Aurelia Skincare have been hanging their hat on this concept for many years (I’ve used many of their products and they’re expensive but worth it!) even if we’ve only just caught up with the science behind their story; Elizabeth Arden have also been integrating probiotics into their SuperStart skincare range in order to soothe and boost the overall appearance and health of skin.
Even La Roche Posay and Aveeno have added probiotics into their skincare products, but you’d have to fully read up on their ingredients to know that’s what they were. (I’ve no doubt they’re going to re-launch and re-package said skincare heroes when microbiomes really take off in 2019!) Many brands already use pro or prebiotics to help soothe skin, protect against free radicals and work to reduce acne and eczema, but it’s just never been labeled in this way.
If you suffer with really dry, irritated, inflamed or acne prone skin then looking out for this buzzword may really help you in the long term. Being aware of not over cleansing or not stripping the surface of the skin could do wonders for the health and radiance of skin – but only time will tell if this trend hangs around longer than the last fad or seven we’ve seen in skincare!
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