You may have heard that a healthy microbiome is essential for balanced, glowing skin, but why is the skin microbiome important? Your biology textbooks likely missed the microscopic ecosystem of good and bad bacteria living on your skin. Recent scientific innovations such as the Human Microbiome Project have identified more than 500 different species of bacteria co-existing within the skin biome alone.
There are a myriad of skin benefits you can achieve by focussing on maintaining a healthy microbiome, so now is the perfect time to learn more about this invisible world. Read on to find out how the health of you skin microbiome can be linked to sensitive skin, as well as how to support your microbiome with minimalist skincare from our Toleriane range.
WHAT IS THE SKIN MICROBIOME?
As the body’s largest organ, our skin plays an incredibly important role as an interface between the inside and outside. Delicate interrelated systems work together on and within the skin, each affecting each other and your overall skin health. One of these systems is the skin’s barrier function, where a natural lipid barrier helps keep important molecules (like water) in and unwanted molecules (like pollution) out.
The face microbiome is a complex, finely balanced eco-system of bacteria that effects the way your skin looks, feels and functions. In fact, a healthy microbiome is crucial for a healthy skin barrier and vice versa. You likely don’t give much thought to the good and bad bacteria living on your skin, but there are around one million bacteria per square centimetre of skin. At least 500 types of bacteria have been identified, all of which play their own role in keeping your skin happy, healthy and feeling comfortable.
WHAT MAKES A HEALTHY MICROBIOME?
Each person’s skin microbiome is populated by a distinctive combination of both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. That makes your microbiome as unique as your fingerprint. When the microbiome is healthy, there’s a diverse range of bacteria and a delicate balance where good bacteria wins out over bad bacteria. Healthy microbial communities can also communicate with each other to boost immune responses and help keep the skin barrier healthy, minimising transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
WHY IS THE SKIN MICROBIOME IMPORTANT?
A healthy skin microbiome is the foundation of good skin health. When the microbiome becomes unbalanced this directly results in a weakening of the skin’s natural barrier – the protective lipid layer that helps seal in moisture and protect the skin from the outside world.
A weakened skin barrier means accelerated moisture loss and increased penetration of environmental aggressors such as pollution, extreme weather and solar radiation. People with a weakened skin barrier can also experience increased sensitivity to allergens.
In contrast, a healthy microbiome helps to regulate skin inflammation, which is in turn linked to the symptoms of sensitive skin.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE SKIN MICROBIOME?
There are many ways to help improve the health of your microbiome, including reassessing your household products and washing habits, checking whether any medications are affecting your skin and minimising UV exposure and stress.
When it comes to ensuring a healthy face microbiome, targeted skincare based on microbiome science offers many benefits.
WHAT MAKES EFFECTIVE MICROBIOME SKINCARE?
When you’re looking for effective skincare for the face microbiome, it’s important to understand what kind of ingredients can support the skin barrier. At La Roche-Posay, we recommend seeking out formulas designed to support the skin barrier as well as those enriched with prebiotic and probiotic ingredients. Be sure to also include a broad-spectrum high SPF sunscreen in your routine, to avoid stressing your microbiome and skin barrier with UV exposure.
Read on for some recommendations for microbiome-friendly skincare from our Toleriane range, formulated by experts to help balance out sensitive skin.
THERMAL SPRING WATER MIST
If you’re looking to comfort sensitive, unbalanced skin, our Thermal Spring Water Mist contains nourishing La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water. This specially sourced water is rich in prebiotics to help re-balance your skin.
TOLERIANE ULTRA LIGHT SENSITIVE MOISTURISER
For a further prebiotic boost, hydrate with our Toleriane Ultra Light Sensitive Moisturiser. This formula combines the benefits of Thermal Spring Water with Neurosensine to further comfort unbalanced sensitive skin.
TOLERIANE ULTRA EYE CONTOUR SENSITIVE CREAM
The eye area is even more delicate than the rest of our face, so why not bring the comforting benefits of prebiotics here too? Our Toleriane Ultra Eye Contour Sensitive Cream pairs Thermal Spring Water with niacinamide to support your skin barrier and ensure a healthy microbiome at the same time.
PREBIOTIC VS PROBIOTIC SKINCARE
The world of microbiome skincare is much easier to navigate once you’ve locked in an understanding of key terms like ‘prebiotic’ and ‘probiotic’. These terms both refer to types of skin flora which support a healthy microbiome in different ways.
WHAT IS PROBIOTIC SKINCARE?
Probiotic skincare is enriched with living microbes, commonly known as ‘good bacteria’. Skincare products containing these microbes help stabilise the balance of the microbiome balancing out the ‘bad bacteria’ already on the face.
WHAT IS PREBIOTIC SKINCARE?
Prebiotics are the lesser-known cousin of probiotics, best thought of as food for good bacteria. By using skincare products enriched with prebiotics, you can help good bacteria flourish.