Wondering why your biology textbooks never explained the “Amazon rainforest” of microbes living in and on your body? In fact, a colossal global-level project to unravel the full complexity of the microbes that accompany us in our daily lives – the Human Microbiome Project – was only recently completed. Abandoning older culture-based techniques in favor of more accurate genetic sequencing, the project was able to identify more than 500 different species co-habiting on skin alone. With myriad health benefits, the microbiome is like a brand new second skin that has just been discovered!
AS UNIQUE AS YOUR FINGERPRINT
TRUE. Your microbiome’s bacterial composition is unique to you, which is why some scientists are describing it as the “2nd genome.” The microbiome also varies according to the part of the body: some body parts are more richly populated with organisms than others, like your belly button, which is home to some particularly exotic species!
The skin’s microbiome is crucial to the way the skin looks, feels and functions. With approximately one million bacteria per square centimetre of skin, 500 types of bacteria have been identified. While they might sound unpleasant, these bacteria in fact play a vital role in keeping your skin happy, healthy and free from sensitivity and even disease.
A LUSH ECOSYSTEM
AT YOUR SKIN’S SURFACE
One of the most important microbial environments is your body’s largest organ: the skin. Weighing in at over 5kg, your skin forms an interface between the inside and outside, performing an essential protective role known as its barrier function. This uniquely exposed position makes skin highly vulnerable. In response to the stresses of modern living, the rich diversity of micro-organisms that populate and profoundly support skin can become depleted, placing your skin at risk.
Populated by both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, these microbial communities communicate with each other and the cells to boost immunity and strengthen the skin’s barrier. For a healthy, youthful-looking skin, a balanced microbiome with sufficient bacterial diversity is essential. When the microbiome is depleted, skin conditions such as sensitivity, acne and atopy arise. Read on to learn how you can help restore balance with prebiotic skincare and La Roche-Posay.
WHY IS THE SKIN MICROBIOME IMPORTANT?
Put simply, a balanced and diversified microbiome is the foundation of good skin health. In an unbalanced microbiome the skin’s barrier is weakened, resulting in both moisture loss and increased penetration of environmental aggressors and allergens. This can in turn result in increased sensitivity, irritation and dryness, as well as being a precursor to inflammatory skin diseases including psoriasis, eczema and acne.
SO HOW CAN YOU CARE
FOR YOUR SKIN’S MICROSCOPIC HELPERS?
A diverse microbiome helps to regulate the grumbling inflammation responsible for skin sensitivity symptoms. Indeed, the sensitive skin epidemic – 62% of people have sensitive skin today! – is leading increasing numbers of people to consider ways of cultivating a healthy, diverse skin flora.
Many factors can impact the skin microbiome, from skincare and household products and washing habits, to pollution, UV radiation, medications and lifestyle factors such as diet and stress. Dryness, itching, sensitivity, tightness, redness and breakouts are all signs of a possible unbalanced skin microbiome. Thankfully, a healthy microbiome can be restored with the help of prebiotic skincare.
Discover your Prebiotic Skincare Heros.
1 Sensitive skin: an epidemiological study Br J Dermatol 2001;145:258-63. Willis CM, Shaw S, de La Charrière O, et al