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Bacteria is big in beauty, but do you have a handle on yours?

Everything you need to know about your microbiome and how to harness your skin's bacteria for your best complexion yet

With even the local supermarkets stocking the likes of kefir, kimchi and kombucha, gut friendly eats have gone mainstream. Hailed as our second brain, the gut and all the bacteria in it have garnered plenty of attention over the last few years with studies revealing their impact on our metabolism, immune system, and even our mental health.

However, the bacteria on our skin has largely been ignored and understudied – in fact many skincare formulas are designed to rid your skin of as much of the stuff as possible ­– till now.

Bacteria is having a major moment, as skincare experts begin to understand how bolstering your microbiome can result in your best complexion yet.

Read on to swat up on all things microbiology so you can harness yours…

What is the skin microbiome?

The skin microbiome is a community of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi which, despite the bad rap that these ‘bugs’ get, are all pretty beneficial and unique. In fact, “95 per cent of the bacteria on your skin are ‘good’, and even C. acnes known to cause acne as well as Staph. Aureus, the bacteria responsible for eczema, are harmless unless they go rogue”, shares Marie Drago, Pharmacist and Founder of microbiome focused beauty brand Gallinée.

When your microbiome is thriving, it “helps the skin’s protective barrier function at its best, as well as train your immune system to manage inflammation,” adds Drago. She explains that just like our fingerprints, our microbiome is also one of a kind, not even identical twins have the same medley of organisms on their skin. This is because the eco system of our skin is affected by multiple factors ranging from lifestyle choices and diet, to how exposed you are to environmental aggressors like pollution.

It’s also impacted by a lack of exposure to a diverse range of microbes – think less time spent in nature, the use of anti-bacterial cleaning products and over cleansing the skin.

All of these factors can create an imbalance and see the proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria, which compromises the skin barrier. Inflammation and sensitivity ensue, resulting in breakouts and symptoms of premature ageing such as a loss of firmness, uneven skin tone, plus lines and wrinkles.

However, by “encouraging diversity of the microbiome, by hugging the people you can, being around animals, walking in nature, investing in some house plants, and biohacking your skin and body by way of pre, pro and postbiotics, you’ll ensure that single bacteria strains won’t take control and infect the whole system,” believes Drago.

What are pre, pro and postbiotics?

Whether it’s your gut, mouth or skin, in order to boost the diversity of your microbiome and achieve equilibrium, it’s worth employing the use of pre, post and probiotics. But what are they exactly?

“Prebiotics are like food for the microflora that are needed to slow down the development of unwanted microorganisms and restore or maintain microbiome balance. Probiotics are live bacteria and can be used to boost bacteria numbers to create a diverse microbiome. Postbiotics are dead bacteria that, when used in skincare,  can induce the activation of peptides helping the skin defend itself against environmental stressors and inflammation,” explains Dermatologist and Founder of Meder Beauty, Dr Tiina Meder.

How does microbiome skincare work?

When you use bacteria focused skincare, you’re shifting the skin's ecosystem closer to its natural state, which in theory should combat the skin issues that occur when your microbiome is out of whack and your skin barrier is compromised.

Gallinée uses a mixture of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics in their skincare, to quell inflammation and restore the microbiome on top of the skin. P.s the Hydrating Face Cream, contains all three.

The other forms of innovative bacteria laced skincare like Meder Blepharo-Rich Eye Cream, are formulated to stimulate the functions of the deeper layers of the skin. This one contains probiotics like the alteromonas ferment filtrate, derived from the bacteria kopara, that turbo charge hyaluronic acid, elastin and collagen production for the ultimate youth boost.

But, if the thought of bacteria gives you the heebie-jeebies (though it shouldn't), you can also simply stick to a skincare routine that stops the loss of microbiome diversity by using a non-striping gentle cleanser like Revision Skincare Soothing Facial Rinse, and follow with products that maintains the optimal 5.5 pH of the skin.

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