Skincare trends: they come along often. Sometimes a specific ingredient takes the spotlight (like CBD oil or niacinamide) and sometimes it’s a whole host of products with one skincare goal. Right now, microbiome-friendly skincare is having its moment and thank goodness, because caring for your microbiome might just be the most important skincare step you ever take. For it holds to the key to solving all of your skincare woes.
Make no mistake, this is so much more than a skincare trend. But what exactly is a microbiome, and how does it relate to your skin, and indeed your digestive system and wider health?
What is the microbiome?
The microbiome is the top part of your skin barrier (another big beauty buzzword). They are intrinsically linked. The microbiome is an ecosystem of bacteria living on the skin’s surface. It might sound a little alarming to have an entire ecosystem of microorganisms living on the skin’s surface, but it’s vital that it’s kept as healthy and as balanced as possible.
‘The microbiome is integral to the skin barrier and is involved in the constant function of the skin’s ecosystem and the skin’s self-regulation,’ explains Rob Calcraft, founder of Centred. ‘It can activate skin responses (e.g. wound healing), communicate with the immune system even influence emotions. It’s basically vital to healthy skin function.’
Why should you take care of your microbiome?
As it relates to the appearance and health of our skin, having a balanced microbiome is crucial. The microorganisms on the skin’s surface work to protect the health of our skin by reinforcing its barrier function, which in turn keeps aggressors (such as pollution) out, and all the good stuff (like hydration and moisture) in.
Think of the microbiome as a basic building block for the health of skin; the more it’s thriving, the more your complexion will be.
By contrast, a microbiome that’s totally out of balance can be vulnerable to skincare concerns such as eczema and inflammation. In fact, when tackling things like eczema, rosacea and acne, dermatologists will look at what state the microbiome is in. Want to avoid those? Protect that microbiome at all costs.
How to support your microbiome
Firstly, you can supplement your diet and routine with some microbiome-supporting vitamins that also look after your gut health. A healthy digestive system can support a healthy microbiome, which is why taking pre and probiotics can really help here. There are plenty around these days, including Symprove, a probiotic that boosts your gut microflora that work wonders for your skin and overall health.
You can also support the skin’s microbiome with skincare. This doesn’t just mean adding in new microbiome-friendly skincare products into your routine, there are also things that you can avoid doing that will help maintain a healthy, balanced microbiome.
Avoid overly harsh ingredients or overuse of products. We’re referring to exfoliants, retinoids, and too many treatments. These strip the skin and break down the barrier rather than building it up. Of course, these are still great ingredients, but it’s about using them in moderation. Don’t go too wild with them all at once. Love what AHAs do for glow? Great, but take care of how often you’re using them because in the long-run that glow could be replaced with dull, unhappy skin, because your skin barrier has been compromised.
There is now a whole host of skincare lines dedicated to the upkeep of the skin’s microbiome health. We particularly love the ones that use barrier-supporting ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and squalane.
Bands such as Cultured (created by Ren founder Rob Calcraft), Gallinee and Byoma are all specifically formulated to care for the skin’s microbiome. Other skincare favourites, including 111Skin and Dr Jart, have specific products in their ranges that promise the same.
Cult Beauty has predicted that 2022 will be another huge year for microbiome-caring skincare. Co-founder and co-CEO, Alexia Inge says, ‘Sensitive skin has become even more prevalent during the pandemic and will likely remain a concern as we step outside after months spent at home. People will be seeking products that support their health, micro-biome and barrier. At Cult Concierge, for the first time ever customers are specifically asking how to support their skin barrier function.’