What microbes live on my skin?
We learned last month that our skin’s ecosystem is deeply complex and that the most effective way to maintain a healthy microbiome is to retain its diversity. How do we do this?
About 100 species of bacteria make up most of the microbial biomass on your skin, but they are not alone. They co-exist with viruses (about 10 times smaller than bacteria), archaea, and yeasts (about 10 times bigger than bacteria).
Do we exchange microbes with our environment?
Yes, and because we evolved as part of natural ecologies, our skin is used to interacting with huge numbers of non-threatening microbes from the microbiomes of plants and the soil.
These transient microbes educate our immune response. Our immune system should be in constant contact with huge numbers of microbes that pose no threat. When we isolate ourselves indoors, where most of the microbes are of human origin, our immune response becomes heightened, and we end up in a state of constant inflammation.
I can’t change my environment. I live in a city.
- Get out on the weekends. Go to parks. Do whatever you can to expose yourself to the natural world.
- Plants have their own microbiomes, and they don’t mind sharing them. Get indoor plants.
- Pets are really good at collecting microbes for you. They dig and play in nature whenever they can and then bring their microbial load back into your home.
- The ocean is the original microbial soup. Swim in it if you can. Find a river or another natural body of water to play in.
- Re-evaluate what you are putting on your skin. The preservatives used in skin and cosmetic products kill the microbes on your skin. Leaning towards sustainable skincare that feeds and supports your microbiome can change your skin’s microbiome, for the better.
- Your skin microbes are evolved to withstand sunlight, but many pathogenic species can’t handle the UV. We strongly suggest 15 minutes of healthy sun exposure per day.
- Sweat contains lactic acid and other compounds that are selectively antimicrobial. Our skin microbes are used to these, but sweat is quite harsh for pathogenic microbes. Another reason to exercise.
Doing the above will require consistency and time. If you want to add a microbe to your skin microbiome, your skin’s immune system will need to become habituated to it over time so that it doesn’t perceive it as a threat.
If you can’t change your environment or lifestyle, then feed your skin microbiome with prebiotics and probiotics. Sapienic Skincare has done the hard yards and developed a minimalist range with live probiotics to simulate contact with the natural world. It excludes synthetic chemicals that would pollute the microbial ecology on skin.
Learn more about Sapienic and its microbiome skincare range here.