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Balancing Skin Microbiome Fact or Fiction

There has been a lot of research about our gut’s microbiome but very little on balancing skin microbiome. This can lead cosmetic companies creating dubious claims.


What is the skin microbiome?


The skin microbiome refers to the bacteria sitting on top of our skin. There are some bad bacteria that cause infections or irritation, but most help the skin’s defences. These good bacteria live in harmony with the host. The skin microbiome can help develop barriers against bad Bactria, UV lights or even help prevent signs of aging.


Microbiome is changing constantly.


Because the skin’s microbiome is different bacteria, it’s makeup is changing constantly. If you wash your hands at a specific time each day and test your hands microbiome exactly 5 hours after you watched you will get different results for each day. This is why studying the skin microbiome is so difficult.


skin microbiome changes based on different factors including:

  • age

  • sex

  • bio-geography (where on the body you are studying ie. Armpits vs face)

  • cosmetics

  • genetics

  • living environment (rural vs. Urban)


What stays the same?


In participants with healthy microbiomes the total number of bacteria was fairly consistent. There are also consistencies across individuals of the same gender, race, or geographical area. In fact there were consistencies across those who ate a Chinese diet.


What does a balanced skin microbiome look like?


A good microbiome consists of a diverse culture of bacteria on the skin, with a fairly consistent total number of bacteria on the body. While the amount of a particular type of Bactria may fluctuate from location to location, having a wide range of bacteria is really important. People with fairly healthy looking, clear skin have a reasonably healthy microbiome.


A diverse, healthy and balanced skin microbiome may:

  • reinforce barrier

  • protect from UV

  • reduce inflammation

  • reduce oxidative stress

  • maintain ph of skin

  • maintain proper moisture level

  • boost overall immune function by maintain lymphocytes on skin.


An unhealthy microbiome may affect or cause:

  • auto immune diseases like diabetes arthritis, muscular dystrophy, fibromyalgia, perhaps cancers

  • obesity

  • micro-transmitters can be created by microbiome which can effect neuro-chemical imbalances which may result in schizophrenia, depression bipolar or other imbalances.


What happens when I use anti microbial products like hand sanitizer?


Surface level bactria is killed, but the bacteria in the hair shaft, or below the skin that was unaffected by the antimicrobial will begin to recolonize the surface of the skin. This is theorized to be consistent from person to person because there are only certain kinds of bacteria that can survive in the hair shaft.


Studying the microbiome


Studying the skin’s microbiome can be quite difficult because the microbiome is continually changing. It can be difficult to tell if something was caused by the environment, a single ingredient or a formulation.


measurement of skin microbiome


to run a study most companies hire a consultant or have in house specialist s that help design the clinical study, tests and do sample collection. Then the swabs can be sent to a lab for DNA processing and sequencing. Different labs have different testing protocols which will effect the results of the test, so it is important to choose a lab and be consistent with them.

An excellent consulting company that specializes in clinical research for cosmetics including the microbiome is: https://skinclinicalresearch.com/