Updated: May 13
The skin’s microbiome is a living layer of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi and viruses.
This living layer of microorganisms is the body’s first physical barrier to prevent harmful pathogens colonising our skin, therefore stopping us from getting sick. A healthy microbiome is a delicate balance of beneficial, neutral and harmful microorganisms living in harmony. Any products or action that disrupt this harmonious relationship will cause the skin to become sensitive, irritated, inflamed and in some cases develop into acne and dermatitis. So how does the skin microbiome become disrupted?
Soap and harsh detergents
Scrubbing your face with soap or detergents can create a chemical environment that is disruptive to the skin microbiome. The skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic. However, the pH of most soap is alkaline therefore changing the acidity of the skin and putting the skin microbiome out of balance.
Preservatives are used in skincare to kill and stop the growth of bacteria so they can be
kept for many months. If preservatives can kill bacteria in the products, they can definitely harm the good bacteria on your skin. Common preservatives like parabens have received such bad publicity in recent years that many manufacturers have replaced them with other preservatives in their formulation, then label ‘NO parabens’ on their products, giving consumers the impression that the products are free from preservatives. My very simple test – if you can dip your finger in your moisturizer every day and it still looks and smells great after a month or so, then it’s certain to contain preservatives.
Antiseptics or antibacterial agents
Most anti acne products contain some type of antiseptic or antibacterial agents and as the name suggests they help to eliminate bacteria causing acne. However, if they can eliminate p. acnes, they can also eliminate other good bacteria.
A sensitive or irritated skin could mean the skin’s microbiome or the stratum corneum (outer most layer of the skin) is compromised due to whatever reason. In most cases these issues are easily fixed.