By now you will have heard about your gut microbiome, an ecosystem of trillions of bacteria, yeasts and fungi that live in your digestive tract. But did you know that your skin has its own microbiome that needs treating in the same delicate way, otherwise it can suffer from all matter of conditions from eczema to sensitivity and premature ageing?
Of course, the last thing you need right now is something else to worry about, but I wouldn’t be bothering you if I didn’t think you could benefit hugely from the intel. The latest research suggests that all this ‘anti-ageing’ we’ve been putting our skin through in the past decade has been stripping its protective layer, making it more fragile and less resilient to outside aggressors such as UV, pollution and harsh ingredients.
Our skin’s protective barrier is made up of water and oil (lipids) that act like the mortar between the bricks of a house. When the lipid barrier is ‘stripped’ by beauty products, while skin might look brighter and feel softer, it will be more susceptible to damage. You can still use retinol at night (game changer), for example, but it’s vital to replenish your skin barrier with a nourishing cream or oil, preferably containing ceramides (a type of lipid), and to use sunscreen during the day.
As a preventative measure you can switch to products that are sulfate-free, such as Dove’s new Microbiome Gentle range for body; facial cleansers that are pH balanced; and serums and creams containing probiotics to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier, especially in winter. CeraVe’s new Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid and a gentle amino-acid surfactant to remove dirt and make-up while respecting the lipid barrier.
I’ve been devoted to using Seed to Skin’s new The Biom’Sphere Serum, £90, fermented ingredients (probiotics) to repair and nourish, underneath my moisturiser. Other brands offering good microbiome-friendly products include Venn, Temple Spa and Quantum Botanika.