Skin Health Magazine Issue #10 / Winter 2019 - Page 30

BACTERIA AND YOUR SKIN: IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE F or a long time, we have been told that bacteria is bad for you. We use cleansers to remove it from our complexions, spray our houses with disinfectant to prevent illnesses and obsessively wash our hands after touching anything on public transport in an effort to eradicate it from our bodies. But, it seems, we have been thinking about bacteria all wrong. The tide started to turn around a decade ago, when scientists revealed that there was such a thing as good bacteria and that increasing or maintaining its levels within the gut could help improve digestion and combat conditions like IBS. But it’s not just the gut that can benefit from better bacteria, your skin can too. There are 10,000 different microbial species that inhabit the human body and a large chunk of them reside on the skin. This collection of microorganisms is what’s known as the skin’s microbiome and, despite its low profile, it is responsible for a great deal. The easiest way to picture your microbiome, without getting too grossed out, is to think of a tiny commu- nity of microorganisms living and working together on the surface of the skin to help protect your body and inner organs from harm. “The microbiome is the ecosystem of micro- organisms that live in and on you. Think about it as an extension of yourself or your own personal rainforest: lush, unexplored and vital for your wellbeing,” explains Dr Marie Drago, member of the French Society of Cosmetic Science, expert in the skin’s microbiome and the founder of Gallinée Skincare. She believes that good skin health can be achieved if the bacteria living on the skin is tended to prop- erly and shown the utmost care. If the skin’s protective barrier becomes compromised, bad bacteria and irritants can easily work their way into the body; at its optimum balance, skin’s microbiome can help prevent this from happening and can keep the epidermal barrier strong against external aggressors like pol- lutants. “Your skin’s bacteria helps to synthesise the acid mantle, the layer of pro- tection at the surface, and occupies enough space so that no other bad bacteria can come and invade,” says Dr Drago. “Your microbiome is also really good at keeping your immune system in check: helping it to recognise path- ogen bacteria, and also teaching it not to overreact to normal signals.” So far, so good. But what happens when the levels of bacteria on the skin become unbal- anced, with more bad bacteria than good occupying the surface? According to Dr Drago, too much bad bacteria can lead to breakouts, eczema, inflammation, sensitivity and prema- ture ageing. To combat this, she recommends combining a healthy diet with products infused with probiotics and prebiotics. Sound ISSUE #10 | 2019 | 30 Gallinée By Danielle Hadley