If you’re here (hi, welcome!), chances are you already know how important a balanced microbiome is when it comes to maintaining healthy skin. After all, when working properly, it works something like armor, helping to shield your skin from harmful pathogens that lead to common afflictions like acne, increased sensitivity, and eczema.
At the end of the day, when the microbiome is out of whack, so is the skin — it’s really as cut and dry as that. But how does one’s microbiome actually get off-kilter? Great question. Here, find out the ways in which you’re damaging your microbiome, and in turn, your skin.
Culprit #1: Antibiotics
This shouldn’t be a total shock, but bacteria (good and bad) and antibiotics are not friends. As a result, “in general, the skin microbiome is sensitive to the use of antibiotics,” says New York City board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD. “This is not just the antibiotics that someone ingests, but topical antibiotics.” The same goes for antibacterial soaps, she says, since they impact the microbiome by affecting the pH of the skin through the use of surfactants.
Culprit #2: Harsh ingredients
Another culprit is skincare products that contain harsh, stripping ingredients, which can inadvertently create an inhospitable environment for those essential good bacteria — think highly concentrated acids and unstable vitamin C. They can mess with the pH level of skin, which can reduce the level of diverse microorganisms on the skin and in turn, throw off the microbiome.
What happens when your microbiome is out of whack
What actually happens when your microbiome is thrown out of balance? Take it from Dr. Garshick. “If the skin microbiome is disrupted, it can become dry, irritated and inflamed, as well as more prone to injury and damage — and because your skin barrier can be affected, it can impact the way your skin reacts to various products and outside stressors,” she says. On top of that, she says it can worsen skin conditions like eczema, acne, rosacea, and psoriasis.
In other words, since your skin microbiome is an essential layer within your skin barrier, any imbalance leaves skin more vulnerable and stressed. Depending on your individual skin, this could manifest as increased sensitivity in the form of redness, tightness, and irritation — or you may be experiencing more acne flare-ups than usual. And if you have a skin condition like rosacea or psoriasis, it will become exacerbated: red, angry, itchy, inflamed, the works.
How to rebalance your microbiome
While there’s no overnight fix for an imbalanced microbiome, Dr. Garshick says the best thing you can do is pare back your routine to the basics and only use ultra-gentle products that support barrier health. Think products that contain ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and other soothing agents that aid in regenerating the skin.
One way to do that is with the Avocado Ceramide Moisture Barrier Cleanser; not only does it actively work to help restore the microbiome, but it can also replace your average cleanser, which is often to blame for a disrupted skin barrier. It features a combination of pre- and postbiotics — which help nurture good bacteria and deliver their skin-nourishing byproducts, respectively — as well as ceramides. And these ceramides are key; they’re naturally found in the lipid barrier, where they create a seal that keeps moisture in and irritants out. By washing with this cleanser, you’re essentially re-upping them, leaving skin stronger and healthier long after you rinse.
Moisturizing is also important, too, as a healthy lipid barrier begets a healthy microbiome. Our Plump Plump Hyaluronic Cream and Avocado Ceramide Recovery Serum are gentle, hydrating options that together keep your skin barrier strong and supported from top to bottom. The latter also contains allantoin, which can calm inflammation — making it a great option for controlling any redness or discomfort that could disrupt from an imbalanced microbiome. It’s also important to follow with a good moisturizer, like Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream, and, for daytime, a sunscreen like Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen SPF 50.
Additionally, be sure to avoid any and all antibacterial soaps and other topicals that contain antimicrobial properties, as this will allow your skin to reaccumulate the good and bad bacteria needed for your skin’s microbiome to thrive.
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