The underpinning of Symbiome formulas is the most advanced skin microbiome research. But the skin microbiome is a bit like the metaverse: Frequently discussed but at the cutting edge of our understanding. For example, a misconception is that an “unhealthy” skin microbiome could be contagious. In fact, it actually stems from an imbalance caused by the conditions around us. An imbalanced skin microbiome weakens the skin barrier and activates the immune system. This often looks like irritated, sensitive or inflamed skin. So while the good news is you can’t “catch” microbiome issues, the troubling news is these issues are more common than ever. We want to tell you more about why this is and what Symbiome can do about it.
What is the skin microbiome?
Our skin microbiome is a complex community of bacteria, fungi and viruses that resides on our skin. Each person has their own unique community, like a fingerprint. These organisms are the bedrock of our individual immune systems and maintain a healthy skin barrier (the outermost layer of skin).
But if one of these players starts to overshadow the others, the entire community can become disrupted. A significant imbalance can trigger a ripple effect, offsetting the connection with the immune system, and when the immune system attempts to correct, this often presents as irritated, sensitive or inflamed skin. So when we say our skin microbiome is “off,” what is actually off is the communication between the immune system and our microbiome.
What is the relationship between our immune system and our skin microbiome?
Research shows that there is extensive communication between our microbiome, skin cells, and immune cells. In balance, these interactions help strengthen and repair the skin barrier, bolster our body’s defenses against infection, and control inflammation. Anything that disturbs this exchange—chronic stress is a big one—can make skin more susceptible to immune-related hypersensitivity issues including eczema, rosacea, skin allergies, and acne. Think of it like the relationship between air traffic controllers and pilots—if either party doesn’t consistently, effectively communicate with the other, chaos ensues.
Our current way of life—excessive product use, poor diet, sterilizing hygiene, and reduced exposure to nature—has dramatically decreased the diversity of our microbes compared to our ancient ancestors. And harsh personal care formulas can remove some microbes from your skin, allowing others to overgrow and paving the way for problems.
What are common signs that the microbiome-immune system relationship is off balance?
Any change in your skin that lingers for more than a week is a signal that something is awry, but these are the telltale signs that your microbiome and immune system are out of sync:
- Inflammatory conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema or sensitive skin: When the skin microbiome is depleted of certain beneficial bacteria, inflammation increases, which worsens these issues and makes the skin extremely prone to irritation.
- Dry, flaky skin: A healthy microbiome keeps the skin barrier strong so it can hold moisture in the skin. When the barrier is compromised, moisture escapes more easily, and you end up with dry, tight skin that can flake and itch.
- Skin infections and slower wound healing: Sudden or drastic changes in the immune system can dramatically skew the balance of skin microbes. Low levels of beneficial bacteria coupled with a weaker immune system make skin more vulnerable.
There’s also some evidence that stress on the microbiome may speed up skin aging, making lines more visible at an earlier age.
How can I get my skin microbiome back in balance?
It’s best to streamline your regimen with gentle products that have simple, short ingredient lists, because the more ingredients and chemicals your microbiome is exposed to, the more stress you put on it and increase the likelihood of imbalances occuring.
Symbiome formulates products containing less than 8 ingredients each to strengthen, support, and re-balance the skin to a healthy more resilient state.
A return to simplicity and replenishing what we’ve lost naturally is the pathway to healthy, happy skin.
Have questions? Our Skin Health Concierge is here to assist you. Schedule a consultation.