Have you ever thought of your skin as an ecosystem? As the largest organ of the body, it houses diverse habitats for microorganisms, and serves as a protectant barrier from outside toxins. An ecosystem indeed!
And just like any other biome, it needs to be maintained.
Why maintain our skin’s ecosystem?
A delicate balance between host (you) and microorganisms is essential for skin health and to keep skin infections and disorders at bay.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship–protection in exchange for living quarters. Each sebaceous gland, sweat gland, and hair follicle has their own unique habitat. The protection these microorganisms provide is physical as well as immunological, which is crucial to fighting wounds, viruses, and harmful bacteria.
Let’s compare our skin to an animal’s habitat, maybe at a zoo or in the wild. What would happen to an animal if their habitat were destroyed? It would surely die; similarly if we allow our skin’s ecosystem to get out of balance, we are destroying a habitat for microorganisms that provide vital protection for us.
Every person’s ecosystem varies, but generally the skin is acidic and cool. The variety is diverse from person to person and dependent upon skin thickness, age, sex, genes, climate, geography, hygiene, and immune system. Even clothing choice can affect the skin’s ecosystem!
How to Maintain a Healthy Skin Microbiome
It may sounds strange but there is such a thing as being “too clean.” If we are constantly sanitizing or cleansing our skin, we are removing good bacteria and microorganisms, resulting in an out of balance ecosystem. When our skin is out of balance we are more susceptible to infection.
Soil is one of the best things we can put on our skin. Let your kids run barefoot in dirt. Don’t rinse those carrots just pulled from the garden bed. If that’s a little much for you, consider a skincare regimen that includes probiotic products to promote a healthy skin microbiome. Internal probiotics, in the form of supplements or food, work to balance the skin’s ecosystem too.
Stay away from harsh skincare products with pH levels in either extreme. Acne products in particular can strip away moisture and kill the good bacteria that helps fight breakouts. Nourish your skin with DIY yogurt masks or replace drying toners with apple cider vinegar.
Examine your cleaning products and the food you are ingesting. Is it full of harsh ingredients, chemicals, pesticides, or preservatives? Stick to whole foods, organically grown wherever possible.
We are in control of only a handful of factors that influence our skin’s ecosystem. If you make healthy choices your skin will thank you in more ways than one.102