THE MOST IMPORTANT SECRET TO SKIN HEALTH THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU
The Skin Ecosystem
Most of my skin clients either want better skin (free of acne) or to have skin that is not causing them pain from ailments like psoriasis or eczema. In addition, almost all of them have tried every topical cream, balm, lotion or serum you can imagine. And while some of these topical can be quite miraculous, they do not resolve the ROOT CAUSE of their skin condition.
In fact, most of the time these miracle creams work for a few months and then stop. This is because the secret to healthy, glowing, amazing skin starts with something other than you. It starts with billions of cells that are not our own known as the microbiota. The microbiota are the billions of bacteria all over your body that act as helpers and have a huge impact on the health of your entire system. Your skin is not sterile and as you will find the more we try to sterilize it... the sicker this ecosystem gets. The skin ecosystem has the capacity to promote infection, inflammation and disease or help to maintain healthy, glowing, gorgeous skin.
The number one thing you can do for amazingly healthy skin is nourish your skin ecosystem.
Your skin has 1 billion microbes per centimeter that inhabit and keep the dermal layers healthy. These tiny microbes were established at birth inoculated through your mother’s vaginal canal and during skin contact. The microbes on your skin came from your mother and your care givers as an infant. The colonization began early on and play a huge part in the health of your largest and arguably most important organ; skin.
In fact, changes in your microbial community have been studied as direct cause or contributor to skin issues like rosacea, eczema, acne and psoriasis. The skin ecosystem can change suddenly in response to environmental factors such as low fatty acid concentration or immune deficiencies. These microbes are directly affected by contact with others, topical products, types of clothing you wear and your exposure to nature.
4 Major Factors in the Skin Ecosystem
#1 Our obsession with “products” have made matters worse.
Soaps and other personal care products contain anti - microbials, some of which are now being banned they are so bad. Many of these common ingredients have been shown to alter the skin ecosystem and even affect our hormone system. That sweet smelling shampoo you use most likely contains chemicals that alter and change your healthy microbes. This goes for makeup, fragrances and lotions that are not made with natural products that your body recognizes. Some experts are advising, if you would not put the product in your mouth then do not put it on your skin as your skin absorbs everything! If you are curious about the health of your current products we always advise to check out ewg.org/skindeep to see how your products rate.
Another great option is to source a locally made product like this one that we now carry at The Remedy (there is even a probiotic in it!). Every ingredient is recognizable and makes your skin shine. These products contain factors that promote healthy ecosystems in the skin.
To take this one step further, think about all the chemicals going down the drain of our own mother earth’s delicate eco-system. It’s always full circle. Starting with cleaning up your skin care routine also helps the planet!
#2 Synthetic fabrics stifle the ecosystem and introduce bad bugs.
Another interesting factor in skin ecosystem is fabric. Synthetic fabrics are known to carry microbes that are not balanced for our natural skin. To make matters worse our washing machines do not tend to clean these buggers away, but to foster them. The best way to prevent introduction of imbalanced flora is to only use clothing made of natural materials. For some, this suggestion maybe too far fetched. (maybe even for me!) However, research shows you can get around this problem by going old fashioned with line drying. It is studied that air drying or line drying synthetic clothing is much more effective at getting rid of these bad microbes than using a dryer.
Maybe TMI for some, but this may also be a sad cause of chronic vaginal infections as well. What type of fabric are your underwear made of? Can you line dry your skivvies?
#3 The overly sterile indoor environment is bad news for your skin.
Being in a sterile or clean environment too often is not good for glowing skin. That’s right! Get outside to get exposed to healthy microbes. Interact with soil, plants and nature in order to establish and keep your microbiota healthy. Some of the worst offenders for this ecosystem is counter top sprays, disinfectants and such that wipe EVERTHING out.
Counter top wipes, lysol, chlorines and fragrances from things like febreeze are horrendous for your skin ecosystem. They are also horrendous for your liver. A healthy liver = healthy skin (a topic for another time).
Did you know that the vast majority of microbes are healthy and helpful and less than 2% are of any concern? In addition, we have created super bugs with heavy duty cleaning products and antibiotic over use. In doing so we have wiped out our own defense system by also killing our helpers.
The bottom line…Spend more time outside to get away from these chemicals and ask your work environment to switch products. You can even make these products yourself using essential oils, distilled water and vinegar.
I always worry about our poor children and the places they frequent. Do you have a teenager with unhealthy skin or a sick tummy? How many toxins might they be exposed to in their school day?
#4 Support your immune system to prevent imbalanced flora.
Support your immune system through establishing healthy bacteria in your gut. Microbes do not live in a vacuum and your microbiota is often referred to as a cloud. When your immune system is healthy so are your microbes and vice versa. Its a true symbiotic relationship. A healthy immune system is essential to prevent pathogenic flora that take this ecosystem out of balance. The best way to support your immune system is with good nutrition that provides the body with what it needs and also feeds the friendly flora. However, if you feel you have a depleted immune system consider going through a gut healing protocol with a qualified functional medicine practitioner or taking immune boosting herbs such as elderberry and echinacea just to name a few.
Just like you would not dump poison into a rehabilitated lake or introduce fish that do not belong; do not introduce poisons and artificial factors to your skin. Use understandable and natural products on your skin. Be careful with fabrics and consider using sunshine to dry your clothes. Be judicious with anti - microbial efforts using basic soap, water, vinegar and essential oils to clean your environment. Protect your immune system with healthy foods, vitamins and herbs as needed.
.......And remember, the key to healthy skin is keeping all the microbes happy.