Did you know that your skin has close to 1000 different species of bacteria that play an important role in its function and activity? The environment of your skin (for example dry, oily, moist, presence and type of hair follicles) impacts the types of bacteria that are found in any given region. Additionally, our skin microbiome changes throughout our lifetime as our skin undergoes changes related to hormones, environment, and changes in our lifestyle. It can also be affected by other individuals in our environment (i.e. our children, partners, or infants) with whom we come in contact.
Our skin microbiome plays an important role in communication between our environment and our immune system. For example, in inflammatory conditions such as eczema, disease can flare if the skin microbiome becomes less diverse.
We are still defining the affect of skin care products on our skin microbiome. For example, antibacterial soaps and cleansers can reduce the amounts of bacteria on our skin, but is this good or bad? How does this compare to using a cleanser that is not antibacterial? And emollients (mositurizing creams and lotions) and cosmetics also affect our skin microbiome, but the significance of this has yet to be fully elucidated.
And what is the role of prebiotics or probiotics that we can apply topically or ingest orally on our skin microbiome? There is not enough evidence to recommend for or against the use of these in regard to our skin health.
Bottom line, the skin microbiome is a fascinating subject that will continue to have an impact on our cosmetic and skin care industry, but much research must be done before definitive recommendations can be made.