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Wondering what is the hype around “skin microbiome”? A recent article published on cbc.ca addresses the question of Skin Microbiome and sheds some light on its importance in our skin care routines. Here a few questions I was asked prior to the publication.

“Can you quickly explain the job of the fungi and bacteria on the surface of the skin, aka the microbiome? Why are those found on the skin?”-

It’s a symbiosis, we have evolved with them and they’re everywhere.  It’s similar to a butterfly and a flower field, one works with and evolves with the other,  the microbiome was simply too small and unseen for us to notice.  Their job is still under research, but the big picture is that they crowd out bad bacteria and viruses and make it difficult for them to take root.  The skin on the surface has not antibodies or white blood cells, they’re under the skin as such on the surface of the skin our body uses oils and the microbiome to stay healthy.

“I have read that people who live together would have similar microbiomes. Have you come across this? Can you explain why this might be? Is it related to environment?”

It could be possible, it’s related to the closed environment we live in.  We’re constantly shedding skin and “skin swapping” in our offices and homes.  Think of the dust in your house being mostly shed skin and that skin falling on your body in microscopic quantities, you can see how a microbiome swap is made on the skin.

“How would skincare products disrupt the microbiome?”

They either bring on board destructive surfactants (detergents and soaps), preservatives, and/or additives as many skincare products are blends of water and biodegradable bacterial and fungi food sources ( think cellulose derivatives, oils etc..). Also their main ingredients such as fragrance may be harmful to your natural state.  The oil in your skin is microbiome food, if you disrupt that by adding silicones or other exotic chemistry you can again disrupt the microbiome.

“Do products with a pH around 5.5 help to maintain the pH of the microbiome?”

The oil in you skin and it’s fatty acids are what help, this is why skin is slightly acidic. Adding artificial pH modifiers with the hope of getting to a healthy pH is a bit of a false correlation to causation assumption. Low pH does not give a healthy microbiome, but a healthy microbiome tends to favor a low slightly acidic pH. That said, high pH in cosmetic products can lead to skin diseases such as irritant contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and acne vulgaris.

Below is the mention from the article:

“Launched in 2013 by Elena Brei, NuVsio is a Canadian line of skincare products that are designed to work with the skin’s microbiome. Brei, who suffered from severe acne, was studying water treatment and water purification when she noted that minerals found in North America could have an impact on skin health. She tried some mineral blends on herself before passing the formula along to friends and family. NuVsio incorporates a host of minerals that the brand says help polish and cleanse the skin without upsetting its microbiome”.

Read the full article here: cbc.ca/life

Wishing you a healthy, glowing skin,

Dr. Brei, PhD NuVsio Founder