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Skin Care, How To

6 New Year Skincare Tips To Help Restore Your Skin Microbiome

by Anubha Charan
May 31, 2024

The new year is a great time to evaluate your current skincare routine and seize opportunities to change it up a bit. When the ball drops this year, your new year skincare resolutions might include plans for finding a new holy grail cleanser or committing to moisturizing every night (but for real this time). This year, take it to the next level and resolve to help restore your skin microbiome.

What is a microbiome, you ask? Enter the new year brimming with knowledge about how to wield your skin's natural defenses as a shield to protect your skin.

What Is Your Skin Microbiome?

Trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms live on your skin — and that's a good thing. In fact, it's a necessity. These are good bugs; they're the kind your skin needs to remain healthy looking, happy and glowing.

The skin's microbiome is a complex community numbering thousands of strains of bacteria, fungi, mites, yeasts, viruses and other microorganisms. These can be found throughout the top layer of the epidermis, and this network comes together to strengthen the all-important skin barrier, which is what keeps in the good stuff — like moisture — and keeps out the bad stuff — like pollution, grime and environmental toxins.

Meanwhile, these friendly microbes conduct even more skin-saving tasks that are not visible to the naked eye. For example, some mop up excess sebum to keep oil levels balanced, while others feed off dead skin cells to provide natural exfoliation. Some are even responsible for controlling the overgrowth of microbes such as the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria, which could lead to acne breakouts.

In short, a thriving skin microbiome is one of the main anchors of a healthy-looking complexion. That said, when this gets thrown off balance, it can result in a variety of issues — think acne, skin infections, and inflammatory conditions like rosacea and eczema.

What Is Your Skin Microbiome?

You may be wondering whether your skin microbiome is in balance. How can you tell when something has thrown it off track?

Take a long, hard look at your skin. Because the microbiome is responsible for tasks including maintaining skin's moisture levels, boosting the natural barrier, inhibiting inflammation, and keeping a check on non-skin-friendly bugs, the following conditions may indicate an imbalance:

  1. Chronic Acne
  2. Skin infections
  3. Atopic dermatitis
  4. Eczema
  5. Rosacea
  6. Psoriasis
  7. Redness
  8. Itchiness
  9. Slow wound healing

6 New Year Skincare Resolutions To Help Balance Your Microbiome

New year, new skincare routine. Beauty trends may come and go all the time, but a healthy and glowing complexion is always in fashion. And for that, you need a balanced landscape for your skin microbiome.

Try adding the following simple rituals to your new year skincare resolutions to help keep this community of skin flora thriving.

1. Eat a Gut-Friendly Diet

Because gut microbes and skin microbes have an intrinsic relationship with each other, what you eat influences how your complexion behaves. Aim for a gut-friendly diet full of protein, fiber, good fats and probiotics — aka fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods. That doesn't mean cutting out processed foods, alcohol and added sugars entirely, just having them in moderation.

2. Avoid Over-Sanitizing

Dust, dirt, grime and pollution can wreak havoc on skin, but going too hard on cleansing can do more harm than good. You need to be clean, but not absolutely sterile; the latter risks stripping away the natural microbiome. Skip harsh soaps, scalding water and excessive scrubbing.

3. Watch Out for Harsh Ingredients

Your skin is an ecosystem, and there's a delicate balance between host and microorganism, so the ingredients you choose to use on your skin should be chosen with care. When you see topical products that feature harsh ingredients like alcohol or surfactants, remember that less is often better.

4. Work Up a Sweat a Few Times a Week

Working up a sweat is great for your skin (and the body overall) in so many ways. Not only does exercise increase blood flow to the skin, but sweat also contains prebiotic compounds that help build up the skin microbiome.

5. Keep Your Stress Levels in Check

It's no secret that excess stress negatively affects your health. What can be less obvious is how stress disrupts the skin microbiome. So, while stress is unavoidable, look for your own tools — such as meditation, journaling or yoga — to help negate its impact.

6. Spend Time in Nature

Getting outside is just plain good for your skin. Immersing yourself in a natural environment — full of good bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms — may boost the diversity of the skin's microbiome. So, go for a bike ride or take a walk through the woods, and just think of it as a new year's gift to yourself and your skin. Just don't forget to slather on the SPF before you head outside. Your skin will thank you later!

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