After learning about the skin microbiome, it probably comes as no surprise to hear that some familiar skincare habits can negatively impact the bacteria living on your skin’s surface. Over-exfoliating and choosing products with harsh ingredients can drastically upset the community of microbes that keep your skin healthy.
But it’s not only your beauty products and habits that can alter the skin microbiome for the worse. Certain lifestyle habits have a way of affecting the balance of good and bad bacteria on your skin too!
Looking out for the health of your skin is a big-picture concept. You have to look at everything from topical products to eating habits and hygiene practices.
Caring for your skin microbiome doesn’t need to be overwhelming, though. Today, we’re going to address some of the easiest ways you can restore your skin microbiome through lifestyle adjustments you can start making today.
Signs Your Skin Microbiome Is Out of Balance
Before we jump right into covering how you can best restore balance to the bacteria living on your skin, you may be wondering how you know if your skin microbiome actually needs correcting in the first place.
Luckily, there are some signs and symptoms you can look for to determine whether your skin flora (or microbiome) may be out of whack.
Some signs of imbalance in your skin microbiome include:
- Zits and blemishes
- Flaking skin
- Slow wound healing
- And more
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be worth digging into ways you can help balance your skin microbiome.
5 Lifestyle Tips to Restore Balance to Your Skin Microbiome
Spend Time in Nature
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend over 90% of their lives indoors. This information shows that we’re not getting significant exposure to plants, fresh air… or dirt. Why does this matter? Soil represents one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. It’s home to a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and protozoa.
A small December 2020 study illustrates how exposure to such diversity can positively impact our own human health. When participants interacted with urban green spaces by digging in the dirt, brushing up against the plants, and, of course, breathing in the air, the diversity of their skin microbiomes increased.
An increase in the skin microbiome diversity predicts more positive health outcomes — meaning it’s important we prioritize time in nature to help diversify the bacteria on our skin.
Whether you opt to start gardening or just choose to lie in the grass, spending time in nature tends to have positive health benefits your whole body will love.
Sweat It Out!
Working up a sweat during your workout doesn’t seem like it would be good for your skin. In fact, most of us rush to wash the sweat off our skin ASAP. However, while the perspiration sits on the skin, it helps build up the skin microbiome, because sweat contains the antimicrobial peptide dermcidin that helps protect your body from harmful germs. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t rinse off after sweating… because you should! But just know that breaking a sweat not only has mental, physical, and emotional health benefits, it may also be strengthening for your skin flora.
Take Care of Your Gut
Have you heard of the gut-skin axis? It’s the term researchers use to describe the relationship between your gut and your skin. Studies show that the health of your gut microbiome greatly affects the homeostasis of the skin. Because of this connection between the two, taking care of your skin also means you need to take care of your gut.
You can support your gut microbiome by eating a healthy, whole food-based diet, avoiding processed foods, drinking plenty of water, avoiding overconsumption of alcohol, supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics, and getting plenty of sleep at night.
Be Mindful of How Often You Shower
The beneficial microorganisms living on your skin are thought to feed off the naturally occurring oils on your skin. That being said, when you over-shower, you can strip your skin of these oils and potentially harm your skin microbiome. Think about it: Most of us shower with harsh, drying soaps in hot water for a fairly decent amount of time… and probably at least occasionally exfoliate.
We said it before, and we’ll say it again. You don’t need to stop showering. That’s not our advice! Simply take a look at your own showering habits to see if you may be over-sanitizing your skin. There is such a thing as too clean. To help protect your skin’s natural oils, you can always switch to a more natural soap, take shorter showers, or avoid showering in too hot water. Chances are, we all have one area of our showering routine we could approve upon to help protect and restore our skin flora.
Busy, stressed… and itchy? Research shows psychological stress has the ability to impact the skin microbiome. It’s no wonder then that there’s a strong connection between mental stress and eczema flare-ups.
How exactly stress impacts the skin microbiome is unclear and complex. We do know that when you’re in a stressful situation, your body enters fight-or-flight mode. This response causes an increase in adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones). When your body creates excess cortisol, set off an inflammatory response. And we know inflammation plays a big role in upsetting the skin microbiome.
Stress is unavoidable, but by having the proper tools to deal with stress when it arises, we can benefit both our mental state and our skin. Managing stress is highly personal, so it’s important to figure out what works best for you to help keep it tamed, but you may want to try exercising, meditating, journaling, and spending time with friends and family. Getting plenty of sleep is really for everyone
If you’re experiencing itching, redness, flakiness, or frequent blemishes, you may have an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in the skin microbiome. Thankfully, with some simple changes, you can help correct this delicate balance and restore your skin flora.
If you’re making lifestyle changes and still need an extra boost to help balance your skin microbiome, we recommend Gladskin Eczema Cream that uses endolysin Micreobalance® (our patented smart protein) to work with your body to help naturally restore balance to your skin microbiome. Learn more.