Skin Microbiome: Why We Need Some Dirt on Our Faces

Skin microbiome describes the mix of bacteria, yeasts, and parasites that live on our skin, as well as our nose, trachea and gut – these parasites are closely linked to weight, mental health, autoimmune health and various other health problems.  Microbiome has become the latest trending word in the beauty world in recent months.

The skin microbiome changes depending on our location and climate, the amount of light we’re exposed to and whether our skin is moist, dry, oily or hairy.

Photography by Benjamin Vnuk for Telegraph Magazine

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the microbiome differs with age and gender. A teenage boy experiencing puberty, for example, will have completely differing levels to a middle-aged woman.

Research suggests the microbiome is an important organ that allows us to maintain health. If our metabolism or microbiome malfunctions, our bodies produce too many free radicals which results in inflammatory reactions and ill health.

In the same way we now understand we need ‘good bacteria’ in the gut, scientists now believe we need ‘good bacteria on our skin.

Overconsumption of unhealthy processed foods and overusing antibacterial products can alter the bacterial balance of the skin, resulting in inflammatory reactions.

How can we help maintain a healthy skin biome?

1.    Avoid harsh chemical antibacterial soaps and cleansers

2.    I’m not suggesting you roll in the mud, but spending time outdoors allows us to be exposed to a number of soil based organisms.

3.    Consider washing your clothes individually if you suffer from skin problems – washing machines may not actually kill the bacteria.

4.    Where possible, air dry your clothes outdoors

5.    Sweat it out – saunas and steam rooms have showed many benefits in maintaining a healthy balance of the skin

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