Your Skin Is Covered in Trillions of Microscopic Bacteria—And That's Actually a Good Thing

September 12, 2018
Jessica Khorsandi
By: Jessica Khorsandi | by L'Oréal
Your Skin Is Covered in Trillions of Microscopic Bacteria—And That's Actually a Good Thing

Take a look at your skin. What do you see? Perhaps it’s a few stray pimples, dry patches along your cheeks, or fine lines creeping around your eyes. You may think that these concerns have nothing to do with one another, but the truth is they do. According to board-certified dermatologist and La Roche-Posay ambassador, Dr. Whitney Bowe, the common thread linking these concerns together is inflammation.

What if we told you that finding a solution to inflammation doesn’t have to set you back a pretty penny? What if we said that with a few changes to your daily habits—think: your diet and your skin care routine—you could see incredible, long-term improvements to the appearance of your skin? It all ultimately boils down to caring for your skin’s microbiome, the trillions of microscopic bacteria that cover your skin and digestive tract. “If you learn how to really protect and support your good bugs and your skin’s microbiome, you will see long term solutions in the skin,” Dr. Bowe says. That message, along with much more, is the focal point of Dr. Bowe’s recently-launched book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out.

the beauty of dirty skin

What Is the Microbiome?

At any given moment, our bodies are covered in trillions of microscopic bacteria. “They’re climbing all over our skin, they’re diving between our eyelashes, they’re diving into our belly buttons and they’re also inside our guts,” Dr. Bowe explains. “When you step on a scale in the morning, about five pounds of your weight is actually attributed to these little microscopic warriors, if you will.” It sounds intimidating, but fear not—these bacteria are not actually harmful to us. In fact, quite the opposite is true. “The microbiome refers to these friendly microorganisms, primarily bacteria, that actually support our health and share a mutually beneficial relationship with our bodies,” Dr. Bowe says. In order to take care of your skin, it’s important to take care of these bugs and your skin’s microbiome.

How Can You Care for Your Skin’s Microbiome?

There are a number of ways you could care for your skin’s microbiome. We asked Dr. Bowe to share a few of her top tips, below.

1. Pay Attention to Your Diet: As part of caring for your skin from the inside out and the outside in, you’ll want to consume the right foods. “You want to cut out things that have refined carbs and lots of sugars in them,” Dr. Bowe says. “Processed, packaged foods are usually not very skin friendly.” According to Dr. Bowe, replacing foods like white bagels, pasta, chips, and pretzels for foods like steel cut oatmeal, quinoa, and fresh fruits and vegetables is encouraged. She also recommends yogurt that contains live, active cultures and probiotics.

2. Don’t Over-Cleanse Your Skin: Dr. Bowe admits that the number one skin care mistake she sees amongst her patients is that they are over-cleansing their skin. “They’re scrubbing and rubbing away their good bugs and they’re using really harsh products,” she says. “Any time that your skin feels really tight and dry and squeaky clean after cleansing, it probably means that you’re killing off some of your good bugs.”

3. Use the Right Skin Care Products: Dr. Bowe likes to recommend La Roche-Posay products, a brand that has spent years researching the microbiome and its powerful impact on skin. “La Roche-Posay has this special water called Thermal Spring Water, and it has high concentrations of prebiotics in it,” Dr. Bowe says. “Those prebiotics actually feed your bacteria on your skin so they create a healthy and diverse microbiome on the skin. If you have dry skin, I love to recommend the La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+. It’s a great product and it thinks about the microbiome in a very sophisticated way.”

To learn more about the microbiome, the connection between your gut health and your skin, the best foods to consume for glowing skin, and more can’t-miss tips, be sure to snag a copy of Dr. Bowe’s The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out.


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