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A Fresh Take on Spring Cleaning: Our Personal Ecosystem

Like our wonderful planet, each human being is composed of a number of ecosystems or microbiomes. The gut microbiome has received a lot of attention of late, but the skin microbiome is also a fascinating ecosystem composed of living biological and physical components occupying diverse habitats in which, as in all microbiomes, one rule remains constant: disruptions in microfloral balance can result in disorders or infections.

Two types of disruptive changes affect the host-microorganism relationship; they can be endogenous or exogenous. An example of an endogenous disruption is the way some people react to the presence of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) in the skin’s pores/sebaceous glands. The P. acnes microbe is an essential part of healthy skin flora, but if you are hypersensitive to it, its presence can trigger inflammatory events resulting in acne. A good example of exogenous disruption is when antimicrobial-laden topicals are applied to skin for cleansing, deep cleansing or treating conditions of the skin, such as acne and signs of aging.

In general, we are far more cautious about our use of antibiotics than we used to be. At the conclusion of a course of antibiotics, we're careful to nurture our gut microbiome back into balance with pre- and probiotics. I hope we'll soon take the same care with antimicrobial-laden topicals—not just the antimicrobial hand wipes, but antimicrobial cleansers, moisturizers containing preservatives and anti-acne treatments, as well. To prevent disrupting skin microfloral balance, we need to avoid them if at all possible. This leads us to the question of skin cleansing.

We know people want their skin to "feel" clean. I hear it all the time. My counter arguments—wash with water and use yoghurt or lycopene-rich marinara sauce to clean your face—may be persuasive, but truth is most people are simply more comfortable with a cleanser and an exfoliant. So, I responded by creating a cleanser and an exfoliation treatment that do not disrupt either lipid or microbial balance. The formulas have proven so successful that even I prefer them over my tried-and-true yoghurt.

Replenishing Oil Cleanser is an oil-based cleanser full of good things:

  • Safflower oil, rich in omega-6 EFA, helps clear clogged pores because it keeps sebum flowing.
  • Superoxide dismutase is an enzymatic antioxidant that slows superoxide ion damage and rejuvenates fibroblasts.
  • Polyglucose cleans without stripping surface lipids.
  • A natural preservative system inhibits yeast and mold growth, without provoking an indiscriminate slaughter of microbes.
  • A probiotic complex restores microbial balance by reintroducing the helpful ones we all know and love.

This multifunction cleanser cleans, declogs pores, maintains lipid balance, exerts an antioxidant effect and restores microbial balance all at the same time.

Probiotic+Exfoliation Mask, like Replenishing Oil Cleanser, is true multitasker:

  • Lactic acid removes excess dead skin cells.
  • Probiotic complex returns helpful microbes to where they belong.
  • Shea butter restores lipid balance.

Most masks leave your skin an arid desert full of dying microbes. Probiotic+Exfoliation Mask leaves your skin a moist, vibrant and happy landscape. Don’t exfoliate—profoliate!

Keeping our skin healthy begins with a better understanding of the skin microbiome and how it interacts with its host (us). And who knows? If we learn how to be better hosts to our microbiota, the lessons might rub off and make us better guests on the beautiful planet that hosts us.