How to respect your skin microbiome?

Social media is full of skincare routine videos. Every time you open Tiktok, Instagram, or Facebook, at least one “Night Routine XOXO” or “Complete My Morning Routine With Me!” video inevitably pops up on your feed. While it’s amazing and inspiring to see the care and effort that people put into taking care of themselves (props to you guys!), I felt my concern grow while watching some of them apply product after product onto their skin. Is it really necessary to utilize so many unique products in a single skincare regime? Should the number of products used be a factor in determining the effectiveness of a routine?

The simple answer is no.

As you already know, the surface of our skin is home to trillion of microbes which act as teeny, microscopic soldiers protecting us from external harm. (If you didn’t know that, then you haven’t read our last blogpost; check it outWhat is Skin Microbiome?  In order for these little guys to do their job effectively, they must be respected, and their diversity must be kept balanced. This is where your skincare routine comes into play. Respecting your skin microbiome means being aware of what products you’re applying, and making sure that their ingredient nourish, and not strip away the microbes that contribute to your overall skin health.

On average, every woman uses around 10 different personal care products daily – cleanser, toner, serum, moisturiser, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, hand wash, body wash, fragrances, and hair styling products. Considering that each of these products contain about 20 ingredients each, quick math would tell us that as many as 200 ingredients come into contact with your skin every day!

But the real problem lies in the 5 most common ingredients found in personal care products: emulsifiers, oils, thickeners, fragrances, and preservatives. The most conventional options for these ingredients are derived from petrol chemicals or silicones – substances that have been proven to be detrimental for your skin microbiome. As such, piling chemicals onto your skin just to include one active ingredient in each step of your skincare regime might ultimately do more harm than good.

Skin issues such as sensitive skin are quickly becoming more common, especially among people who live in cities. Modern skincare regimes, which oftentimes emphasize quantity over quality, only contribute to this rising statistic. So, the next time you pick up a new product in a store, remember that using too many products might expose your skin to harsh ingredients which could interrupt the skin microbiome diversity and leave your skin defenceless.

Before I sign off, I emphasize that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with 10-step skincare routines, as long as you know what exactly you’re putting onto your skin. Read your product labels carefully, and do your own research to make sure that every ingredient you apply on your skin is beneficial for your skin microbiome. If you are unsure, keeping to a minimalist skincare routine might be a healthier and safer option.

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