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What is a Microbiome and How Does it Affect your Skin?


Prebiotics and good bacteria may be the healing secret your body needs

If you’ve explored the skincare world lately, you’ve likely heard about prebiotics, probiotics, microbiomes, and their effect on the skin.

But what is a microbiome, and what does it have to do with your skin? How are prebiotics different from probiotics?

If you suffer from acne, rosacea, or some other skin condition and are tired of traditional skincare products that seem to be making things worse, you’re not alone.

Mainstream skincare products are designed to remove the very thing your skin needs to thrive: healthy bacteria.

In addition to helping you understand what prebiotics do and how they help, this blog post will give you practical ways you can begin healing your skin today.

What is a microbiome?

Before we get into practical ways to heal the skin, it’s important that we define our terms. When we say “microbiome,” we simply mean the collection of microorganisms on a specific area of the body, with a specific focus on the healthy bacteria in the gut and on the skin.

The word “bacteria” comes with some baggage, but not all bacteria are harmful. In fact, there are certain species of naturally-occurring bacteria found on the skin that are essential for healthy skin.

The gut-skin axis: everything is connected

The microbiomes in the gut and skin are not separate, but very much dependent upon each other. So much so, that researchers have even coined the term “gut-skin axis” to reflect just how much of the skin’s health is based on the gut, and vice versa.

This relationship has been studied for decades, but in the past decade, there has been a significant increase in clinical studies done on the gut and skin relationship. The result? Healthy bacteria on the skin and in the gut has an incredible correlation to skin health.

Does prebiotic skin care really work?

This scholarly article, for example, published in 2018, collected multiple clinical studies dating all the way from 1961 to 2016 that introduced healthy bacteria into adults with acne. The result was a tremendous decrease in visible lesions, even with a recorded 80% of patients experiencing clear skin.

On the flip side, negative changes in the skin’s microbiome were directly linked to skin disease flare-ups in children according to this study.

Probiotics vs. prebiotics: what’s the difference?

It’s clear the science continues to demonstrate what we at Aleavia already know: skin health and healthy bacteria affect one another tremendously.

If you struggle with skin conditions, you may have heard things like “introduce more probiotics into your diet” or “look for prebiotic skincare to heal your microbiome.”

We know these terms can be challenging to keep straight, so let’s look at each of them together.

Probiotics are the bacteria cultures themselves

Probiotics are the “healthy” bacteria; living microorganisms that exist in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, or really anything fermented. If the food has the word “pickled” in it, it’s likely to include probiotics.

Incorporating healthy fermented foods into your diet can be a great way to supplement the naturally-occurring bacteria in your gut, and improve your gut’s microbiome.

The skin, however, requires a different approach. You may think for the skin microbiome, we can just lather ourselves up with good bacteria. Unfortunately, that just won’t work.

It’s unhelpful to produce a one-size-fits-all live bacteria skincare product because everyone’s microbiome is different. It’s like a thumbprint or DNA; different amounts and species of good bacteria comprise each person’s skin microbiome.

A better solution is to simply feed the existing bacteria on the skin to help it flourish, and use skincare products that don’t eliminate bacteria with harmful chemicals but create an environment where it can thrive and heal the skin.

That’s where prebiotics come in.

Prebiotics feed your skin’s healthy bacteria

Prebiotics are substances that act as food for human microflora. An easy way to remember this is the “pre” in prebiotics. It “precedes” or comes before the bacteria, and helps create the environment where your unique microbiome can thrive.

This is where skincare products like Aleavia come into play. Aleavia is full of prebiotic-rich ingredients like sea kelp, organic coconut oil, aloe vera, sea salt and plant glycerin that act as superfoods for the healthy bacteria on your skin.

A prebiotic-rich skincare regimen can work wonders in healing persistent conditions like acne, eczema or psoriasis.

Prebiotics can also be incorporated into your diet to further bolster the health of your skin’s microbiome. The following foods are all rich in prebiotics:

  • Whole grains
  • Bananas
  • Green vegetables
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Soybeans
  • Artichokes

Track your progress!

If you struggle with acne, rosacea, or any other condition, prebiotics and probiotics may be the answer. We suggest incorporating prebiotics into your diet and skincare regimen for at least three months in order to fully heal your gut and skin microbiome and document your results with photos.

Want to learn more? Check out this page that explains the power of prebiotic skincare in greater detail.

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