5 Things That Aren't Doing Your Skin's Microbiome Any Favors

By now, we've all heard about the products that support our skin's barrier since it's become popular on social media, but what about the microbiome? It is part of the outermost layer of skin and works to safeguard your body from the outside world that's filled with harmful germs. It can do so thanks to its trillions of good microorganisms. However, everyday things can harm the bacteria your skin needs to thrive, like eating an unhealthy diet, being stressed, taking antibiotics, and cleaning or exfoliating your body too often.


When your skin's microbiome is healthy, it'll fight harmful bacteria to prevent you from getting sick and quickly heal any wounds. It works alongside your immune system, so you want to ensure all good microorganisms are alive and well. One way to tell if your microbiome is damaged is by assessing any skin conditions you already have. If your acne, eczema, or rosacea are worsening, you may need to rethink how you treat your skin. Other characteristics to look out for are the appearance of premature wrinkles, fine lines, redness, and dry patches. Your skin and overall health will thank you once you begin caring for your microbiome. You may unknowingly do these five things that harm your skin's microbiome.


Overwashing your skin

Washing your face and body is beneficial, but like most things, you can accidentally overdo it. Most people only need to shower once a day and cleanse their face in the morning and at night. Of course, taking additional showers is okay if you're dirty. The problems start when it becomes a habit to overwash your skin. Soap will strip the good bacteria that your microbiome needs to protect you. Then you'll be left with dry and irritated skin.


The same happens if you use anti-bacterial products, because they don't discriminate between the germs they kill. Instead of just getting rid of the bad ones, the necessary ones will die too. Even though it may sound like a good thing to disinfect your body every day, it isn't. When you constantly expose the microorganisms on your skin to these products, the bad ones begin to mutate. They become stronger until they're immune, so your anti-bacterial no longer work. Then you won't be able to kill them when you need to. Ideally, you should stick to daily showers and use regular soap.

An unhealthy diet

What you put into your body affects your skin's microbiome. It's influenced by the food you eat and if you smoke or drink. The microbiome on your skin and gut are connected, so you need to make good choices to keep it healthy. Seamlesly adding probiotics into your diet is a good idea because probiotics provide more beneficial bacteria to your body. That way, your microbiome can flourish. Aside from taking supplements, you can eat foods that already contain them. Yogurt and kombucha are yummy options.


A balanced diet with whole foods allows your gut to feed off fiber fermentation. That way, it can support the good bacteria that you need. Fresh produce is also ideal for keeping your skin's microbiome intact. Staying away from options that are processed and full of refined sugar will help keep your skin glowing. Otherwise, they cause inflammation. Smoking also damages your microbiome. It disturbs the balance of good and bad bacteria. Meanwhile, drinking too much alcohol can cause an overgrowth of harmful microorganisms.


Your mental health can make a big difference to you physically. Stress, depression, and anxiety all affect your skin. It's not as easy as it sounds to stop stressing, especially when you notice new and old skin conditions flaring up. Breathing exercises can help, along with taking breaks when you're feeling stressed and sticking to a sleep schedule.


Even though stress comes from your mind, your body responds physically. Your cortisol levels rise, which affects your skin. Even though this is a natural hormone your body produces, too much can still be bad for you and your skin. Inflammation will increase, and your sebaceous glands will produce more oil than usual. This leads to clogged pores and reactive skin. You'll be more susceptible to infections because your good bacteria can't protect you like it should. Then you may notice flare-ups, rashes, and redness developing on your skin. Since it affects your whole body, more than just your face will react to the additional cortisol.

Exfoliating too often

Exfoliating too often plays out just like overly washing your skin. It does more bad than good. When you exfoliate your face and body, it removes the top layer of dead skin. This is a good thing in moderation. It'll stimulate collagen production, make your other products more effective, and even your skin tone. However, when you fill your skincare routine with physical or chemical exfoliants, it harms your microbiome.


Continuously scrubbing away at your epidermis disrupts the layer of bacteria that is your microbiome. Instead, use these products in moderation. Choosing a gentle formula is also beneficial in keeping your skin's microbiome healthy. Chemical exfoliants may sound scary, but they can be more gentle than physical ones. Depending on the ingredients, scrubs can cause microabrasions in your skin. Meanwhile, AHAs and BHAs will gently peel off the dead cells. You should only exfoliate up to two times a week for the best results. On the days that you do use these products, make sure to finish your routine with a thick moisturizer to prevent irritation. 

Taking antibiotics

Antibiotics are a necessary medication used to kill harmful bacteria, but they can harm your skin's microbiome. While they treat the harmful germs that are bad for you, they'll also get rid of the good ones. And, even though the treatment is pills you take orally, they will affect the microbiome in your gut and on your skin, according to Get Sun Daily. Antibiotic therapy leaves your body empty of microorganisms, so it has to start over from scratch.


If you're prescribed antibiotics, take them. You can still protect your skin's microbiome during antibiotic therapy, so your skin doesn't suffer. This can be done by using topical skincare that will support the bacteria population on your skin and deposit more healthy organisms. Look for products that include more than just probiotics. You'll also need pre and postbiotics. That way, your microbiome will have what it needs to rebuild itself after you're done taking the antibiotics.