Strengthening the skin microbiome...
... should be the goal of all natural skin care. And we don't have to do much because your skin has all the important abilities to protect and regenerate. But all too often we overdo it with well-intentioned skin care and interfere with these natural processes with care products. Products that kill germs then also catch a large part of the useful and even important bacteria of the skin flora. In this way, this sensitive balance is repeatedly disturbed and endangers the skin's health.
🔬 Bacteria and fungi used to be considered plants, hence the older term skin flora. Today we mostly talk about the skin microbiome.
A weakened microbiome can lead to all sorts of skin problems or even skin diseases. It is associated with acne and neurodermatitis, among other things. But now to the basics.
Skin flora, what is that actually?
The skin microbiome is created at birth. It includes all the microorganisms that are a natural part of healthy skin. This includes a variety of bacteria and fungi that densely colonize the surface of your skin. They live symbiotically with you and help rid your skin of harmful germs. Because a distinction is made between resident microbes, which “resident” on your skin and belong there, and transient microbes. These include, for example, pathogens that come from outside and actually have no place on your skin.
💡 Skin barrier, protective acid mantle and skin microbiome, what is what? The skin barrier describes the protective wall of skin cells that are held together like bricks by a lipid mixture. It protects against moisture loss and is covered by the protective acid mantle or hydrolipid mantle. It keeps intruders out with its acidic environment. This is where the small defense helpers of the skin microbiome come into play. All three together form the defense of your skin.
A healthy microbiome is your skin's protective shield
Perhaps you know the cleaner fish from nature documentaries, the larger conspecifics cleaning the scales. This keeps them healthy. If someone were to fish out all the cleaner fish in the reef, the natural balance would be severely disturbed. Parasites would multiply unhindered. Neither can your skin do without its microscopic cleaning crew. It protects your skin and body from infection.
Preserving the skin microbiome...
... is therefore becoming more and more important, especially in medical research. The main focus here is on the use of antibiotics and disinfectants. It has been found that both not only eliminate the unwanted germs, but also reduce the good bacteria in the microbiome and thus the microbial composition cannot be improved in the long term.
If you instead promote the good germs, the skin climate improves sustainably and the bad germs have less chance of settling down. Instead of using aggressive ingredients to make the skin germ-free, experts advise promoting the natural flora. But some of the care routine can throw you off balance.
How skin cleansing affects the skin microbiome
Over the past year, we've gotten used to the important AHA rule, including washing or sanitizing your hands regularly. But what does that do to the skin microbiome? There is bad news and good news here. The bad first: Degreasing soaps and cleansing gels affect the hydrolipidic coat. This can contribute to dry and sensitive skin - so it affects the self-protection of your skin. It is therefore important to give it back moisture and lipids for regeneration through care.
And now the good news: You do not destroy the skin flora itself by cleaning. It does indeed effectively eliminate the transient, i.e. non-body germs that cavort on the surface. However, enough of the resident, i.e. necessary, microbes remain. 20% of it is far down on the hair follicles.1 Soap and hand sanitizer can't get there. This leaves you with a reservoir from which your skin flora can regenerate in a few hours.
👍 Note: By disinfecting or washing you primarily remove the foreign germs. Enough of the skinproper remains to restore your skin's protective layer.
The pH and the skin microbiome
The skin's surface is naturally slightly acidic with a pH value of just under 5. This is why one also speaks of the acidprotective layer of the skin. Now cosmetics can change the pH value. This mainly affects two aspects:
PH levels decide which microbes will thrive and which will die. Studies show that the skin's own pH value is not at all comfortable for many harmful germs. The useful microorganisms, on the other hand, feel great.2 If care products throw your skin's environment out of balance, it weakens it twice over: firstly, unwanted microbes thrive better and secondly, the good ones become too weak to ward them off.
The pH value also plays a role for enzymes. They are involved in the regeneration of the skin's protective barrier, so they cement it again if, for example, frequent hand washing makes it porous. They also need the natural, acidic pH value of the skin. The regeneration of the skin goes hand in hand with protection.
💡 The pH value is a measure of the acidic or basic character of an aqueous solution. Since only aqueous solutions have a pH value, oils do not have one. The scale ranges from 1 (acidic) to 14 (basic). 7 is considered pH-neutral, which is what water has, for example. Since the skin has an acidic environment, a skin-neutral value is 4.5 to 5.5.
Cosmetics are not always pH-neutral
Not all care products are pH-neutral. Sometimes a deviation is even wanted, as with fruit acid or enzyme peelings. Here, the pH value must be lower for them to be effective. Other products, such as soaps, are fundamentally alkaline. They have a pH of 8 or 9.
The pH value of the skin levels out again over time. So there is nothing wrong with washing your hands with soap. It only becomes problematic with permanently elevated pH values. Skin diseases are usually associated with it.
💧 The FIVE products and the pH value: The pH value only refers to products with aqueous components (water, hydrosols, etc.). For products without these ingredients, no pH value can be determined. Therefore it is only relevant for one of our products, the FIVE face serum. This has a pH value of 4.5 to 5.5, so it is perfectly matched to that of your skin.
This is how you support the skin flora
Ecosystems usually function better the less we interfere. Therefore, the motto also applies here: Less is more. What does that look like in practice?
Do not use aggressive agents in daily cleansing. And adjust the cleaning according to the degree of "dirt". If you haven't worn makeup and sunscreen, for example at morning cleansing, there is less to remove. Then lukewarm water is enough. Sunscreen and make-up, on the other hand, must be removed thoroughly in the evening. Use either a gentle cleansing lotion or our FIVE Make-up Remover.
Cleaning the body
Use mild shower gel and shampoo and use it sparingly. By that I mean not only the amount, but also the places you use it. Legs, for example, don't usually get so dirty every day that they always have to be lathered. Especially since the skin dries out quickly here. It's best to shower briefly and only lukewarm.
Reduce your care routine to a few products with few ingredients. Good moisturizing care in the morning and in the evening as well as sunscreen are mandatory. In addition, your skin can do without most of it. So this is where the balance comes in.