Your skin loves you .... LOVE IT BACK!
Our skin is literally teeming with a vast universe of microbial life that scientists are just beginning to understand! The benefits of a healthy skin biome include preventing pathogenic organisms from colonizing the skin surface, either by competing for nutrients, secreting chemicals against them, or stimulating the skin's immune system. Finding ways to nourish, maintain and replenish a healthy biome by supporting the host of microbes that abound on our skin will not only revolutionize the way we live, it may even positively impact our overall health.
Just like in our gastrointestinal tracts, having a healthy, diverse population of beneficial bacteria thriving on our SKIN is vital to over good health.
"Compared with healthy individuals, atopic individuals had lower environmental biodiversity in the surroundings of their homes and significantly lower genetic diversity of gammaproteobacteria on their skin."
We are even learning that the microbial diversity in our environment has a direct impact on our skin. Modern “hygienic” living and the use of sanitizers decreases the biodiversity of our skin surface. One study found that teens living with less biodiversity in their environment were more likely to suffer from allergies.
Our skin microbiome needs and deserves daily support to be strong and resilient! Loads of beneficial bacteria live there, about 1 trillion to be exact. These bacteria do all sorts of wonderful things for us like controlling dead skin cell build-up inside our pores and keeping levels of potentially problematic microbes like yeast, parasites and other bacteria in check.
Maintaining and nourishing healthy skin flora is important for supporting your immune system. Things which disrupt our skin's microbiome are environmental pollutants, most skin care products, antibiotics, and synthetic chemical which impact the health and diversity of our skin biome as well as our overall health. Synthetic chemicals include parabens, phthalates, detergents, artificial fragrances, formaldehyde releasers, polyethylene glycols - all of which are found in a majority of conventional skin “care” products today.
Of particular concern are sunscreens containing oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate which not only disrupt skin flora but may disrupt hormones and speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. (See National Institutes of Health’s Photocarcinogenesis Study of Retinoic Acid and Retinyl Palmitate.)
How is washing with soaps and foaming cleansers altering our skin's microbiome?
We are learning that using soaps and surfactant based cleansers (foaming cleansers) and even some natural skin care products contain harsh surfactants, synthetic fragrances and other irritants that strip the skin of its natural oils causing dryness, flaking, tightness and irritation, potentially damaging the skin's stratum corneum by removing our natural skin oils which surround the layers of keratin disks which make up the surface layers of our skin. Over washing will damage this protective external layer, making it harder for the skin to hold in moisture.
Skin impaired by washing with soap and foaming cleansers are more frequently colonized by pathogenic bacteria, gram-negative bacteria, and Candida. This often leads to scaling skin, dryness, itchiness, and dermatitis, conditions provoked by microorganisms and allergens penetrating this corneal layer.
"New research has shown that the pH of our skin is incredibly delicate, and harsh cleansers strip natural hydrators and barriers of the skin, flaring inflammatory conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea. The trend seems to be to clean smarter, not clean harsher". Rachel Nazarian, MD, an NYC-based dermatologist .. I believe that this trend will push oil cleansing to the forefront of the skincare industry
THE PH OF OUR SKIN. What we know now is that these bacteria thrive when the skin is able to maintain a slightly acidic pH of 4.0-4.5. Many conventional facial cleansers contain foaming surfactants which alter the skin's pH making it too alkaline. This upsets the delicate balance of the skin's microbiome. The effect is similar to taking antibiotics where all the bacteria in the digestive tract are wiped out with no distinction between good or bad. Sometimes we really need to take antibiotics to prevent illness but we don't need to use surfactant based cleansers on our skin. There's just no benefit in the long run! Period!
So now you're thinking: "If I want to stop using foaming face wash what can I use?!"
The Oil Cleansing Method really is the answer. There really is nothing new about using oil to cleanse dirt and debris from the skin and flush build-up out of the pores. Many ancient cultures, including the Romans and Egyptians, cleansed their skin with oil for thousands of years before an alchemist figure out how to change those same oils into soap.
So instead of clearcutting your skin's forest and driving off all the diverse creatures living there, nourish it instead over time with oils. They will help support, maintain, and nourish strong resilient skin which is better able to withstand the ravages of the environment, air borne toxins, aging, stress, and sun damage, and help it heal from more quickly from injuries.