Our skin is home to vibrant communities of microbial life, called our ‘microbiome,’ which can significantly influence our skin and overall health. The skin microbiome is a wild, complex phenomenon, but always seeking to maintain balance.
The skin microbiome protects your skin from unfriendly organisms, helps manage your skin’s pH, and maintain your skin’s important barrier function from the outside world and its assaults like pollution, extreme temperatures, and even the products you put on your skin. The skin microbiome also produces skin nutrients and essential skin lipids. All of these things contribute to maintaining healthy skin.
Your skin microbiome may be impacted by the ingredients used in your skincare or cosmetic products like fragrances, surfactants, parabens, alcohol, etc. Since maintaining balance between all the microorganisms in your skin microbiome is important, we should aim to use skincare products with ingredients that are “resident” or “native” to your skin microbiome and that, therefore, help to support, maintain and nourish the balance among all the living microorganisms there.
Here are a few ingredients that you may have seen on skincare product labels that also naturally occur on your skin -- i.e. “skin native”:
Hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular moisturizers at the moment. And, it’s a natural moisturizer: it’s found in the eyes, connective tissue, and your skin. If you want to make your skin look and feel more hydrated and supple, you can opt to add hyaluronic acid as a topical product to your skincare regimen or take it as an oral dietary supplement. Applied topically, hyaluronic acid can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and minimize redness and dermatitis.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, and is essential for building bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Think of it as the ‘glue’ that holds these things together, so your body (and face) have structure. Like so much of the good stuff that our bodies produce, collagen production decreases as we age (which is why as we get older, we start worrying about our cheeks sagging into jowls).
There are two ways we can address this need for more collagen to help us maintain plump, firm skin: 1) apply collagen in topical skincare products, or 2) add “helper” ingredients that stimulate your body to make more collagen on its own. Some examples of these ‘helper’ ingredients are Vitamin C, Glycine, and Copper. As you can imagine, the best place to get these ingredients is in foods, but you can also find skincare products that contain them.
Squalene is a lipid (or oil) produced in human skin cells. Like so many of the good stuff that declines with age, our skin produces less squalene as we age. Unfortunately, squalene can’t be produced and put in a topical skincare product because it quickly becomes unstable and rancid, even smelling bad as it spoils.
So, chemists have found a way to convert squalene to another kind of oil, called squalane, which is more skin-friendly and stable, so it won’t spoil on your shelf or on your skin.
Squalane is a natural moisturizer that is found in the sebaceous secretions of human skin. This may sound unappealing, but since it is very close chemically to natural oils produced by the skin, it’s an attractive, safe, and non-irritating ‘skin native’ moisturizer.
At Ellis Day Skin Science, we design our products to include ‘skin native’ ingredients whenever possible. These ingredients are at home in your skin environment and play well with the other elements of your skin microbiome, ensuring you are using the safest, most natural approach to “keeping balance and harmony” in your skin microbiome.
Here’s to maintaining balance for overall skin health!