The Basics of the Skin Microbiome

Skincare is often regarded as an aesthetic pursuit rather than a health pursuit. In some situations, this is true. Aesthetic skincare makes you look but and feel good, but aesthetics are far from the only reason to take better care of yourself. 

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and since it encompasses your entire exterior, it has a tough job to do. 

Your skin’s microbiome is designed to protect it from the elements, bacteria, and pathogens that it encounters throughout your everyday life. Your microbiome is your primary line of defense. Understanding its needs will help you protect and nurture your microbiome to support healthy, glowing skin.

What is a Microbiome?

Your skin’s microbiome is composed of countless tiny microorganisms. They’re similar to simple insects. They’re so small you cannot see them without a high-powered microscope. More than 1,000 of these microorganisms are bacterial, and less than 100 of them are fungal.

These microorganisms are so small that, to them, your skin is a planet. Different organisms live in different parts of your body. Some thrive under the protection of beard hair, while others prefer your ears or nostrils’ dark and humid atmosphere. Some of them like the arid conditions of dry skin, while others thrive in oily environments.

No two people have an identical microbiome. Lifestyle factors, age, gender, bacteria you’re exposed to, the climate you live in, and your overall health contribute to the composition of your microbiome. 

Although every microbiome is different in its ratios of certain microorganisms, every microbiome will require the same kind of care to reach its ideal balance.

The Importance of Your Microbiome

Biologists and researchers are still developing a complete understanding of the microbiome. There is some speculation relating to the importance of the skin’s microbiome about the health of your skin and potential immune supporting abilities. 

Managing the Effects of the Environment

The microbiome can help to heal micro-wounds that develop on the skin. Irritation from shaving or small breakouts may be assisted in healing by your skin’s microbiome. 

Staphylococcus epidermidis, a bacteria that lives on the surface of the skin, may also play a role in limiting the damage that can be caused to the skin by UV radiation from the sun’s rays. 

Research is very limited and has only been conducted on animals, making it too early to call whether or not the staphylococcus epidermis UV-limiting effects are noteworthy in humans.

Relaying Messages to Your Immune System

When the microbiome was first discovered, it seemed to only exist at the skin’s surface. Further explanation uncovered how deep the microbiome actually goes. 

Some of these microorganisms can live as far down as the fat layer below your skin. This means that your microbiome may be able to communicate with internal functions, such as the immune system.

This relay of information has not yet been definitively proven. At this moment in time, the connection is only speculative. We’re still learning things about complexities within the human body, and further research may uncover more about this communication. 

Mitigating Redness and Swelling

The skin’s immune response and microbiome work to keep each other in check. When there are signs of redness and swelling on the skin, the skin’s immune system releases special peptides that act as natural anti-inflammatory compounds. 

The good bacteria in the microbiome also seek out bacteria and pathogens that can lead to swelling of the skin. When both systems are perfectly balanced, this may dampen redness in otherwise healthy skin. 

Warding Off Bacteria

Management of potentially harmful bacteria is the primary function of a healthy microbiome. Your skin’s microorganisms work just like the microorganisms in your gut. The good bacteria challenge the bad, and in the best-case scenario, the good bacteria win. 

If the microbiome is balanced and the PH of your skin’s environment is kept favorable, your microbiome is able to work efficiently. 

Things that Damage Your Microbiome

Your microbiome requires a delicate balance of microorganisms to function efficiently. Many people assume that the products they use on their skin are designed to support their microbiome. However, the overwhelming majority of these products never take your microbiome into account. You could be destroying your microbiome every day without ever knowing it. 

Antibacterial or Antibiotic Products

Antibacterial and antibiotic products, like soaps and topical ointments, kill bacteria and microorganisms indiscriminately. They cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria. 

Over time, stronger bacteria develop a resistance to these things and continue to reproduce rapidly. Once this happens, the bad bacteria become stronger than the natural microorganisms and cause an unfavorable balance that’s hard to correct.

Only use antibiotic ointments and products as directed by a doctor. There’s no reason to use antibacterial products on your face unless you’re doing so under medical advice. 

Cleansing your face is good enough - there’s no need to sterilize it.

Using Products that Destroy the Microbiome

Even if your soaps and cleansers aren’t specifically marketed as antibacterial, they may still kill bacteria and remove the healthy barrier from your skin. Alcohol dries the skin and wipes the slate clean of both good and bad bacteria. 

Sulfate ingredients lather up and strip away your skin’s protective barrier, taking healthy microorganisms with them.

Upsetting Microbiomes Throughout Your Body

If the microbiome in your gut is out of balance, the microbiome of your skin is also likely to be out of balance. Creating a healthy bacterial environment requires a holistic approach. 

An infection in one area can easily spread to another area through your bloodstream. If you have severe issues with your skin, there’s a chance that your skin’s natural defenses aren’t operating properly due to a similar imbalance in your gut. 

What Your Microbiome Needs

Your microbiome requires nourishing, antioxidant-rich skincare products designed to support the skin without stripping it. Probiotics can also be beneficial in restoring the proper balance of the microbiome. 

By promoting the growth of the things your skin needs to protect and manage itself, you’re giving it an advantage over damaging bacteria and pathogens that may attempt to overtake that ideal balance.

Caldera + Lab Creates Products to Support Your Microbiome

Caldera + Lab’s completely natural skincare products are exclusively formulated with organically grown and wild-harvested sustainable botanicals. Each product is created to nourish, protect, and support your skin while promoting a healthy microbiome.

Our probiotic ferment filtrate works with ingredients like glacial minerals to feed and replenish your skin while encouraging an optimal bacterial balance of the microbiome. 

Our products are clinically demonstrated to improve the health and look of skin because they’re designed to address every skincare need simultaneously. Support the health of your microbiome with our cleanser, serum, and moisturizer



The human skin microbiome | Nature Reviews Microbiology

Staphylococcus epidermidis – the “accidental” pathogen | National Library of Medicine

Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora | National Library of Medicine