Supporting Good Bacteria on the Skin

By Liz Thompson in Natural Products

You already know bacteria can lead to skin irritation and breakouts. That's why you wash your makeup brushes, toss skin care products that are past their prime, and use techniques in your routine that get rid of "bad" bacteria.

But what about the good bacteria that live on your skin? Like your gut microbiome, your skin has a microbiome where healthy bacteria live. When in balance, these good bacteria on the skin keep your complexion looking and feeling its best.

Here's all you need to know about good skin bacteria and maintaining a balanced skin microbiome.

Bad and Good Bacteria on the Skin

The skin microbiome is made up of living organisms, which include both bad and good bacteria living in delicate balance. What can disturb the peace? Diet, overuse of antibiotics, and some cosmetics and personal hygiene products are known to impact the skin microbial community, according to an article in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (JEADV).

The state of your skin bacteria can also trigger certain skin issues. A study published in Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery showed links to changes in several skin conditions, from acne and dermatitis to rosacea and psoriasis, due to fluctuations in a person's skin microbiome.

These findings may make it sound like bacteria on your skin is a bad thing—but the JEADV article reassures that good bacteria also live on your skin. Substances called prebiotics can help support these beneficial microorganisms.

Makeup brushes on vanity

Prebiotics and Good Bacteria

When your gut microbiome becomes imbalanced, you may reach for yogurt with active cultures to introduce good bacteria back into your system. Yogurt contains live organisms similar to the ones in your gut, called probiotics, which Harvard Medical School explains may help to prevent certain gastrointestinal issues.

Prebiotics don't contain the live organisms of probiotics but work to feed the good bacteria. Think of prebiotics as the supporting players for probiotics, boosting the benefits of the good bacteria. Eating a diet that includes both probiotic and prebiotic foods may help to balance the gut microbiome.

But what about balancing the skin microbiome? A study by Glycologic Limited found that applying prebiotics topically to the skin may support the growth of beneficial skin bacteria.

Woman putting lotion on legs

Incorporating Prebiotics into Your Daily Routine

Adding prebiotic foods into your diet may help to keep your gut microbiome in optimal balance, so consider taking it one step further and trying prebiotic skin care, too. Cleansing with gentle ingredients that support a healthy skin microbiome is a great place to start.

Wondering which prebiotic skin care products to add to your personal care lineup? Here are three Tom's of Maine products to consider. They're made with the prebiotic ingredient inulin and are formulated without sulfates, parabens, or artificial fragrances or preservatives.


Inspired to try new skin care products made with naturally derived ingredients? Follow the Naturally Good Products board on @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

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Why It's Good

Good and bad bacteria live on your skin in delicate balance, and prebiotic skin care can help the beneficial microorganisms do their job of keeping you healthy.