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Skin Microbiome 101

The 101 Guide to Understanding Your Skin Microbiome

The skin microbiome may be a relatively new word for you as it has been a focus for new skincare formulations. Many skincare brands are either adding microbes to their products or creating products that do not compromise the skin microbiome. Maintaining a healthy microbiome is an important part of achieving naturally radiant skin.


Quick Terms:

The skin:  The largest organ in the human body that serves as a physical barrier for protecting our bodies from harmful foreign organisms and substances. It is also home to a diverse million microorganisms.

Microbiome:  The collection of millions of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi living in and on our bodies. These microorganisms are essential for skin health.

Microbiota: The skin microbial communities which are vital for skin barrier function. 

Dysbiosis: Microbial imbalance or disruption of the microbiota.

Commensals: Members of the skin microbiota with mutualistic traits that help maintain homeostasis.

Healthy Skin Microbiome: A balanced microbiome.


Why is skin microbiome important?

Now that we have defined these terminologies, let’s look at why the skin microbiome is important.

Similar to our gut, our skin has diverse communities of microorganisms. Most of the microorganisms on the skin are beneficial for skin health.  The skin microbiome can influence and impact the skin barrier and immune system. When the skin barrier is compromised or unbalanced, it can manifest as sensitive skin, dryness, breakouts, or redness. Commensals can also become pathogenic in certain conditions.

The formation of the skin microbiome starts at birth and evolves over time and varies throughout different regions or anatomic sites of the body. Regions with high pH levels and temperature can impact the microbiota. Other influencing factors are the person’s age, environment (presence or absence of sebum, moisture via sweat and sebaceous glands), external environmental factors (Ultra-Violet light exposure, temperature) gender, and skincare or cosmetic products used.

 A healthy skin microbiome is very vital for optimal skin barrier function; protects the skin, aids to fight infection, and controls inflammation. Research indicates that many skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, and rosacea are associated with a lack of diversity in the skin microbiome or changes in the microbiota.

Are you ready for skincare/cosmetic products with bacteria?

There is a lot of variation in skin microbiome from person to person. It seems a lot complex to develop cosmetic products without having a good understanding of all the microbes on the skin and how they differ for each individual. The addition of probiotics in the cosmetic formulation also requires more clinical trials, safety evaluation assessment, and assessment of how the live bacteria stay viable in the product to address specific skin microbial needs. More research is needed to understand the skin microbiome better but a few steps can help us to ensure we do not compromise it, but protect and maintain its balance.


Compromising the Skin Microbiome?

  1. Do not over-cleanse: Cleansing the skin with harsh face cleansers daily that strip the skin of its natural oils can upset the balance of your microbiome. Gentle cleansing with nourishing oil cleansers and mild surfactants is kinder to the skin by maintaining skin natural pH balance and promoting a flourishing and healthy skin microbiome. Kambiio Refining Oil Serum is microbiome-supportive; perfect for all skin types that can be used as a nourishing oil cleanser.
  2. Use a moisturizer: Oils that gives your skin a barrier boost (like Kambiio Excel Radiance Oil Serum) helps to lock in moisture, maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier, mitigating the effects of oxidative stress, and protecting against external physical aggressors are beneficial for your skin.
  3. Eat right: Microbes in your gut also affect the skin. Remove trigger foods that irritate your skin. For example, sugar, dairy, and gluten. Aim to eat healthily and stay hydrated. Healthy and radiant skin starts on the inside!
  4. Overconsumption of skincare products: Streamline your skincare products and be conscious about what you are using on your skin. Trying to use potent actives every day across all your skincare products can weaken the skin barrier and upset the balance of your microbiome.
  5. Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy lifestyle such as avoiding excess alcohol consumption. Avoiding stress, excessive ultraviolet light exposure, and polluted environments can also contribute to a healthy skin microbiome.


Further Reading and References:

Byrd, A., Belkaid, Y. & Segre, J. The human skin microbiome. Nat Rev Microbiol 16, 143–155 (2018).

Sfriso R, Egert M, Gempeler M, Voegeli R, Campiche R. Revealing the secret life of skin - with the microbiome you never walk alone. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2020 Apr;42(2):116-126. Revealing the secret life of skin ‐ with the microbiome you never walk alone (

Cosmetics: The next microbiome frontier (

Microbiome in healthy skin, update for dermatologists - Dréno - 2016 - Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology - Wiley Online Library



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