You’ve probably heard about the gut-brain connection by now. Ingesting pre- and probiotic-rich foods affect not only your body but your brain. Paula Simpson is here to add yet another layer to this complex equation. It’s the most significant layer on your body, your skin. And bacteria on the skin are more essential than you might think! In fact, your bacteria is the key to good skin.
The celebrity beauty nutrition and biochemist’s recent book “Good Bacteria for Healthy Skin” makes a case for keeping your products and food bacteria-laden for glowing skin.
The Bacteria on Your Skin
Paula wants to break down the misconception of bacterial function on your skin. Most women think of bacteria as something to remove. Paula advocates preserving certain types of bacteria to promote healthy skin. I’ve personally experienced overstimulating my skin and winding up with perioral dermatitis as a result, so Paula’s advice hits home.
“One centimeter of human skin may hold up to one billion microorganisms! Normally residing ‘host’ bacteria found on the skin are typically harmless when in balance and promote healthy skin. The ‘tourists’ or transient bacteria are the ones that we’re exposed to through our environment and don’t typically last on the skin. Exposure to harmful pathogens, over-cleansing, and overuse of antimicrobials and antibiotics not only strips away the ‘bad’ bacteria but also diminishes the presence and activity of ‘good’ bacteria that strive to keep skin balanced and resilient.”
So what’s a girl to do? You’ve got to get rid of the transient buggers, but you don’t want your good bacteria to leave! Paula suggests a gentle approach to cleansing and nourishing.
“[Use] green and probiotic skincare lines that don’t strip away everything. Although exfoliating and scrubbing can be good to lift off oil and debris from the skin, you may be doing it too often. This also breaks down the skin microbiome and skin barrier critical to protecting your skin.”
We asked Paula a few burning questions that will get you on your journey to clearer skin.
Is there a special way to treat the skin’s microbiome if living in a city versus the countryside?
“Urban living definitely exposes the skin to more pollutants that have been clinically cited to affect the health of the skin (and microbiome). Your skin acts as a sponge to certain air pollutants and toxins that build up in skin pores and deplete oxygen to the skin. Since the skin microbiome is most active on the outer layer of our skin (the stratum corneum,) it too is negatively affected by air pollution, offsetting its natural equilibrium with overactivity and presence of bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for blemished prone skin and acne.”
Do probiotic supplements accomplish enough or is there a specific diet one must follow?
“Nutrition and supplementation do have an indirect impact on the health of the skin microbiome, through the intercommunicating network between gut microflora, immune system, and skin (known as the gut-skin axis). Certain foods have been to rebalance and nurture gut microflora to encourage healthy skin from within, including probiotic supplements. I provide in detail, dietary, and supplemental guidelines for specific skin health conditions in my book.”
What’s the one thing a person can change right now to get more glowing skin?
“For a quick fix, I like to nourish and rebalance my skin with a natural mud mask, followed by a simple probiotic mask (recipe and recommendations in my book,) to gently detoxify and supply the skin with essential nutrients and probiotics to calm redness and bring out a natural glow. But to truly attain glowing skin, look to your gut. If your digestion is working well and your digesting and metabolizing nutrients from a balanced diet, your skin will show it.”