What is the Microbiome and Why Do We Care?

Do you want to stay blemish free and glowing (from head to toe!)?

Lean in a little bit closer, and guess what, friends? Turns out, the secret to beautiful skin actually begins in your gut in what experts call the brain-gut-skin axis (more on that later).

Many skincare experts tout balancing your microbiome as the best way to stay glowing and beautiful (inside and out). But what exactly is the microbiome and why should we pay attention?

What is the Microbiome?

So let’s start with the basics. The word microbiome when broken down means incredibly small ecosystem (wow!!). We know that all of us play host to a unique variety of microorganisms. This includes bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This includes all of our skin (scalp, internal, external, all of it!).

According to Base Clear, we actually carry more microorganisms than the number of our own human cells (about the weight of our brain)!

These microorganisms cover both the inside and outside of our body and make up what we know as the microbiome.

Studies and doctors call the relationship between the bacteria in the body the gut-skin-brain axis.

This axis can be held responsible for our overall health. It affects our metabolic process, immunity, how our organs interact, and more. When balance becomes disrupted, that’s when disease can occur.

How Does the Microbiome Affect the Gut?

Go with your gut! In Marie Veronique’s Acne Answer, she says the secret to our skin is to first look at our internal skin.

The lining of the digestive tract is called the epithelium and when stretched out, our internal skin can cover an entire tennis court, wow.

Microbiota are the microorganisms that mediate internal skincare health as it manages the health of the epithelium. The epithelium (which makes it different than other tissue) becomes nourished through short-chain fatty acid process.

When the epithelia barrier is not deeply nourished, the skin becomes less efficient at preventing bacteria from reaching our body’s bloodstream.

When bacteria reach the bloodstream, our body becomes inflamed.

How Does the Microbiome Affect the Skin?

Through looking at the gut and the relationship between the microbiota and the epithelium, we can begin to see the parallels in the other parts of our bodies. There is more research being done to better understand these parallels.

When the label on your skincare suggests that they’re crafted with the microbiome in mind, it means that they don’t strip the bacteria, but instead work to balance. For example, acne treatments like Benzyl Peroxide have been used to treat acne; however working with peroxide has long term effects like diminished efficacy, premature aging, and stripping of the skin.

Skincare efforts to treat acne should be focused on the long-term with sustainable approaches. 

How Does the Microbiome Affect the Scalp?

Your scalp is also a part of this complex microbiome and is a small-scale representation of how skincare health works. Again, it also is demonstrative of that gut-skin-brain health axis that we spoke about earlier.

We can eat to nourish our hair health. And our hair health can be a great indicator of how our health is going? Wild how it’s all interconnected, right?

If the microbiome of your scalp becomes interrupted, dandruff, psoriasis, and other complications can arise.

This is part of the reason we’re so passionate about our shower rituals, and that’s why buying a shampoo and conditioner, as well as being mindful of how you treat your scalp is hugely important. You don’t want to strip the scalp of its important nutrients, however build up can be just as damaging.

The skin on your scalp is unlike any of the other regions on your body. This is mainly because of the vitamin-rich sebum production and the unusually humid environment.

Each hair follicle has its own microbiome and there are over 100,000 hairs on your head (on average). Talk about a potentially hairy situation…

Because of this complex environment, that’s why we love using Sister’s Shampoo and Conditioner. They use an extra-gentle cleanser that cleans without stripping the skin and hair of the natural oils and peptides that our bodies have worked so hard to create.

The conditioner contains an essential amino acid called isoleucine, thought to improve the balance of healthy organisms on the scalp and hair.


How Do We Balance the Microbiome?

While we know that nourishing our guts prevents imbalances that could lend themselves to chronic inflammation, more research is being done to understand this precise balance. But if you’re looking for a way to work with and balance your microbiome? Doctor’s suggest:

Consuming Fermented Foods – Fermented Foods are wonderful for supporting that good bacteria in our gut. Open the doors to our pantry to see our favorite ferments.

Consuming Fiber – From friend and herbalist Rachelle Robinett, “Incorporate fiber into your diet: There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber is known as “roughage,” and due to its dense matter, it can't be broken down in the gut….Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and sugar, slowing their absorption into the blood. It can also help boost "good" bacteria in the gut (it’s a prebiotic). Both are important in a daily diet and most folks eat far too little fiber…Smoothies are a great way to get a bunch of fiber in one meal. Aim for chia seeds, raspberries, flax seeds and the like.”

Supplementation of Prebiotics and Probiotics to replace artificial antibiotics

Eliminating Stress – We know this can seem like a tall ask, but any way of lessening stress is a way to support overall health.

Seek sustainable rituals and processors for skincare – We have some ideas for working with and combating acne prone skin here.

Do your own research! Discover what works best for you and your unique balance (like snowflakes, no two are alike!). 

The Microbiome With the Boketto Team

Our founder, Jelena, focuses on prebiotics in her approach. She tells us, “In order to maintain a healthy microbiome it is important to consider prebiotics, the food for bacteria to thrive on, probiotics, the live bacteria, and post-biotics, the essential micronutrients that are found in soil.

Our social media strategist Kate swears by Sisters Shampoo and Conditioner, “I love the smell but also how they select their ingredients. They formulated their line without any harmful sulfates, parabens, PEGs, chemical preservatives or chemical fragrances. All of the ingredients are biodegradable and they don’t test on animals. According their website, they use the highest-quality essential oils to fragrance the shampoo and conditioner and because of this, they’re incredibly safe to use. Plus I love how they speak about this complicated relationship in keeping a microbiome balanced.”

Jelena reminds us, “Remember, diversity is key, and it is important to always incorporate as many different fruits and vegetables in your diet, especially fruits and vegetables that contain sources of prebiotics, such as apples, sweet potatoes, cabbage, radish.” 

And remember that less is more. Muscling your way to clear skin keeps you in the pendulum swing of clear and breaking out. The best approach is one that's centered on working with the microbiome. This will bring the balance you are looking to see and feel.

Looking for more Microbiome love? Marie Veronique’s line of skincare is created with the microbiome in mind. Learn more about her line and read the studies in her book Acne Answers here