Bacteria gets a bad rap, let alone skin bacteria. The combination of the words "skin" and "bacteria" likely conjure up images of Walking Dead-esque zombies and infectious diseases, but what if I told bacteria can actually result in the opposite? What if bacteria could give you beautiful, healthy skin?
Turns out it can (I love answering my own questions). Granted, zombie movies and shows wouldn’t be as interesting if all the zombies were cured by simply walking into a probiotic facial mist, but for us regular, non-zombie folk, bacteria is plenty entertaining.
Why Bacteria Gets a Bad Rap
The reason bacteria conjures up negative images is inevitably because of its connection to sickness. We get some sort of bacterial sickness, maybe food poisoning from some bad sushi or a nagging case of strep throat, we are prescribed antibiotics, the antibiotics kill the bacteria causing the infection, and eventually (hopefully) our sickness goes away. Bacteria, then, becomes something to be killed and nothing else.
The problem with that mindset is that not all bacteria are bad. Sure, some bacteria are bad, i.e. the kind causing you to spend all day huddled over the toilet, but some bacteria can also be very beneficial. Unfortunately, antibiotics tend not to distinguish between the two. A dose of antibiotics is just likely to wipe out good, beneficial as the bad, infectious bacteria.
This tends to be why people who take a lot of antibiotics have more difficulty fending off sickness. The more antibiotics you take, the more general bacteria are killed, and thus the smaller amount of beneficial, immune-building bacteria left in your body. This is especially true when the bacteria you are trying to kill are resistant to the antibiotic you are taking.
For example, if you have salmonella poisoning, and thus are trying to kill salmonella bacteria, but they are resistant to your antibiotic, not only are you not killing the harmful bacteria, but you are also killing the bacteria trying to defend against the salmonella, ultimately making you sicker. It is in situations like these that probiotics, antibiotics’ older, more supportive brother, can come in handy.
Probiotics: a path to healthier skin (and body)
The opposite of antibiotics, probiotics encourage the growth of bacteria and can play a role in a myriad of health benefits. Most people probably know probiotics from yogurt commercials, and, more specifically, their role in maintaining a healthy gut, and while the benefits of a healthy gut certainly span long and wide, the positive effects of probiotics on our skin can be just as impressive.
Some potential benefits of putting probiotics on your skin:
- Protection against inflammation caused by acne or rosacea
- Helps build collagen, our skin's main protein affecting texture and tone
- Helps hydrate aging skin
- Reduces sun damage
- Improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
For a useful and easy-to-understand explanation of why bacteria is crucial for healthy skin, read the quote below delivered by University of California dermatology chief Dr. Richard Gallo:
“Good bacteria are educating your own skin cells to make your own antibiotics . . . They produce their own antibiotics that kills off bad bacteria.” (source above)
It is this quote that bring us to the following.
Why Showering Can Actually Make You Dirtier
You just finished at the gym? Shower. First date in an hour? Shower. Stowed away inside all day stress-studying for a test? Shower. We humans have developed no shortage of reasons for throwing ourselves under a nice refreshing shower and stripping away the filth of the last hour, day, or (heaven-forbid) week. While maintaining your hygiene and not causing your colleague at work to change desks is certainly important, over showering can actually deplete the good bacteria working to keep your skin healthy.
John Oxford, Professor of Virology at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, validates this idea, explaining that “[a] vigorous daily shower would disturb the natural bug flora of the skin as well as skin oils” (source above). Our body’s bacteria – the good, the bad, and the in-between, all work together in balance to keep our body in tip-top shape. When we relentlessly strip away from this balance in the form of constant washing, we open ourselves up to the possibility of more harmful bacteria and sickness.
Fortunately, through the methods below, you don't have to substitute cleanliness for a healthy bacteria count.
Three Simple Ways to Bacterial Balance (and the healthy skin that comes with it)
It's weird to think that you can literally spray live bacteria on to your skin (and hair), but you can.
Mother Dirt’s AO+ Mist (clinically researched)
- Restores balance to dry, oily, and sensitive skin types.
- Improves skin clarity by 35% in 4 weeks.
- Improves the look and feel of dry and uneven skin by 35% in 4 weeks.
- Reduces dependence on products like deodorants, moisturizers, and makeup.
- Preservative-free. Fragrance-free. Kid-friendly. Sensitive skin-friendly
To clean doesn't necessarily mean to strip away bacteria. Probiotic soap is a great way to both keep yourself clean and maintain a healthy bacterial balance.
Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Kampuku Beauty Bar (2016 winner of both Better Nutrition’s Best of Natural Beauty Award and Taste for Life’s Essentials Award)
- Maintains appropriate surface dermal pH
- Maintains the appearance and integrity of collagen fibers
- Promotes healthy skin cell rejuvenation
- Hydrates and replenish the skin
- Supports the skin’s healthy barrier function
While not directly related to the skin, a healthy gut is certainly part of the equation. A probiotic supplement is one of the easiest ways to get your gut to as close to perfect working order as possible.
Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora (top rated probiotic on Labdoor)
- Super high potency daily use probiotic (50 billion live cultures)
- Effective recovery for those using or those who have recently used antibiotics
- Effective treatment for chronic digestive issues
If you've made it this far, I would like to personally congratulate you. Hopefully you walk away from this article with a better perception of bacteria, and can actually say the word without thinking of infections or flesh-eating zombies. If you have happened across any probiotic products yourself that have worked wonders for your skin or body, please share below!
And speaking of bringing your skin to life, hop over to our product page for your first burst of Original Coffee Scrub.