Skin Crawling Skincare: Harnessing Bacteria in Cosmetics

Open up the medicine cabinet of any teen or young adult and you’ll find what is known as the “good skin graveyard”. It’s the place where all of those “as seen on TV” cleansers and moisturizers we bought on a whim go to die, as we move from product to product and promise to promise of clear, glowing, and airbrushed skin. Some trends have gained cult followings – just google korean sheet masks or micellar water – while others are hush hush DIY hacks that the pros swear by.

One thing is for certain, though, in the day and age of doll-like makeup and stunning selfies, young people want their skin to look its camera-ready best, teenage acne not included. But the latest beauty gurus are not the YouTube stars or the celebrity spokespeople: they are scientists. Years of research into genetics and biology have revealed new findings about every nook and cranny of our pores, which in themselves can be as individual as fingerprints. As it turns out, the best remedies for our skin may be the same as for our guts. So skip Sephora and put your lab coat on because skin care just got put under the microscope.

We now know that while we share 99.9% of our genes, we only share 10% of our skin’s microbial makeup. This means that instead of blaming what’s inside for common skin ailments like acne, rosacea, or eczema, the bacteria on our skin, much like in our guts, is responsible for our unique skin health. As we already know, dairy products have good bacteria that help our digestive systems fight off illness and boost immunity.

It has been found that this good bacteria works similarly on our faces, fighting off the harsh environmental toxins, UV rays, and the effects of stress and processed diets. In fact, gut and skin health have a rather symbiotic relationship, as leading NYC dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, points out: “The gut and the skin are actually very closely connected.” That’s why we see changes in our skin after we pig out on fast food or skimp on the water. Skin is an organ and in fact our largest one, so it shows everything we do to our bodies, good and bad.

And a compromised skin barrier is very bad, indeed. Like a leaky roof, harmful allergens and irritants invade our skin, while crucial moisture seeps out, leading to inflammation and dry skin. And like a doctorate-wielding roof repair-woman, New York-based gastroenterologist Roshini Raj, M.D. harnessed the power of lactobacillus and other live organisms to form her own eleven-piece skin-care collection, Tula.

Her patented technology combines the difficult-to-pronounce Lactobacillus Casei + Acidophilus (skin
nourishment and smoothness), with Micrococcus Lysate (skin clarity and redness reduction), Bacillus Coagulans Ferment (hydration, elasticity, wrinkle reduction), and Bifida Ferment Lysate (immunity, free-radical protection) to promote the natural balance and wellness of your skin. These tongue-twisting bacteria are just a few of the hundreds of different strains of bacteria that make up 95% of the total cells in our body. As the Tula site puts it,
“…on a cellular level, we are more bacterial than human!”

If the idea of bacteria, fungus, viruses, and other creepy crawlies on your face is making your run for the bar soap, hold up! Overuse of irritating scrubs, acidic peels, and antibacterial cleansing products don’t just get rid of the bad guys, they get rid of the good microorganisms, too! So before you reach for that skin-stripping treatment, consider the Tula line or check out Dior Life and Clinique’s probiotic-enhanced beauty lines. However, if you’re like myself and on a Uni budget, on your next trip to Tesco, pick up some yoghurt or kefir (fermented milk) and slather it on your face like a mask, twice a week. Yes, your flatmate might stare, but it won’t be because of the dairy… You’ll be udderly glowing (I couldn’t resist). 



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