Microbes and your skin: friend or foe?

Often identified from an early age as enemies to be killed, microbes are an essential part of our daily lives.

The reason why they have such a bad reputation is the number of diseases they trigger when they colonise our bodies.

Indeed, beyond the mere presence of micro-organisms in our body, it is the proportion in which they colonise our organs, one in relation to the other, that can make them a threat.

In other words: microbes are not necessarily undesirable. More surprisingly, they are vital for the continued proper functioning of our organs.

The largest of them is no stranger to this reality. The skin is full of micro-organisms that make up its ecosystem.

What bacteria are found in the skin? What functions does it attribute to them? Why is understanding this ballet essential to your skin’s health? How can you maintain the balance that guarantees it?

Bacteria: friend or foe?

Viruses are generally much less appreciated by our bodies in their natural state and are generally excluded from the discussion of the role of microbes in human health.

The most talked-about microbes are therefore mainly bacteria, fungi and protozoa, whose status as “living beings” is much better accepted (viruses are more ambiguous in this respect).

The borderline between pathogenic and useful

Some protozoa, fungi and bacteria are called “pathogens” and others “beneficial organisms”.

While this rough classification seems to be clearly segmented, the line between the two categories is sometimes very thin.

Bifidus (or bifidobacteria), for example, are systematically invoked as flagship arguments in the formula of certain dairy brands. Bifidobacteria are used as “probiotics” (agents that facilitate the development and maintenance of bacteria present in the digestive system and essential to the digestion process) and can contribute to a better intestinal transit.

In this sense, it is possible to say that bifidobacteria, like the bacteria present in the digestive system (notably the “intestinal flora”), are “useful” or even “beneficial” microbes for your health.

However, in rare cases, these microbial agents may prove to be the means for other agents known to be pathogenic to thrive.

In a study conducted by researcher Hena Butta in 2017¹, it was found that in several cases, bifidobacteria were found to be responsible for the development of various infections.

Such evidence is likely to draw attention to the particular cases, the context and therefore ultimately the conditions under which a microbe may be useful to your skin health, or even your health in general.

From parasitism to skin commensalism: your skin's "dangerous liaisons" with some microbes and the benefits of others

To understand when a microbe is beneficial to your skin or not, it is the relationship it has with your skin that is important.

Parasitism: a toxic relationship

Parasitic skin microorganisms are microbes that affect the proper functioning of your skin while exploiting its resources. This type of relationship is typically associated with a pathogen whose presence is absolutely undesirable since you cannot benefit from it while the microorganism in question “uses” you to ensure its own survival.

Different types of micro-organisms follow this pattern on the surface of your skin, such as plasmodium falciparum, vivax, ovale and malariae (protozoa responsible for malaria) or dermatophytes (fungi that colonise hairless skin).

Commensalism: a win-win relationship

The reason why we speak of a “commensal flora” in the context of the cutaneous microbial universe is that the micro-organisms that are “normally” found there (i.e. in the case of healthy skin) maintain a relationship of mutual interest with the skin.

This is the case, for example, with the white staphylococcus (or “staphylococcus epidermidis”), which is by far one of the most common bacteria present on the skin’s surface.

Playing a role in preventing the proliferation of more virulent and pathogenic staphylococci (such as staphylococcus aureus), this bacterium feeds on organic waste products present on the skin’s surface (notably sebum).

This two-way relationship, which allows your skin to be better protected, is called “commensal”. The white staphylococcus is thus a “saprophytic” agent (also known as a “saprobiont”), i.e. organisms that feed on “dead” organic matter in order to survive and develop in an environment without being pathogenic for it.

Moreover, recent studies tend to show that the immune role of this commensal flora is more extensive than previously thought.

In a study conducted in 2018² by the team of researcher Teruaki Nakatsuji, it was discovered that the white staphylococcus fulfils a surprisingly important function in the prevention of cutaneous neoplasia (i.e. in the development of skin cancers).

Your skin's commensal flora: understanding the skin microbiome so that it can better help you

“Skin microbiota”, “skin microflora”, “commensal flora” or “normal flora”… The commensal micro-organisms living permanently on the surface of your skin are organised in a network with multiple functions for their human host, including

  • Immune function by colonisation of available space (some large and/or numerous commensal microbes take up a significant part of your skin surface, reducing the vacant spaces that could serve as starting points for pathogenic microbes seeking to colonise your epidermis);
  • Immune function through antimicrobial action (the metabolism of certain commensal microbes leads to the secretion of substances that limit the development of other pathogenic microbes);
    Metabolic function by eliminating the waste products of skin metabolism (certain commensal microbes feed on the organic waste produced by your skin, limiting the risks of infection and allowing the skin to breathe properly)
  • Metabolic function by supplying nutrients (some microbes release organic waste from their metabolism which serves as nutrients for your skin)

However, to enable the commensal flora to perform these functions, it is essential to ensure an environment in which it can develop.

Ensuring good living conditions for your commensal skin flora

If the skin flora plays a role in stabilising the PH of your skin, your skin must also initially allow the commensal flora to survive. In other words, it is because the two-way relationship between the commensal flora and the physical characteristics of your skin is somewhat of a chicken and egg story that it is essential to pay attention to your skin’s characteristics and, if necessary, adjust them.

Thus, the most common approach when the condition of your skin does not meet the expected specifications is to resort to solutions to support your skin health.

There are two tools available to you in this regard:

  • Local application solutions (topically usable, typically: creams, ointments, gels…);
  • More general nutrition solutions (used orally, typically: food supplements).

While the former are well known to the general public, the latter are often less well understood. Indeed, how can the consumption of a food supplement help your skin to maintain its ideal conditions? More importantly, how can it help your skin’s commensal flora?

The answers to these questions lie in the physiological details of your skin’s function and structure.

In a recent blog post about how your body gets new skin, we talked about how your skin organ is structured.

We explained how the dermis and epidermis are the core of your skin and highlighted how they interact in your daily life and the roles they play in maintaining the health of your skin barrier.

The dermis, whose composition is largely based on an ECM (ExtraCellular Matrix), is where the metabolic reactions that nourish the epidermis occur.

The production of sebum is partly explained by these and it is to guarantee continuity in the suppleness, firmness and level of hydration that your dermis is the seat of reactions taking as raw materials collagen, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and many other elements of nutrition.

Thus, regulating oily skin to ensure the balance required for your commensal flora to function properly can be achieved by providing ceramides, hyaluronic acid and organic silicon, as explained in previous articles.

In this sense, providing your body with the means to have the nutrition it needs when your diet does not meet its requirements can be achieved through the consumption of a food supplement designed for the health of your skin.

MyCollagenLift: the ally of your health routine to maintain your skin

This is what the MyPureSkin team is offering you by providing you with a nutritional supplementation solution focused on maintaining the health of your skin: MyCollagenLift.

Thanks to its cocktail of 100% natural ingredients, MyCollagenLift is a nutricosmetic offering both :

  • Support you in your daily effort to adopt proper nutrition;
  • Helping you to stimulate your collagen and hyaluronic acid production;
  • Provide additional support in your efforts to prevent premature aging.

To achieve this, MyCollgenLift’s exclusive formula contains :

  • Collagen peptides with significantly higher bioavailability than hydrolysed collagen;
  • Hyaluronic acid, to help your skin maintain a normal moisture level over the long term thanks to its ability to carry almost 1000 times its mass in water;
  • Wheat ceramides (gluten free) to help protect your body from insensible water loss;
  • Organic silicon, an antioxidant and skin restorer;
  • Vitamin C, extracted from acerola, which helps neutralise mismatched electrons;
  • Vitamin E, which plays a similar role;
  • OPC from grapes, polyphenols that also help your cells to protect themselves from the harmful effects of free electrons;
  • Zinc, a trace element that also plays a part in this effort.
  • SOD (Superoxide Dismutase enzyme), extracted from melon, helping to create an internal and external antioxidant shield for your cells.

Thinking of taking better care of your skin? Are you looking to restore your skin’s commensal flora to its proper role? Why not start a 3-month treatment with MyCollagenLift?

Study by researcher Hena Butta’s team on the emergence of bifidobacterial infections: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418030/
Study by researcher Teruaki Nakatsuji’s team on the role of white staphylococcus in preventing the development of skin cancers: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834004/