Skincare is more advanced than ever, so why is our skin getting worse? More and more people are suffering from inflammatory conditions like acne and rosacea despite our varied and increasingly complex skincare regimens. Up to 1 in 3 Americans are affected by a skin disease and spending related to it is now among the fastest-growing of any medical condition. What gives?

The answer could lie within the skin itself, and the trillions of microorganisms that make up its microbiome. Our flora, or microbiome, is composed of (mostly friendly) bacteria and fungi that work directly with our immune systems to defend, heal, and sustain our bodies, impacting everything from the nutrients we gain from food and our moods, to the health and vibrancy of our skin. But for the last century, we’ve been chronically washing our skin microbiome off with soap and detergent-based cleansers and body wash, and disrupting our biomes’ natural homeostasis with harsh ingredients and bacteria-killing preservatives. 

While the gut microbiome has gotten a lot of attention over the last decade, little is talked about in regards to how we can support the health of our skin microbiome. But the science is clear, our skin’s health is dependent on a healthy and diverse microbiome. Overwashing and imbalance of the skin biome are increasingly being linked to common skin disorders like acne and eczema, and certain bacterial strains could even help prevent skin cancer. Working in coordination with your skin and your immune system, your microbiome helps reinforce and repair the skin’s protective barrier, protect your body from infection, regulate inflammation, and maintain homeostasis. Our wellness relies heavily on this symbiotic relationship and we must take care of our microbiomes as well as they take care of us.

Human skin has evolved over millennia to heal and regenerate itself with the help of its flora, or microbiome, and skincare products should support that natural process instead of trying to outsmart it. Working with our biomes positions us to tackle inflammatory skin disease proactively, instead of treating its symptoms reactively. And what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Like our biomes, our communities as a whole thrive when each part of the larger system can rely on the others for connection, healing, and sustenance. Our very existence depends on the microorganisms that make up our bodies and, like our flora, on the health and diversity of our communities. By shifting our approach from something as basic as how we cleanse our skin, we’re challenged to rethink many of our ‘common sense’ notions and consider possibilities that allow for a radical reconnection with our powerful, intelligent nature.

Today, my company CRUDE is putting those possibilities into practice with our certified Microbiome-Friendly cleansers. Pairing science-backed research with the wisdom of the natural world and our ancestors, we can all pave a path forward to holistic, effective, and transformative personal care. The future has already arrived, let’s make it flora-friendly.