“We are inhabited by as many as then thousand bacterial species, those cells outnumber those which we consider our own by ten to one, and weigh, all told, about three pounds – the same as our brain. Together, they are referred to as our microbiome and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists have begun to reconsider what it means to be human.” ~ Michael Specter
Every few decades or so, a scientific discovery is made that changes, irrevocably, the way we see ourselves, and the world we inhabit. Such a discovery was made by the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year project, which, culminating in 2012, forced us to change the way we see bacteria, and the essential role it plays in our overall, human wellbeing.
Since then, the link between gut health (ensuring a balanced equilibrium of good bacteria, so as to help to protect against bad bacteria that can cause infections and disease) and optimal health, has infiltrated the mainstream. The ritual of popping of a pre or probiotic has become the very first step of millions’ morning routine, and the meteoric rise of fermented foods like kimchi, and drinks including kombucha and kefir are ‘living’ proof that more and more people are aware that, by maintaining the equilibrium of good bacteria in your gut, you’re better equipped to have a positive impact on the general wellness of your entire being.
Yet not as extensively-documented have the results of the project concerning skincare – and how it has forced the beauty industry’s approach to it – been shared. They recognize the skin, categorically, as an ecosystem: one that is made up, harmoniously, of cells and microbes (which outnumber our cells 10 to 1). In addition to our natural barrier of “skin”, we do indeed have another barrier: the layer of trillions of bacteria that exist as our second “alive” skin.
We call this the “skin microbiome” (also known as microflora) – and it is, undoubtedly, not only your skin’s but Beauty’s new best friend.
What Exactly Is The Skin Microbiome?
Intricate and diverse, the skin microbiome (the invisible community of microorganisms, including bacteria, found on the skin’s surface) is unique to each and every person, much like our fingerprints, or DNA. The skin microbiome is essential to the optimal functioning of your skin in that the good bacteria, first and foremost, protect the skin against bad bacteria that can cause infections, acne, inflammation, and other skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema (which are attributed to a lack of diversity in the skin microbiome). Think of it as a first line of defense: they keep the bad guys out, and, by maintaining peace and equilibrium, keeps skin happy, and healthy. It therefore is fair to say that this layer of microflora, or “friendly bacteria”, is our greatest ally to optimal skin health – and the beauty industry is finally waking up to this.
A Fundamental Change In Formulating Skincare
For decades, the thinking by most beauty brands was that the fastest way to achieve beautiful skin, and skin glow, was to use products that, with harsh chemicals and aggressive molecules, could accelerate skin renewal by stripping (and or exfoliating) the skin. Little did we know that anti-bacterial cleansers, many of which included soap and sulfates, not only strip the skin of its natural oils and change the skin’s natural pH (a big no-no), but also kill the microflora living on skin, which is essential to optimal skin health. The proof that this thinking was flawed is visible today: in an entire generation of people who suffer from inflamed skin, redness, sensitivity issues and therefore faster-aging skins. Which means? We have been doing it all the wrong way.
In understanding the crucial role our second skin, or microbiome, plays in skin health, we realize that it is far better to strengthen the skin rather than aggress it, or in any way to strip it of its natural barriers.
This means using gentler (yet effective), cleaner products that are enriched with prebiotics (to feed the healthy bacteria on our skin) in order to recover a stronger, and therefore more beautiful skin. In essence, this requires taking care of both our skin barriers, and understanding that the key to a stronger, healthier skin is by looking after our healthy bacteria, so that they can better fight aggressions such as UV, pollution, stress and fast ageing.
The Orveda Approach: Working With Your Skin, Not Against It
Orveda founder and CEO, Sue Y Nabi, says: “Orveda has been 100% developed to support the skin’s microbiome. We inspired ourselves with ancient wisdoms like Ayurveda that all promote the power of self-healing. This translates today in the modern world as the power of having healthy skin barriers – and a stronger, more beautiful skin. This is why our mantra is “works with your skin, not against it” as we are 100% focused on working with the skin, and its microflora, to activate healthy skin glow.
All our products contain a natural prebiotic (Alpha-Gucan Oligosaccharide) that has been clinically proven in its ability to protect and grow the numbers of healthy bacteria on skin. They also contain a healing Marine enzyme (Thermus Thermophillus Ferment) that is all about rebuilding skin barriers.
90% of our actives are bio-fermented actives that work in sync with skin’s healthy bacteria because they themselves come from bacteria and yeast.
Finally, Orveda boasts clean and gentle formulations, despite a very high level of actives. They do not include any alcohol (that kills friendly bacteria and strips the skin) nor harsh preservatives like parabens and phenoxyethanol that may disturb our healthy bacteria. We decidedly chose not to use irritant molecules that compromise the skin barriers that are essential to a healthy skin glow, and finally, we replaced all mineral oils with botanical oils as the latter tend to suffocate the skin. Plus, they are vegan.”