2021 Wrapped: Microbiome-Friendly Skincare Takes Over

Microbiome skincare goes against everything we’ve been taught to do with our skin. Since they started populating the shelves, skincare products have focused on helping us to achieve perfection. “Ageless” beauty standards have taught us to over-exfoliate our imperfections away, use harsh pore-perfecting products that do more damage than good, or even to cleanse with “squeaky clean” skin-stripping facial washes. Microbiome skincare is different in that it focuses on using gentler products that work with the skin, rather than damaging your skin barrier with harsh products in search of flawless, unobtainable skin. Microbiome skincare emphasizes that the goal is not perfection — but rather to repair, restore balance and achieve optimal skin health. Fortifying your microbiome with ingredients that repair and restore the skin's barrier will result in stronger, healthier, and more resilient skin. When skin is strong, healthy and resilient — it becomes less prone to all of the major skin problems commonly seen today: sensitized skin, acne/breakouts, rosacea, dry skin and even premature skin aging. When the goal shifts from achieving perfection, to achieving a strong and healthy skin barrier, the skin’s microbiome will have less of these problems that required the harsher products to fix them in the first place. When skin is healthy, it is better equipped to withstand the airborne impurities, environmental pollution, internal stress, strong skincare products and long-term face mask wearing it endures on a daily basis. When skin is able to function at its best, it can do all the things we really want it to do — like keep moisture in and bacteria out, produce collagen at optimal rates, and heal quickly from the odd breakout or flare-up.


Both 2020 & 2021 saw a sharp increase in the sheer amount of probiotic skincare available to purchase in the beauty community, with one buzzword in particular gaining major traction across the globe — microbiome. Looking at just last year, Google searches for the buzzword skyrocketed. In fact, in 2020 alone, the word was Googled almost 10,000 times every month. 2021 saw a continued surge in microbiome-related product releases across a multitude of different skincare brands. But what exactly is the microbiome? And what role does it play in our skin health? Before we delve deep into the importance of the microbiome, we have to break down the intricacies of probiotics and skin health. 


It is important to clarify that probiotic skincare is more of a movement than it is a trend. In recent years, you may have learned of pre & probiotics in relation to maintaining optimal gut health. I know, not exactly the most glamorous topic to discuss — but did you know that the same principles apply to pre/probiotics in skincare? Just like in the gut, prebiotics & probiotics could indeed be beneficial for stressed out skin that is feeling off kilter. Sounds amazing, right? Well… it’s slightly trickier than running to your fridge and pouring a whole Yakult down your face. Much like Vitamin C, probiotic skincare is highly unstable in formulation, and it’s difficult for beauty companies to provide high-potency products that can also be preserved for a long enough shelf-life. This is why it has become increasingly important for beauty consumers to do their due-diligence so that they can ensure they are using science-backed, stabilized skincare products formulated to help them achieve real results. Choosing a brand that you can trust to provide you with these potent yet stable formulations has become paramount to the conscious beauty consumer — and is often not very straightforward. The last thing they want is to be spending their hard-earned money on a product with an improper formulation that is rendered useless when applied to their skin. What a waste!


We’ve established how beneficial probiotic skincare can be to the skin’s microbiome, but what exactly is the microbiome? “The skin microbiome is the billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that comprise the skin microbiota,” says New York dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, who recently attended Paris’ Microbiome Summit for doctors and microbiologists. “The human skin has 1 billion microbes (bacteria) per square centimeter and that natural bacteria maintains the skin’s immunity and prevents pathogenic growths like atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis.” When a healthy composition of microorganisms and bacteria on the skin is disturbed, Dr. Nussbaum says, the skin becomes vulnerable to an overgrowth in pathogenic bacteria, increased inflammation, and an altered skin pH. Essentially, the more strains of bacteria you have, the healthier your skin is.


But what causes the skin to be disturbed? Doctors and scientists most often attribute a compromised skin barrier (dysbiosis) to harsh hygiene practices (like over-exfoliation and lathering soaps with antibacterial properties), the use of topical antibiotics, and evolution. The result of having a disrupted microbiome? Bacterial and fungal skin rashes like eczema, psoriasis, perioral dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), pityrosporum folliculitis (pesky bumps on the chest and forehead), tinea versicolor, and acne — just to name a few! A recent social phenomena has resulted in an extremely fast-growing cause of dysbiosis: frequent mask wearing for long hours. The abrasion a PPE mask creates against your sensitive facial skin has seen many adults developing abnormal skin conditions in 2020-21 that they had never experienced previously. Now more than ever it is important to strengthen our skin’s microbiome in order to best prepare it for the various aggressors it deals with on a daily basis. 


In a rapidly-evolving world in the midst of a pandemic, beauty consumer attitudes have no choice but to shift. Research indicates that educated beauty consumers are more conscious about shielding themselves from airborne pathogens than ever before. One of the best ways to help prepare your skin for combat with these aggressors is to ensure that your skin’s microbiome is as healthy as it can be. Adding good bacteria back into your skin's microbiome, as well as using gentle products to help maintain its balance, seems to be essential in achieving optimal skin health. In August 2021, Shielded Beauty released a 6-product collection formulated to repair and restore your skin’s microbiome. Enriched with a patent-pending Guardian Complex™ — containing potent antioxidants, nourishing hydrators, gentle actives and natural compounds known to contain antimicrobial activity — never before seen in skincare. The Independent Innovation Awards Program’s Microbiome Skincare Product of the Year 2021 was awarded to Shielded’s Self Defense Super-Charged Moisturizer after being recognized for its innovative, skin-strengthening ingredients. Shielded Beauty’s microbiome-friendly collection includes a prebiotic cleanser, a probiotic night serum, skin-restoring moisturizers and a purifying mist, all of which work in harmony to rebalance, strengthen and protect the skin’s barrier. 


After the events of the past two years, all aspects of health have been brought into focus — and that includes the health of our skin. As we start to learn, understand, and appreciate our skin’s inherent strength and resilience — it seems almost unnatural to use products that fight to work against it. Your skin’s microbiome needs to be nurtured so that it can provide you with the best possible protection against what threatens it. Using ingredients in your skincare products that are scientifically-proven to defend your skin against free radical damage can dramatically impact your skin’s strength and resilience, as well as boost its ability to defend itself. Allow Shielded Beauty to do the hard work for you, by providing you with the products you need to help replenish your skin with good bacteria & restore the balance within your microbiome. In the midst of a global pandemic, there has never been a better time to start nurturing, strengthening and safeguarding your skin. Check out the microbiome-friendly collection here.