Find out here why you should now use a technique from nature conservation for your skin - and why (species) diversity is also important for our face.
The "rewilding" technique comes from nature conservation and can help you in the fight against acne or other chronic skin diseases and bring your skin into balance.
"Rewilding" stands for the effort to restore nature (and all of its ecosystems) to the point where it can take care of itself again. "Rewilding" has already achieved success in increasing biodiversity and reducing the effects of climate change. But forget what's out there. Today we're talking about rewilding your skin, a technique that is just as good for your face as nature conservation is for the environment.
"Rewilding" the skin is about promoting the skin's own microbiota - millions of powerful bacteria that protect and nourish our skin. "For the past two million years, people have lived in close contact with nature," explains Trevor Steyn, founder of the probiotic skincare brand Esse. "This way of life brought a large number of very different microbes into contact with the skin every day. If you look at hunter-gatherer communities today, there are really good studies that show that acne rates are very low, for example - under 2 percent - and in really remote communities there are none at all. If you compare that to us, humans who lead modern lifestyles, teenagers have an 85 percent chance of getting acne."
We have lost touch with nature, living a life full of stress, screens, and pollution, which has increased skin diseases as a result. It's not just acne. Chronic skin diseases like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis are also on the rise - and while we are looking for the right skincare product or drug, many of us overlook our own skin microbiome.
When the microbiome is rich, diverse, and healthy, the skin has a much greater chance of fighting off skin problems. Steyn compares the skin to a wheat field. When there is only one variety of wheat, the ecosystem and diversity are low, and the field requires constant intervention - fertilizing, weeding, and tending to the monoculture - to remain stable and weed-free. A highly diverse forest ecosystem, on the other hand, would be able to block the path of a weed seed because the niches in the ecosystem are occupied.
"It's similar on the skin," he says. "If you decimate the diversity of your skin microbiome, you might only have one or two dominant species, which means that if it ended up in a monoculture, you could now very easily be occupied by a [nasty] pathogenic microbe like Staphylococcus aureus, it could easily establish itself and start causing eczema, "he says.
Decimation can be done in a number of ways, one of the most prominent being the overuse of our skin from aggressive skincare regimens. "The microbiome is formed by a primary source of nutrients, namely sebum, the natural oil on our skin," explains Steyn, pointing out that we tend to eliminate all traces of oil on our skin - to their detriment. He also points out that by looking at the skin microbiome (which is unique to each individual) one can actually predict when acne will occur due to a shift in the diversity of microflora.
The first thing to look out for are signs of inflammation, such as redness, tenderness, and itching, explains Marie Drago, who founded the pre-and probiotic skincare brand Gallinée. "Those who suffer from acne and eczema are often infected with a 'bad' bacterium." The good news is that when our microbiome is out of order, we can help it recover.
"The nice thing is that although you are tied to genes, the skin's own microbiome can be changed at any time," continues Drago. “A scientist recently told me that anything you eat or put on your skin can help restore a healthy microbiome. While much of your microbiome is set in the first three years of your life, there really is something you can do at any time to improve it by maintaining it daily. "
Our gut and skin health are linked, which means that everything we put into our bodies is reflected on the outside. Drago recommends a varied and balanced diet that contains a lot of fiber and fermented foods. "Try to eat 30 different plants a week and supplement them with probiotics that are specifically targeted at the gut-skin connection," she says. There is a lot of research showing that taking an oral probiotic improves the skin's barrier function throughout the body - the stronger it is, the better the skin's condition.
In order not to further burden the microbiome, you should not wash your skin excessively often. While regular hand washing is essential right now, skipping a shower isn't a huge problem - and, according to Drago, your skin will thank you for it. Steyn also believes that we should rethink the popular notion that sebum is the enemy. "It is the highest human arrogance to believe that the solutions we devise (i.e., strip the skin and then rebuild it with a product) surpass two million years of evolution," he says. "When thinking about cleansing, we have to consider how little we need to do to remove color cosmetics and keep as much of the skin's barrier function intact as possible, as well as the skin's natural oils." Both experts advise using gentle products and those that do not contain harsh foaming agents and surfactants such as sodium Laureth sulfate.
The natural oils that the skin produces are important in nourishing the skin microbiome. For this reason, a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is important for good skin health. In addition to eating lots of fresh fish, eggs, and seeds, you can also take nutritional supplements such as the “OMG! Omega The Great ”by Hum Nutrition.
We all know the benefits of outdoor exercise for our mental and physical health, but it also works wonders for our microbiome. Steyn says that it's about recreating the conditions under which we humans developed. "Every day I go to the garden or do something outside and I think that's really crucial. We can try to mimic the diversity of nature with skincare, but it's not that easy."
"Pre-, post-, and probiotics can really help to rebuild the skin barrier and bring the diversity in the skin into balance," says Drago. "Probiotics are another name for good bacteria, but we not only have to bring new bacteria to the skin, but we also have to nourish those that are already there and already part of our microbiome. That is the role of prebiotics."
Postbiotics, in turn, are there to create the best environment for your resident bacteria. "They are the products of good bacteria and have a positive effect on the microbiome." A post-biotic ingredient is a lactic acid, which among other things helps to exfoliate and moisturize the skin.