What Is Skin Microbiome?

As you may have noticed, well-established Korean Skincare brands including Innisfree and Laneige, have recently reinvented and reformulated some of their most loved skincare products now labelling them as ‘Microbiome’ or ‘biome’ skincare. This new found attention has lead to a common question: “What is skin microbiome?”. You'll be pleased to know that Microbiome skincare products are by far not a trend which will fleet with time, it’s a past scientific discovery that has now become the new norm among the skincare industry. So, if you’re wondering what is skin microbiome, let us tell you all about it.


Your skin is host to millions of skin-friendly living microorganisms, otherwise known as skin flora. In fact, there are more that 1,000 species of these symbiotic microorganisms living on human skin. As a collective these microorganisms make up what is known as skin Microbiome or Microbiota. In a sense, skin Microbiome works like a eco-system which cannot be seen by the naked eye. This eco-system creates a well-functioning environment for healthy bacteria to thrive in order to keep skin in good condition and balanced overall.

Interestingly not everyone’s skin microbiome is identical. There will be some elements of similarity in skin microbiome which we all have, whereas others are unique to you as an individual. Factors such as lifestyle, diet and genetics play a large role in the composition of a person’s skin microbiome. And numerous studies have suggested that different skin types have an influence on the make up of a person’s skin microbiome.


The simple answer is: our skin is the window to the inner body. Skin does a lot to shield us from external aggressors and free radicals, which is why we should do our best to conserve the healthy microorganisms on the surface of skin, protecting them from the invasion of more pathogenic and harmful organisms which we regularly come into contact with in our ever-changing surroundings. 

Being mindful about skin microbiome and promoting its natural functions starts with maintaining a balance of:

  • Sufficient hydration 

  • Delivering plenty of kind-to-skin nutrients

  • Using skincare products with a low to neutral pH level which closely matches that of skin’s natural acid mantle.

These provisions are key to the prevention of microbial imbalance. 


Now that we recognise the important roles of good bacteria on skin, countless skincare brands have formulated – and in some cases reformulated their long-time best-selling skincare products – to be more gentle on skin and in turn protective of skin flora. These products generally serve as a way to ‘feed’ or give back to the good bacteria, allowing optimal functionality.

Microbiome cosmetics typically favour probiotics, prebiotics and naturally derived plant extracts to ensure that skin stays balanced in order for the good bacteria to survive and properly function; i.e. produce essential skin lipids and nutrients to avoid a compromised skin barrier. By contributing nutrients, antioxidants and other energy sources to the good bacteria through the application of skincare products we can preserve the good bacteria, or restore it.

To think of this concept simply, we have to remember that our skin is an organ. Just alike our digestive systems our skin needs bacteria too. We consume probiotics, prebiotics, vitamins and other natural food sources to maintain a constant community of good bacteria to aid in the succession of natural bodily functions. And so we should do the same for our skin. Feed your skin with cultures to maintain what is already there, but would otherwise easily become disturbed without care and attention. 


As highlighted above, conserving skin microbiome is not a complex ordeal. Most of us already consciously and habitually impose measures to avoid the depletion of skin microbiome; for example using skin-balancing products. But what types of products does this involve exactly?...


Pro-biotic complexes – Products like the upgraded Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Ex and Laneige Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream for Normal to Dry skin, help to give you supple skin overnight. This new and improved formula of the cult favourite contains lactobacillus ferment lysate – the probiotic ingredient of lactic acid - and skin-barrier building ceramides to regulate skin’s immune system. Both of these key ingredients work as a pair to increase skin’s regenerative capacity, thus encouraging skin flora to do what they do best.

Laneige Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream

On the other hand, the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule uses a trio of lactobacillus containing peptides and Vitamin B12, Bifida ferment lysate and lactococcus to support the natural functions of skin microbiome, strengthens skin’s resistance to external influences, and increases skin elasticity and firmness. What makes this formula so unique is the double fermentation process it undergoes during creation to extract a higher concentration of fermented ingredients. This rigorous process also allows the active ingredients in the ampoule to easily be absorbed by skin. 


Gentle cleansers – Using gentle cleansers which do not dehydrate skin is the way forward to keeping skin microbiome in check. By eliminating the use of cleansers which are too acidic, too alkaline or abrasive by causing microdermabrasions, we prevent the creation of a breeding ground for unhealthy pathogens. It’s also just as important to not over cleanse. Whilst good hygiene is encouraged, and double cleansing is beneficial, there is a fine line between cleansing well and excessive cleansing. You should only be washing your face with facial cleansers once or twice per day. Even if you have oily skin do not increase the frequency of cleansing otherwise this puts stress on the good bacteria we want to embrace.


The Beauty of Joseon Green Plum Refreshing Cleanser is a perfect example of a low-foam gel cleanser that doesn’t have a negative impact on skin microbiome. What’s there not to like? – It’s weakly acidic, doesn’t strip skin of essential moisture and a pea-sized amount can create enough bubbles that minimise the risk of irritation. It’s also a simple way to get some antioxidants into your skincare routine. 


Beauty of Joseon Green Plum Refreshing Cleanser


Skin balancing toners – Similarly to why you should be using gentle cleansers with a low pH, you should also reach for toners that have a pH level of 5.0 to 6.5 at most. Remember, we want to mimic skin’s natural pH which is around 5.5 (mildly acidic). Nowadays, you don’t have to play the role of a chemist to find out the pH level of your skincare products. Most K-beauty brands clearly indicate the pH level of a product on the front of the product packaging. We highly recommend that you check out our popular Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water (which can be used as a toner or essence) to balance skin’s pH level, and introduce fermented ingredients early on in your skincare routine. It’s free from fragrance and is Vegan friendly. 

 Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water

Let’s discuss! What steps are you taking to protect good skin bacteria? Are there any particular products you use to achieve this?

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