Aparrna is a senior beauty editor with 15+ yrs of experience in the beauty and wellness industry. Her articles have been featured in Vogue India, Harper’s Bazaar India, Good Housekeeping, Femina, Lifestyle Asia and L'Officiel India.
(Originally appeared in Lifestyle Asia)
Do you wonder why your skin refuses to brighten and clear up despite you diligently following the CTM routine? Why it’s still too greasy or too dry despite you regularly applying a serum and mask? The answer lies in bacteria.
We are preconditioned to believe that bacteria is a bad word, and so we are on a perpetual quest to keep our spaces, bodies, and skin free of it. However, modern research is pointing to what was documented in most ancient wellness systems, including Ayurveda, that beauty is an inside job. And bacteria, mold, fungi – microbiomes – all have a major role in keeping us healthy and giving us a glowing complexion.
Follow that gut feeling
“We are what we eat, literally. You keep the trillion-strong gastrointestinal organisms in balance, and your skin will have no option but to glow,” says Pooja Makhija, nutritionist to Bollywood A-listers. According to her, microbiomes – the rainforest of diverse organisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses in and on our bodies – are the new frontier of medicine that determine what type of diseases you will have, what your mood will be, and even how your skin will look. If you are battling dull-looking skin, blemishes, and are erupting into breakouts, it is an indicator of something amiss within.
New York-based dermatologist, Whitney Bowe, in her book ‘The Beauty of Dirty Skin’ points out that the answer to persistent acne could lie in a gut-changing diet. For a glowing complexion, Makhija recommends cutting down on sugar, processed foods, foods with preservatives, additives, and colourings, which are known to cause inflammation in the gut. Also ensure that your body gets its dose of probiotics through natural sources or through supplements.
Why earth-derived ingredients are better
“Healthier microbiome can be achieved by using skincare that is gentle, rich in nutrients, low on harsh preservatives, contain oils/ herbs that also serve a prebiotic function. It is also very dependent on maintaining the right sebum/ oil levels, hydration of the skin, and keeping the skin barrier intact,” reasons Prasanthy Gurugubelli, founder Daughter Earth, one of the latest natural, clean beauty brands creating a buzz among conscious beauty customers.
Daughter Earth‘s line of skincare essentials is specifically designed to not interfere with the body’s natural biome; every product here goes through stringent dermatologist-testing.
“We are not formulating something to simply remove the symptom on the skin by altering skin’s structure,” she adds. Gurugubelli struggled with acne and breakouts for a decade, even resorting to DIY tricks before she found relief through Ayurveda. Ayurveda lists many biomimetic botanical ingredients, which support the natural healing function of the skin by providing it with the best nutrition and in a safe format but without altering the skin’s structure or processes.
Looking for biome-friendly skincare? Explore Now
Gurugubelli also supports the use of oils to maintain the skin’s ecosystem versus water-based formulations. “Water evaporates whereas oils are better absorbed.” But what about oils clogging oily skin? She insists there are oils for everyone. “Unlike coconut oil, which has a tendency to clog the pores, jojoba, seabuckthorn, avocado, and rice-bran are easily absorbed in the body’s circulatory system as their structure is similar to that of the skin sebum.”
See how face oils can treat acne-prone skin >>>
Any disruptions in your skincare routine and lifestyle can disrupt your skin’s ecosystem. If something as simple as a hot shower can do this, (which is why most experts insist on tepid water showers) imagine how the use of harsh chemicals will impact it. Hand sanitisers, harsh cleansers, soaps, body washes, or even alcohol, fragrance can cause more damage than meets the eye. Preservatives, by nature, are meant to keep bacteria and fungi away. Skincare laden with synthetic preservatives mess up with the good bacteria on the skin as well. And in the long run, with continued use, an imbalanced skin microbiome results in worsened acne, dermatitis, or psoriasis.
(Active Botanical Face Wash is a gentle, pH balanced and hydrating cleanser that is biome-friendly.)
So it is heartening to see the skincare market exploding with more natural, clean, and food-standard ingredients. The general perception is anything that is naturally-occurring is more environmentally-friendly and safer for the skin. However, it is not just because of the ‘wellness’ aspects that green beauty is fast gaining a large market share; it also has to do with the acceptability of these ingredients by the skin. An anti-ageing specialist, and dermatologist Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, founder and medical director, ISAAC, agrees that ‘going green’ is more than a passing trend as anything that is natural/organic has more chances of agreeing with your skin.