How to Restore Your Skin Microbiome for Acne-Prone Skin

by Hannah Burnstein


If someone told you there are trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites living on and within your skin, how would you feel? You might be disgusted beyond belief, or you might know about the skin microbiome, a collection of healthy and harmful microorganisms that live on your body and influence skin health.

Why is it important for the skin microbiome to stay balanced?
This microbiome, when it’s healthy and nourished, is a vital part of your protective barrier: it crowds out acne-causing bacteria, defends against environmental aggressors, and aids in wound healing. But, when these neighborhoods of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes are cleared out, your skin barrier can be compromised, which leads to harmful germs taking over—basically, more breakouts, dryness, and irritation. That’s why it’s important to maintain microbiome balance by consistently using the right mix of pre, post, and probiotics. Duh! But how can you turn those words into action? Our new skin barrier superhero, CUSHION CLEANSE, is here to help—but we’ll get to that later.


What is the skin microbiome?

As mentioned before, the skin microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms that reside on the surface of the skin and around the upper parts of hair follicles. Different areas of the body harbor different types of microorganisms: it all depends on light exposure and whether that area is oily, hairy, moist or dry. Sounds weird, right? It is! Even though the skin microbiome is ostensibly on the surface of the skin, its influence extends to the inner body. Research has found that bacteria, skin cells, and immune cells communicate with each other extensively. These interactions help to reinforce and repair the skin barrier, defend against infection, and lessen inflammation. Basically, a balanced skin microbiome benefits both external and internal health.


Pre/post/probiotics and their influence on the skin microbiome

Not unlike the harmonious theory brought to us by the Lion King, the relationship between prebiotics, postbiotics, and probiotics really is a circle of life. It all starts with prebiotics, which serve as food for the good bacteria—the probiotics—in the microbiome. Then, we have the good guys themselves: probiotics regenerate good flora that neutralize harmful ones to keep things balanced within the microbiome. As probiotics do their thing, they secrete beneficial nutrients as a byproduct. These nutrients are called postbiotics, and can range from vitamins B and K to antimicrobial peptides. A postbiotic’s benefit depends on its type, but some slow down the growth of bacteria, while others help healthy germs flourish in the microbiome. All this, invisible to the naked eye!


How does a balanced, healthy skin microbiome help acne?

If you’ve looked into gut health, you might already be familiar with pre/post/probiotics. But you might not know that they hold great benefits for the topical skin microbiome too! As fate may have it, flora can be both good and bad: ‘bad’ inflammatory bacteria within the microbiome is one of the root causes of acne. When you add good bacteria—probiotics—to the mix, they make antibacterial proteins, causing acne-causing flora to die off. Accordingly, it’s really important that there are enough probiotics in the microbiome to ward off the bad guys and *thus* banish acne. This is where prebiotics come in: they can be applied directly to the skin to selectively increase the activity and growth of beneficial, ‘normal’ skin flora. And we can’t forget about postbiotics, of course—they’re one of the reasons probiotics are so buzzy in the first place. As probiotics consume prebiotics, they produce postbiotics that continue to balance the skin microbiome. For example, a single type of probiotic (Lactobacillales, to be exact) can produce a ton of postbiotic goodies that serve as building blocks and nutrients for the skin, like oligopeptides-5 through 13 and short-chain fatty acids.


How to restore the skin microbiome with CUSHION CLEANSE

For acne-prone skin types in particular, caring for the skin microbiome is key to calming the skin and clearing breakouts. This involves nurturing good flora and avoiding harsh products to wipe that flora out. By now, this is common knowledge! So then why oh whyyyy do most acne facial cleansers strip instead of nourish, leaving the skin with no defense system when acne-causing microorganisms come knocking? Don’t ask us—we’ve seen the ingredients that many harsh cleansers have to offer, and we’re decidedly uninterested! When we designed CUSHION CLEANSE acne facial cleanser, we wanted to hit the sweet spot between deeply cleansing the skin and nourishing the microbiome. To do that, we included gentle surfactants alongside prebiotics in the form of Arctic raspberry. These zesty (and powerful!) berries are the catalyst for probiotic formation, helping to vanquish bad flora, proliferate good flora and reinforce the skin microbiome as a whole. Our heavy-hitting prebiotic selectively supports beneficial microbiota, encouraging them to flourish and crowd out acne-causing bacteria. The result? A balancing face wash for acne-prone skin that blocks current breakouts and prevents new ones from forming. Finally, a gentle-yet-effective balancing face wash that actually cares about your skin. The future is now!