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Skin Microbiome 101

We at The Skin Consult are SO excited to introduce you to our newest TSC Verified brand – Symbiome! It’s no secret that overtime, the symbiosis of our natural world has been disrupted. Symbiome uses science to bridge the gap between our past and our future- – to identify what our skin is missing. And, science allows for the creation of formulas that replenish, naturally, what we have lost.

“Everything we do at Symbiome is a reflection of our deep commitment to simple yet effective skincare inspired by the ancestral microbiome, enabled by rigorous scientific research and formulated to restore our lost skin health.”

We recently had the privilege of sitting down with the Symbiome to further discuss what’s at the center of the brand’s mission: restoring and re-balancing the microbiome.

So, what even is the microbiome?

Although you can’t see or feel it, your skin microbiome is as much “you” as the skin that you can see and feel. It is a complex and diverse microbial ecosystem that is deeply engrafted into your skin and serves as your first line of defense. Two of the most important functions of your skin microbiome are “colonization resistance” and “immune modulation.”  Colonization resistance is like your skin’s security guard. It is how your skin microbiome prevents potential invaders from gaining a foothold that might cause disease. Immune modulation is the coordination between your microbiome and your immune system to regulate the intensity of your immune response to invading microbes, stress, and pollution.  It is your security guard’s backup team, in case things get rough. Together, your microbiome and your immune system synchronize their efforts to serve as your skin’s peacekeepers to prevent infection and inflammation.

Our skin microbiome is also responsible for a number of health-regulating functions. It protects your skin from infection, UV damage, and premature aging, and enhances skin barrier function — reducing the potential for breakouts, acne, eczema, and other problems associated with dry or sensitive skin. It maintains your skin’s optimal pH, fights off free radicals, accelerates healing, and produces essential nutrients, vitamins, and biomolecules.

Symbiome’s research into the evolutionary biology of the skin microbiome has revealed that our modern skin microbiome has lost almost 80% of the diversity and at least 25% of the metabolic function. Our skin used to be blanketed in a rich biofilm of microbes that harmonized our skin with the environment, protected us from UV and oxidative stress, and nourished our skin with a rich ferment of essential nutrients. Unfortunately, because we live a modern lifestyle in an industrialized environment, we have literally washed away our biofilm blanket. Without this protection and nutrition from this biofilm blanket our skin is rusting (oxidizing) and starving.  Fortunately, Symbiome research has found a way to bridge this gap and restore much of the contribution of the missing biofilm blanket.


How can I keep it in check?

In general your microbiome is resilient and will tend to rebalance itself.  By the time we reach puberty, the community of microbes that make up our skin microbiome is locked in but the relative abundance of the community members may change as we age and in response to changes in our diet, skincare, and lifestyle.  Skincare products or routines that alter the community balance may stress the microbiome and can trigger problems.   For this reason, your skincare routine should be thoughtful, considered, and intentional.  In general, less is more both in terms of the number of skincare products that you use and number of ingredients in those products.

Symbiome products are minimally formulated from biologically intact ingredients that are natural ferments of sustainably harvested rainforest botanicals.  These ingredients are blended to restore the protection and metabolic support that we have lost.  They supplement the skin with the essential nutrients, vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants (a.k.a. metabolites) that had historically been produced by the missing microbes.  The result is healthy, resilient and beautiful skin.


What should I avoid so as not to damage the microbiome? What could be beneficial?

Your skin microbiome is constantly exposed to a vast array of pollutants, environmental chemicals, harsh cleansers, exfoliants, and cosmetics. Your skincare regimen alone could be exposing your skin microbiome to hundreds of individual chemical ingredients every day. We know very little about the short or long term consequences of this exposure on our skin and our skin microbiome.

Most skincare products today are mixtures of individual (often “buzzy”) ingredients formulated to fix the appearance of specific skin problems much in the same way that medications are formulated to treat diseases. This approach doesn’t address the important question of why there are so many skin problems and diseases in the first place. Symbiome is the first skincare brand to formulate products that restore our skin’s natural resilience so that these problems are much less likely to occur. After years of research into the evolutionary biology of the ancestral skin microbiome, Symbiome scientists discovered that we have lost most of the ancestral microbiome that protected and nourished our skin. Based on our research, Symbiome’s products are minimally formulated with fermented organic botanical postbiotics that we call postbiomics.  Our postbiomic ingredients are sustainably derived from the Amazon rainforest to restore the functional contribution of the microbes that we have lost in the modern world.


Symbiome’s Postbiomic fermentation process takes place in the Caatinga Biome in Brazil, where sustainably harvested Amazon rainforest plants are naturally fermented with microbes derived from the plant’s microbiome. Because these plants and their microbes co-evolved together over millions of years, our Postbiomic fermentation is optimized to unlock the maximum benefit and potency from these ancient biological relationships. The fermentation typically takes weeks but can take longer, depending on the product. The ingredients are then formulated and packaged in California.


Shop Symbiome’s products by clicking here!

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