Ever since I first learned about the microbiome and the role it plays in the health and beauty of our skin, I have been obsessed with learning more. I’ve used products (Mother Dirt is a particular fave), perused various sites online, researched ingredients that are considered “skin microbiome friendly”, and read a few books on the subject as well.
The most recent book I’ve been reading (and can’t seem to put down) is “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” by Dr. Whitney Bowe. Dr. Bowe is not only an internationally renowned dermatologist and scientist, but she has helped to pioneer the research on the “gut-brain-skin axis” – the relationship between the body’s “good” bugs and the brain and the skin. She focuses on the microbiome and how these trillions of microorganisms “speak” to your skin via the brain and how sleep, stress, diet, and gastrointestinal health can affect the health of your skin.
There were honestly so many interesting points made in this book, that it’s difficult for me to narrow down which to highlight and share!
But I’ll try anyway…:-)
- We are walking eco-systems – Our bodies are home to trillions of microbial organisms (mostly bacteria) that inhabit both our insides and outside. These microorganisms, when in balance, work to keep us and our skin healthy. When out of balance, disease and skin issues can result. This book delves deep into the relationship between these microbes and our health and the health of our skin.
- Skin can get stressed out! In the 1930’s, two dermatologists had suggested the relationship between gut health and skin health – particularly how the gut affects one’s emotional and psychological states which in turn could have an effect on the skin. Since then, more studies have been conducted showing the association between chronic skin conditions and mental health disorders, focusing on the idea that intestinal microflora, inflammatory skin issues, and mental/emotional issues such as depression are all physiologically connected. If you think about it, it makes sense – have you ever been really stressed out about something and then have your skin break out? This is something I seem to deal with a lot! I also notice my skin being more reactive when I have PMS as well – when my emotions are all over and I tend to experience chronic depression and anxiety. I guess I really need to focus on some serious stress management!
- Probiotics are key to skin health – Most people know by now that probiotics are important for good digestive health, but did you know that they are equally important for your skin? Certain strains of probiotics can not only help skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, redness, dryness, and eczema but can also help to slow down aging as well! There is mounting evidence that shows the power of topically applied probiotics and how it protects skin from damaging and aging elements such as UV radiation. Interestingly, it turns out that probiotics produce substances that not only have an antibiotic effect, but also have antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. These good bugs may also help to promote collagen, increase skin hydration and improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles!
- You are what you eat – It’s really not a secret that what we put into our bodies can have a direct effect on our skin. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop many of us from eating things we shouldn’t (like that third or fifth slice of pizza). By sticking to a diet that is rich in whole foods – fruits, veggies, good fats, as well as both pre and probiotic-rich foods, and limiting (or eliminating) foods that are processed, high in sugar and refined carbs, dairy and other inflammatory foods, your skin (and body) will look healthier and more radiant. Pass the kale, please!
- Be gentle with your skin – Over cleansing, using harsh cleansers and over exfoliating can do more harm than good – stripping away precious oils and killing off the good bacteria your skin needs. The goal is to find products that will satisfy your needs as well as nurture those good bugs. One of my favorite brands (as I’ve mentioned above) is Mother Dirt – they offer everything you need to get clean, but won’t disrupt those good bugs! My particular favorite product of theirs is their AO+ Mist!
This book also very conveniently includes a 3-week plan to get the “Bowe Glow” that includes a very easy to follow low glycemic diet (with grocery list and recipes), exercise plan, and skin care regimen (with some DIY recipes too!). I’ll be honest, I’m not the best when it comes to following any kind of plan – it usually ends with me derailed part way through! But if following this will help my skin to be healthier and look even a tiny bit as good as Dr. Bowe’s – I mean, come on, how is she even real? Her skin is perrrrfection! I am so on board with this!
Since reading this book, I’ve become a huge fan of Dr. Bowe, and have spent a lot of time on her website (that doesn’t sound too stalkerish I hope!). One of my favorite parts of her site (besides the videos, which are super informative) is her “Dr. Whitney’s Picks” where she recommends products to help your health and skin flourish.
One of her picks is one that I have actually been using called “Heliocare“.
Heliocare is a supplement made from a specialized extract of Polypodium leucotomos (PLE), a fern that is native to South and Central America and has been used for centuries as a remedy for various skin conditions. The antioxidants found in this plant help to protect your skin from UV induced inflammation and free radicals (including the blue light emitted from the screens of our electronic devices!). Because the primary use for Heliocare is to offer an extra layer of protection for your skin against UV damage & its aging effects on your skin, I made sure to take it every day, before working on my computer and before leaving the house (of course I still made sure to use a sunscreen!). Unfortunately, the weather here hasn’t been very consistent so I was never able to truly test the sun protection claim. However, I did notice my skin behaving a bit better, so at least I know the antioxidants were working in my skin’s favor! 🙂 I definitely will be purchasing another bottle to have on hand once the weather is finally less snowy and dreary!
One pill in the morning is all it takes to protect you all day and again, though it’s not a substitute for sunscreen, it does work synergistically with it. 🙂 $27.99 (Amazon)
Are you guys ready to get your Bowe Glow on? Let me know if you pick up this book and we can do a Bowe Glow challenge! 😉
Read more about Dr. Bowe here
Peace & love,
*Book and supplement were kindly sent to me for review consideration. All thoughts are my own. Photos were taken by and are property of TBE – do not use without permission.