Microbiome Beauty: The Bacteria You Never Knew Your Skin Needed

Possibly the biggest skincare trend for 2020, microbiome beauty is your ticket to your best (read: healthiest) complexion yet.

By | January 11, 2021

Micro-what? Between wiggly eyebrows and glitter roots, there are some rather odd beauty trends out there. To be fair, most of these (literally) hair-raising trends are purely cosmetic, with little to no effect on your body’s largest organ—your skin. So then, what’s this big new thing about “feeding” your skin’s bacteria?

A skincare trend that’s over a decade in the making, microbiome skincare has likely made a foray onto your beauty bureau without you realising it. And unless you’re familiar with the science of skin, you likely won’t understand what a microbiome is in the first place. Let us elucidate.

The little guys

Although you can’t see it, your skin is home to an ecosystem of billions of teeny tiny microflora called the microbiome. This is a community of friendly microorganisms which form a living layer that protects you. So don’t try to get rid of these good bacteria. If anything, you’ve got to “feed” them. 

Research has shown that a thriving microbiome equates to a healthy, strengthened complexion. Growing up, we’d always hear that Vitagen—that childhood probiotic drink—jingle telling us to take a swig of the sweet stuff for a healthy gut. It’s been known for years that the microbiome in your gut contributes to your body’s overall immunity – so much so that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the gut is known as the second brain, for that’s where “trauma” is stored. Long story short: a healthy tummy means a healthy body. Thankfully, we now know that there’s a microbiome on our faces, too. 

There’s a community of friendly microorganisms living on your skin. Photograph: Kamila Maciejewska/Unsplash

In a nutshell, microbiome skincare is prebiotics and probiotics for your skin. A few additions of prebiotic- or probiotic-loaded ingredients will complement any existing skincare routine greatly. Think of it this way—your cleanser prepares your skin, serums treat specific issues/concerns, and your moisturisers form a protective barrier. Adding products aimed at enhancing your skin’s microbiome is similar to giving your body a boost of vitamins. Or that Vitagen. 

A new routine

Here’s a bonus to help convince you: Studies have shown that happy skin with a healthy microbiome soaks up more nutrients. We’ve rounded up a few products to help get you started on your journey to a healthier, happier, stronger, better complexion: 

Tata Harper Purifying Gel Cleanser

Tata Harper Purifying Gel Cleanser, RM318 (125ml) and RM163 (50ml) 

Arguably the most important part of any skincare regimen, make cleansing your face an absolute pleasure for both you and your microbiome with this gentle gel cleanser. Chockfull of Broccoli Extract, Papaya Enzymes, and Purple Clay Complex, this face wash has a natural enzymatic anti-pollution effect. Use day and night. Buy it here

Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence

Fresh Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence, RM306

A must after cleansing and before serum, using an essence preps the skin for all the goodness of your skincare routine to come. However, a treatment essence loaded with antioxidant-rich kombucha just ups the ante. By first feeding your complexion’s microbiome, you’re going to see a marked improvement in your skincare’s penetration, and of course in your skin overall. Use day and night. Buy it here.

Gallinee Youhful Serum

Gallinée Youthful Serum, RM275

Featuring what the brand touts as, “a cocktail of innovative bacteria”, this anti-ageing serum contains prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic ingredients. It even increases hydration by a whopping 62% for up to eight hours after use. Of course, hydrated skin means more radiant skin too – something all of us so desire. Use day and night. Buy it here

Saturday Skin Pretty Pop Probiotic Power Whipped Cream

Saturday Skin Pretty Pop Probiotic Power Whipped Cream, RM189

Featuring both prebiotic and probiotic ingredients, this lush-yet-lightweight face cream boosts skin health and radiance with its probiotics while its prebiotics supercharges the probiotic infusion. Use day and night. Buy it here

B&B Labs CustoMask

B&B Labs CustoMask, RM175 (box of seven) or RM30 (per sheet)

The good people at B&B Labs realise that all skin isn’t created equal and that you need skincare as unique as you are. That’s why they created CustoMask – the world’s first customisable microbiome sheet mask. First, the AI Skin Assessment will determine which one of 12 customised solutions is right for you, giving your skin precisely what it needs. While all the masks are unique, they do, however, all feature Ecology Plus+. This is the brand’s blend of certified advanced prebiotic ingredients – Biolin, Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera, Mangosteen Extract, and Durian Extract. Use every day for a week, followed by once weekly. Buy it here

Tengku Zai

Tengku Zai

Kuzai, as she's known in inner circles, has been in publishing for well over a decade, managing the beauty sections of Elle and Harper’s Bazaar Malaysia. The mother-of-one and wannabe runner also suffers from an extreme case of wanderlust and really just works to eat, shop, travel, and support her cheese addiction.