A catastrophic microbial diversity loss observed in the human gut microbiome in developed countries has been attributed to exposure to Western world practices. Consequently, there has been a rapid increase in food allergies in the last 75 years. The same applies for skin allergies, where the rate of deterioration has accelerated in the past 5–10 years, leading to some labelling it a skin allergy epidemic.
Multiple environmental factors are suggested to be contributing to this, but it has been increasingly linked to synthetic additives in cosmetics. The exposure of normal, Western skin to twenty-first-century cosmetics, soap, antibiotics, steroids and showering/washing, does appear to have altered the natural microbiota environment of humans, especially in the developed world. Natural ingredients, in the proportions found in nature, are not seen as “alien” to the skin’s natural environment unlike synthetic ingredients, which humans have only encountered in the last 60 years of their 200,000 years of existence. This alteration, in many cases, has been linked to increased susceptibility to disease and infection. Research into the skin microbiome lags far behind that of the gut, where it is common knowledge that unbalanced, non-diverse gut flora is causally linked with many health problems. Preservation and encouragement, not destruction, of the intestinal microflora is now known to be essential for overall health. The crucial role that the skin plays in overall health is only just being realised
The introduction of 20th Century cosmetic products has led to the alteration of the skin’s natural condition and the break down of its defences.
This has resulted in a skin allergy epidemic, with a 500% increase in Children’s skin allergies and ailments, especially dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
And the most disturbing aspect of this skin allergy epidemic is that the rate of this deterioration has increased markedly in the past 5-10 years.
Two seminal research papers have started to prove the link between regular exposure to synthetic ingredients and ill health
“When it comes to healthy skin, microbial biodiversity is everything” – that was the conclusion of our first seminal published paper on the skin microbiome.
The reason that these findings on the relationship between high biodiversity and skin health are so crucial is because, for the first time, it allows us to address a fundamental question: “Are modern cosmetics a cause of the skin allergy epidemic?”
The 2017 research showed a dramatic decline in the levels of Western skin biodiversity when compared to remote South America peoples uncontacted with Western culture.
This so-called ‘Caveman’ skin, untouched by modern civilisation, was far different to Western skin and displayed unprecedented levels of bacterial diversity. Skin diversity was higher in communities that were less exposed to Western practices, which demonstrates that environmental factors are linked to damaged skin in developed countries.
For the first time, clinical trials have shown how regular use of everyday cosmetics damages the skin, repressing the microbiome and de-moisturising the skin.
Working in partnership with the Medical University of Graz, we are involved in an ongoing study to determine whether everyday cosmetics really are behind the enormous rise in skin allergy problems in the western world.
The trials show how high street cosmetics appear to maintain the depleted western microbiome, while third wave microbiome friendly products like JooMo greatly increase skin microbiome biodiversity (biodiversity being the definitive measure of skin health).
Everyday cosmetics were also shown to greatly de-moisturise the skin, a key reason why skin becomes damaged. Again by contrast, third wave technology in JooMo meant that it was the only product to maintain skin moisture.
Just as Junk Food is so called because of all the additives, the same applies to cosmetics: modern cosmetics use harsh, synthetic chemical ingredients such as soaps, preservatives (inc. parabens) and foamers (inc. SLS/SLES). Most of these are chemical irritants that create and/or exacerbate the conditions they claim to cure:
» they alter the skin’s natural condition.
» they alter the skin’s pH.
» they disperse ‘good’ bacteria from the skin and leads to pathogenic bacterial, viral & fungal growth.
» they strip the skin of its natural oil and moisture.
» they change the skin’s the electrolyte balance.
» they chemically alter the skin’s natural environment.
» they are responsible for long term allergy sensitisation and long term immune system malfunction.
It is products such as face washes, body washes and shower gels that are of key concern as they are used every day. In effect, the skin is getting covered in ‘junk’ chemical additives on a worryingly frequent basis.
A weakened skin ‘barrier’ ultimately leads to allergic reactions and microbial (fungal and bacterial) infections, and most worryingly, it is young skin that is most vulnerable. One in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK now have eczema, of which contact dermatitis is one of the most common types.
Many companies responded to the allergy crisis by bringing out so-called ‘natural’ products: the reality, however, is that most of the big name skin care brands that claim to be natural are in fact far from it, and there is an multi-billion dollar industry cover-up going on …