Germs are everywhere, but sometimes we don’t consider the fact that germs and bacteria actually live on our skin. We’re all aware that we need to wash our hands frequently, follow basic food safety practices and avoid touching people and objects that we know are infected with our bare hands. We tend to think of bacteria as germs that cause illnesses; however, new studies suggest that a healthy amount of normal bacteria can help prevent diseases. When it comes to our skin, though, we often associate bacteria with breakouts, clogged pores and congested skin.
Keeping your skin clean and vibrant is the ultimate goal, but every day we run into bacteria. Here’s a rundown of where bacteria is hiding and may be causing you skin issues.
Surprising skin triggers
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting roughly 40 to 50 million people. Many things can trigger breakouts, from hormones to food allergies. Breakouts can occur at any time and at any age.
One bacterium that is associated with acne is Propionibacterium, which is considered a gram-positive bacterium that populates part of the normal flora of the skin, oral cavity, large intestine, the conjunctiva and even the external ear canal. While primarily known for its role in acne, Propionibacterium is an adaptable pathogen that can cause a range of skin infections and in some cases severe breakouts.
To help minimize breakouts and neutralize bacteria, consider incorporating MyChelle Clear Skin Serum into your daily routine. This potent formula minimizes surface shine while improving the clarity of oily and blemish-prone skin. Retinol resurfaces skin and clears pore-blocking debris while Montmorillonite clay detoxifies and absorbs excess oil and debris. Totarol™, a botanically-derived antibacterial, and B vitamins assist in the growth and repair of skin tissues.
There are several ways to reduce bacteria from spreading onto the skin. Often times, customers and clients come to me because they’re breaking out along their temples, hairline and jaw line. Something to consider in this area is your cell phone. Various research shows that cell phones in your hand, on average, carries ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Gross!
Not only can the bacteria from your phone cause you to get sick but it absolutely can trigger problems for the skin. One way to reduce the bacteria on your phone, without using toxic chemicals, is with vinegar. Take a soft tissue, dab a little vinegar on it and wipe down your phone. Vinegar, and the kind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold and 80 percent of germs.
The dirt on your makeup
Makeup is commonly associated with causing acne. Normally you’re OK if you’re diligent about removing your makeup at the end of the day and after exercising, but you may still notice breakouts from time to time. This type of acne is commonly referred to as acne cosmetica by dermatologists. This mild acne is categorized by blocked pores and red bumps on the chin, cheeks and forehead. Acne cosmetica occurs when oils from your makeup accumulate and clog your pores. Thick liquids and cream products are more likely to be culprits and triggers to pimples than lighter products like powders.
Another thing causing issues for our complexion is our makeup brushes. Think about it, when is the last time you thoroughly cleaned your makeup brushes? Been awhile, huh? Makeup brushes accumulate a mixture of bacteria, dust and dirt, all of which allow for the growth of additional bacteria, ultimately aggravating subsurface skin conditions like acne. Various reports show Staphylococcus Aureus more commonly known as Staph and Escherichia coli (E. coli), can be found on makeup brushes and cosmetics and in cosmetic bags. Ewww! I prefer my pink blush to be applied E.coli free. Placing bacteria filled brushes into your makeup and then onto your face not only taints your makeup products but it also can lead to skin problems and break-outs. It’s crucial to keep your makeup brushes free from bacteria in order to maintain healthy skin.
To prevent unwanted bacteria from contaminating your brushes, follow these simple rules. Rinse your makeup brushes under warm running water, apply a dab of shampoo (I prefer to use natural baby shampoo, because it is gentle on the brushes) onto each brush and lather the shampoo. Place a disposable towel in the palm of your hand and turn the brush bristles in circular motions against the towel. Don’t press too hard, as you don’t want to damage the bristles. Keep rinsing and washing your brushes until all color is removed. Rinse, remove excess water gently with the towel and then lay the brushes flat to dry overnight. Don’t dry them placed upwards because this can weaken the glue attached to the brush hairs. It’s recommended to wash your makeup brushes on a weekly basis and use a brush cleaner or mist between cleaning sessions.
Itchy, sensitive skin can be so frustrating, but figuring out what’s causing the issues can be even more frustrating. One common cause for itchy skin may surprise you: dust. That’s right. Dust—approximately 80 percent of household dust—is actually your skin cells. But here is where it gets even more disgusting. There are typically one million dust mites on your pillow and your mattress that eat your shedding skin cells. Yikes, yuck!
Prevent dust mites from causing irritation by using allergen-proof bed covers. Cover your mattress and pillows in dustproof or allergen-blocking covers. These covers are made of tightly woven fabric and prevent dust mites from inhabiting the mattress or pillows. Also, wash bedding weekly, including all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water that is at least 130 F (54.4 C) to kill dust mites and remove allergens. Additionally, maintain a relative humidity below 50 percent in your home. A dehumidifier or air conditioner can help keep humidity low. Most importantly if you think you may have an allergy to any of the components of house dust, you should consult a board certified allergist-immunologist.
Sensitive skin has many faces. It affects all kinds of people and no two complexions are exactly the same. However, there is one dreadfully uncomfortable trait that comes with every variety of sensitivity: inflammation. Redness, discomfort and irritation aren’t fun. Whether your skin is occasionally sensitive or the condition is chronic, the MyChelle Pure Harmony Sensitive line has all the gentle goodness you need and yet it is the effective product line you’ve been searching for. Specifically created to ease inflammation, reduce redness and minimize irritation, our Pure Harmony products restore the skin’s resistance to environmental aggressors while replenishing vital nutrients and reducing puffiness and swelling. This product line will leave your skin feeling, calm and beautiful.
Not all bacteria is created equal
Not all bacteria is bad, and in some cases bacteria can actually be protective, healing and beneficial. I recommend incorporating good bacteria into your diet by taking probiotics. Probiotics are live organisms thought to be beneficial to overall health. They’re widely available in supplements and foods. The idea of ingesting live bacteria may seem bizarre at first, but our bodies naturally partner with such organisms, and studies show they help our bodies in a number of ways.
Catie Wiggy is Innovative Programs Manager for MyChelle Dermaceuticals. She has been working in the skincare industry for over 10 years as a makeup artist and licensed esthetician. She holds several certifications in esthetics and has hands-on experience with chemical peels, microdermabrasions, acne management and anti-aging treatments.