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fig. 1 - lactic acid bacteria at 1000x magnification.

the root of skin health is the microbiome.

Skin is the human body’s largest organ and serves as our first line of defense against temperature fluctuations, damaging UV rays and environmental toxins.1 It helps prevent infection and is packed with nerves that keep the brain in touch with the outside world. Skin is made up of three main layers — the outermost is called the epidermis and this is where many microorganisms that make up our skin microbiome reside.
Think of the skin microbiome as a collection of ecosystems home to trillions of microorganisms essential for not only skin but comprehensive health.2 Our microbiome plays a vital role in fending off disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens), boosting barrier protection and aiding immune defenses.3 Maintaining a balanced skin microbiome involves a complex and dynamic interplay among microorganisms, immune cells, skin cells and more.

skin health impacts overall health.

Recent studies have linked skin health to comprehensive health by potentially influencing the state of our entire body. Disturbances of the epidermis are implicated in allergies (eczema and food allergies), psoriasis, acne and skin aging, perhaps due to the microbiome’s potential ability to communicate with our immune system.4 Studies have also revealed the potential association between atopic dermatitis and autoimmune disorders, and eczema and the risk of cardiovascular disease.5

what affects skin health?

Age and gender are the most important factors that are specific to each person and affect their unique skin microbiome.6 Additional factors that influence one’s microbiome are hygiene habits, lifestyle, and the environment they live in. The skin microbiome is also affected by external environmental conditions, including temperature, humidity and sunlight.7
Traditional personal care products have the potential to negatively influence the skin microbiome by reducing its diversity or changing the composition, which can affect comprehensive health.8 Another factor that affects the skin microbiome is pH-disrupting topicals. Your skin is naturally acidic, hovering at a pH level of approximately 5.9 This is important because the “good” microorganisms on your skin prefer a more acidic environment. If your pH is disrupted too dramatically or too frequently, it can create an environment for unwanted microbes to thrive. iota formulations are crafted at a microbiome-friendly pH level of 5.0-5.5.

the future of skin health.

Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics have the capacity to optimize, maintain and restore the microbiota of skin in different ways.10 Prebiotics are the nutrients (or food) the “good” bacteria need to flourish.11 They also help promote the growth of “good” bacteria to crowd out the “bad," sometimes acne-causing, bacteria. All iota formulations include inulin, a prebiotic derived from chicory root.
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”12 Probiotics are living organisms aka live bacteria beneficial to skin, but most living organisms are not able to survive in topical formulations due to preservative systems and temperature. iota formulations do not contain any “probiotics” — simply put, there are no live strains of bacteria that reside in our formulations. Instead, we use postbiotics.
The International Cooperation on Cosmetic Regulation defines postbiotics as “inanimate cells or cell fractions, a filtrate of a fermentation or a metabolite of a microorganism of microbial origin” and studies have shown that they can mimic the benefits of live probiotics.13 Included in our overall microbiome balancing formulation is Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate, which studies have shown can act like an anti-inflammatory, repair the skin barrier and help balance the skin microbiome.14
All iota formulations utilize this proprietary blend of prebiotics— plant-derived extracts that help good microbes thrive — and postbiotics — cell fragments that mimic the benefits of live probiotic strains — to promote the optimal way to balance skin.