This week, I'm going to address the topic of your skin microbiome(which is connected to, yet separate from your gut microbiome) and how I tried to design the ultimate topical skin microbiome serum.
So: this week, I'm going to:
Explain WTF your "skin microbiome" is and why you should care about it if you want that kbeauty cloudess skin and to understand if what you're using can be used by your skin to actually heal from within,
But UNLIKE me who has dry AF sensitive skin, Carol's skin is oily/combination. Which means, given her sauna-like living conditions year round, she's probably never going to be able to tolerate my Sake & Rice Sleeping Pack, which I designed for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, age spots and maximum hydration.
SO: Carol's Sake & Rice Probiotic Serum has the following:
THREE types of rice (fermented rice, sake, hydrolyzed rice proteins) for intense brightening powers. sake contains kojic acid, an essential element to fading dark spots and anti-aging, while fermented rice and hydrolyzed proteins are proteins that have been rendered small enough to penetrate deeper in your skin, thus having a more intense effect.
Fermented White Willow Bark: White Willow Bark is where the Beta Hydroxy Acid, Salicylic Acid is derived from. Fermenting the white willow bark predigests it so that the beta hydroxy acid is more easily absorbed into your skin, which regulates your oil production and may also contribute to the reduced appearance of spots and scars.
Fermented Lemon Peel. Lemon peel is concentrated with antioxidants, which are celebrated brightening agents. Fermenting the lemon peel allows your skin to better absorb its good qualities.
Niacinamide (vitamin B3) & N-acetyl Glucosamine: This is a potent combination for lightening age spots and scars.
Panthenol (vitamin B5), maintains your healthy skin barrier so that it doesn't get too dry or too oily
Fermented Bamboo, for deep hydration and to improve serum texture
Ginger, Garlic, Wasabi extracts, Fermented Coconut & Fermented Radish - to naturally preserve the product.
Why did I decide to love on rice so much that I used three types of ricein the Carol's Sake & Rice Serum? Because as you remember from Marissa's video ABOVE ^, you know that rice is a ridiculously effective natural ingredient for hyperpigmentation, and I know how much Carolbrightening her skin tone and evening her complexion.
Also, because age spots often plague Asian women as our first signs of aging, I knew a topical product that would help any discoloration would be #1 on her list!
And, most of all, I needed to make a serum that would work optimally with her skin microbiome -- a developing new field of dermatology and cosmetic research.
WTF Is My Skin Microbiome And Why Should I Care?
Ok, so cool about the serum.Why am I making you suddenly read about the skin microbiome?
Because the answer as to whether topicalskincare ingredients are actually effective at all --has everything to do with your skin microbiome!
One question skincare bloggers and Redditors are obsessed with is the question: can skincare products actually penetrate deeply enough into your skin to work?
Skin care bloggers and many forums claim that many ingredients cannot actually penetrate the skin deeply enough for the good stuff to be used. For example, I've heard claims thatcollagen (which is formed in your dermis, and is critical to all types of skin renewal (plumping, firming, diminishing fine lines, helping redness) is too large a molecule to actually work when you apply it topically. Because it istoo big to actually be absorbed.
So, just like you would ask about collagen, you should ask:would the rice extract in each of my ingredients be able to be processed by your skin at an effective enough topical level?
In other words,how do you know if the rice extract in skincare products actually penetrate deeply enough to brighten your skin and even your skin tone?
The answer lies in understanding your skin microbiome.
Now that you know answering the question as to whether topical products are effective lies in your skin microbiome, WTF is your skin microbiome anyway?
In summary:allll the invisible, teeny bugs that can't be seen by the human eye that live on the surface of your skin (allll the way down to the deepest layers of your skin.) These bugs are known as your microbiota, and they live in symbiosis with your skin. Living in symbosis means that they work in tandem with your skin--these microbiota get food from your skin, and the byproducts of the microbes' digestion makes yummy things like proteins that your skin needs to function well.
A single square centimeter of the human skin can contain up to one billion microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, mites and viruses). While bacteria only makes up 0.1% of this billion (1 million organisms per square centimeter), they are considered the most important organisms because of the symbiotic role they play with human cells. You can find bacteria not only on your skin surface, but all the way down the skin layers (in the deeper layers of the epidermis, the dermis and the dermal adipose tissue <--that's all the way DOWN until it ain't skin any longer).
As I explained in last month's blog post, microbiologists are only now starting to understand how these skin microbiota (the bacteria on your skin, as well as in different parts of your body, like your gut and vagina) may play a critical role in helping us to understand how disease occurs and develops in the human body.
Your skin has both good and bad bacteria living on it. And together with your skin cells, this forms your "skin microbiome" - an environment where microbiota live in communication with your skin. A healthy microbiome is one which contains a great diversity of bacteria, and is rich in commensal bacteria.
An unhealthy microbiome is in dysbiosis,and as you can see from figure 1, dysbiosis leads to an impaired skin barrier, which can result in redness/inflammation, acne, rosacea, overly dry or oily skin, and more.
As microbiologist dermatologists like Whitney Bowe  have said, to maintain a healthy skin microbiome, you need to throw out those hand sanitizers and anything labeled antibacterial. Because "antibacterial" gels, lotions, sprays etc. get rid of all the bacteria on your skin -- good and bad. (Natural antimicrobials like honey or tea tree oil are fine, use those in place of a gel thats marketed as "antimicrobial."
Why avoid artificial antimicrobials? Because scraping your skin of all your good bacteria can mean leaving it more open to threat--and making it easier for bad bacteria to come and take over.
It also means, however, trying to add good bacteria to your skin, and the food for good bacteria.
And this is How I Designed TheCarol's Sake & Rice Serum:designing the serum that will most quickly restore the health of your skin microbiome when topically applied. Effectively, by designing probiotic skincare.
Note: while Carol's Sake & Rice Serum is the very first product of ours to be marketed as probiotic skincare, even though the majority of Sabbatical Beauty products are actually probiotic -- because we use somany fermented natural extracts in our products, and in high percentages too!
What defines the field of probiotic skincare?
Probiotic Skincare can contain 3 types of probiotics:
1. Probiotics, or live bacteria. Those pills you eat? The bacteria in yogurt? Live. But the FDA has made the presence of bacteria in cosmetics illegal, so we can't go that route. (Yes, I know that there is a venture funded beauty company selling a spray with live bacteria; I don't have the venture funding to go down that risky route. So don't @ me about this.)
2. Post-biotics. This is bacteria that has been killed, or lysed. In our Sabbatical Beauty extracts, we normally have the bacteria working on fermenting a natural extract (in the Carol Serum, fermented rice), and then "lyse" the bacteria. This way, your skin gets both the benefit of rice in terms of what it naturally contains, as well as the metabolites of the bacteria, or the predigested rice products of the bacteria, which your skin needs to do the difficult work of cell regeneration properly.
3. Prebiotics, or the actual food for the live good bacteria present on your skin right now.If you feed the good bacteria food it actually knows and loves, it will reproduce madly - helping to improve the dysbiosis of your skin microbiome, and helping with overly oily or dry skin, signs of aging, redness, irritation, acne and more! (Scientists are currently studying the ideal skin prebiotic, or skin "good bacteria" food, and beta glucan is key. Beta Glucan is a key part of my Lift Pressed Serumnow in development (A reformulated Lift Pressed Serum will be comingthe May Sabbatical Beauty Testers. Join the Sabbatical Beauty Facebook groupto find out how to join Testers).
Three Types Of Rice For The Perfect Probiotic Serum
With designing for your skin microbiome in mind, I chose three types of rice extracts which would most benefit your skin!
FermentedRice: Fermentation increases the bioavailability of nutrients in the rice bran -- the most nutrient rich part of rice, But also the most difficult to digest.
Fermentation increases the bioavailability of nutrients because the commensal bacteria have already predigested the rice for your skin, and produced their metabolites -- what comes out of their digestion! Your skin needs these metabolites, which act like predigested food to the existing bacteria.
But because no live bacteria are allowed in your cosmetics by the FDA, the bacteria is then lysed,or killed. But because the rice is already predigested, your skin can more easily use all the good stuff in it that works to brighten and tone your skin.
(Fermented RICE: INCI name: Lactobacillus/Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bioferment) Use code SABBATICALto save 10% off this ingredient at our supplier, Formulator Sample Shop).
Existing SB products with fermented rice:
Sake Extract: What happens when rice ferments long enough? You get sake, which is basically ricewine, since alcohol develops from a long fermentation period.
So here: you're getting the results of a long rice fermentation. Sake is the "miracle ingredient" in Japanese skincare; it is said that skincare companies only discovered how miraculous sake is while observing the hands of manual workers making sake. While their faces were elderly and lined, their hands were still young and smooth.
The magic ingredient in sake is the development of kojic acid in the sake process, which inhibits melanin production, thereby lessening the appearance of age spots and evening skin tone.
Remember how I talked about collagenearlier? About whether it can actually permeate the skin? Well, in researching collagen molecule size I came across hydrolyzed collagen, which is a popular oral supplement. Hydrolyzed collagen would be proteins hydrolyzed small enough that they might be able to penetrate to the lower levels of your skin, depending on the mode of delivery.
So, borrowing from that, I added hydrolyzed rice proteinto your Carol's Sake and Rice Serum, which are proteins small enough that they mightbe able to permeate the lower levels of your epidermis.
I'm honestly not sure that if it 100% would, and how far down your skin the proteins can permeate -- and would love to figure it out if someone could suggest an experiment!
Adeline Koh, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Sabbatical Beauty, a small-batch, handcrafted Korean-beauty influenced company based in Philadelphia, PA. Sabbatical Beauty has been featured in media outlets like Allure, Slate, Shape and many more.
Our products contain higher percentages of active ingredients than the majority of products on the market. This means you can see amazing differences very quickly, and with only a scant amount of product.
Our products are manufactured in-house by a small team of women in Philadelphia, PA, in small batches, with love.
Our products are never tested on animals, just Adeline and Sabbatical Beauty employees.
Everyone who works for Sabbatical Beauty earns a living wage.
WHAT DO PEOPLE LOVE ABOUT SABBATICAL BEAUTY?
Our stuff works. And works quickly, period. And we sell sample sizes, so you don't need to commit a lot financially to test if a product works for your individual skin chemistry.
Our mission as a feminist company is not to sell you skincare as something that you need, but rather a routine that will help you with prioritizing yourself and own needs for self-care.