Acne, the Skin Microbiome and Salicylic Acid Treatment

Jenna Jolls

Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published on Dr. Kara Fitzgerald's website.

There has been a lot of published research lately around the role of our skin’s microbiome on overall immune health as well as the impact bacterial dysbiosis has on different diseases. The bacteria Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) - one of the most abundant strains of bacteria in most people’s facial microbiome - has long been associated with acne lesions. But, how does acne occur and how does our microbiome impact it?

What is the Skin Microbiome?

Let’s start with defining the skin microbiome. The skin microbiome can be thought of as an ecosystem – and a pretty complex one, at that. Also known as the skin microbiota, the skin microbiome is essentially a vast collection of all the microbes (or skin flora) that live on or within your skin. We actually have millions of living microorganisms residing on our skin at any given time, including bacteria, fungi, arthropods, viruses and more.

Why is a Balanced Skin Microbiome Important?

In the same way that your gut microbiome can get knocked out and imbalanced, so can your skin microbiome. When your skin microbiome is in balance, your skin looks and feels healthier and glowing. A strong, healthy and balanced skin microbiome means that there are enough beneficial bacteria to keep pathogens and environmental aggressors at bay. In other words, beneficial bacteria are essential to keeping the peace, and a peaceful microbiome means skin that appears healthy, vibrant and clear.

What Causes Acne?

So, what exactly causes acne? According to Lauren Trahan, Director of Product and Innovation for probiotic skin care brand Mother Dirt, while many factors contribute to acne — like diet or hormonal imbalance — the physical manifestation is blocked or clogged pores. “When your pore is blocked, the sebaceous glands lining your pores continue to produce sebum, causing your clogged pore to swell like a balloon.” The excess oil results in an overgrowth of C. acnes bacteria, causing dysbiosis in your microbiome. C. acnes bacteria metabolize sebum, excreting inflammatory short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to redness and irritation.

“Only certain ingredients have been approved by the FDA as safe and effective treatments for acne. Salicylic Acid, used in the Mother Dirt Daily Acne Treatment Lotion, is one of them,” Trahan tells us.

What is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), which is a type of exfoliating acid. It is an effective ingredient that is used in skin care products to help treat acne and exfoliate the skin to keep pores clear. You can find salicylic acid in a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) products, in addition to some prescription-strength formulas. Salicylic acid acid works best for mild cases of acne (like whiteheads and blackheads).

“There’s a common misconception that Salicylic Acid kills C. acnes. While Salicylic Acid does have some bactericidal properties, you only see those benefits at high use levels and extremely low pH. It’s why we use it in the Mother Dirt Daily Acne Treatment Lotion, as opposed to bactericidal agents like Benzoyl Peroxide; it won’t kill the probiotic in our AO+ Restorative Mist” says Trahan.

How Salicylic Acid Works To Treat Acne

According to NetDoctor, anyone can use salicylic acid, but it is most beneficial for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Some benefits of using salicylic acid include:

  • Penetrates deep into pores
  • Loosens dead skin cells
  • Clears clogged pores
  • Reduces sebum secretion
  • Reduces inflammation and redness
  • Helps to break down pimples and comedones (non-inflamed clogged pores)

Salicylic acid not only improves the skin’s appearance but reduces blemishes and helps to prevent future blackheads and breakouts.

“Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent, meaning it dissolves keratin.  This allows it to break up the dead cells and oils blocking your pores,” says Trahan.  Similar to a chemical exfoliant, it will also help prevent blocked pores by sloughing dead skin cells off the top layer of the skin.

Mother Dirt’s Active Probiotic System Acne Treatment Kit

Mother Dirt Acne Package

The Difference, Mother Dirt’s Active Probiotic System Acne Treatment Kit, uses a two prong approach to treat acne. The Daily Acne Treatment Lotion uses FDA-approved salicylic acid to target the cause of the acne (the blocked pore), while the patented AO+ Restorative Mist balances the skin microbiome, keeping C. acnes in check, thereby reducing inflammation. Plus, AOB converts ammonia on the skin to nitric oxide, which has additional anti-inflammatory benefits.

The Difference has been clinically tested and dermatologically approved. This 3-step acne regimen includes:

Step 1 – Cleanse: Formulated with prebiotics from chicory root and rose water, the Probiotic Foaming Cleanser removes impurities without stripping your skin of its essential balance or damaging the skin barrier, leaving it hydrated, balanced and refreshed.

Step 2 – Clarify: The Daily Acne Treatment Lotion contains salicylic acid and a powerful blend of probiotic extracts to nourish and repair the skin microbiome, for improved clarity and smoother, healthier-looking skin.

Step 3 – Restore: The patented AO+ Restorative Mist is the first live and active topical probiotic of its kind. It reveals glowing, healthier-looking skin by restoring an essential component, Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria, to your skin microbiome. “This is the difference behind Mother Dirt’s Difference kit,” says Trahan. “Use of the Cleanser and Daily Acne Treatment Lotion will treat acne by keeping your pores clear. But, the AO+ Restorative Mist is balancing your skin’s microflora to prevent overgrowth of bacteria that contribute to redness and inflammation.”

Are you ready to experience improved clarity and smoother, healthier-looking skin? Try The Difference: Our Active Probiotic System Acne Treatment Kit. We’re so confident that you’ll love the results you see with The Difference, we guarantee satisfaction or your money back with our 30 day money back guarantee.

Share Article



shop this story

Find Products Referenced in this Article

The Difference Probiotic Acne Kit

$99.00 USD Add to bag

AO+ Restorative Mist

$69.00 USD Add to bag

Probiotic Foaming Cleanser

$24.00 USD Add to bag