As interest surrounding  the skin’s microbiome intensifies, cosmetic formulators are looking to capitalise on this new area of skin health. But what is the microbiome and how can its cosmetic potential be harnessed?

The microbiota is the term used to describe the total population of microorganisms that live in a specific environment – the gut, skin, and so on. The microbiome is the term used to describe the collective genome of said microbiota. The ability of the microbiota to affect a wide variety of bodily functions makes understanding its complexity and enhancing its health a novel route for cosmetic formulators to develop revolutionary skincare products.

Probiotics have been used to modulate the gut microbiota for digestive health for many years. Now, scientists believe there is a way to modulate the skin microbiota for healthy skin, using a range of actives to help regulate and improve the health of the microbiota.  

The skin microbiota

The skin microbiota is the ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the skin. Like the gut, it is home to a huge number of diverse organisms at any given time. These organisms  represent roughly one thousand distinct species and many have a direct impact on skin health. Research shows that they play a crucial role in how skin looks, feels and functions as a barrier between the body and the outside world – fighting infections, thwarting environmental damage, regulating pH levels and generally keeping skin healthy. The skin’s microbiota differs with age, gender, time of day and location. They also vary depending on climate and if the specific area of the skin is moist, dry, hairy or oily. For example, a hormonal teenage boy will sport a very different microbiota in comparison to a post-menopausal woman.

Probiotics and the skin 

As with the gut, the skin’s microbiota can become unbalanced. Whether due to excess cleanliness, the use of antibiotics or other medications, there are many reasons for the microbiota to be adversely affected. To balance the gut microbiota, probiotics tend to be used. Whether taken in food or supplement form, they help restore the natural balance of the gut’s microbiota to help it function better and stay healthy.So, now that we are starting to recognise its importance with regards to skin health, it is time for the cosmetic industry to further explore probiotics and other active ingredients which enhance the skin’s microbiota.   

As an innovation-driven market, many industry experts believe it is essential for beauty brands and ingredient suppliers to jump onto this trend to research and harness this logic for our skin – some of which already are. 

Brands on the trend

Many beauty brands are examining the science behind the food industry’s gut probioticsand developing revolutionary skincare products packed with the same friendly bacteria. For example, Gallinée utilises a triple biotic complex of prebiotics, probiotics and lactic acid to create their La Culture Body Milk – a skin softening solution to support the skin’s good bacteria.

Leading dermatological brand Vichy’s Slow Age eye cream is also powered by probiotics, which act as a shield against skin-ageing free radicals and caffeine to force puffiness and lines into submission. 

Cornelius Principal, Silab, is taking this logic further; exploring the way skin microbiota can affect overall skin health. The manufacturer, which specialises in natural active ingredients, has launched ECOBIOTYS®, a new active ingredient that regulates the equilibrium of the microbiota of mature skin by restoring the microbiotic profile of young skin.

Rich in peptides from the yeast Metschinkowia reukaufii, isolated by SILAB, this smart ingredient restores the functional performance of the skin’s immune barrier and regulates the cutaneous microbiota, therefore improving skin quality and complexion. Along with this, SILAB is also deploying new research and development capabilities to better understand microbiota and accelerate the launch of natural and innovative active ingredients in this area. 

For more information on products or partners mentioned, please contact the Cornelius Care UK team for product samples and technical information on +44 (0) 1279 714 300.