The role of the microbiome in today’s skincare formulation

CosmeticsDesign spoke with New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists President Giorgio Dell’Acqua about the current state of microbiome skincare.

This interview was conducted by email.

From a formulation perspective, what role does the microbiome play in skin care today?

Recent scientific advances to understand the composition of the skin microbiome and its benefit in subjects with healthy skin or its imbalance in subjects with skin conditions have suggested a different approach to skin care. This approach considers the effect of formulations on the composition of the microbiome when applied to the skin.

The idea is to rebalance or reduce the species associated with skin conditions and in healthy skin to avoid disruption of the microbiome by taking a gentler approach, with formulations that do not contain harsh or aggressive ingredients or use less ingredients (some examples can be found in the clean beauty approach to formulation).

What does the scientific backing of pro- and prebiotic beauty products look like today?

There are still few brands that invest in solid science and credible clinical trials to support the effectiveness of their probiotic or prebiotic approach. However, some suppliers validate their ingredients with good science.

The difficulty still lies in a lack of complete understanding of the skin microbiome. Therefore, the endpoints of many of these studies are tailored to the expected outcome or are unclear as to the relevance of their finding/target.

What are the opportunities and limits of microbiome products in beauty today?

The market is still not saturated, so there are plenty of opportunities to take up space and create leadership using a specific approach and/or specific ingredients.

It is important, however, that the product lives up to the expectation of delivering the claimed and possibly scientifically backed skin benefits. There are limitations associated with a technology that is still in its infancy and must be validated for its potential. Additionally, the microbiome is part of the skin care routine and other benefits should be added to a finished product.

What role does the microbiome play in ingestible beauty?

A huge role. There are several studies on the beauty of the interior, especially in the last year. It is clear that the gut microbiota influences the health and appearance of the skin. Probiotics have been associated with reducing acne and improving physical parameters of the skin.

The challenge is to understand the specificity of the intervention and to test the different technologies available to positively influence the microbiome.

What’s next for skin microbiome research?

More data needs to be generated regarding the role and relevance of different microbes (not just bacteria) in healthy and unhealthy skin conditions. Also, to understand which probiotic would be the most functional, to improve the offer on prebiotics and finally to further develop the strategy of bacteriophages and antimicrobial peptides with the aim of targeting specific pathogens and therefore moving away from generalized antimicrobials which are not beneficial for the microbiome that are not specific.

Anything else you want to add?

Although the skin microbiome is difficult to study due to the high interindividual variability, the objective is to identify relevant common actors between the different microbial species and to analyze their interaction with the exposome and the skin. Understanding these interactions will help to develop effective treatments and therapeutics.

Donovan B. Sanford