Editor's Spotlight

5 ways indie brands are approaching microbiome beauty

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (Dr_Microbe)
© Getty Images \ (Dr_Microbe)

Related tags microbiome prebiotic Probiotic Indie beauty Indie beauty brands

Emerging data on the human skin microbiome is changing the way cosmetics and personal care brands of every size approach product development and formulation. It presents opportunities for new benefits and more ways to design for and deliver conventional benefits. Here Cosmetics Design looks at 5 ways indie brands are putting microbiome data to use.

At last month’s Cosmetics Design Summit: Microbiome Innovation, speakers from around the industry presented on an array research, product development, and even packaging that is advancing this new category. While Indie brands were represented at the Summit, many speakers came from larger manufacturing and supply companies. (Read highlights from the Cosmetics Design Summit here on Cosmetics Design Europe.​) To build on our coverage of this new category, here is a selection of 5 indie brands moving microbiome beauty forward in 5 different ways.

Add microbes

Products that actually add living microorganisms on to human skin may be among the most controversial at this point. Questions about what microbiomes to add, at what volume, and how are they to be kept live, active, and uncontaminated in formulation, throughout distribution, and during use often arise when truly probiotic topicals are discussed.

But that’s not stopping brands like Mother Dirt, Esse or LaFlore from making and selling probiotic skin care products. In her Indie Beauty Profile, Maya Ivanjesku, chief scientific officer at LaFlore Probiotic Skincare explains that the brand’s “live probiotic formulas deliver the same results as traditional actives (think vitamins C, A, and alpha hydroxy acids) with none of the irritating skin concerns.” Read more here on Cosmetics Design.

Feed microbes

Prebiotics are a food source for microorganisms. And new indie personal care brands like SmartyPits are using prebiotics to create novel products with much desired benefits. Stacia Guzzo launched her aluminum-free deodorant brand in 2017.

And while microbiome science isn’t at the core of the brand, prebiotics are key to SmartyPits deo formulas: “SmartyPits is supercharged with food-grade prebiotics and formulated with natural oils, butter, and waxes for all-day odor control,” ​Guzzo told Cosmetics Design late last year for this Indie Beauty Profile​.

Disrupt microbes

For the most part it appears that humans and the microorganisms living in and on them have a symbiotic relationship. But it’s not always mutualistic. In fact, microbes communicate among themselves and some are eager to gain a quorum in the skin’s ecosystem and become parasitic (that is, to do more harm than good for the human host).

Innovative indie brands like Ayuna are formulating skin care that interferes in microbial communication, essentially eliminating microbes’ opportunity to take over. Learn more about this approach to microbiome beauty here on Cosmetics Design.

Take a multi microbe approach

Of course, brands are also taking a multi microbe approach to this new opportunity. Gallinée is a good example here. The brand’s unique cleansing bar “protects your skin’s good bacteria while removing the bad,” ​according the Gallinée ecommerce site​.  

Prebiotics and lactic acid are the hero ingredients; and the Gallinée cleansing bar's full ingredient list follows: disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate, maltodextrin, sodium cocoyl isethionate, stearic acid, water, hydrogenated castor oil, cetyl alcohol, alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, inulin, lactic acid, arginine, fragrance, citric acid, titanium dioxide, limonene. Learn more about Gallinée here​ and here​ on Cosmetics Design.

Don’t forget the microbes inside

In April, Hum Nutrition, the supplements brand widely known for its beauty-from-within Collagen Pop tablets​, launched a product called ‘Skin Heroes Pre & Probiotic’ that’s said to work at the gut-skin axis. The capsules include both prebiotics and probiotics: live strains of Lactobacillus Salivarius Ls-33, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus HN001, Bifidobacterium Lactis Bi-04, Bifidobacterium Lactis Bi-07, Bifidobacterium Lactis HN019, Lactobacillus Paracasei Lpc-37, Lactobacillus Acidophilus La-14; soil-based strains of Bacillus Subtilis DE111, Bacillus Coagulans SNZ1969; and konjac root extract as a prebiotic.

And while beauty-from-within seems to have finally become a category in its own right, there is a fair amount of skepticism about the efficacy of such products. But this too may be changing. The Hum capsules product page​ highlights statistics from a dermatologist-supervised study that indicated the product has the benefit of reducing non-cystic acne breakouts. And during a panel discussion at last month’s Cosmetics Design Summit: Skin Microbiome Innovation Umar Jan of Sabina Europe commented: “Any product that impacts our gut health can have an impact on skin appearance and more clinical data is coming,” ​which certainly implies that microbiome beauty-from-within shows real promise.



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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