A deep dive into CosmeticsDesign's Skin Microbiome Webinar

The future of the skin microbiome? ‘It’s mind blowing’ – think oral care, intimate care and makeup

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Everything that touches the skin is 'touching the skin microbiome' and this thinking will really take NPD one-step further (Getty Images)
Everything that touches the skin is 'touching the skin microbiome' and this thinking will really take NPD one-step further (Getty Images)

Related tags: skin microbiome, Gallinée, L'oréal, Cosmetics europe, Lumina Intelligence, APC Microbiome Ireland, Npd, Innovation, Skin health, beauty claims

There will be a proliferation of newly carved out product categories targeting the skin microbiome in coming months, as consumer interest spikes and development capabilities advance, say experts.

Today’s skin microbiome market – largely made up of body lotions, facial creams, serums, cleansing products and dietary supplements – would likely look very different in a year or so as beauty manufacturers and brands invested in alternative product innovations.

And experts from CosmeticDesign’s recent online Skin Microbiome webinar, all agreed the future looked particularly exciting in beauty and personal care.

‘There’s so much to be done in the skin microbiome – it’s mind blowing’

Marie Drago, founder of skin microbiome beauty brand Gallinée, said she was particularly excited about the scope to edge into new segments with skin microbiome-targeted formulas like oral care, intimate care and makeup, and also work with waterless or water-activated formulations in the category.

Speaking in the Skin Microbiome webinar, Drago said: “There’s so much to be done in the skin microbiome – it’s mind blowing.”

“…You can re-do the whole of the beauty area, taking into account the skin microbiome, and it’s going to be a revolution.” 

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Julie O’Sullivan, postdoctoral researcher at APC Microbiome Ireland, agreed: “I think there’s going to be novel products targeting different areas we might not have thought of before.” 

Both said innovation was certainly on the horizon, and Drago said within this there would be a closer focus on formulations and how each ingredient could impact the skin microbiome.

Every time an ingredient was applied to the skin, she said it could impact the bacterial population, which was not always the aim. “You don’t want to impact a system that is working well by itself. I think it’s such an anarchist view to work in skin microbiome products, because you don’t want to do a lot – you just want to support a system that is already there.”

“…If you have a good skin microbiome, then your skin is going to look healthy,” ​she said. 

Every ingredient that touches the skin is ‘touching the skin microbiome’

New thinking: Everything that touches the skin, touches the skin microbiome (Getty Images)
New thinking: Everything that touches the skin, touches the skin microbiome (Getty Images)

Audrey Gueniche, expert claim activator at L’Oréal Research & Innovation, agreed and said the idea that every ingredient and product that touched the skin was also “touching the skin microbiome”​ was building among consumers and industry.

“When you’re using makeup, it’s also something interacting with the skin microbiome. Indeed, when you are using a cleanser, of course, you have to be respectful to your skin microbiome. So, for me, this is really a new way of thinking when you are using products,”​ Gueniche said.

Human skin already had “good machinery”​ in a healthy skin microbiome, she said, so brands developing products ought to focus on demonstrating how this was maintained.

“The actual goal is to protect the skin microbiome, not to affect it. Or if it is affected by pollution, UV, stress, then be able to help the skin microbiome to be able to go back to a good function,”​ she said.

And Gueniche said scientific understanding on how external factors impacted the skin microbiome had truly advanced in recent years, which would help product innovations. Scientific efforts, she said, were now moving towards understanding the impact on cell biology and the association between the skin microbiome and the epidermis and dermis.

“The skin microbiome is not something in addition to the barrier (…) it’s really active cells that will benefit from your skin beauty and skin health.”

Innovations that fit regulations and target ‘golden’ claims space

Maintaining the good function of our skin microbiome is a 'golden' area for claims (Getty Images)
Maintaining the good function of our skin microbiome is a 'golden' area for claims (Getty Images)

Gerald Renner, director of technical regulatory affairs at Cosmetics Europe, said as the beauty industry invested in new product development and innovative formulations came to the fore, it would be exciting to see how these concepts fitted into EU regulations, and others.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how far we need to stretch or reinterpret or apply the Cosmetic Regulation concepts on these new products; that will be the skill on the regulatory side. It’s not to say: ‘that’s new, no’ but rather find the ways we can fit these products into the Cosmetic Regulation.”

“…Our European regulation is actually quite flexible. I’ve heard people for 25 years say: ‘we’re going to hit a wall; new innovations will not be able to fit in the Cosmetic Regulation and definition’, but a lot of innovations have,”​ Renner said.

With every new technology or emerging field, of course, questions had to be asked – what was the intended function of a product and what was it trying to achieve – and final product formats had to be carefully considered to ensure they fitted into the cosmetics category, he said, but many did.

“From a regulatory perspective, the excitement will be to make it possible that these products actually can come to the market as cosmetics,”​ he said.

Renner said it would also be interesting to see what type of claims were carried on new products. The “golden area”​ in claims for cosmetics operating in the skin microbiome, he said, was anything related to keeping the skin microbiome fully functioning and in good condition.

Sparking interest among younger ‘wellness’ consumers

Younger demographics present new and exciting opportunities in the skin microbiome (Getty Images)
Younger demographics present new and exciting opportunities in the skin microbiome (Getty Images)

As these products came to market, with claims to engage and inspire consumers, Ewa Hudson, director of insights at Lumina Intelligence, said it would be fascinating to watch uptake among newly targeted consumer groups – beyond the traditional demographics of parents, older generations and those with skin disorders or problems.

She said there was great scope to target what could be labelled the “wellness consumer”​ with skin microbiome cosmetic products, rather than the more traditional “symptom consumer”.

“The investment and energy of younger people developing startups and targeting products towards younger generations (…) is really, really exciting,” ​Hudson said.

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