CosmeticsDesign spoke with the chair of the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists Giorgio Dell'Acqua about the state of microbiome skincare today.
This interview was conducted via email.
From a formulation perspective, what role does the microbiome play in skin care today?
The recent scientific advances to understand the composition of the skin microbiome and its benefit in healthy skin subjects or its unbalance in subjects with skin conditions have suggested a different approach to skincare. This approach considers the effect of formulations on microbiome composition when applied to the skin.
The idea is to rebalance or to reduce species associated with skin conditions and in healthy skin to avoid microbiome perturbation by adopting a more gentle approach, with formulations that do not contain harsh or aggressive ingredients or do use fewer 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 efficacy of their probiotic or prebiotic approach. However, some suppliers are validating their ingredients with good science.
The difficulty still lies in a lack of full understanding of the skin microbiome. Therefore the endpoints of many of these studies are personalized to the result expected or not clear on the relevance of their finding/target.
What are the opportunities and limitations of microbiome products in beauty today?
The market is still not saturated so there are many opportunities to take the space and create leadership by using a specific approach and/or specific ingredients.
It is important though that the product lives by the expectation of delivering the skin benefits claimed and possibly backed up by science. There are limitations linked to a technology that is still in its infancy and needs to be validated for its potential. Also, the microbiome is a piece of the skincare routine, and other benefits must be added to a finished product.
What role does the microbiome play in ingestible beauty?
A huge role. There are several studies on beauty from within, especially in the last year. It is clear that the gut microbiome influences skin health and look. Probiotics have been associated with acne reduction and improvement in the skin's physical parameters.
The challenge is to understand the specificity of the intervention and to test the different technologies available to influence the microbiome in a positive way.
What is the next step for skin microbiome research?
More data needs to be generated regarding the role and relevance of the different microbes (and not just bacteria) in healthy and unhealthy skin conditions. Also, understanding what probiotic would be more functional, improving the offer on prebiotics and finally developing further bacteriophage and antimicrobial peptides strategy with the goal of targeting specific pathogens and therefore moving away from generalized antimicrobials that are not beneficial to the microbiome being not specific.
Anything else you want to add?
Although the skin microbiome is hard to study because of the high variability between individuals, the goal is to identify common relevant players between the different microbial species and analyze their interaction with the exposome and the skin. Understanding these interactions will help develop effective treatments and therapeutics.