Reading time: 7 Minutes
More and more products are launched which carry a probiotic or prebiotic claim. Those products belong to the global skin microbiome movement. We already know for a while now that microbiomes are especially important for our intestines and good health. In recent years the awareness about the skin microbiome has also increased, due to new study results. But what exactly do all those terms mean and what is the idea behind?
What is Skin Microbiome
Each one of us has a very unique combination and count of microorganisms living in and on our bodies. The natural skin microbiome helps to protect the skin and our body from diseases and environmental influences. The bacteria regulate the pH of the skin and strengthen our protective barrier through this. But because of their immense number on the skin, they also don’t offer other (bad) bacterias room to settle. Because of those abilities, the skin microbiome is considered part of the human immune system.
In a first step, many studies were conducted to first figure out where on our bodies what microorganisms live. Roughly the researchers divided the body parts into three skin areas; moist skin (e.g. armpits), dry skin (e.g. buttock) and oily skin (e.g. face). For each of these areas, there was a tendency of combinations of microorganisms observed. With looking into these combinations deeper though, the researchers found out, that each one of us has a very unique combination of count and species of microorganisms living on us. This has made the development of cosmetic products for our skin microbiome rather difficult.
The approach of the cosmetic industry
One of the approaches observed is the prebiotics approach. This means that the product helps to create the best possible environment for the microorganisms to live and thrive on our skin. What I like about this approach is, that it doesn’t matter, that the producer doesn’t know my individual combination and count of skin microorganisms – they use ingredients which have proofed to support the natural skin microorganisms in general.
In this approach, the formulators incorporate living bacteria into the product. This is a rather difficult approach because of several reasons. To preserve our cosmetic products and stop them from going bad we add preservatives. Preservatives stop different microorganisms from growing. This has posed the biggest issue so far in developing products with living microorganism. How to make the good microorganisms survive while stopping the bad ones? There are some approaches with either encapsulated microorganisms, with two chamber packaging systems or water free formulations.
When microorganisms are encapsulated you can imagine it like an M&M’s – on the outside you have the protective layer (M&M’s = sugar coat) and on the inside, you have the microorganism (M&M’s = the nut). As soon as you apply the formulation with those capsules on your skin, the protective layer breaks open and releases the microorganisms on your skin.
There are two interesting aspects of using probiotics in cosmetic products. On one hand, the applied living microorganisms can positively influence the skin milieu. But as interesting as this already is, the metabolites produced by the microorganisms are the cherry on top! They can be beneficial for biochemical functions like anti-aging, moisturizing, soothing etc.)
Remember the just mentioned metabolites produced by the microorganisms? In the postbiotics approach only the metabolites like peptides, signalling molecules or other bacterial/fungal metabolites which actively participate in the skins biochemistry are added to the cosmetic formulation. So here you get the full force of active ingredients without the issue of keeping the microorganisms alive. But to be frank – this is microbiome-marketing-wise probably the least sexy approach as many existing products already contain active ingredients made by microorganisms…
Here I linked some interesting products for you to check out!
A deodorant from the brand Freedom with Lactobacillus ferment and not contain any aluminium. Freedom also has other natural deodorants in their range.
The Beauty Chef’s Probiotic Skin Refiner is a very innovative probiotic toner or skin refiner. It contains a nourishing, hydrating and especially balancing blend of bio-fermented organic grains, seeds, fruits, grasses, algae, vegetables, and herbs. Check it out on the link below!
a very innovative product is this probiotic hair mask from Tela. They also have other hair care products, but I especially like this mask with their probiotic enzymes and fermented kelp extract.
Which is your favorite pre-, pro-, or postbiotic cosmetic product? Give me a hint!!