Helping Skin to Help Itself
The Trending Topic of the 'Microbiome' was the Focus of Several Presentations at CosmeticBusiness 2021
"Skincare must in the future strengthen the natural microbiome". This was the conclusion of Prof Dr Christine Lang, board member of cosmetics manufacturer Belano medical, at this year's CosmeticBusiness in Munich. The trade show dedicated no less than three lectures to this currently trending issue in cosmetics. Alongside Dr Lang, Dr Kristin Neumann, the founder of MyMicrobiome, also shed light on the potential of the microbiome as a focus of care and illustrated how manufacturers can make sure their products aren't merely pursuing a fad based on potentially empty promises.
Millions of Microbes Form a Protective Barrier
The speakers – both microbiologists – explained clearly how important the microbiome is for healthy skin and why it is therefore worth putting the microbiome at the centre of the active formula of skincare products. The microbiome is the sum of all the bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on the skin. There are one million microbes per square centimetre on our skin, which covers a total area of around 20 square metres. If this ecosystem is naturally balanced, the microbiome acts as a protective barrier for our skin. For example, it includes lactic acid bacteria, whose metabolic products ensure a balanced pH value. These metabolic products also kill inflammatory bacteria. In addition, the microbiome contributes to the lipid and hyaluronic balance, ensures an intact skin barrier and helps the skin to renew itself after micro-injuries.
In fact, the skin is naturally very well looked after. However, there are many influencing factors that can upset the balance of bacteria. In addition to individual genetic predisposition, these factors also include nutrition, stress, environmental influences and hygiene. More frequent washing and disinfecting of hands in response to the pandemic alone puts a great strain on the skin's bacterial balance, as Dr Lang emphasises. For example, soap also removes beneficial bacteria and lipids as well as sebum, which is a nutrient base for microbes, Dr Neumann adds. However, the microbiologists go on to describe some negative effects that cosmetics may have on the microbiome. If they contain antibacterial substances such as detergents, alcohols or fragrances, these can damage the skin's protective barrier.
How Cosmetics Can Strengthen the Microbiome
It does therefore seem reasonable that cosmetic or medical care products should instead specifically maintain or even strengthen the microbiome. Dr Lang explained how they can achieve this. Her company Belano medical focuses its research and development on the skin's natural barrier function. After examining 400 bacterial strains, they identified lactobacillus brevis as being capable of strengthening the epidermis. The manufacturer used this bacteria to develop the active ingredient stimulans, which stimulates the metabolism and growth of the protective bacteria staphylococcus epidermidis, thus repressing inflammatory germs. This not only directly combats the harmful bacteria but also promotes a healthy and natural cycle, Dr Lang explains. Clinical studies have proven its efficacy in treating skin diseases such as neurodermatitis, psoriasis, acne and rosacea.
But microbiotic agents can be used for more than just the treatment of diseased skin, as Dr Lang emphasises. A strengthened microbiome can also maintain healthy skin in times of stress, slow down ageing processes and ultimately support the immune system, of which it is a component.
Microbiotic Benefits Can Be Certified
It is not surprising, especially with the rise of natural or clean cosmetics, that products promising to protect the skin microbiome are currently experiencing a lot of hype. In order to counteract misleading or even false advertising claims, the company MyMicrobiome offers what it claims is the world's first and so far only certification for microbiotic products. The information platform has developed a test that proves the influence a product has on the microbiome. The test examines different parts of the body including different "germ mixtures" and can be evaluated according to various criteria. More than 100 products have already received certification, says Dr Neumann. 80 per cent of customers come from the USA, where the idea of the "microbiome" is already more firmly established, especially in indie and clean cosmetics. The number of European customers is increasing.
In their presentations, the speakers emphasised that the skin's microbiome goes far beyond being just a product trend. It is much more about a new philosophy for cosmetic formulations that respect, maintain and strengthen the skin's microbiological balance thus supporting health and beauty into old age.
The lectures are available online in the CosmeticBusiness media library (registration is required).
Source: Prof. Dr. Christine Lang, Belano medical, Dr. Kristin Neumann, MyMicrobiome, photo: Adobe Stock / fizkes
Source: Prof. Dr. Christine Lang, Belano medical, Dr. Kristin Neumann, MyMicrobiome