Culture Shift: Rethinking the Role of Commensal Microflora of the Skin in Cosmetic Formulation

Apr 1, 2013 | Contact Author | By: Kelly A. Dobos, KAO USA Inc.
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Title: Culture Shift: Rethinking the Role of Commensal Microflora of the Skin in Cosmetic Formulation
microbiomex probioticx prebioticx synbioticx skin carex
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Keywords: microbiome | probiotic | prebiotic | synbiotic | skin care

Abstract: Much like bacteria in the gut, the skin’s microbiome plays an important role in skin health by excluding harmful transients and educating the immune system. The application of pre- and probiotic concepts in cosmetics presents a novel approach. While formulation with probiotics may pose challenges, the use of prebiotics and bacterial lysates, discussed here, may be a viable alternative.

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K Dobos, Culture Shift: Rethinking the Role of Commensal Microflora of the Skin in Cosmetic Formulation, Cosmet & Toil 128(4) 260 (2013)

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A vast number of microorganisms inhabit the human body, outnumbering cells by 10-to-1, with skin being one of the largest habitats.1–4 However, science is just beginning to explain the complex relationships between microbes and the human body, in addition to cosmetic and drug products applied to skin. Until recently, methods used to identify and study the skin’s microbiota relied on the ability to culture individual species in the laboratory. Now, sequence-based metagenomic techniques allow for the analysis of entire environmental niches and have demonstrated that previous culture techniques substantially under- estimated the skin’s microbial population and diversity.5 Using these technological advances, the Human Microbiome Project has already begun to dramatically change the understanding of skin’s microbial ecology.6 Goals of the present project aim to identify the role of this microbiome not only in disease, but also in the maintenance of health.3, 7

As science continues to elucidate the nature of interactions with microbiota, the question arises as to whether it may be possible to selectively harness the benefits of some organisms while protecting against the potential dangers of others.3, 8–10 Specifically, understanding the relationship between the skin and its microbial inhabitants presents an interesting approach to cosmetic formulation for maintaining or improving skin health.

Normal Human Skin Microflora

The establishment of one’s normal skin flora typically occurs during delivery as a newborn.11 It consists of several major groups of bacteria, comprised of staphylococci, coryneform bacteria, micrococci and Gram-negative bacilli, in addition to the Malassezia genus of yeasts.12 Populations vary by body site and factors such as skin hydration and availability of nutrients.13 Clinical data on the number and types of organisms inhabiting the skin from culture-based techniques is abundant, but there is little understanding of the mutualistic and commensal relationships of these organisms with their habitat.10

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Figure 1. Impact of prebiotic compounds at 1% total concentration on the growth of S. epidermidis (blue) and P. acnes (red), measured by optical density (A620nm) at 30 hr

Figure 1. Impact of prebiotic compounds at 1% total concentration on the growth of <em>S. epidermidis</em> (blue) and <em>P. acnes</em> (red), measured by optical density (A620nm) at 30 hr

Of the extracts tested, a synergistic combination of black currant and pine was selected for further study in vivo because it showed the highest inhibition level of P. acnes and stimulated S. epidermidis (see Figure 1).3

Figure 2. Influence of test cream containing B. longum lysate on skin sensitivity to lactic acid

Figure 2. Influence of test cream containing <em>B. longum</em> lysate on skin sensitivity to lactic acid

Mean values with 95% confidence interval are shown; ** statistically significant difference at p < 0.01.

Figure 3. Influence of test cream containing B. longum lysate on skin barrier

Figure 3. Influence of test cream containing <em>B. longum</em> lysate on skin barrier

Mean values with 95% confidence interval are shown.

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