The Future Of Cosmetics Is Playing Out In The Microbiome 

The future of cosmetics is playing out in the microbiome

Will there ever be personalized cosmetic products perfectly suited to everyone's needs? This is the challenge we wish to undertake, thanks to recent discoveries on the microbiome, the ecosystem of one trillion microorganisms living on the surface of our skin. Explanation.

Everyone today is familiar with gut flora and the role of its billions of microorganisms in digestion and immunity. What few people know, however, is that the health of our skin also depends on a living ecosystem: the skin microbiome. Rich in a trillion bacteria and other kinds of microorganisms, it not only acts as a shield against external aggressions, such as UV rays and pollution, but it also forms a genuine ecosystem with our skin. These bacteria, yeast or viruses play an essential role in our organism, by constantly interacting with our cells. "The microbiome is a key player in the health of our skin, so it is essential to take care of it," confirms Luc Aguilar, director of clinical and biological research for L'Oréal R&I.

But this cutaneous ecosystem is also fragile, and its balance can be easily altered under the effect of an excessive multiplication of certain microorganisms or the installation of undesirable bacteria. In case of imbalance, skin damage can then appear — micro-inflammations, dandruff, eczema or acne.

The path to individualized care routines

Each person has his or her own microbiotic signature. This is determined by our genetic heritage and is partly formed from birth. It is then modified throughout our life by various factors such as our food, the environment, where we live, the air we breathe or even the objects or individuals with which we come in contact: it is enough for example to swim in the ocean to temporarily change our microbiotic signature. Unique and in constant motion, this microbial identity card is at the heart of the work of our researchers — much of which was presented at the last WCD World Congress of Dermatology in Milan, in June 2019. The main issue? Discovering all the secrets of the bacteria and other microorganisms that make up the skin flora.

Controlling the composition of this ecosystem present on the surface of our skin could prevent most of the skin disorders known as sensitive skin or eczema. On the aging side, a study carried out in Japan by our Research & Innovation teams showed that the evolution of the skin microbiome was directly linked to the appearance of certain signs of aging.

From the youngest to the elderly, our research works hard to develop skin care products aimed at preserving or rebalancing the microbial ecosystem. In any case, this is the conviction of Luc Aguilar: "Each microbiome is unique, which opens the pathway to individualized care routines.Its study can help reinvent cosmetics by better personalizing products, giving our consumers exactly what they need based on the ecosystem living on their skin."

We are at the dawn of a "new generation" cosmetic that will use the skin's microbiome to provide products with new performance.

Caring for your microbiome

For the scientist, the next challenge consists in "specifically identifying the molecules that act positively on the skin and its microbiome." Several solutions exist: prebiotics, which nourish "good bacteria" and promote their presence on the surface of the skin, probiotics which are living microorganisms, or even postbiotics, molecules derived or produced by micro-organisms. In the near future, new cosmetics and skincare products will complement skin hygiene routines. Our researchers have just demonstrated the positive impact of a cream containing lactobacillus extracts on skin quality and microbiotic balance.

Beyond research, the development of new products is one of our priorities. The brands in our “Active Cosmetics” division are the ones that benefit most from these latest advances. Vichy has notably been able to develop anti-dandruff shampoos, by rebalancing the bacterial ecosystem of the scalp. At La Roche-Posay, the development of a postbiotic from protective bacteria has made it possible to further enrich the Lipikar, Tolériane (care for intolerant and sensitive skin) and Effaclar (anti-blemish care) ranges. In the field of skin pollution and aging, Lancôme launched Advanced Génifique in 2019: a new version of the anti-aging serum, enriched with 7 prebiotics and probiotic fractions that rebalance the microbiome for skin that recovers faster and appears stronger and visibly younger.

Want to know more about the way we work hard for beauty science every day? Discover our innovation model.

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