Are you catching the bug?

Cosmetic companies are catching the bug and skin microbiome is on everyone’s lips, but what is it exactly? Can we really change and improve the skin microbiome? If so, what does it mean for skin care products consumers and manufacturers of cosmetic products?

Before we discuss further, let’s define clearly what is the microbiome…what about microbiota?

The skin microbiome is defined as “ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms that share our body space” (1). While microbiota and microbiome are often use as interchangeable terms, a distinction exist:

  • Microbiota: all micro-organisms living in an environment
  • Microbiome: all the genetic material originating from these micro-organisms

Note that the diversity of the skin microbes is huge! Skin microorganisms’ populations can vary with temperature, moisture, pH, sebum content, UV light exposure, etc. Multiple studies have investigated and reported the difference of microbiome found in various body areas, between sexes, the changes observed with aging, disease or external environmental factors including stress (1, 2, 3, 4). Research has clearly demonstrated the importance of skin microbiome! However, cosmetic manufacturers must keep in mind the definition of a cosmetic product (refer to our previous post for more details). In short, cosmetics can only temporarily improve the appearance of the skin and cannot lead to therapeutic or structural changes to the skin.

What does it mean for cosmetic manufacturers? What kind of clinical studies can be performed to demonstrate change in skin properties and to support product performance claims?  Authorized product claims remain the same and microbiome changes can be assessed via measurement of skin properties such as skin barrier function, or skin color uniformity measurements obtained from standardized photographs and computer analysis.

Contact Evalulab team to find out more!


  • Chen YE, Tsao H (2013) The skin microbiome: current perspectives and future challenges. J Am Acad Dermatol. 69(1): 143-155
  • Baldwin HE, Bhatia ND, Friedman A, Martin R, Seite S (2017) The Role of Cutaneous Microbiota Harmony in Maintaining a Functional Skin Barrier. J Drugs Dermatol. 16(1): 12-18
  • Grice EA, Segre JA (2013) The Skin Microbiome. Nat Rev Microbiol 9(4): 244-253
  • Morvan P-Y, Vallee R (2018) Evaluation of the Effects of Stressful Life on Human Skin Microbiota. Appli Microbiol Open Access 4(1): 1000140

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