The microbiome goes mainstream | The time of the straits

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Crazy about the microbiome

Prior to 2007, most microbiome studies focused on the beneficial microorganisms nested in the gut.

The microbiome refers to the community of microorganisms that exists in a particular environment and, in the case of humans, a particular part of the body.

However, the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year, US$157 million groundbreaking piece of research, changed all that.

In this 2007 research, scientists found that in healthy individuals, the epidermis is teeming with billions of microbes, including fungi, yeasts, viruses and bacteria. Even more surprisingly, not all of these skin microbes are bad.

This research would forever change the way people think about skin health and biology.

“For years, we have tried to eliminate problematic bacteria using antibiotics. But killing bad bacteria could also damage beneficial bacteria,” says Mr. Boris Vogelgesang, R&D director of cosmetic active ingredients at French company Gattefosse, in an interview with the online chemistry magazine. , C&En.

“We need an approach that recognizes the community of flora on the skin and preserves beneficial bacteria.”

A balanced skin microbiome plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin, says Dr. Tarun Chopra, director of advanced research at cosmetics giant L’Oreal Singapore.

“Research now reveals that an imbalance in the skin and scalp microbiome is correlated with negative impacts on skin or scalp health, contributing to conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, dandruff or sensitive skin,” Dr. Chopra says in an email interview. with The Straits Times.

Leveraging lessons learned from the Human Microbiome Project, a growing number of established beauty brands and new start-ups are investing heavily in the skin microbiome field, with the goal of developing their own pro-biome lines.

As part of its microbiome research, American cosmetics giant Estee Lauder Companies has embarked on a proprietary internal fermentation process since 2002.

In the process, she discovered the benefits of lactobacillus ferment and eventually patented it as a skin care ingredient in 2009.

Several studies have shown that in addition to protecting the skin against environmental aggressors, this probiotic – found naturally on pickled foods and cultured dairy products such as kimchi, yogurt and even sourdough bread – also has properties anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory.

Today, it’s used in everything from acne creams and hair conditioners to facial cleansers and anti-aging serums.

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