The ultimate dream in cosmetic innovation targeting the skin microbiome is to be able to incorporate beneficial live bacteria into skin products, a principal scientist at L’Oreal Research & Innovation has suggested.

Dr Magali Moreau, principal scientist and head of the microbiome laboratory group at L’Oreal Research & Innovation, told the IFSCC Congress in London that the microbiome has to be considered when considering applying anything to the skin as it is part and parcel of the skin barrier function. 

The existing toolbox of ways that beauty and personal care topicals could be used to protect the skin microbiome included controlling the presence of beneficial microbes and limiting the growth of others, mimicking the skin microbiome’s overall function and providing live bacteria to the skin, she said.

“The dream, like we see in the gut, is the proposal of providing live microbes when indicated to provide a benefit,” Dr Moreau said.

She warned that there were clear challenges for the beauty industry ahead, as designing specific formulations suitable for those ingredients, ensuring stability of live bacteria and being able to assess its effect on the resident microbes were highly complex.

“We’ve seen a lot of papers pushing the boundaries in terms of what we know about acne, barrier function etc, but we can dream about where we can go, dream about building true skin microbiome models,” she said.

Dr Moreau said scientists in the gut microbiome sector are ahead of the game, having recently successfully created the first model human gut combining 119 bacerial species naturally found in the human body.

“This is the dream, so that we can bring solutions for healthy skin, against ageing, environmental aggressors, hormones, so we can push the benefits in barrier function, pigmentation disorders and immunity. And this is already a territory that is already highly active in academia, but also inspiring a lot of startups as well as the big groups, one of which I represent,” Dr Moreau said.