We are familiar with the idea of good bacteria and bad bacteria for some time. Cosmetic industry is aware of this.

Terms like “microbiome friendly”, “mimics or stimulates the natural protection of the skin” and others that I do not want to repeat, have become more and more frequent.

Where did all this come from?

Well, there are scientific facts that almost everyone understands.

One of them is that the bacterias we have in our digestive tract are necessary, and if we wish to enjoy not only a good digestion but also good health we must take care of them.

That’s why there’s plenty of yoghurt in the supermarket’s fridge-freezer full of good bacteria that promises to keep the harmful ones away.

And also, for those who are not too keen on yoghurt, there are food supplements which have such a high concentration of friendly bacteria that you will not even find in a laboratory dish.

And you’ll think — yes, very well, but what does all this have to do with cosmetics?

The idea has its basis, the skin also has its micro-tenants.

As is the case of the intestines (oh my God, what an ugly word), they are very important to keep the skin healthy and act by preventing the entry of all the evil creatures that wish to make an appearance.

The microflora on the skin (the marketers like to use the term microbiomes) is made up of a lot of bacteria, each one originates from their mother and their father. In fact, there is such a diversity that it is a huge problem to “census” these bacterias. They vary from face to forearm, between the right and left hand, between men and women, young people and adults. And if we include hygiene habits, lifestyle and so on, the subject becomes real madness.

The fact is that the “why” these bacteria are on the skin is still not understood.

Technological advances are making it possible to give them names and surnames.

Still, it is difficult to fully understand their role as guardians of the skin or whatever their other duties may be.

So far, so good. But if you will insist on talking about cosmetics, beauty, looking good… And bacteria?

It sounds weird but yes. Acne or sunburn, for example, are being studied in relation to microflora and had already been studied before in relation to atopic dermatitis and dry skin.

But before continuing, do you remember PREbiotics and PRObiotics?

PREbiotics are food for good bacteria to grow well and work harder, but for bad bacteria, they are just the opposite. PRObiotics are good, living or dormant, bacteria that helps to balance the microflora of the intestine or skin.

Well, in 2005, the first cosmetic with PREbiotics was launched, included plant extracts of pine, blueberry and ginseng, capable of reducing the number of P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for the inflammation of the skin. Then came PRObiotics that pampered S. epidermidis, helping redness and sensitive skin.

Little by little, the market has grown and today these types of cosmetics constitute a tiny niche with enormous potential. Ugh, with this last sentence sounds as if I’m a salesman.

When you get this far, I’m sure you’ll have the million-dollar question in mind.

And yes, I like them. Mainly for three reasons.

Firstly, they are cosmetics designed to act on the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis. And this makes things so much easier.

Secondly, the use of PRE and PRObiotics at the therapeutic level is long overdue, so building on this knowledge is a good start.

And thirdly, there are many scientists studying and publishing super interesting things.

Scientific evidence is a fundamental requirement for the success of a product, especially when it comes to cosmetics, as credibility in this industry is always in question. This is the main reason why I’ve started writing this blog.

In any case, many difficulties still to overcome. Such as transferring the results obtained in the laboratory to cosmetics that meet the consumer’s expectations, or keeping these “cosmetic yoghurts” in conditions away from the cold, and having a reasonable life in our bathrooms.

What is the most important issue to tackle, as soon as possible, is the lack of regulation in the terminology and in the advertising claims that these cosmetics use. In this way, it would be easier to avoid any kind of temptation that would lead to consumer distrust, which is what really annoys me the most.

If I could, I would ask for improvements and cheaper technology, so that in the future we can get to know who the micro-tenants are that each one of us has on our skin, and then design cosmetics with the most suitable PRE and PRObiotics.

How happy we’d all be with our skin.

It’d be cool.

This post is also available in: Spanish

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