Cosmetics & Personal Care

Targeting the skin microbiome

By Nava Dayan PhD Pharm D, Owner of Dr Nava Dayan LLC

Nava Dayan PhD Pharm D, Owner of Dr Nava Dayan LLC – a skin care consulting company for Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetics

Nava Dayan PhD Pharm D, Owner of Dr Nava Dayan LLC – a skin care consulting company for Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetics – discusses the challenges and opportunities for products targeting the skin microbiome.
The impact of microorganisms on our wellbeing is becoming more accepted, although the practical means of influencing the skin microbiome is yet to be perfected. In recent years, numerous active raw materials and finished products claiming to affect the skin microbiome (either directly or indirectly) have been launched. Nava Dayan, Owner of Dr Nava Dayan LLC, spoke to Sarah Harding, PhD, about the latest research and development in this field, and challenges and opportunities for products targeting the skin microbiome.
Starting with the current status of the field, Dr Dayan explained that the skin microbiome is now being researched for both medical and cosmetic purposes.
“Thanks to efforts unravelling this area in recent decades, and the development of more accurate and cheaper methods for research, we are now collecting information on the nature of the skin microbiome in health and disease,” she said. “There are already pharmaceutical companies that develop biologics to treat skin disorders via the manipulation of microbial dysbiosis. Research in cosmetics is more complicated for two reasons:  (1) the healthy skin microbiome is typically more diverse, so the data obtained can be more complicated to analyse; and (2) whereas in Pharma there is a perceivable disease that is healing, and the clinical manifestation of healing is a key study endpoint, in cosmetics the product is applied to healthy skin, so it is harder to associate the impact of product use to clinical change manifestation unless it is significantly altering appearance.”
Nevertheless, a great deal of research is ongoing in the cosmetic field. Dr Dayan highlighted mapping healthy microbiome in association with age, ethnicity or gender as a key area of research for cosmetics.
“The future will require a deeper understanding of the connection and interaction between the microbiome and human cells,” she said. “The microbiome and our cells have ‘conversations’ via various paths – a major one is termed ‘innate immunity’. I have studied this path for more than a decade now – anyone interested in the field can refer to a book I published [by Wiley and Sons] in collaboration with Professor Phil Wertz in 2012.”
Within the cosmetics industry, Dr Dayan believes that a greater understanding of the microbiome will assist in interpreting the impacts of lifestyle and environmental factors on our skin condition, some of which cannot be explained solely by the function of our own cells.
“By studying the behaviour of our own cells only in epigenetics, we ignore an extremely significant factor of our wellbeing,” she said. “The bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites that inhabit our body control many functions. Perhaps the main insight is that since these organisms need us to survive and thrive, nature most likely did not create them innately hostile but rather friendly”.
As interest in the skin microbiome has grown, the breadth of tests and methods for research has also expanded.
“Depending on the depth of research and investment, the products can be tested in vitro in various models or in vivo in clinical studies,” Dr Dayan explained. “There are now models available that allow the introduction and co-culturing of bacteria in 3D artificial skin models.”
However, for a claim for efficacy to be made, researchers need to demonstrate a change in clinical manifestation. As already explained, for medical applications, this may be more clear-cut than with cosmetic changes, which could arguably be more subjective. Especially considering the diversity of the ‘normal’ microbiome, the demonstration of cosmetic efficacy is one of the greater challenges currently facing developers of these products.

Looking to the future, Dr Dayan believes that we will continue to look at ever-smaller elements, moving towards a greater understanding not just of the microbiome, but also of quantum biology.

And what does this mean for the manufacturers of speciality chemicals, including the ingredients of cosmetics and personal care products?
“It seems that as we understand more about the skin microbiome and its importance to health and wellbeing, perhaps the effects of any natural or synthetic ingredients on the balance of skin microorganisms may need to become a factor for greater consideration,” says Dr Dayan. “Since the skin microbiome is relatively stable throughout long periods in our life, in the future we may wish to consider aspects related to the effect of long term cumulative exposure of cosmetics and personal care products on the skin microbiome and its potential correlation to overall skin health ”
Nava Dayan, Owner of Dr Nava Dayan LLC, will give a talk at in-cosmetics North America on ‘Skin microbiome related cosmetic products – Challenges and opportunities’ – on Wednesday 23rd October at 4:45 pm. For more information about the in-cosmetics North America education programme, visit: