The skin has a barrier function. Advances in science have made it possible to discover that it is duly supported in its protective functions by an army of micro-organisms that are invisible to the naked eye but are present in their millions on every square centimetre of skin: the skin microbiota.

The cutaneous microbiota is an individual marker


The skin microbiota varies in quantity and quality from person to person. Variables such as age, sex, immune system, pH, temperature and humidity will modify the composition of the skin microbiota. For example, as the skin is more acidic in men than in women, they would have a higher microbial density. Similarly, the use of cosmetic products and the production of hormones create differences. However, two distinct categories can be identified within the skin microbiota: the “resident” flora and the “transient” flora.

One bacteria is particularly representative of this resident skin flora

In the epidermis, it is Staphylococcus epidermidis, as well as the yeast Malassezia, which is found in areas rich in sebum (forehead, back, face and scalp).

This flora can also consist of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria and lead to skin imbalances

1 – Atopic skin: Staphylococcus aureus

One of the most common transient species is Staphylococcus aureus, which is implicated in atopic dermatitis. In people with atopic dermatitis, there is a decrease in bacterial diversity in the skin microbiota. One bacterium stands out during flare-ups: Staphylococcus aureus.

2- Acne skin: Cutibacterium acnes

Cutibacterium acnes is the main bacteria involved in acne. It is a bacterium present in the sebaceous glands of all individuals and exists in different types. Cutibacterium acnes is an integral part of the skin microbiome and contributes to its balance. It is a saprophytic bacterium, i.e. it feeds on decomposing organic matter such as sebum. Acne is therefore a disease of the skin microbiota.

As a conclusion,

Understanding the skin microbiota opens up many possibilities for innovation in the cosmetic field. Indeed, an unbalanced skin microbiota could induce or be due to :

– skin diseases, such as acne, atopic dermatitis or psoriasis
– dandruff
– unpleasant body odour
– or even accelerated skin ageing

Consumers are increasingly interested in this, and manufacturers are therefore starting to develop products that respect the skin and its microbiota, limiting preservatives or an excessively high pH. The associated claims are to maintain or protect the balance of the microbiota.

Some products already claim to be able to restore an unbalanced microbiota or to improve the condition of the skin through an action on the microbiota. These products can be prebiotics (substrate that will be used by a microorganism), probiotics (the microorganism, living or not depending on the definition), postbiotics (product derived from the microorganism), or active ingredients with a demonstrated effect on the skin microbiota.

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