The skin microbiome is the hot trend in consumer skin care – but can we actually affect its composition? A recent epidemiology study, created from a collaboration between Amway and Microbiome Insights, states that demographic, lifestyle, and physiological factors collectively explain 12 to 20 percent of the variability in our microbiome composition.
The research found the most influential factors associated with facial skin microbiome composition include levels of C. acnes, the bacterium involved in the development of acne – as well as age and the use of sun protection. For the skin inside the mouth, ethnicity and smoking showed the strongest associations with its microbiome.
Dr. Hillebrand describes how this study was not only the largest of its kind but also represents the real-world skin microbiome. “A lot of time in clinical studies people are asked to wash in a certain way, but this study was ad-hoc. Over the two-week period we experienced a number of variables such as time, weather, cleanliness – some people were sweaty and some were not. However, despite the lack of control, it was great to see the common themes that came out of the work.”
The study originated following a chance meeting between Dr. Greg Hillebrand, Senior Principal Research Scientist at Amway and Malcom Kendall, Co-founder and CEO of Microbiome Insights Inc. at a human microbiome conference in April 2015. Dr. Hillebrand proposed the idea of conducting an epidemiology study at a Michigan arts festival, something that he had done two years prior but this time with a focused approach on the skin microbiome. And the rest is history…
Skin samples were taken at the art festival from 495 individuals with a range of ages, sex and ethnicities and as Dr. Hillebrand states, “It was the first example of where cosmetic science and microbiome science came together in one study.”