2023 Wrap-Up: A Year of Skin Microbiome Exploration

Looking back

As 2023 comes to a close, it’s an opportune moment to look back at the trending topics and recent steps forward in the field of skin microbiome research. This year, the Secret Life of Skin has explored a number of key developments, from the introduction of new research methods and technological advancements to the impact on skin microbiome diversity of UV filters, acids, soaps and cleaners.

Our evolving understanding of the skin microbiota and its interactions has the potential to make a considerable impact on the skincare industry, offering new perspectives for product development and personalized care.

In this summary, we aim to provide a clear and concise overview of the topics The Secret Life of Skin has covered related to the Skin Microbiome over the past year, offering valuable takeaways for experts, professionals, and consumers alike in a quick-to-read format.

Influences on Skin Health: Vitamin B12 and Peptides

Vitamin B12 and Skin Health

Research has illuminated how Vitamin B12 plays a pivotal role in cell production, affecting skin repair and regeneration. Notably, imbalances in B12 levels have been linked to various skin conditions, emphasizing the need for balanced formulations in skincare products.

Cosmetic Peptides

Peptides are one of the most popular and effective cosmeceutical ingredients now produced in synthetic form and can have a direct impact on the skin microbiome. Antimicrobial peptides can be designed to act as antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agents, countering emerging infections. Other peptides, like SYN-UP, are able to boost the skin’s resilience to stress attacks and fight against those dry skin conditions and skin redness that are caused by bacteria. They do this by boosting levels of Staphylococcus epidermidis and reducing Staphylococcus aureus levels, breaking S. aureus-related inflammatory cycles.

Read the full articles here:

Technological Advancements: Biomanufacturing and Microbial Profiling

Using Skin Microbes as Biomanufacturing Platforms

In future, we may be able to develop cosmetic solutions that harness our skin microbes to produce beneficial metabolites of all kinds, for example anti-inflammatory lipid mediators, on the surface of our skin. These lipid mediators could potentially reverse inflammatory reactions caused by pollution, UV and photoaging, as well as chronological aging. Prebiotics can also be transformed by skin bacteria into postbiotics, or promote growth of microbes that produce these beneficial metabolites, for enhanced skincare.

Microbial Profiling

Equally impactful are the advancements in microbial profiling techniques – DNA and genome sequencing, metagenomics and transcriptomics – making it easier, faster and cheaper. These methods allow for a more detailed analysis of skin microbes, enhancing our understanding of individual skin microbiome dynamics.

With thanks to Dr. Martin Pagac for these insights.

Read the full articles here:

Chemical Interactions with Skin Microbiota: Acids, UV Filters, and Cleansers

Acids for Skin Health

The use of various acids in skincare, particularly their exfoliating and moisturizing properties, has been a topic of much discussion. A delicate balance needs to be achieved when using these acids to avoid disrupting the skin’s microbial health.

UV Filters and Skin Microbiome

While UV filters offer essential protection against harmful UV rays, both for your skin overall and for microbial balance, they can also have a disruptive impact. This has prompted a call for more microbiome-friendly sunscreen formulations.

Soap and Cleansers on Skin Microbiome

Certain cleansing agents can disrupt the skin’s microbial balance, potentially leading to a number of different skin issues, such as eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. This has sparked a movement towards gentler, microbiome-friendly cleansers.

With thanks to Dr. Rolf Schuetz and Dr. Riccardo Sfriso for these insights.

Read the full articles here:

Microbiome Studies: Scalp Research and High Diversity Insights

Scalp Microbiome Research

Further strides have been made in understanding the unique microbiome of the scalp. Research revealed its distinct composition (it’s so unique, forensic scientists could, in theory, use your scalp microbiome to identify you!) and its vital role in scalp health and hair loss, urging the development of specialized scalp-focused skincare products.

High Diversity in the Microbiome

Did you know that high microbial diversity can play a crucial role in pathogen protection and skin integrity? This suggests that skincare products should support rather than disrupt this microbial diversity to maintain skin health. That said, research into the relevance of diversity for skin and scalp health is ongoing, and high microbial diversity does not always equate to good skin health.

With thanks to Dr. Markus Egert and Dr. Martin Pagac for these insights.

Read the full articles here:

Understanding the Complex Interplay Between Skin and Microbiota

Research Techniques in Skin Microbiome

Back in August, we shared an up-to-date review of the current skin microbiome research techniques that scientists are using to deepen our understanding of the skin microbiome’s role in health and disease, from Shotgun Metagenomic Sequencing to Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH). These new techniques will help us to better examine skin microbiome interactions at molecular levels,  reshaping our perception of skin health and paving the way for ground-breaking skincare solutions.

Complex Relationship Between Skin and Microbiota

Delving deeper into the complex interplay between the skin and its microbiota, we examined the benefits of skin microbiota diversity, the potential link between the skin microbiome and immune response/function, the role of fungi in skin health and the changing skin microbiome as we age.

With thanks to Dr. Mahdi Ghanbari and Dr. Joleen Goh for these insights.

Read the full articles here:

Emerging Trends and Future Directions in Skin Microbiome Research

Microbiome Trends 2023

This year’s trends point towards a future of personalized skincare based on microbiome analysis. Emerging fields like microbiome-based diagnostics and the increasing interest in prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics in skincare are setting new directions for the industry.

Science in Skin: Conference Wrap-Up

Conferences are a great way to gather the skin science community together around the latest advances. We learned so much, hearing about advancements in biotechnology-driven skincare at In-Cosmetics, progress in microbiome-friendly ingredients at the Skin Microbiome & Cosmeceuticals Congress, and the benefits of an antioxidant protein from C. acnes for skin protection at the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Scientists (IFSCC) to name just three.

With thanks to Dr. Martin Pagac for these insights.

Read the full articles here:

Vaccines, Menopause, and Mapping and the Skin Microbiome

Vaccines, Skin Microbiome, and Skin Diseases

Vaccines have made an incalculable impact on human health – could there also one day be vaccines against certain skin diseases? There are currently vaccines in development for Staphylococcus aureus infections, which could give protection against atopic dermatitis, cellulitis, and impetigo. Research is also underway to explore vaccines for acne and skin allergies like contact dermatitis.

Menopause and the Face Skin Microbiome

A new study has shown that our facial skin microbiome changes during the menopause. Menopausal changes include decreased estradiol and less active sebaceous glands. For the skin microbiome, lipophilic bacteria, such as C. acnes, became less abundant and, overall, there was increased bacterial diversity on facial skin. These changes could contribute to skin disorders, underscoring the need for specialized skincare during this life stage.

Microbiome Mapping

3D facial color mapping technology provides skin scientists with a new tool to gather insights into sebum distribution, skin microbiota, and the effectiveness of skincare products. This new tech could be instrumental in the development long-lasting, natural solutions for healthy and improved skin.

With thanks to Dr. Barbara Brockway and Dr. Martin Pagac for these insights.

Read the full articles here:


This has been a transformative year for our learning around the skin microbiome. Academic advancements are beginning to pave the way towards a new era in skincare, which factors impacts on the skin microbiome into product development. We stand on the brink of a future where skincare is tailored not just to the skin’s visible needs but also to its unseen microbial allies, promising healthier, more resilient skin. Yet there is still much left to learn about the intricate relationship between our skin and its microbial inhabitants, and we look forward to more exciting discoveries in the years to come.

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