Skin microbiome and formulation of cosmetics with Pro-, Pre-, and Post-biotics ingredients – Definitions and key considerations. Opportunities and challenges for cosmetic formulators and companies


President & Founder – BioSciences Expansion, LLC, Newtown, PA, USA


The human skin is inhabited by large and diverse microbial communities (bacteria, fungi, viruses). Advanced analytical study approaches such as metagenomics and recent research projects have increased our understanding of their composition and dynamics. The human skin microbiome and microbiota have been in recent years the subject of a lot of interest as key components of a healthy skin. Sometimes presented as the “second barrier”, the skin microbiome is an exciting area for the cosmetic industry as it leads to a new generation of products and marketing opportunities. Translating our better understanding, formulations of cosmetic products with pro-, pre-, and post-biotics ingredients are meant to protect, optimize, and restore skin microbial balance for skin health. After defining the microbiome, microbiota, and these ingredients, the article provides key considerations about them. The article also reviews the challenges associated with formulating and marketing this new branch of cosmetics.

This article follows a presentation given at the 2018 Society of Cosmetic Chemists Annual Scientific Meeting, NYC.

The skin is critical to our general health and an effective “healthy” skin acts as a protective physical and biological barrier between the environment and the inside of the body (1). It reduces the effects of harmful UV radiation, prevents the entry of hazardous substances (allergens, chemicals, pollution particles, etc.) and the invasion of pathogens into the skin, while controlling the loss of water and nutrients from the skin. 

A healthy skin surface has an acidic pH and maintaining its level is critical for an effective skin barrier function and defensive mechanism against pathogenic microorganisms (2-4). It is a complex and dynamic biology system involving a wide array of components in order to maintain the skin homeostasis.


Part of this biology system is the skin microbiota, a highly diverse collection of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses) that densely colonizes the skin, and a co ...