Prebiotics and Probiotics: From Niche to Mainstream

By Florence Roullet, Beauty Formulations and Materials Director at Aptar

If our gut is our “second brain”, our skin flora is the natural shield for our skin. Formulas enriched with prebiotics and probiotics are becoming more widespread and promise a more natural approach to skincare.

Many popular science and press articles have helped teach the public about the gut microbiome. We now know that the billions of microorganisms that regulate our digestive system interact with our central nervous system. These interactions explain, for example, are why we get a “knot in our stomach” when stressed, but they also open the door to a dizzying array of research possibilities, such as the potential correlation between an altered gut microbiome and certain types of neurodegenerative disorders*.

Our bacterial friends

The same goes for our skin. The latest advances in dermatological research have shown that “good” bacteria on our skin plays a protective role. After decades of using overly abrasive cleansers, it has now been proven that there is a correlation between a decline in skin flora and certain skin irritations and inflammations. This has led maternity wards to now wait longer before giving newborns a bath to ensure the maternal microbiota has been transferred via the amniotic fluid.

Prebiotics and probiotics

The movement has gone from niche to mainstream and is gaining momentum. Formulas are enriched with pre- and probiotics – microorganisms cultivated to complete or nourish the microbiota – that “support the skin microbiome,” such as those produced by brands like Gallinée, Orveda or Lancôme with its Génifique range. The trend is growing stronger in Europe, and the United States does not want to be left behind. AO + Mist, by the brand Mother Dirt, is a mist enriched with “peacekeeper” bacteria that can restore the skin’s natural balance.

Ensuring the survival of living bacteria

Conservation is a real challenge for these especially fragile formulas. While the mist by Mother Dirt can only be kept for up to six weeks in the refrigerator (four weeks at room temperature), consumers expect most products to last much longer. To guarantee the efficacy of these formulas with living microorganisms, they must be able to survive and so packaging must be 100% airtight.

*Source: NCBI

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