Guest Article

Exclusive: new skin microbiome research from JooMo

By Kit Wallen Russell, R&D Director, JooMo

- Last updated on GMT

Exclusive: new skin microbiome research from JooMo

Related tags microbiome

Here, Kit Wallen Russell, R&D Director of JooMo Ltd, gives us an exclusive on his most recent paper: how do everyday cosmetics actually impact on the skin’s microbiome?

The paper was released in in December 2018, and it details JooMo’s study in a sub-contracted collaboration with The Medical University of Graz (FEMtech funding by FFG and conducted by ACIB) investigating the effect of everyday cosmetics on the skin microbiome.

These first ever trials were made possible by his 2017 published discovery of what he calls ‘the first mechanism for measuring the health of skin’ using skin microbiome biodiversity.

The following are Wallen Russell’s insights on the results of the study.

joomo kit

The 'skin allergy epidemic'

During the 20th century in the developed world there was an alarming rise in skin ailments and allergic conditions such as eczema, and the rate of this deterioration has increased significantly in the past five to 10 years.

This “skin allergy epidemic” has coincided with the rise in the cosmetics industry, leading to an increasing number of studies suggesting it is linked to the rise in synthetic chemical ingredients in modern cosmetics.

Until now, there had been no definitive way of measuring skin health.

A lack of evidence linking the health of skin to the presence of specific dominating types of microbe, and high inter- and intra- personal microbiome variation between people paved the way for our 2017 discovery, outlined below.

The 'only reliable' skin health measuring mechanism

Inspired by these problems and the exceptionally high human microbial gut diversity found in rural Burkina Faso, in 2017 we discovered same trait displayed across nature also applied to the skin: the higher the biodiversity in a specific environment, the healthier the ecosystem.

Microbial biodiversity alone predicts whether the skin is healthy or not.

For the first time we proposed benchmark values of diversity against which skin can be measured to determine how healthy it is.

This gave us the ability to, for the first time, start to test whether cosmetic ingredients and products are a main cause of the skin allergy epidemic.

The full study, co-authored with my twin, can be found here​.

Scientific Study #1 with Graz

Using this mechanism and in collaboration with The Medical University of Graz, who carried out the independent study, a project was finished in 2018 which aimed to start the process of answering whether modern day synthetic cosmetics are a main cause of long-term damage to the skin microbiome.

The study highlighted changes in microbiome biodiversity which appeared to be in response to product use.

The 32 human volunteers were split into three groups, one tested a leading synthetic formulation, one tested a leading high street ‘natural’ formulation, and one tested JooMo, which claims to be world’s first 100% natural and preservative free microbiome friendly face wash.

The second of the three - the leading high street ‘natural’ product - was chosen because it is one of many products which labels itself ‘natural’ but is not: using the same definition of the word ‘natural’ taken from the food industry standards, it contains twenty-three ingredients, sixteen of which are synthetic – 70% of the total.

This misuse of the word ‘natural’ is replicated throughout the industry.

The product selected was a typical example of the synthetic ingredient proportions found in high street brands which use this unregulated term.

In comparison, the synthetic product contains twenty-eight ingredients, twenty-one of which are synthetic – 75% of the total.

Details of the study

The researchers took a skin biodiversity baseline at the start of the trial (T1), then midway through the research (T2) and again at the conclusion (T3). The volunteers’ volar forearm was used for skin swabbing. 

Skin health throughout was measured by the biodiversity of the skin microbiome. The more diverse a microbiome becomes, the stronger the skin barrier and the greater the overall skin health.

The study found that JooMo’s products significantly increase the average microbial diversity and, as a result, skin health, in two weeks or sooner (see graph below). The synthetic product group saw the slowest changes over two weeks.

These facts could indicate that there is a correlation between the amount of synthetic ingredients in a product and its effect on skin microbiome biodiversity, which would be the beginnings of linking the everyday cosmetics to the skin allergy epidemic, but further, larger studies will be done in the future to fully investigate this.

JooMo graph - 2 weeks diversity change

The full study can be accessed here​.

Revolutionary importance of this research

In recent years, consumers have become more aware than ever that chemicals they are putting on their skin could be damaging their health. These new findings show that they have every right to worry.

This will signal a new dawn for the cosmetics industry - ‘Third Wave Cosmetics’. ‘Third Wave Cosmetics’ need to be 100% truly natural and preservative free, and skin-microbiome-friendly.

Plans for 2019 for JooMo

Phase II of our relationship with The Medical University of Graz will be the launch of a certification board using our proprietary skin-health measuring mechanism.

Products will only be successfully certified if they are 100% natural and preservative free, and maintain a healthy skin microbiome.

Find out more and register ​​HERE​​ to join us at the Cosmetics Design Summit 2019: Skin Microbiome Innovation​, which is sponsored by DSM​ and Givaudan​ (Diamond sponsors); Solabia​, BASF​ and Sabinsa​ (Platinum sponsors); and Indena​ and Atlantia​ (Gold sponsors).

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