Skin microbiome spotlight 2020: Inside-out beauty, live probiotics, and fresh innovation

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers have become increasingly interested in skin health and overall wellness, presenting plentiful opportunities for cosmetic creams and beauty supplements that target the skin microbiome (Getty Images)
Consumers have become increasingly interested in skin health and overall wellness, presenting plentiful opportunities for cosmetic creams and beauty supplements that target the skin microbiome (Getty Images)

Related tags skin microbiome microbiome skin microbiota gut-skin axis inside-out beauty beauty supplements wellness probiotics

Knowledge and interest in the skin microbiome continued to gain ground in 2020, buoyed by renewed awareness about holistic health amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here, CosmeticsDesign-Europe highlights the areas experts in the field are looking closely at…

Back in September, the global CosmeticsDesign team ran an online expert Skin Microbiome Webinar​ with five highly esteemed experts in the field: Audrey Gueniche PhD, expert claim activator at L’Oréal Research and Innovation; Marie Drago, founder of skin microbiome beauty brand Gallinée; Gerald Renner, director of technical regulatory affairs at Cosmetics Europe; Julie O’Sullivan, postdoctoral researcher at APC Microbiome Ireland; and Ewa Hudson, director of insights at Lumina Intelligence.

So, what did these five experts think the future of the skin microbiome category might look like?

Marie Drago, Gallinée – a ‘mind blowing’ NPD revolution ahead


“There’s so much to be done in the skin microbiome – it’s mind blowing,”​ said Drago during the webinar.

Beyond the widely developed skin care category, she said there was great scope to build out microbiome-targeted oral care, intimate care and makeup. There was also plenty to be done in waterless or water-activated formulations that targeted the skin microbiome, she said.

From a formulation standpoint, Gallinée worked with tyndalized probiotics rather than live bacteria to ensure stability and efficacy and on the topic of live probiotics, she said whilst it was “an interesting concept”,​ it probably wasn’t “worth the pain”​ from a practical point of view.

Beyond topical cosmetic formulations, Drago said inside-out beauty and supplements held huge promise moving forward – “this is going to be a big trend in the year to come”.

Gallinée had recently launched a supplement as part of its offering – an ingestible blend of probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics that had been designed to reduce signs of skin inflammation and sensitivity by targeting the gut-skin axis. “I was always interested in the gut-skin axis because there are studies and good proof, so it made a lot of sense to do topical and inside-out [products].”

Audrey Gueniche, L’Oréal Research & Innovation – a ‘new way of thinking’ will take hold


“When you’re using makeup, it’s also something interacting with the skin microbiome. Indeed, when you are using a cleanser, of course, you have to be respectful to your skin microbiome. So, for me, this is really a new way of thinking when you are using products,”​ Gueniche said during the webinar.

The concept that every ingredient and product that touched the skin was also “touching the skin microbiome”​ would continue to build amongst consumers and industry in the future, she said.

And this new way of thinking would likely influence product development, she said, with future product advances aiming to protect rather than affect the skin microbiome. Within this, live probiotics were unlikely to gain ground, given how effective tyndalized and processed variants were, she said.

The gut-skin axis, however, would definitely edge further into the spotlight, opening up important promise for beauty supplements, Gueniche. “We now have more and more research really showing that any change on gut microbiome may change your skin microbiome. So, you have an inter-relation between your gut and skin – this is now completely assumed and should continue to be studied.”

Inside-out beauty that targeted this gut-skin axis, she said, was a “really exciting space”.

Gerald Renner, Cosmetics Europe – the ‘golden’ claims area is maintaining a good microbiome


“From a regulatory perspective, the excitement will be to make it possible that these products actually can come to the market as cosmetics,”​ Renner said during the webinar.

Any skin microbiome product innovation in beauty, he said, would of course need to adhere with the Cosmetics Regulation in Europe but it would be “interesting to see how far we need to stretch or reinterpret or apply”​ concepts within the Regulation.

For any manufacturer or brand interested in working with live bacteria in cosmetic formulations, for example, Renner said there would have to be careful consideration around growing these kinds of bacteria but also ensuring the final product fell into the cosmetics definition. Cosmetics Europe had conducted deep analysis on whether live bacteria could be considered a cosmetic ingredient, and he said the conclusion was that there was “nothing wrong or fundamentally against it being considered a cosmetic ingredient”.

From a product claims point of view, he said any innovation ought to target the “golden area”​ which was anything related to keeping the skin microbiome fully functioning and in good condition.

Julie O’Sullivan, APC Microbiome Ireland – ‘novel products’ and interest in the gut-skin axis


“I think there’s going to be novel products targeting different areas we might not have thought of before,”​ Sullivan said during the webinar.

She said there was increased interest in people looking at the skin microbiota as “our first line of defense”​ that would likely evolve further in the future. “Our skin microbiota can contribute more than what we are harnessing or using at the moment.”

O’Sullivan said interest in the gut-skin axis would also continue to gain ground, leading to further developments in ingestibles and supplements to improve skin health.

Ewa Hudson, Lumina Intelligence – promise in targeting the ‘wellness consumer’


“The investment and energy of younger people developing startups and targeting products towards younger generations (…) is really, really exciting,”​ Hudson said during the webinar.

She said there was huge promise in targeting the “wellness consumer”​ versus the more traditional “symptom consumer” ​with a raft of innovative skin microbiome products, particularly probiotic-based offerings – both topical and ingestible.

“There’s definitely this new wave of consumer interest in the whole area of the skin microbiome, based on the latest developments and what they need to help with their daily life,” ​she said.

All our in-depth coverage from CosmeticsDesign's expert Skin Microbiome Webinar can be found below:

The future of the skin microbiome? 'It's mind blowing' - think oral care, intimate care and makeup

Live probiotics in cosmetics an 'interesting' concept - but is it worth the effort?

Gut instinct: Inside-out beauty is a 'really exciting' space for the skin microbiome

WATCH our Skin Microbiome Webinar on-demand​ for deeper insight on all the discussion points above.

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