Skincare trends come and go, with some having a fleeting TikTok moment while others persevere and repeatedly get the spotlight.
Retinol and hyaluronic acid, for example, are two staple ingredients that haven’t dropped out of favour since their initial surge in mainstream beauty.
Likely joining the ranks of being ‘big in beauty’ is the microbiome, which is the ecosystem of bacteria that lives on the skin’s surface.
Not all bacteria is bad – some is even helpful in fact, and having a balanced microbiome is thought to be good for overall skin health.
Promoting this balancing act has become trendy again and it’s evident in new beauty launches.
A growing buzzword
Dr Marie Drago, founder of Gallinée, a longstanding microbiome focused brand, tells us: ‘I think the interest in the microbiome has been brewing for a few years now, but only came to the forefront recently.
‘With the pandemic, people started to get interested in preserving their skin immunity.
‘Big brands are also starting to launch microbiome-centric products, it always takes them a lot more time to bring products to market than the niche brands like us.
‘I’d like to think that microbiome beauty, or as I call it, dirty beauty is going to replace clean beauty in the mind of consumers: it’s more scientific and it brings much better results.’
Being a frontrunner in this market before ‘microbiome’ was a commonly known term, Dr Marie believes ‘what was a very niche corner of beauty is on the way to be the new norm.’
She thinks products are becoming less aggressive, more restorative, but that consumers are still missing a trick by focusing solely on the face – Gallinée have now expanded their offering into haircare and even toothpaste.
‘For the moment everything is pretty limited to face care, and I think it’s a shame, the microbiome doesn’t stop at the face.
‘Your body is a planet, and the microbiome on it is often unloved,’ she adds.
Perhaps, like in the past, the brand are still a step ahead of the trends as microbiome-loving skincare is where the current energy of this trend is focused.
Get the Face Vinegar for £7 from Cult Beauty.
A trend not to be overlooked
One of the newest launches has come from Rob Calcraft, who founded the popular luxury brand REN (but is no longer with the company).
He’s now come back to the skincare world with Cultured, a newly launched three-product range focusing solely on the microbiome.
Why the emphasis on this? Robert tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Because the “discovery” of the microbiome is the biggest thing to ever happen to skincare.
‘It has revolutionised our understanding of the skin, how it works and how to look after it.
‘It’s proper science – vast research is taking place in universities, pharma companies, bio-tech start-ups and even governments. It’s a total game-changer.
‘And everyone has a microbiome, so everyone is included and everyone can benefit. We wanted to bring the benefits of this revolution to the world.’
Cultured’s serum, cleanser and mask are formulated with prebiotics, postbiotics, and ferments, among others, to help skin feel less sensitive, less dry and more youthful.
Just like certain drinks and yogurts can improve gut health, this is designed to do the same just on the skin’s surface.
Robert believes consumers are becoming more aware of how important the microbiome is ‘rapidly’.
‘The gut microbiome is now well established as an idea in health and medicine, and the skin microbiome is now also increasingly being covered in books, articles, on TV and by the cosmetics industry.
‘The reason is because of the above, it’s a scientific revolution that has huge potential for treating skin problems such as acne, rosacea, dermatitis, eczema as well as improving everyone’s skin health and appearance on a daily basis,’ he says, which is why he’s spent years researching this corner of the beauty space.
Get the Biome One Serum for £55 from Cult Beauty.
Though some experts debate over whether pre or probiotics are better for the skin (the former being the food that feeds the skin bacteria, the latter being the bacteria itself), Robert’s research shows they can work together to give ‘major benefits’.
‘However, the whole formulation matters hugely, not just the actives,’ he continues, believing part of the excitement in this new phase of skincare is in how it can affect the microbiome’s behaviour.
Optimal skin health comes not just from the microbiome, but also from things such as collagen production which, as a we age, naturally depletes in production.
Robert’s research shows a health microbiome ‘can “activate” skin responses triggering skin renewal, and the production of key skin factors such as collagen and skin growth factor.’
As well as Gallinée, other brands have been quietly waiting for their moment in this realm – one being Aurelia, another luxury brand known for specialising in probiotic skincare.
It can be hard to get excited about skin science when it’s rarely understood, but new conversation on the microbiome has opened up how accessible knowledge of it now is.
‘The skin microbiome is not only your first line of defence against the external world, it’s also really good at training your immune system not to overreact.
‘So caring for your skin microbiome will both strengthen your skin barrier and reduce inflammation,’ Dr Marie says.
Get the Overnight Recover Mask for £55 from Cult Beauty.
‘It means that if you add pre and postbiotics in sufficient quantities, you can really reduce skin sensitivity and also help with bacterial conditions such as acne (caused by C. acnes) and eczema (caused by S. aureus).
‘It goes a little bit out of the beauty world and into dermatology, but it’s a massive shift on how we treat these diseases.’
When laid out like that, it’s a wonder why consumers weren’t paying much attention to it before.
But like with all things, we are guided by what mainstream brands adapt into widespread trends.
While some ingredients are pinned down in beauty, the way microbiome care has developed and expanded in recent years shows it’s still got room to evolve.
As Dr Marie forecasted, we might end up taking this approach over our entire bodies.
‘Most of the medical research at the moment is concentrated on the gut microbiome, and there is good proof now that caring for your gut microbiome can help with obesity, depression and anxiety.
‘For the skin microbiome, the thing we hear the most from consumers are: “I don’t need foundation anymore”, and “I went from washing my hair every day to only twice a week”,’ she says, ‘so it really pays to be gentle to your microbiome.’
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