Watch: NBIC/CCUK skin microbiome and biofilms webinar

Together with Cosmetics Cluster UK (CCUK) we recently held a joint webinar, ‘The science behind the skin microbiome and biofilms – evidence and claims.’

Skin microbiome claims are becoming a trend in many categories yet the science is relatively in its infancy. This webinar included presentations and discussions covering the market, research and innovation, and addressed questions like “can pro/prebiotics be used in cosmetics? and “how can the claims be credible and relevant to the consumers?”

Presentations included:

‘Skin Microbiome vs. Biofilms: A New Approach to Formulation’ from NBIC Senior Innovation Consultant Dr Katerina Steventon, and Founder of MyMicrobiome Dr Kristin Neumann. View presentation.

‘Microbiome – The Regulatory Landscape’ from Director of Bloom Regulatory, Olivia Santoni. View presentation.

‘Microbiome Growth Opportunities in Personal Care and Dermatology’ from Practice Leader, Innovation Services at Frost & Sullivan, Dr Sudeep Basu. View presentation.

This webinar brought together at times divergent themes of ‘skin microbiome friendly’ testing and certification for skincare brands, the emerging science behind personal care products affecting skin microbiome, paired with explanation of where biofilms happen on the human body, how to use in vitro biofilm models and manage biofilms with ingredients/technologies fitting into the cosmetics regulatory frame work; which claims to make as well as the magnitude of the exciting opportunity and shift in thinking the ‘skin microbiome trend’ presents.

There are early signs that the science supports personalization and contradicts the multiple product and mass consumer experience endorsed by the marketing of personal care brands. The ultimate goal for the consumer – and the brand – is a ‘skin health’ related claim, the ‘skin microbiome friendly’ claim may be a surrogate on that path. There is a strong need to keep the dialogue between skin microbiome and biofilms research open and aim for excellence in science, even in its relative infancy. There is more to do when substantiating efficacy of new technologies within the constrain of regulatory environments and much more to do in terms of consumer education. An informative and thought provoking event.

Dr Gill Westgate from CCUK concluded her learning and questions from the event,

Skin is not just skin; it is variable by body site, as is the microbiome, so a ‘one pot’ solution is not likely to address either the known facts or the (likely) underpinning physiology. Whatever we put onto skin, should benefit that skin surface. Treating conditions or problems of skin via a microbiome and or bio films approach in a cosmetic product is verging into cosmeceuticals and the boundary to therapeutics is thin and getting thinner. So being mindful of claims you wish to make and generating evidence to support them is very very important in this blurry category.


The lack of an independent control body (say at EU or FDA) level might be a good thing whilst the sector is in an innovative experimental growth phase – but regulation will come, if for no reason that to separate the good guys from the bad guys. Products that address both the microbiome and address unhealthy biofilm formation are key (I think oral got this a long time ago). But personalisation might be needed if everyone’s biome is different? What about a family approach? Family with kids; family with pets?


We might remember the hygiene hypothesis in all this; sterility is not good for diversity. The lack of microbial challenge in our skin might store up problems later, such as a rise in allergies? The re-introduction of microbial environments need not just be by topical – mergers between oral, air and topical products providers might be an interesting opportunity? In probiotics – technical challenge of producing shelf stable probiotic strains might be a challenge for the biotech sector and could be useful challenge for companies to group fund? Future challenges include the relevance of the microbiome in cancer – are any of the NBIC partners active in this area? The surface of the body both inside and outside seem to be linked and these link to health of tissues, including brain…that’s fascinating!