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Bacteria and Beauty: Microbiota's Game-changing Potential in Product Development

By: Marie Alice Dibon, PharmD
Posted: October 18, 2012, from the January 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In the case of probiotics, how do we market a product with living organisms in it? How do we handle that from a regulatory standpoint? How do we practically formulate these products, and most of all, how do we talk about it to consumers? Many consumer studies show that although the use of bacteria in food products is now widely accepted, the notion of microbial flora in the body is linked to its presence in the colon. When asked about skin microflora, most panelists are turned off.

However, the skin microflora is not going anywhere. It is here, and there is nothing we can do about. Our role in the beauty industry is to educate consumers about that fact, showing how positive these findings are in the sense that they open doors to new, more effective, more gentle treatments and products. We have to help consumers to understand that these little microorganisms they host are part of themselves—permanent guests that they have to treat with deference because so much depends on them.

Opening up communication on this topic is an opportunity for the beauty industry to help open a debate around a fact that is now a common trend to most civilizations: We are all interconnected and our physiology is a reflection of that fact. In the same way that we have to take care of our environment for our immediate benefit and for the generations to come, we have to foster a healthy ecosystem for our wonderful, delicate and superbly designed human cells, including those of our skin.

The next Micriobiota event is scheduled for Feb. 5–6, 2013.

Marie Alice Dibon, PharmD, is the principal at Alice Communications, Inc., helping companies in the life science sector to develop innovative technologies.