Episode 38: What is Skin Microbiome Skincare?

2019-06 Microbiome skincare

We’re all familiar with seeing the words probiotic on everyday foods like yoghurts, but in the past few years skincare products are sporting similar labels and the beauty industry is abuzz with talk of skin microbiome skincare. You may have seen pro-, pre- and even post-biotic skincare products and wondered what they are and what they do for our skin. We came across all three microbiome skincare products trending at the 2019 edition of industry fair In-Cosmetics Global.

A microbiome is defined as the entire colony of micro-organisms that live inside or outside the human body. Our skin biome is composed of micro-organisms ranging from bacteria, fungi and viruses to mites. This gathering of micro-organisms doesn’t sound too appealing. After all, cosmetics aren’t manufactured (usually) with the intention of containing live, active bacteria, which is why they are regulated and must pass stringent microbial challenge tests to be placed legally on the market.

In this podcast, we hear about how scientific research into the skin biome is revealing the important role a healthy, micro-organism colony plays in maintaining the overall wellness and balance of our skin. We hear also about how our overuse of traditional personal care products is partly to blame for disrupting the skin’s balanced pH. Anti-bacterial cosmetic products contribute to stripping away our skin’s microbiome – including the so-called friendly bacteria – which is a first line of defence for our largest organ, skin, and our body as a whole.

Our podcast guest Jasmina Aganovic is a chemical and biological engineer, alumni of MIT and co-founder of Mother Dirt, a skincare company whose tagline is ‘rethinking clean’. Mother Dirt, a spin-off from AO Biome, a world-leading, clinical-stage microbiome company, was born out of research aimed at finding a scientific answer to the question: “Why are we cleaner than ever, have more products than ever, and yet a growing number of us have sensitivities, allergies, and other skin issues?”.

Mother Dirt’s hero product – AO+ Mist – contains a live culture of a specific bacteria that has been clinically proven to restore clarity and balance to skin within four weeks. Jasmina explains that even though their science showed that ‘rethinking clean’ was indeed the way to go, Mother Dirt faced almost insurmountable challenges in getting AO+ Mist to market. The beauty industry, from manufacturers to distribution networks and retailers, isn’t geared up to handle cosmetic products with live cultures requiring refrigeration. It is used to dealing with long shelf-life products.

Listening to Jasmina, you’ll learn to sort the facts from the fiction in skin microbiome skincare. You’ll also hear about never giving up if you have a sound, revolutionising beauty concept to bring to the market – even if it flies in the face of received industry wisdom!

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Rethink clean skin! @Mother_dirt co-founder Jasmina Aganovic explains the science and benefits of friendly-bacteria cosmetics. #skinbiome #microbiomeskincare #cosmeticscience Click To Tweet

In this episode on skin microbiome skincare, you’ll hear about:

  • How Mother Dirt is challenging the traditional, perceived notions of healthy skin and personal care products and what that means for the beauty industry;
  • Why not all bacteria are bad and what damage the accepted norms of eradicating and sterilising bacteria can do to skin;
  • How dirt, literally soil, contains bacteria that can in fact help alleviate skincare issues such as inflammation and hyper dryness; and
  • Why skin microbiome skincare products need to be backed by sound science not hyperbole.

Key take-outs include:

  • If you are bringing a new cosmetic concept to market, be prepared to educate your market, including your partners such as potential retailers and distributors on the product, its needs and how to sell it to consumers.
  • A totally new-concept skincare product might be best served selling direct to consumer to start with.
  • Do your market research and, if you can, run your products through focus groups to hone your positioning and messaging. Being a first mover comes with a price but there are rewards.
  • If your product is niche but has no specific consumer niche, you will need to work hard to think through how to position it in the market and about its branding and brand story. On the other hand, there are advantages to be had from cutting across traditional marketing silos. Get to understand your early-adopter customers and gauge their responses to help guide you in your marketing and retail choices.

Find out more about Mother Dirt and the science behind its skin microbiome skincare:

Mother Dirt website.
Mother Dirt on Facebook.
Mother Dirt on Instagram.
Mother Dirt on Youtube.
Mother Dirt on Twitter.

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Gemma Ortega Perez | Formula Botanica

Gemma Ortega Perez was Formula Botanica’s Relationship Manager between 2015 – 2019. To read more about the Formula Botanica team, visit our staff page.


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