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I'm A Biotech Scientist & This Is What You Should Know About Skin Care

black woman with glowing skin
Image by g-stockstudio / iStock
September 27, 2022
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Biotech has always been a huge source of innovation for the beauty industry—driving ingredient development and spurring breakthrough technologies. At the moment, we're seeing some of the most exciting developments come from biotech labs as it relates to the skin microbiome.

While our collective understanding around the skin microbiome is in its infancy, all the emerging research continues to show us just how important it is for our overall health (not just skin health). And as Barb Paldus, Ph.D., founder of Codex Labs, explained to me in the most recent episode of Clean Beauty School, this means that no skin care product should be formulated without microbiome health in mind.

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Why this biotech scientist prioritizes the skin microbiome. 

"Everyone needs to know that the microbiome is critical to skin health because it has several important functions. The more we learn about what it does, the more we understand how amazing it is," Paldus says. "And the last thing we wanna do with any of our products is to destabilize the natural balance of it, or worse, kill it." 

And just to add some vital context, Paldus explains just a few functions of the biome we should all be acquainted with: "The first thing that it does for us is it prevents pathogens from colonizing our skin," she says, explaining that these "bad bacteria" are present on our skin and near everywhere in the environment. So their existence isn't necessarily the problem, rather issues arise when the balance tips in their favor: "Your microbiome is a system of checks and balances."

"If a product tips something in the favor of the pathogens, then skin health and appearance start to suffer. And that's when you start getting redness, inflammation, irritation, flakiness, etc.," she says. "Basically it all starts with an imbalance of the microbiome."

But it's not just the inflammation factor to consider (however, inflammaging should be enough of an alarm to spur most of us into action). There's also the barrier function: "Your microbiome secretes important molecules like fatty acids and lipids that create the physical barrier of our skin, so you don't dehydrate," she explains, noting that when it's disrupted, our skin will look dry, dull, and patchy.

If you want that condensed down: If you want healthy-looking skin for the long term, you must consider your skin microbiome health.

Intrigued? Well, in this episode we go into much more detail about the microbiome, how to support it, and so much more. Tune in below.

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Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.