As described in previous work, the use of synthetic chemical ingredients in modern cosmetics is postulated to be a cause of damage to the skin microbiome. The discovery that biodiversity on the human skin is currently the only reliable indicator of skin health, meant that for the first time, a mechanism to test for healthy skin was possible. Using this mechanism and in collaboration with The Medical University of Graz, who carried out the independent study, this work aimed to help answer whether modern day synthetic cosmetics are a main cause of long-term damage to the skin microbiome. Thirty-two human participants tested three different face washes for their effect on the skin’s microbial diversity, along with skin pH, moisture and TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss), washing twice-a-day for four weeks. The upper volar forearm of the volunteers was swabbed at the beginning, two weeks in and at the end of the four weeks. 16S rRNA sequencing was used. One leading ‘natural’ brand full of synthetic ingredients, a leading synthetic brand and a 100% natural face wash were used. Results give the first indications of a link between synthetic ingredients in a cosmetics product and its effect on skin microbiome biodiversity. It paves the way for future studies on the topic with a larger sample group, longer test period and standardised methodology to create a universal standard for testing the health of skin using benchmark diversity values. This can be used in the future to test the effectiveness of cosmetics or ingredients on skin health, leading to the restriction in cosmetics of products proven to harm the skin’s natural environment.
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