Human skin is a complex ecosystem and is host to a large number of microorganisms. When the bacterial ecosystem is balanced and differentiated, skin remains healthy. However, the use of cosmetics can change this balance and promote the appearance of skin diseases. The skin’s microorganisms can utilize some cosmetic components, which either promote their growth, or produce metabolites that influence the skin environment. In this study, we tested the ability of the Malassezia
species and some bacterial strains to assimilate substances frequently used in dermal formulations. The growth capability of microorganisms was determined and their lipase activity was analyzed. The growth of all Malassezia
spp. in the presence of free acids, free acid esters, and fatty alcohols with a fatty chain length above 12 carbon atoms was observed. No growth was observed in the presence of fatty alcohol ethers, secondary fatty alcohols, paraffin- and silicon-based substances, polymers, polyethylene glycols, quaternary ammonium salts, hydroxy fatty acid esters, or fatty acids and fatty acid esters with a fatty chain length shorter than 12 carbon atoms. The hydrolysis of esters by Malassezia
lipases was detected using High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC). The production of free fatty acids as well as fatty alcohols was observed. The growth promotion or inhibition of bacterial strains was only found in the presence of a few ingredients. Based on these results, formulations containing microbiome inert ingredients were developed.
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