When we talk about microbiota, understood as a set of living bacteria in the body, we all immediately think of the gut. And indeed in the intestinal tract lives a varied microbiota, essential for various biological processes, capable of improving digestion but also supporting the immune system, protecting the heart and even the brain. However, there is also another microbiota, equally important, that of the skin. And the most recent advances in the cosmetic field are precisely dedicated to reinforcing the skin microbiota as it is capable of protecting the skin from damage from UV rays if not even reverse the damage already present. This is what emerges from a recent review that appeared in the journal Microorganisms thanks to the work of a French team (Souak et al, Microorganisms, 2021).
New cosmetics against sun damage
There are two types of novelties in the cosmetic field. These innovations concern, on the one hand, the use of microorganisms for the production of cosmetics capable of strengthening the skin microbiota. On the other hand, it was also observed that taking probiotics by mouth has a protective action on the skin microbiota. But let's understand better.
The skin and UV rays
The skin microbiota begins to form at the moment of birth and then varies and grows richer over the years. The skin microbiota interacts with the external environment. For example, it interacts with the sun's rays, which induce changes and reactions to the levels of these bacteria. Some reactions are beneficial, such as the production of vitamin D, others, and unfortunately they are the majority, instead cause damage and inflammation in the skin. This is why it is important to protect the skin from damage from UV rays, of course, but also from the combined action of pollutants. In fact, it has been observed that pollution, by increasing the degree of inflammation of the skin, increases the damage that UV rays can cause. Therefore, it is necessary to act on the skin both externally, using specific protective creams, and internally, with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances capable of strengthening our natural defenses from the inside. And this is where the novelties in the cosmetic field come into play.
The new generation sunscreens… from bacteria
The new generation sunscreens are prepared by including, in the formulation, substances produced by bacteria, such as cyanobacteria. In fact, these bacteria, when exposed to sunlight, release substances capable of absorbing UV rays. Sun creams containing this type of substances are able to dissipate the energy of UV rays in the form of heat without causing the formation of free radicals in the skin and by avoiding dangerous cell mutations.
Supplements and skin
Regarding diet and supplements, vitamin C, that you can find in citrus fruits, kiwi fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce, carotenoids, that are contained in apricots, cantaloupe, pumpkin and in carrots, polyphenols, which are in tea, grapes, pears, cherries, berries but also in coffee and chocolate, and probiotics, especially Lactobacillus johnsonii, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium breve and Bifidobacterium longum, that are contained in supplements or in yogurts that say this in the label, were found to be able to protect the skin from UV damage. In fact, vitamins and antioxidants help fight inflammation and probiotics strengthen the skin's immune system.