Cleopatra was known for bathing in Donkey (or "Asses") Milk or so the legend goes. Now, we are discovering that all those years ago, the Egyptians may have known things about skincare that we are only today, in a way, re-discovering.
Research now suggests that removing bacteria off the human body is the wrong approach. Studies have linked bacteria to immune system function and to combating various inflammatory diseases, and recent research around the human microbiome (that is, the genes of all our microbes) suggests we may be better off letting the “good” bacteria, which support the body’s systems, fight the “bad” bacteria.
Our skin is not simply covered with a random bacteria found around the place. Bacteria that lives on our skin reveals three distinct skin microbiomes. The oily, or sebaceous, sites of the head, neck, and main body, where exocrine glands secrete a mixture of lipids called sebum, are dominated by Propionibacterium, including P. acnes, which can be responsible for outbreaks. Moist sites such as the crease of the elbow, below the breasts, or between the toes are frequented by Corynebacterium. Finally, the dry sites of the body, the broad flat surfaces of skin like the forearm or leg that are exposed to different environments, are home to Staphylococcus species, in particular, S. epidermidis.
Of course, starting from the inside out is a great approach to glowing skin but now, research shows that the anti-inflammatory effect of bacteria can be seen in topical use as well. Which method is more powerful, however, remains to be seen. Some people have seen results just by applying plain Greek yogurt on their faces twice a week. And while those with acne-prone skin may benefit especially, those with any kind of skin type or condition can see good results; but people with oily skin may be better off with a low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
Many beauty brands are quite aware that probiotics could be the "Next Big Thing" in skin care, and a variety of probiotic-containing products are making their way to the market.
As the importance of the skin microbiome in health and disease is further investigated, researchers are also looking into the possibility of manipulating this to put "good" bacteria into face creams and serums, to reestablish a natural skin community.Most scientists will tell you there’s not enough evidence yet to know one way or the other whether such probiotic cosmetics are likely to work, though many do see microbiome manipulations as a way of the future.
The work in this area of skincare still needs better proof and it may be possible, indeed necessary, to personalise this type of skincare.