The molecular composition of our skin’s surface is, among others, influenced by regular applications of creams and soaps or other personal care products – and more than we may occasionally be aware of. An article in the newspaper “Die Welt” reports on research conducted by an international team of scientists. The scientists generated a 3D map which showed the composition of the human skin to find out more about the impact of the environment and personal hygiene on the skin’s bacterial makeup and our health.
According to the newspaper, they “established residues of shampoos on the scalp, and traces of sunscreen and other care products on the face and hands” – even if, as did the study’s participants before the samples were taken, one had refrained from showering nor used deodorants for three days. In other words, residues of cleaning agents – often with antibacterial effects – remain on our skin: and precisely in those places where natural bacterial diversity (microbiome) is actually expected to keep us healthy.
Other researchers had already demonstrated that specific molecules – such as those used in deodorants and soaps – impact the skin’s microbiome. In a study published in the trade journal “mBio”, US scientists reported that “triclosan, a biocide used in many personal care products, soaps, and toothpastes, promotes the growth of dangerous Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in the nose.” Triclosan is an ingredient in many cosmetics and disinfectants, as well as household and washing detergents. According to “Die Welt”, other studies also found evidence of the substance in blood, urine, and breast milk.
A better alternative are substances based on natural bacteria which ensure an attractive skin or help against body odour but do not affect the protection provided by natural bacterial diversity.