The appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other age-related signs is most often correlated with a reduction in collagen production, exposure to the sun, lifestyle, and even certain environmental factors. But an international team of researchers has just made an astonishing discovery, revealing a potential link between skin aging and the microbiome, in other words all the microorganisms living on the surface of the skin.
The more time we spend in the sun, or exposed to pollution or cigarette smoke, the more the skin tends to become wrinkled. Beyond advancing age, these are the factors most commonly implicated in the development of signs linked to skin aging. However, they would not be the only ones, as revealed by joint work carried out by researchers from the Center for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) at the University of California at San Diego and L’Oréal Research & Innovation. The skin microbiome, namely the bacteria nestled on the skin, could also play a central role in the development (or not) of wrinkles, fine lines, and other crow’s feet.
“Previous studies have shown that the types of microbes on our skin change quite predictably as we age. Our skin also changes physiologically with age: for example, we have wrinkles and our skin becomes drier. But there are variations in what that looks like on different people: You’ve probably noticed that some people have younger or older looking skin than many others their age. Using advanced statistical methods, we were able to distinguish microbes associated with these types of signs of skin aging, like crow’s feet wrinkles, from those that are simply associated with age as a chronological number“, explains Se Jin Song, research director of CMI, in a press release.
To reach these conclusions, researchers analyzed data from 13 studies on skin health conducted in recent years by L’Oréal, including more than 650 women aged 18 to 70. All based not only on clinical skin data, but also on data relating to the identification and classification of bacteria. At the end of their research, made public in the journal Frontiers in Aging, the scientists highlight a “positive association” between the diversity of the microbiome and crow’s feet wrinkles, located in the outer corner of the eye, but on the other hand “a negative correlation” between the diversity of the microbiome and transepidermal water loss, in other words the amount of water that evaporates from the skin – generally when the skin barrier is altered due to skin aging .
Overcoming the signs of aging?
This is only a first step, far from giving rise to new prevention solutions, but this discovery could enable more in-depth research to better understand the associations between the microbiome and skin aging – and why not lead in the long term to the development of a real rejuvenation cure. “This research is revolutionary in the identification of new microbial biomarkers linked to visible signs of aging such as crow’s feet wrinkles. It marks an important step towards the development of technologies for healthier, younger-looking skin. We look forward to sharing new results as they become available, advancing the scientific community’s understanding and contribution to the advancement of new skin care solutions“, rejoices Qian Zheng, head of the Advanced Research team for North America at L’Oréal.
The objective now is to focus on the identification of specific microbiome biomarkers linked to skin aging, in order to try – always in the long term – to develop a method to modify them in order to improve them. Something that could lead to technologies, whether through cosmetics or more sophisticated beauty tools, intended to reduce the signs of aging in an (ever more) significant way.