Last week, Dr. Elsa Jungamn became the first US skincare brand to be deemed as Microbiome-Friendly, by MyMicrobiome (MMB), the only independent certifier in the world concentrating on the impact of beauty products on the microbiome.
The microbiome is the collection of millions of little organisms or bacteria that call your skin home. These microorganisms and their diversity are essential to your skin’s overall health - but they’ve been silently under attack via harmful ingredients and environmental stressors.
As an upstart skincare brand, this certification:
1) proves Dr. EJ commitment to creating gentle skincare that holds up to the toughest standards
2) allows us to showcase our credibility among small and large players in the cosmetics industry
But most of all - it brings us one step closer to our mission, to end the epidemic of increasingly sensitive and reactive skin, by protecting the rich and unique ecosystem that lives on it - the microbiome.
Why is it challenging to assess the true impact of a product on the microbiome?
There are two reasons that make achieving this certification incredibly challenging. The first is that 20% of the microbiome is completely unique to each individual. This means that there’s a chance that the ingredients that are friendly to one person’s microbiome may not be friendly to someone else’s.
The second is that the microbiome has distinct bacterial compositions depending on where it exists on the body. The skin of forearms and lower legs is dry, and there are wet areas in the buttock fold and armpits. “They are different ecosystems on the skin, on the head, in the private parts of the body,” says Dr. Kristin Neumann, co-founder of MyMicrobiome and an expert in the field. This complexity makes it difficult to determine whether a product is fully neutral for the microbiome or not.
Given this complexity, how does MMB verify products as Microbiome-Friendly?
While testing each product, they “...examine how many organisms remain unharmed and which are destroyed by the product. Most sanitary products destroy them all,” says Neumann. “Some beauty products even initiate species’ reproduction. The reproduction isn’t advantageous because the microorganisms must remain in balance”
By testing a product, MMB assesses its multitude of components to determine whether it can potentially undermine the microbiome. While the submission process to receive the certification is simple (and we encourage other brands to become certified as well), the testing process is rigorous. As a general rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients in a beauty product, the greater the chance of it being microbiome-friendly.
Each product receives a grade from 1 to 3, where 1 means no influence on the respective key players, 2 means a very slight influence and 3 a significant influence on the tested microbes. The product passes the test up with a grade of up to 2.0.
Dr. Elsa Jungman Start Over Serum passed the test procedure with a rating of 1.1 where the following was examined:
- The microbial quality of the product.
- The influence of the product on the natural, healthy skin balance.
- The influence of the product on the bacterial diversity of the specific body region.
- The influence of the product on the growth behavior of the microbes of the specific body region.
The serum became certified entitled to carry the “Microbiome-friendly“ seal of quality on February 18, 2020.
What comes next?
For Dr. Elsa Jungman, we plan to continue paving the path for microbiome-friendly product development. This first certification is just the beginning of what we hope to achieve by creating intentional, gentle products for your skin.
We also challenge and encourage other brands in the beauty space to reflect on their ingredients and apply for the certification.
For more info on the MMB process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
With collective attention, we become one step closer to freedom from skin sensitivity, for all.