Maximizing on the Skin Microbiome Movement

By 2028 the global skin care market is projected to near $145.82 billion1, #skincareproducts2 has two billion plus views and counting on TikTok, and Vogue’s 2022 skin care trends3 include “supporting the skin’s microbiome.” The fascination with skin care is seen throughout history4 as each decade offers a different ideal regimen, followed closely by those hoping to achieve clear skin, but what if the answer is already upon us?

Thanks to key industry players the idea of the skin microbiome has skyrocketed in popularity. Consumers have shifted from the idea that “more is better” to an approach of skinimalism.5 People have ditched the harsh retinoids and 25-step skincare routines for products with “microbiome-friendly”6 certifications that promise to protect their skin barrier. The idea that bacteria and other microorganisms are essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier is no longer balked at but embraced.7

How has this change occurred? Consumer education and strong marketing tactics. In 2020, the health and wellness market was valued at $4 trillion8, and if its booming growth continues then it is projected to reach $6.75 trillion8 by 2030. Health and wellness have become top of mind for consumers and skin care companies have adjusted their products and branding to meet this new demand.

Skin Microbiome: Beauty’s New Buzzword

Time and time again a new word9 takes the skin care industry by storm. From anti-aging to instant results, it’s easy to slap labels on with trendy words full of empty promises. Alas, brands assure that this one is different, it’s backed by science.

Burt’s Bees10, Dove11, and L’Oréal12 are just a couple of big-name brands that have championed the importance of the skin microbiome and opened the floodgates for beauty’s next big buzzword. Now “microbiome-friendly” soaps, creams, and masks are popping up left and right, but will they stand the test of time? Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution for skincare.

Cue Skin Microbiome Analysis

Direct-to-consumer skin microbiome testing is the gold mine for consumers’ long-awaited quest for information about their skin.

Who knew the answer to a question as old as time – how to get clear skin? – could lie in just a single swab? Dr. Elsa Jungman.

Companies like Dr. Elsa Jungman13 have revolutionized the skin care industry by offering testing services as a complement to their skin care product lines or wellness packages. Now, consumers have a real opportunity to solve their problem skin with science. Here are two factors to consider for a consumer skin microbiome test:


A direct-to-consumer skin microbiome testing company can use different analysis methods to make recommendations based on various skin-related characteristics. The choice of sequencing technique determines the ability of the test to detect bacteria and other microorganisms relevant to healthy skin. In comparison to the gut, the skin harbors a low bio-mass microbiome, so the sequencing strategy must be appropriate to the amount of microbial DNA obtained from the sample.

  • In shotgun metagenomic sequencing, DNA from the entire community of microbes is sequenced. This yields comprehensive information on genera, species, and strains of bacteria as well as fungi, archaea, and viruses, and allows insights into the functional potential of the microbiome and how this might be impacting health. Given the high resolution of the analysis, this type of sequencing sets up a company to identify biomarkers from its database of skin microbiome analysis customers and may open up a path for developing diagnostic tests that can be used by health professionals in the future.
  • 16S marker gene sequencing is a type of amplicon sequencing that targets a specific region of the bacterial gene and yields the names of bacterial groups on the skin to the genus or species level. Normally the primers target regions V1-V3. This type of analysis readily demonstrates the diversity and relative abundance of groups of bacteria on the skin, which makes it appropriate for helping consumers find out whether a product modifies these factors.
  • ITS (internal transcribed spacer) sequencing is an amplicon sequencing method that specifically identifies fungi. Although bacteria outnumber fungi on the skin, fungi may be important for certain aspects of skin health. Some species live harmlessly on healthy skin, but certain fungal species are associated with skin diseases or symptoms.
  • Skin microbiome testing companies may opt to do both 16S and ITS sequencing together, enabling them to provide more comprehensive information to the consumer while keeping costs reasonable.

Collection of Skin Microbiome Samples

Skin microbiome sampling is quick and (usually) non-invasive. The challenge, however, is that the amount of microbial DNA recovered from skin is lower than that of other types of human microbiome samples. Thus, the sampling methods need to ensure adequate amounts of DNA, as well as preservation of the DNA long enough to enable the sequencing. Fortunately, collecting a proper skin microbiome sample for analysis does not require special training.

In current literature, swabs are a common and preferable method for collecting samples for the analysis of skin microbiome14. A dry swab can be used to collect samples for 16S and/or ITS analysis. Alternatively, some studies have found success in premoistening the swab in sterile solutions before swabbing the skin.15 According to some literature, either dry or premoistened swabs may be preferable depending on the site of sample collection (e.g. moist, dry, or sebaceous regions).16,17

To ensure the microbial profile of a sample does not change after collection, a sample collection device with stabilization media is critical. Zymo Research’s SafeCollect Swab Collection Kit is the best choice for all types of skin microbiome sequencing. These devices are filled with Zymo Research’s proprietary DNA/RNA Shield™ stabilization solution, which preserves DNA and RNA for a minimum of 30 days at room temperature—giving plenty of time for samples to reach the lab for analysis and eliminating the need for cold-chain shipping. The kit offers a positive user experience and has safety features that prevent users from spilling the stabilization solution. 

Consumers Take the Wheel

Consumers are taking control of their health and wellness journey18 like never before. Smiling faces of celebrities with clear skin are no longer cutting it for product guarantees19, people are more interested in the product’s efficacy. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way consumers looked at health, around 50 percent20 of people now report wellness as a top priority and many are looking for products that encompass these expectations.

The Future of Skin Health is Personal

Consumerism is paving the pathway to a personalized health and wellness experience21. People are invested in their care and are looking for companies that go the extra mile to tailor items based on their needs. Around $450 billion20 is spent on wellness products and services, yet consumers still do not feel as if their needs are being met.20

To stand the test of time companies should adapt to a more personalized22 scientific approach on skin care. New research and innovations have changed the game of skin health, and businesses must evolve with them to be successful. The future of skin care will be driven by consumers, and they are only taking roads that are paved with personalization.22

Learn more about the sample collection device mentioned in this article: LEARN MORE


  1. Skincare market size, share & covid-19 impact analysis, by product (creams, lotions, powders, sprays, and others), packaging type (tube, bottle, Jar, and others), gender (men and women), distribution channel (cosmetic stores, supermarkets/ hypermarkets, online channels, and others), and regional forecasts, 2021 – 2028. Skincare Market Share, Growth | Industry Trends Analysis, 2028. Published August 2021. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  2. #skincareproducts hashtag videos on TikTok. TikTok. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  3. Weinstock T. The skin-care trends to know in 2022, according to the experts. Vogue. Published January 5, 2022. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  4. Cosmetics and personal care products in the medicine and science collections. Smithsonian Institution. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  5. Baird-Murray K. Skinimalism? why a less-is-more routine is the secret to a healthier complexion. Vogue. Published October 7, 2022. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  6. Microbiome-friendly Certification. MyMicrobiome. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  7. Valenti L. Why you need to start paying attention to your skin microbiome—especially now. Vogue. Published March 4, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  8. Health and wellness market size to worth around US$ 6.75 trillion by 2030. BioSpace. Published August 2, 2022. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  9. Staff AS. Nine skincare buzzwords that aren’t as safe as you think. American Spa. Published February 28, 2019. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  10. Burt’s Bee. Why bacteria and your skin isn’t always a bad thing. Burt’s Bees. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  11. Dove. An introduction to skin microbiome from dove. Dove US. Published January 13, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  12. L’Oréal Groupe. The future of cosmetics is playing out in the microbiome. L’Oréal Groupe. Published May 29, 2020. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  13. It’s time to meet your microbiome. Dr. Elsa Jungman. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  14. Bjerre, R.D., Hugerth, L.W., Boulund, F. et al. Effects of sampling strategy and DNA extraction on human skin microbiome investigations. Sci Rep 9, 17287 (2019).
  15. Ogai K, Nagase S, Mukai K, et al. A Comparison of Techniques for Collecting Skin Microbiome Samples: Swabbing Versus Tape-Stripping. Frontiers in Microbiology. Published online October 2, 2018. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.02362
  16. Riskumäki M, Tessas I, Ottman N, et al. Interplay between skin microbiota and immunity in atopic individuals. Allergy. 2021;76(4):1280-1284. doi:10.1111/all.14744
  17. Manus, MB, Kuthyar, S, Perroni-Marañón, AG, de la Mora, AN, Amato, KR. Comparing different sample collection and storage methods for field-based skin microbiome research. Am J Hum Biol. 2022; 34:e23584.
  18. Taking charge: Consumers grabbing hold of their health and wellness drives $450-billion opportunity. IRI. Published November 2018. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  19. Peters A. What does it take for a celebrity beauty brand to succeed in 2021? Vogue. Published February 10, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  20. Callaghan S, Lösch M, Medalsy J, Pione A, Teichner W. Still feeling good: The US wellness market continues to boom. McKinsey & Company. Published September 19, 2022. Accessed October 18, 2022.
  21. Zimlichman E, Nicklin W, Aggarwal R, Bates DW. Health care 2030: The coming transformation. NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery. Published 2019. Accessed October 19, 2022.
  22. Arora N, Ensslen D, Fiedler L, et al. The value of getting personalization right–or wrong–is multiplying. McKinsey & Company. Published December 7, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2022.