Article image

Secrets of aging have been found in the skin microbiome

In a breakthrough study, experts have potentially linked the skin microbiome to signs of aging such as wrinkles and overall skin health. The research opens new avenues in understanding and possibly mitigating the impacts of aging on skin.

The skin microbiome, a complex ecosystem of microorganisms residing on our skin, has been a subject of interest for quite some time. However, this is the first study to isolate microbes associated specifically with signs of skin aging and skin health, rather than chronological age.

Focus of the study

The analysis was conducted by experts in the Center for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) at the University of California San Diego in collaboration with L’Oréal Research and Innovation.

The researchers examined data collected during 13 studies by L’Oréal. This information included 16S rRNA amplicon sequence data and corresponding skin clinical data for over 650 female participants between the ages of 18 and 70. The goal of the study was to identify trends related to specific microbes, taking into account variables like age.

Pinpointing microbes linked to skin aging

“Previous studies have shown that the types of microbes on our skin change fairly predictably with age,” said study co-author Se Jin Song.

“Our skin also changes physiologically with age; for example, we gain wrinkles and our skin gets drier. But there is variation in what this looks like in people – you’ve probably noticed that there are some people who have younger or older looking skin than many others their age.”

“Using advanced statistical methods, we were able to tease apart the microbes that are associated with these types of aging signs for skin, like crow’s feet wrinkles, from those that are associated with simply age as a chronological number.”

Key findings 

The study revealed two significant trends. First, there was a positive association found between skin microbiome diversity and lateral cantonal lines (crow’s feet wrinkles). 

Second, a negative correlation was observed between microbiome diversity and transepidermal water loss, which is the amount of moisture that evaporates through the skin. The researchers identified several potential biomarkers for further investigation.

Study implications 

Study co-author Qian Zheng, head of advanced research at L’Oréal, expressed excitement about the implications of this research for beauty products. 

“At L’Oréal, our commitment is to create beauty products that meet the unique needs of each individual. Our recent collaboration with the Center for Microbiome Innovation has shed light on the role of the skin microbiome in aging, particularly in how it affects wrinkles and overall skin quality,” said Zheng.

“This research is groundbreaking in identifying new microbial biomarkers linked to visible signs of aging like crow’s feet wrinkles. It marks a significant step towards developing technologies for healthier, more youthful skin. We look forward to sharing new results as they become available, furthering the scientific community’s understanding and contributing to advancing new skincare solutions.”

Future research directions 

The study, while preliminary, sets the stage for more in-depth research into the microbial associations with skin aging. Future research directions include metabolomics to discover chemical biomarkers related to skin aging and meta-transcriptomics research into potential targets for genetic engineering. 

The researchers also hope to explore other layers of the skin, which have been less studied due to the difficulty of sample collection.

“While the study’s findings represent an advance of our knowledge of the skin microbiome, we view them as just the beginning of a new phase of research,” said study co-author Professor Rob Knight. 

“By confirming a link between the microbiome and skin health, we’ve laid the groundwork for further studies that discover specific microbiome biomarkers related to skin aging, and, one day, show how to modify them to generate novel and highly targeted recommendations for skin health.”

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Aging.

Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates.


Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day