Whether you like it or not, the human body is inundated with millions of microorganisms that live in a mutualistic relationship with us—in other words, each species benefits from the activity of the other. Many of the bacteria that cohabitate with us humans are not harmful and actually serve a purpose. Take for example the bacteria that live in our gut; these microbes help us digest and process our food. If something happens to our natural gut microflora, such as often occurs after a course of antibiotics that kill good and bad bacteria, our digestive system can be thrown off. We might supplement our diet with probiotics to help restore balance to our gut. Like our gut, our skin is also home to billions of microorganisms often referred to as the skin microbiota.
The skin microbiota is continuously communicating with our epidermal cells, generating metabolites and stimulating physiological processes. Recent studies have demonstrated that the skin’s microbiota can activate specific cosmetic compounds converting them into biologically active molecules on the skin’s surface. Diglucosyl Gallic Acid, also known as Trihydroxy Benzoic Acid alpha-Glucoside (THBG) is an example of a patented molecule that when topically applied to the skin is partially converted into another form, Trihydroxy Benzoic Acid (THBA) by the skin’s microflora. THBG and THBA work together to lighten skin pigmentation and even out skin tone. Together, these two molecules not only inhibit free radical formation, which could result in hyperpigmentation, but more importantly they help stop melanogenesis. Both THBA and THBG molecules are effective at reducing pigmentation spots, as well as helping to control formation of new spots.
As scientists continue to study the skin’s natural microbiota, it is quite apparent that studies will no longer just focus on the relationship of microbes to skin disorders and disease but will now venture into a new realm; we have just scratched the surface of understanding how our skin’s natural microbial populations can be used in conjunction with topically applied molecules to address specific skin conditions.