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JooMo vs Probiotic Skin Care: Why we distance ourselves from probiotics

In the last installment, Kit Wallen-Russell explains why JooMo distances itself from probiotics, how third wave cosmetics can revolutionise skin health, and why biodiversity is so important to ensure perfect, healthy skin. 

Why is the food industry able to use probiotics/make probiotic claims?

In 2012, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) banned the use of the term ‘probiotic’ on all packaging and marketing materials and repeatedly refused to allow probiotic companies to claim any health benefits for their products. Also, under EFSA rules, individual ingredients cannot be labelled as prebiotics, but only as dietary fibre and with no implication of health benefits.

How do JooMo products encourage natural microbial diversity of the skin?

The first step is to understand how third wave cosmetics can revolutionise skin health. The key is to understand the function of the skin’s natural microbiota: the skin is the largest organ in the body and is host to probably the most diverse range of microbes in the human body and skin bacteria are key players in host defence. They directly protect humans from pathogenic invaders and help the immune system to maintain and regulate the delicate balance between effective protection and damaging inflammation.

To enhance the body’s immune system and to have perfect, healthy skin, third wave cosmetics should create the correct environment for a  biodiverse and healthy ecosystem to thrive. To maximise the efficiency of the immune system, ‘natural’ skin uses many complex interlinked techniques to create the most efficient environment. The following is an overview of just a few of the main protective processes involved:

» Skin pH: it has been shown that an acid skin pH (4-4.5) keeps the resident bacterial flora (‘good bacteria’) attached to the skin, whereas an alkaline pH (8-9) promotes their dispersal from the skin.

» Sebaceous glands secrete the oily, waxy substance called sebum, a hydrophobic coating that protects and lubricates the skin and hair and provides an antibacterial shield. Sebum promotes the growth of bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes, which, by hydrolyzing the fats and oils present in sebum, releases free fatty acids thereby contributing to the maintenance of the acidic skin pH.

» Eccrine sweat glands are the main sweat glands of the human body, found in virtually all skin. They produce a clear, odorless substance, consisting primarily of water and salt (NaCl) which continuously wets the surface of the skin and produces a powerful natural antibiotic called dermcidin. It is only salty, acidic skin environments that activate dermcidin.

Use of normal cosmetic products (that include preservatives, soaps, foamers etc.) have a profound detrimental influence on skin surface pH and sebum. This leads to pathogenic bacterial, viral and fungal growth with long-term immune system malfunction and allergy problems. So, the challenge for 3rd wave products such as JooMo was to ‘first do no harm,’ so all such products must be chemical free.

As such, JooMo is a 100% natural and preservative free face and body wash. Building on top of this, Microbiota Immune Response Regulation (MIRR)™ technology (researched and developed at some of the UK’s top research institutions) restores, rebuilds, repairs and stimulates the skin’s natural immune environment, keeping the skin’s natural defences intact. MIRR technology uses the synergistic effect of natural ingredients to create the conditions for a thriving and biodiverse ecosystem.  Groundbreaking recent trials at the Medical University of Graz have shown that JooMo significantly increased biodiversity and skin health in just two weeks, and was the only product that retained skin moisture over a four week period.

How do you think the industry can go about making the messaging clear on the confusion between microbiome-related skin care, and probiotic skin care?)

As so often is the case, hard science must come first. Whereas comparisons between the skin and gut are useful for explaining the microbiome to a wider audience (who may be more familiar with issues such as probiotics and biodiversity in the context of our intestinal flora), leaping to assume that ‘what works for the gut must work for the skin’ is to misunderstand the crucial differences. The education that’s needed is to familiarise the general public with a simple overview of what the crucial main function of the skin’s microbiome: it directly protects humans from pathogenic invaders and helps our immune system to maintain and regulate the delicate balance between effective protection and damaging inflammation.

Any other thoughts?

Last word on probiotics: even if probiotics were shown to have some health benefits, there really is no point throwing probiotics onto an incorrect skin environment – it’s like throwing grass seed in a barren desert, doomed to failure. Unless the skin’s environment is made stable and attractive to the correct resident microbes (the route JooMo take) the ecosystem won’t thrive.

To explain this point, I use my example (in my previous blog post) about the ecosystem of  Yellowstone Park as a parallel for the skin’s ecosystem. Imagine if, instead of just the right amount of wolves being re-introduced, huge numbers of non-native species, such as Bengali tigers were driven into the park and released. This would cause chaos, as researchers across every ecosystem agree that non-native species have destructive effects. Furthermore, the sheer numbers would be hugely problematic. Maybe initially some of the ‘pathogenic’ elks would be culled by the tigers, meaning although the park would temporarily grow to be slightly healthier, in the long run it would be catastrophic.

This is exactly what probiotics do to the skin’s ecosystem. Blindly smothering an ecosystem with a species of organism/animal has no benefit and, in the long run, the biodiversity will be reduced.  Even if the species were native, there would be no point as the natural balance is extremely delicate, and to this day, no one knows exactly how many of each bacteria should exist on the skin. The only way to increase skin health is by enhancing the skin’s natural environment by creating the right conditions to keep biodiversity high and to preserve the natural balance of microbes.

Kit Wallen Russell


Kit Wallen-Russell graduated from University College London (UCL) in 2015 with a Masters degree in Geophysics. He is the director of the Pavane Research Centre (the R&D arm behind all ground-breaking JooMo technology).


Kit Wallen-Russell will be presenting his research at the 5th Microbiome R&D and Business Collaboration Forum: Europe. Take a look at the agenda here to find out more.

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