In short: It's skin care designed and formulated to nurture your skin microbiome, or the collection of bacteria, fungus, and microorganisms that live on your skin. The emergence of this skin care subgenre has not happened overnight, either. It unfolded alongside the plethora of research developing about the role of the skin microbiome in our overall health, immunity, and skin barrier function.
Sometimes it's called biome-friendly skin care, microbiome skin care, microflora skin care, or a number of other phrases—but it's all the same category. Biotic skin care is the broad term in which we categorize products infused with biome-specific ingredients, like pre-, pro-, and postbiotics. The ingredients all work toward barrier support and nurturing a thriving microbial community; though, of course, the ingredients do so to varying degrees of efficacy and mechanisms (don't worry; we'll explain more shortly). What's also cool about these ingredients is that you can really use biotic skin care anywhere: face, body, and scalp, too.
This is a vital step in skin care and the beauty industry because when your biome thrives—ideally the end result of these products—your skin is better able to stay hydrated, deal with inflammation, protect itself from environmental stressors, deal with skin conditions (like acne or rosacea), help your immune response, and age healthier. Sounds good, no?
"No new skin care product that comes to market can claim to benefit the skin without keeping the microbiome in mind, using ingredients that support a healthy microbiome and avoiding ingredients that disrupt or damage the microbiome," says board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D.
But to understand why and how biotic skin care does all of these good things for the skin, first we must understand the microbiome itself.