The Last Word: Mary Kay’s Dr. Lucy Gildea on the Skin ‘Microbiome’

“Understanding how our normal aging process influences microbiota of the skin may provide startling new discoveries that shape the future in designing cosmetic products.”

Dr. Lucy Gildea
Chief Innovation Officer, Product and Science 
Mary Kay
.…on a new partnership to study the impact on the microbiome in overall skin health.

Earlier this month, Dallas-based Mary Kay announced a new partnership with Dr. Jack Gilbert, professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and professor of microbial oceanography at UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Scientists at Mary Kay will work in conjunction with Gilbert to study a key area of aging and skin health: the skin microbiome.

Gilbert is co-director of the Microbiome and Metagenomics Center at UC San Diego, part of the National Institutes of Health’s $175 million Nutrition for Precision Health program. Aided by his expertise, Mary Kay scientists “hope to explore how different skin attributes are associated with microbial shifts in women,” the company said.

“There’s a knowledge gap here,” Dr. Gildea said in a statement. “We hope to bridge it.”

Like the gut, human skin—the body’s largest organ—has its own “complex ecosystem of bacteria and other microorganisms that serve as its healthy foundation,” the company noted. These “bacterial communities” maintain a unique signature based on location, age, gender, and the environment.

To date, there’s been “very limited knowledge” of what factors contribute to the highly variable bacterial communities on the skin and their impact on the aging process, Mary Kay says. But with this new partnership, the company hopes to advance that knowledge—and potentially add to the more than 1,600 patents for products, technologies, and packaging designs in its global portfolio.


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