Last week I was really lucky to participate in the Kisaco Skin Microbiome Congress in San Francisco (yeah!)

I was there to talk about innovation, beauty and bacteria, a perfect combo.

The conference was full of cool science, and I thought I’d share my top 5 takings and my favourite quotes. I will try to use as many of them as possible to sound clever at cool parties.

  • Jay Tiesman from Procter was talking about sampling the microbiome of people, and what could go wrong. Typically they were seeing a lot of similar microbiome on different people, it turned out they were mostly seeing the hand microbiome of the lab assistant!
  • Dana Hosseini from ProdermIQ: Dana has an amazing company building a database of microbiome profiles, helping you to predict and analyse the impact of cosmetics. He gave the list of things that negatively impact your skin age: Lack of sleep, Sun exposure (interesting part: one hour of sun a day is perfect, more or less ages the skin), and antibiotics!
  • Mark Wilson from Matrisys. Matrisys is part of the cool biotech startups cultivating bacteria and reintroducing them on the skin with the aim to cure Atopic Dermatitis. I hope their products get launched soon and help the lives of millions of people. My favourite quote: “We. Are. Not. Flat.” We always think that the gut is the biggest exchange surface for the body (30m2). But the skin, with all the pores and follicles, is actually closer to 100m2! One thing is now quite clear in eczema: the enemy is once well-known bacteria: S. aureus.
  • Wayne Willis from Illumai, a company that does products for the scalp microbiome had one of my favourite quotes: “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”. It seemed to resonate deeply with all the scientists in the room.
  • Larry Weiss, mentor to us all in the microbiome space, is infinitely quotable. A few chosen ones: “We are animals living in a mostly microbial world.” “We need to evolve from the germ theory of disease to the germ theory of health” and my favourite, even if there is no relation to the current subject: “Don’t fight with pigs. You’ll get muddy, and the pigs will be happy.”. Interestingly, he reports that traditional lifestyle such as the one found in the Amazonian never have acne. It seems to be a problem linked in the exposure to “xenobiotics”, all the foreign components our bodies are now exposed to.
  • Naked Biome is one of the startups cultivating the nice strains of the C. acnes, the bacteria usually associated with acne. It turns out C. acnes is the main bacteria on the face and is not always bad. Just a few rogue stains can cause havoc. Which means that their idea of cultivating and recolonising your skin with the nice strains could revolutionise the way to treat acne. Dr Emma Taylor also has a cool mug that says “Please don’t confuse your google search with my medical degree”. There was a lot of hungry eyes in the scientists in the room.

Ok, I admit it’s a top 6, but there was a lot of information!