With the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and skin sensitivities, it’s time for a new approach to beauty. Bacteriophage products may be the answer. Using bacteriophages to treat skin conditions is nothing new. It was first proposed in the 1920s when they were used to treat wounds in WWI soldiers who had become infected with gangrene. Today, bacteriophage products are increasingly being used to treat acne, eczema, and other inflammatory skin conditions. But that’s not all – these natural treatments are also being marketed as healthy alternatives to chemical-heavy and expensive cosmetic products on our shelves today. So what are they and how do they work? Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about this innovative treatment option and why it might be right for you.
What are bacteriophages?
Bacteriophages, or phages for short, are viruses that infect and destroy bacteria. The good news is that they won’t harm you since they only target bacteria. There are various types of bacteriophages with different applications. Some are lytic which can kill all the bacteria in a given area while others are lysogenic which inserts a DNA element into the bacterial genome. This means that the next time the targeted bacteria multiplies to create more bacterial cells, it will create a new cell with the incorporated bacteriophage’s DNA. In some circumstances (mostly when the bacterial cell is under stress) the lysogenic phage can undergo a lytic cycle. Regardless of their function, bacteriophages work by attaching themselves to a bacterium’s cell wall and using the proteins that dissolve the surface to penetrate/inject nucleic acid content.
How do they work on the skin?
Bacteriophages are natural viruses that only infect and destroy bacteria. These particles are ubiquitous, they can be found naturally in soil, sewage, water, and even your skin just to mention a few. Scientists can isolate them and select the best that can be used for therapy. When applied topically, they target specific bacteria on your skin and reduce inflammation caused by acne, eczema, and other inflammatory skin conditions. Therapy products prefer to use lytic phages over lysogenic.
Lytic phages will target a specific pathogen on your skin leaving all other normal flora untouched. These particles can easily be cleared naturally by the body or by simply washing your face, unlike some chemical products. After the complete elimination of the pathogen, the skin will undergo its natural healing process in case there was inflammation on an infected surface/area. Bacteriophages do not interfere with the normal functioning of the body cells, they only eliminate the source of the problem (bacteria).
Why are they good for you?
Bacteriophages are considered a good solution for skin conditions because they don’t use any harsh chemicals or antibiotics. And unlike traditional products, this kind of treatment targets specific type (s) of bacteria – for example, P. acnes for acne or A. yeasts for eczema. There are many reasons why bacteriophage products might be right for you:
- They’re natural
- They’re vegan
- They’re cruelty-free
- No animal testing is involved in their production
- They’re relatively inexpensive (costing less than most cosmetics)
- They are microbiome friendly
The future of bacteriophage beauty products
Bacteriophage products are natural, non-toxic treatments that work by attacking only targeted bacteria on the skin and in the body. They are not systemically active like antibiotics, meaning they will not affect the whole body and instead only kill the target bacteria on the surface of the skin unlike chemical-based preparations (phages vs antibiotics). Bacteriophage treatments for acne, eczema, and other inflammatory skin conditions are now increasingly popular because this treatment is proven to be safe for all skin types, even sensitive ones. This makes it a more appealing option for people who have reacted negatively to conventional treatments.
Bacteriophage beauty products offer a new way to treat an old problem. If you’re looking for something new and innovative, these treatment options may be your answer!
Phage skincare products available on the market for sale
1. PhagoDerm gel
Phagoderm is a micromir product designed to normalise the skin microflora. Unlike many of the other products on this list, Phagoderm kills a wide range of bacteria. This also aids in the prevention of skin bacterial infections. Phagoderm incorporates a complex of 72 species of bacteriophages from the RPC Micromir collection that inhibit the growth of the following pathogenic bacteria:
Acinetobacter baumannii, Bacillus cereus, Citrobacter freundii, Cutibacterium acnes (Propionibacterium acnes), Enterobacter cloacae, Enterobacter kobei, Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Klebsiella pneumoniae subsp. ozaenae, Proteus mirabilis, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus arlettae, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus capitis, Staphylococcus caprae, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus haemolyticus, Staphylococcus suсcinus, Staphylococcus warneri, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Streptococcus agalactiae and Streptococcus pyogenes
Store at 4 to 25 °C. Shelf life is 24 months from the date of manufacture. Do not heat, avoid direct sunlight, do not allow freezing.
The following are the uses of Phagoderm:
microbiota normalisation and the treatment of bad body odours in areas prone to excessive sweating Aids in the prevention of inflammatory bacterial infections of the skin in diabetic patients, cancer (during radiotherapy and chemotherapy), and a decrease in total and local immunity. Promotes antibacterial skin protection in cases of burns, injuries, cuts, insect stings and animal bites, traumas, fissures (including postpartum mastitis), diaper rash, and chafing. Umbilical cord care for newborns, Aids in the prevention of bacterial skin complications caused by acne, atopic dermatitis, mycosis, pyoderma, psoriasis, dermatosis, rosacea, scabies, eczema, and other skin conditions. Aids in the prevention of bacterial skin infections in the beauty therapy industry (including invasive procedures, laser resurfacing, mechanical face cleansing, and other procedures). Aids in the prevention of bacterial infections both before and after surgery.
You can buy this product on the manufacturer’s website by clicking here.
Because this company is based in Russia, the distribution of products may be hampered in some way as a result of the ongoing war.
Staphefekt™ is a novel agent produced by Micreos for the skin control of Staphylococcus aureus, Unlike the other products on this list, this one does not use a whole phage particle. In their natural lytic cycle, endolysin enzymes are used by phages to break down the bacterial cell wall when they replicate. This product picked a hint from there by using natural phage endolysins that are effective against S. aureus. Commensal bacteria are unaffected, and the manufacturer claims that this product is effective against bacteria that have developed resistance to conventional antibiotics, such as MRSA.
Staphefekt™ kills bacteria regardless of bacterial metabolism. As a result, the product is a highly effective anti-Staphylococcal agent that is resistant to resistance induction.
You can buy this product on the manufacturer’s website by clicking here.
The product page had been taken down by the time this post was updated. If you find a valid page for this product, please leave a comment below.
3. Phage serum
Hydrating Phage Serum is a daily-use serum that was developed by Ellis day skin science to resolve and prevent blemishes and breakouts while also providing deep hydration and preventing moisture loss on the skin. Based on the manufacturer’s website information, this product can be used on all skin types. This product has two functions: Skin-native antibacterial phages that eliminate problem bacteria while allowing good bacteria to thrive. Hyaluronic acid in two forms also provides deep hydration and protects against moisture loss. It is suitable for use daily after cleansing and before applying other cosmetic products because it is an excellent foundation for keeping the skin clear, hydrated, and joyful. You can buy this product on the manufacturer’s website by clicking here.
Customers can subscribe to receive automatic deliveries of Balancing Phage Serum from the manufacturer. Buyers can choose to pay in advance for maximum savings or to pay monthly or every six weeks.
4. Phortify Probiotic Serum
This product produced by Phyla is targeting acne-causing bacteria while allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive. I know the preceding sentence is repetitive in all of the listed products, but it is simply what phages do, which is to kill the bad bacteria while leaving the good ones alone. The acne-fighting kit improves the ability of live phages to target the source of Cutibacterium acnes. According to the manufacturer, with consistency and continued use, the skin will regain a healthy microbiome, resulting in significantly clearer skin in 60 days.
According to the manufacturer, the following are the ingredients of this phage-based skin care product.
1. Phresh Gel Cleanser:
Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid 2.0%
Other Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sorbitol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
2. Phortify Probiotic Serum:
Water, neopentyl glycol diethylhexanoate, squalane, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, methyl glucose sesquistearate, PEG-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate, glyceryl stearate, C. acnes bacteriophage, tocopherol, glyceryl caprylate, hydroxypropyl guar, sodium phosphate, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, phenoxyethanol.
3. Phluff Moisturizer:
Water (aqua), Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, pentylene glycol, squalane, cetearyl alcohol, isoamyl laurate, arachidyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, behenyl alcohol, arachidyl glucoside, Citrus aurantium dulcis peel oil expressed, caprylic/capric triglyceride, phenoxyethanol, limonene.
Phortify Probiotic Serum is intended for the treatment of hormonal acne, cystic acne, papules, pustules, comedones, blackheads, whiteheads, and clogged pores. You can buy this product on the manufacturer’s website by clicking here.
BX001 is a topical gel formulation of a cocktail of naturally occurring phage produced by BiomX that is intended to improve the appearance of acne-prone skin by directly attacking Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes), bacteria implicated in the pathophysiology of acne vulgaris. BX001 has been shown in vitro to be active against antibiotic-resistant C. acnes strains while not targeting other potentially beneficial bacteria on the skin. Furthermore, BX001 has been demonstrated in vitro to penetrate biofilms, a bacterial-secreted matrix that surrounds them and ends up making them less accessible to substances like antibiotics. Biofilms exist in the pilosebaceous unit, which contains undesirable C. acnes.
Bacteriophages, the most abundant lifeforms on Earth, are a new and exciting avenue for skin care. They have been used for over a century in Eastern Europe to treat wounds and burns, and are now gaining popularity in Western countries as an alternative treatment for acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. Bacteriophage beauty products are being developed that can be applied to the skin to minimize the bacteria that cause acne without harsh chemicals or treatments, making them perfect for all skin types! The best part is that they’re readily available in Western countries, as Eastern Europe has been using them for over a century.