Post — 5 Min Read

How Study of the Exposome Can Protect and Preserve Skin Health

A new paradigm in the world of epidemiology has opened to explore the effects of the environment on health.

Instead of focusing on the genome’s interaction with the environment, scientists are now exploring what’s known as the exposome, the study of the totality of non-genetic exposures to the environment over a lifetime.

From conception, individuals are exposed to a number of different toxicants, which are influenced by diet, lifestyle choices, medications, and occupational hazards. Whereas the genome has been sequenced and is currently being assessed for specific functionality, the exposome has yet to be fully decoded. However, technological advances in areas such as high-resolution mass spectrometry and network science are paving the way for more comprehensive assessments.

In relation to skin health in particular, the genome, exposome, and microbiome can be closely linked in studies of how the skin ages. Therefore, it’s essential further research takes place into the combination of all three to determine how to improve overall skin health. Skin care and cosmetic companies will then produce products that are directly tailored to a person’s skin type, taking into account the biological and environmental exposures an individual is subjected to in their lifetime, along with factors such as their lifestyle and where they live.

How Assessment of the Exposome Can Enhance the Performance of Skin Care Products

While the genome and microbiome effects on skin health have been studied extensively, the exposome is the link between them that can redefine how cosmetics are made and their efficacy for improving skin health. To do this, comprehensive assessment of the exposome and environmental factors a person encounters is needed. According to Christopher Paul Wild, there are three overlapping domains that can be measured to define the different environmental factors, internal, specific external, and general external.

Internal Factors

Internal environmental factors are specific to each individual, and represent the biological and toxicological exposures inside the body, such as:

  • Physiology
  • Metabolic factors
  • Oxidative stress
  • Body morphology
  • Inflammation
  • Gut microbial flora

Specific External Factors

Specific external factors are pollutants that can be encountered through everyday activities, and measured through:

  • Diet
  • Tobacco use
  • Infections
  • Occupation
  • Physical activity
  • Chemical pollutants
  • Lifestyle factors

General External Factors

General external factors are determined by the different environments a person encounters depending on where they live and how they grew up, including:

  • Education level
  • Financial status
  • Climate factors
  • Social capital
  • Urban or rural environment

Why is the Exposome so Important When it Comes to Skin Care?

How we interact with the environment and how our behaviour affects skin health can be determined through skin microbiome testing. Chronic skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are identified through the microbiota and organisms that live on an individual’s skin, but how a person came to suffer from these skin ailments is up for debate, and how to accurately treat that condition can always be improved. Genetics, of course, play an integral role in determining who is more susceptible to particular skin diseases, but it’s evidently clear that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are the cause.

That’s why scientists are delving further into research of the exposome, though there are still some technical difficulties in defining and measuring exposures over a person’s lifetime. However, with detailed questionnaires along with data from sensors, geographical information systems, and survey instruments, a better understanding of environmental risk factors will open the doors for improved prevention strategies, especially in the realm of skin care.

Exposome Advancement and Customised Skin Health Regimes

At Labskin, the impact of cosmetic and skincare products on the skin’s microbiome are tested using a human skin model grown with entirely human collagen production. Already this has proven to global cosmetic companies that their products can alleviate the symptoms of skin ageing and improve the overall skin health of individuals with chronic or allergic skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. This information combined with the study of the exposome, can open the door to a whole new level of targeted skin health and cosmetic products.

In fact, a personalised skin care subscription service has already been launched that uses genome sequencing, microbiome studies, and factors of the exposome to provide a skin care regime and list of approved ingredients that are tailored to an individual’s skin type. Skin Trust Club, which is powered by Labskin’s AI, next generation sequencing, and data from one of the largest skin microbiome data banks in the world, uses environmental information such as UV count, weather, air pollution, and location data, combined with a swab of each user’s microbiome to determine which skin care ingredients are best suited to each person’s skin.

Future Predictions for the Exposome and Skin Health

In the future, the correlation of this data from the genome, exposome, and microbiome will accelerate research and understanding of how skin ailments such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and even melanomas are formed. Ultimately, leading to an all-encompassing view of skin health and the creation of cosmetic and skin care products that protect and preserve skin health for years to come.