How genetic insights can personalise skin microbiome launches

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

How Genetic Insights Can Personalise Skin Microbiome Launches
Dr Oliver Worsley, Co-Founder of Sequential explores how whole genome sequencing expects to revolutionise skin microbiome following its innovative transformation on gut microbiome.

Following Oliver’s observations of the gut and how these can be applied to the skin at Cosmetics Design’s inaugural summit, we look at his key observations and takeaways on how genomic tools can be used to personalise skin care.

Following skin microbiome sequencing and shortlisting important markets for skin health over the past two years, Sequential has produced a proprietary face mask. Based on their skin type (genetics) and environment (microbiome), the company provides comprehensive skin profile information.

In its study, Sequential looked at the main categories of the cosmetic industry, such as pigmentation, elasticity, oxidative stress, and skin sensitivity. It then analysed correlated genes. Risk index scores and predisposition levels could then be applied to obtain the likelihood of developing certain skin conditions.

Twin Data

Sequential has studied the genetic identity of twins and what the environment impact on twins is, who otherwise have the exact same DNA. The industry has found there are correlations between genetics and microbiome. For example, in this case, the twins had a mutation in Filaggrin — a gene involved in skin microbiome.

There is some evidence to indicate the interaction between genetics and microbiome. However, what is interesting is that even genetically identical twins are not too similar to other pairs of siblings. So, in other words, your genetics do not, typically, have a significant part to play in the composition of the microbiome in that environment.

Where genetics have not really delivered is on predicting diseases and providing evidence on where healthcare could be useful.

“An exciting opportunity,” ​says Dr Oliver, Co-Founder of Sequential, he explains how “of course, there are certain bacteria we have discussed, in health and disease, that have major functions.”

In their study, the Sequential co-founders fed mice a high-fat diet to look at their gut microbiome. The mice developed fatty liver disease. Evidence shows the high-fat panel, where there is a high fat deposition in the liver, which then reverses back to normal.

Metagenomics can be used to study all of these features in the population. Analysing on a particular species level reveals the persistent species that are abundant, even after you reverse the diet. Although your liver might look perfectly healthy, actually, there are things that might regulate it in terms of certain disease, Dr Olver found.


The effect of pollution and how the environment is affecting your skin is the first line of defense. As a result, Dr Oliver wanted to apply microbiome and genetics into an alternative commercial technology.

Science shows that depending on the environment you are in, your microbiomes will be significantly different. For example, if you are in a highly-populated megacity such as Beijing, this will vary compared with if you live in Manchester. Therefore, Sequential explored what the population's bacteria is in cities versus more rural populations.

Your skin profile will contain everything you need to know about your skin, your genetics, and your microbiome. If you have good genetics, but you live in a populated and highly polluted environment, you might have a higher or lower diversity of bacteria.

The Future of Skin Microbiome

What’s next? The big thing is understanding what consumers can do about this. Sequential is working with various people to understand how it can give advice based on its findings.

A key trend the company has spotted is genomics and personalised medicine, “which is definitely happening”​. It also believes that in every industry, including the skincare business, personalised solutions such as these will become more mainstream.

Highlighting how our DNA and your environment defines your skin, Sequential wants consumers to take control and let their skin live. It is their motto.

 “The microbiome is the next frontier in healthcare and skincare,”​ Dr Oliver Worsley confirmed.

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