• Núria Estapé, science journalist

    Microbiota – the skin’s “flora”

    31 Aug Microbiota - the skin’s "flora"



    The New York Times

    Our skin is a balanced ecosystem. Since it was colonized by billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites at the dawn of the evolution of hominids, many species of microorganisms have lived in symbiosis with our skin mantle cells. Science’s efforts to identify our colonizers have revealed how essential these microorganisms are for the health of our skin. The most natural way to healthy skin is to help maintain the balance between all these microorganisms.


    Although it may be difficult to credit, only 10% of the cells of the body’s skin, intestines and mucous membranes are human. Most of them are of microscopic organisms that belong to the microbiota, the set of all foreign microbes that live in our body, especially in the digestive organs and the skin. For example, each square centimetre of human skin contains approximately one million microorganisms from a hundred different species. Together these form the skin’s microbiota (traditionally called the skin’s "flora”). This ecosystem is comparable in complexity to any other system in the Earth’s mantle. Today we know that our skin has hosted these microorganisms over thousands of years of evolution and that it is the symbiosis between our own cells and these tiny guests which helps the skin to perform its primary function of acting as a protective physical barrier. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Children: When Things Get Itchy

    Their skin is immature and more susceptible to aggression from the world around them, which makes it easier for them to get scratches, rashes and infections. They run, jump, play and sometimes get hurt. Their skin breaks out, they scratch it and don't want to apply cream. But it seems like everything they get eventually goes away and they go back to normal. But children's skin also needs basic care.


    Once they get past the nappy rashes and unexplained red patches of their baby years that finally disappear with patience and the application of moisturizer and repair cream, it seems like the only thing to worry about to keep a child's skin healthy is daily hygiene and sunscreen. You might also remember to cut out the labels from their clothing, since they are usually made of scratchy, synthetic material. Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    Shampoo: better than ‘no poo’

    15 Jan Shampoo: better than ‘no poo’



    El País

    Internet is a never-ending source of trends and fashions, some of which may be harmful for our skin and hair. The latest fashion is ‘no poo', that is, not to use shampoo for your hair but to wash it instead with water, baking soda, vinegar or other substances. Dermatologists warn of the risk that these practices may lead to skin infections.


    Recent years have seen the spread of a new, supposedly ‘eco’, fashion that advocates replacing commercial shampoos, which contain artificial ingredients and chemical additives, with ‘no poo’, supposedly a more ‘natural’ method of washing the hair. In English, the pun on ‘poo’ reinforces the idea that the shampoos available in the market are not free from objectionable matter. This scalp care method has a few variants. Read More

  • Núria Estapé, science journalist

    The colours of our skin

    The human species has three broad ethnic types: black, Asian and Caucasian. This division, if not scientifically accurate, is convenient. Skin colour reveals, almost always at a glance, what ethnic type we belong to. But the difference in skins is not just a matter of pigmentation. The characteristics of the stratum corneum, glands and microflora also affect how skins age and what risks they face.


    When comparing the appearance of black, white and Asian people, we often refer to skin colour. Ethnic differences are showcased by the body’s largest organ, the skin. But is colour the only difference between skins? Do different skins age differently? Which skins are more sensitive to chemical and environmental damage? Read More